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Corsair Obsidian Series 550D Mid-Tower Quiet Case

November 27th, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

5 Stars

Corsair 550D

Corsair’s PC enclosures are some of the finest enclosures you can buy. The case that started it all was the Obsidian 800D –– a premium full tower beast with advanced features and a drool-worthy appearance. Since then, Corsair has added the Graphite Series, Carbide Series, and Vengeance Series cases to their stable of acclaimed enclosures. With a complete line of cases to suit a variety of tastes, performance requirements and budget, the only type of case missing was a silent case, until now. The Obsidian 550D is a premium, mid-tower case with sound isolation characteristics that rounds out Corsair’s collection of enthusiast enclosures.

PROS

  • Gorgeous looking case
  • Very quiet
  • Plenty of cooling options
  • Reversible front door
  • Nice build quality
  • Tool-free drive bays
  • Can fit 452mm GPUs
  • Removable magnetic dust filters
  • Affordable online price

CONS

  • Front panel can be difficult to flip open

IN THE BOX
The Obsidian 550D comes with a quick start guide and an assortment of screws for drives, PSUs and fans. It also comes with a couple of wire mounts, nylon zip ties, and a USB 3.0 to USB 2.0 adapter, just in case your motherboard doesn’t have a USB 3.0 header. The install kit is a thoughtful inclusion for system builders and one that seems to accompany all of Corsair’s cases.

DESIGN
The 550D’s appearance is a slight departure from the 800D and even the 650D. The most obvious change is the exposed silver I/O panel at the very top of the 550D. The panel includes audio ports, the power and reset switches, drive activity light and two USB 3.0 ports. I’m actually glad they omitted FireWire and eSATA ports, because a vast majority of users don’t use those ports anyways and they make the I/O panel look messy. If anything, I would’ve liked a couple more USB 3.0 ports. Corsair chose to use the silver color for the I/O panel as an accent color, which I think works, but it might’ve looked even better in a brushed charcoal.

Corsair 550D IO panel

The front door is made out of aluminum and makes the 550D look very sharp when closed. Lots of cases with doors often hide the power and reset switches behind the door, which can be a pain. You might ask: why use a door at all? Noise can leak out of the drive bays, but a door can help reduce the noise. The front door of the 550D not only looks great, but also kills any noise that might escape out of the drive bays. The inside of the front door is insulated with a sound dampening layer of foam.

Another great feature of the 550D’s front door is that can be opened in either direction. Enclosures with doors usually open in one direction –– sometimes in the wrong direction. Depending on where you want to set up your tower, your desk, monitor or some other equipment might obstruct the enclosure’s door. The 550D’s door is hinged on both sides so you can open it to the left, or to the right. Genius!

Corsair 550D door hinge

I did find it slightly challenging to open the door cleanly, however. But for as little as I access my optical drive, I didn’t find it that detrimental. If you need frequent access to your optical drives and don’t want to bother with the door, you have the option of removing the door entirely, but the brushed aluminum looks too good to remove!

550D_front

Both side panels on the 550D are made out of steel and have a layer of sound dampening foam. The foam on the left panel is very thick, more so than the right panel.

Corsair 550D foam

The left panel also has two 120mm fan mounts that are hidden by a push-button plastic cover. The top of the 550D is all plastic and has two more fan mounts towards the rear, also hidden by a push-button plastic cover. Unfortunately, when using the top fan mounts, the case looks a bit unfinished.

Corsair 550D top

A removable dust filter is located under the PSU and three magnetic dust filters are used over the fan mounts (top, left, and front). The magnetic dust filters are just plain cool and one of those, “why didn’t I think of that?” innovations.

Corsair 550D rear dust filter

INSTALLATION
It seems that Corsair is always looking for new and interesting ways to give system builders fast and easy access to their components. If you’re still using thumbscrews to open and shut the side panels of your enclosure, take a look at what Corsair cases can do. The 550D uses a button to unlock the side panel, which can then be pulled out. The panel system uses a rail at the top that slides a locking mechanism. When you push the button, it frees the panel from the case. It works the same way for both the right and left panels. It took me a couple of minutes to figure out the best way to get leverage to pull the panels out, but once I figured it out, I was able to repeat it easily.

Corsair 550D panel button

The interior of the 550D is nice and spacious, which makes building systems so much easier. The motherboard standoffs were pre-installed, so I just dropped it in and screwed it on. The large CPU backplate cutout makes it easy to install aftermarket CPU coolers without having to remove the board first.

Corsair 550D left side - open

The four 5.25-inch drive bays are tool-less and work well. I installed a DVD drive in about three seconds and the drive was secure. The tool-less drive caddies also make quick work of installing 3.5-inch drives. The caddies support 2.5-inch drives as well, but they need to be screwed in using the pre-drilled mounting holes.

Corsair 550D drive cradle

The two drive cages support three drives each for a total of six drives. Also, the top drive cage can be removed to support GPUs of up to 425mm in length. Multi-GPU configurations are also possible due to the 550D’s eight expansion slots.

Corsair 550D drive bays

One of the best features of all Corsair enclosures is their cable routing holes with rubber grommets. It was fun routing cables in the 550D, because it was easy to make the interior look so neat and tidy. Of course, keeping cables out of the way also benefits cooling.

Corsair 550D right side - open

COOLING
High-performance cooling and silent cases don’t usually go hand-in-hand. Good cooling typically requires good airflow, but one of the best ways to silence a system is to seal off all the vents and openings. It’s a conundrum of sorts. What Corsair’s done, is put the front intake vents on the sides at a slight angle. This reduces the noise level a great deal, but still provides reasonably good airflow.

If the two 120mm intake fans in the front and the 120mm exhaust fan in the rear don’t provide enough airflow for your configuration, the 550D gives you more options. You can elect to add two more 120mm/140mm fans on the left side panel, at the expense of some additional noise. If you’ve got a 240mm radiator, like on the Corsair H100i CPU cooler, you can add that to the top of the 550D as well. Need more fans? You can add another couple of 120mm fans on the other side of the drive cages and yet another 120mm/140mm fan on the bottom, near the drive cage. If you’ve lost count, that’s a total of 10 fans supported in the 550D.

Corsair 550D cooling

Running 10 fans will reduce the 550D’s sound isolation performance, but the point is that the 550D gives you the flexibility to make that choice. You’re not stuck with a quiet case that runs hotter than hell, with absolutely no recourse.

SPECS

Dimensions 20.9″ (H) x 19.5″ (L) x 8.7″ (W)
Mobo Support ATX, mATX
Expansion Slots 8
Form Factor Mid-tower
Material Steel structure and aluminum door
Drive Bays 5.25” (x4), 3.5”/2.5” (x6) w/drive caddies
Cooling 120mm fans (x3)
Front I/O Panel USB 3.0 (x2), Headphone (x1), Mic (x1)
Power Supply ATX (not included)
Warranty 2 years

CONCLUSION
The Corsair Obsidian 550D enclosure is a great case for the enthusiast looking for reduced noise, to go with high style and good performance. It is a nice looking case with all the usual Corsair features: solid build, spacious, easy cable routing and flexible cooling. The online price of the 550D is also very affordable. Corsair continues to impress with the 550D and I highly recommend it.

Available from Amazon.com.

* Review unit provided by Corsair

Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Ed is an IT veteran turned stay-at-home-dad of two girls. He's contributed how-to's for CNET and reviews any gadget he can get his hands on.


  1. Isaac Mihaeli
    May 3rd, 2013 at 19:36 | #1

    Hello,

    I got the case a week ago and like it. The only problem I had was that there was no owners manual, but I managed to put together all the components. At the end I had several plastic bags with screws that I could not figure out what to do. One was for the mother board but the rest I could only guess.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Sincerely,

    Isaac.

  2. Ed Rhee
    May 6th, 2013 at 22:26 | #2

    @Isaac Mihaeli
    They’re not all necessary. The screws are included just in case you need them. I have tons of extra screws and twist ties I never needed.

  3. Isaac Mihaeli
    September 19th, 2013 at 12:21 | #3

    Hello,

    I want to add a fan next to the power supply, the bottom fan. Also considering a cooling radiator. Which band and model should I consider that would be a good match for the system?

    Thanks,

  4. Ed Rhee
    September 19th, 2013 at 21:21 | #4

    @Isaac Mihaeli
    I really haven’t used aftermarket fans in a while. Using Corsair’s fans and water cooling kits would probably be easiest, but I don’t know what your preferences are. Go take a look and see if there’s something that might work for you.

    http://www.corsair.com/us/cpu-cooling-kits.html

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