Corsair Obsidian 800D Page: 1
Corsair Obsidian 800D
 
In 1994 Corsair emerged as a Performance Memory Manufacturer forging their way with innovative performance products making Corsair the brand we know and trust today. In the last few years Corsair have broadened their horizons venturing in to making power supplies as well. The team at OC3D are all in agreement that at the time of writing the best PSU's available today are made by Corsair see the HX850w review here. Still not happy Corsair have made budget all in one water cooling unit the H50 which trades punches both in performance and price with the T.R.U.E and has split opinions down the middle.
 
March this year was the first time I heard about Corsairs plans on attacking the Case section of the market. The photos and hype surrounding this news had every Internet forum and news site online buzzing with questions and speculation on what Corsair had planned for us. With the case now released to the public OC3D has been lucky enough to get the Obsidian 800D in for review. Its not very often I actually get excited about review samples arriving in the post, but the Corsair was promising so much I couldn't wait to get the box open and see if it could man up to these claims.
 
Here's what Corsair say about the case:
 
Designed for Years of Performance
Three Isolated Cooling Zones
Advanced Features for Extreme Flexibility 

Features include
Four easily accessed hot-swap drive bays
Removable CPU back plate panel for easy heat sink installation
Isolated cooling zones prevent heat build up
Unique cable routing holes guarantee a clean and clutter-free installation
Three fans included, with the ability to add four more 120mm fans
Tool-free optical drive installation makes building a system faster than ever
Two year warranty with Corsair’s world-class customer service and technical support
Dimension 24" (H) x 24" (L) x 9" (W) - (609mm X 609mm X 229 mm)

Specifications
Dimension 24" (H) x 24" (L) x 9" (W) - (609mm X 609mm X 229 mm)
Material Aluminium Faceplate, Steel Structure
Colour Black
Model CC800DW
Drive Bays (x5) 5.25"
(x4) 3.5" SATA Hot Swappable
(x2) 3.5" Internal
Cooling (x3) 140mm Fans
Up to 4x 120mm Fans (not included)
Expansion Slots 7 (+1 vent)
Motherboard ATX, mATX, EATX
 
Head over the page for our long awaited first look..


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Packaging & External Appearance.
 
The first thing that hit me was the size of the box that arrived, it is much taller and deeper than I was expecting. I nearly got a hernia trying to pick it up its that heavy, I did think for a second or two there was a pre-built PC inside! So straight away the weight of the ABS steel chassis is having an effect. The box has the usual information you would expect about the case along with some nice pictures, I didn't happen to notice these until about 5hours after it arrived, all I wanted to do was get a look at what was inside...
 
Packaging  Packaging
 
The case came with the expected polystyrene ends and a thick plastic bag over the case to protect it in transit. Some of the Polystyrene had broken but there was no damage to the case at all.
 
Packaging
 
Remove the protection there we finally have the case in all its glory, the side window has a protective plastic film over it which will help it stay scratch free during the build. The powder coating on the case is very similar to the Corsair PSU's and turns out to be one of the best exfoliators Ive ever found, it keeps scraping layers of my hands and arms away as I move it! Look for tell tale signs in the pictures...
 
    Externals     Externals    
 
The aluminium faceplate on the case also came with a plastic protective coating which is something Ive not seen any manufacturers do before.
  
 Externals     Externals
 
The case is very angular, but the clean simple lines ooze quality from some other 'over designed' cases on the market. This definitely has an adult grown up feel to it for those that appreciate that less can be more. The front panel is made from a coarse brushed aluminium, I do prefer it to a plastic front that we have seen on other cases but the jury is out as to whether I actually like it on here or not. 
 
Externals     Externals
 
Lets move over the page for a closer look


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A Closer Look
 
Theres quite a lot to get through, so Ill start at the top. The top 5.25" bay houses the power switch and activity light. It also has a drop down panel to expose the reset switch, headphone and microphone connections, Firewire and 4x USB ports. The drop down panel has a very slow quality action to it, I think I must have played with this in a daze for about 10 minutes before I realised how much of a nerd Ive turn into when front panels become so fascinating.
 
Front panel     Front panel
 
Moving down past the other 4 usable 5.25" bays you get the SATA hot swap bay. Its concealed behind a door which doesn't have the same slow action as the USB panel so I saved some time not playing with this one! Behind it is 4x server style quick release bays.
 
Hot Swap Bay     Hot Swap Bay
 
To removes the bays you just press a button and slide out the bay you require. You simply screw your hard drive in to the caddy and slide back in to place, job done. There is a PCB at the back of the hot swap bay you attach SATA power and data cables to like normal, once wired up you can change drives quickly and easily. There are 2 other hard drive bays at the bottom of the case, to access these you have to remove the front panel, you just slide your hard drives in on rails but you will have to run connections to these.
 
SATA Hot Swap     Lower Hard drive bay
 
Moving round to the back, at either side of the case are the panel release buttons, you need to press these to remove and reattach the side panels. There is also 2 grommets for external water cooling for anyone strange enough to think they need it in this case. The rear exhaust fan is 140mm but has mounts for 120mm fans should you wish to change it. At the very bottom there is a removable air filter, this filters all of the air that comes into the bottom of the case for the PSU and main air intake fan.
 
Back View     Bottom Filter
 
Head over the page for a look inside the case.


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Internals
 
Removing the side panels and we get our first look inside, the first item that caught my attention was the motherboard tray cut out, as its much bigger than any other case on the market. With a cut out this big it means no matter what motherboard have you will be able to add and remove heat sinks and water blocks easily with out having to remove the motherboard.
 
Internals    Internals
 
The case is plastered with cable management holes so it should help keep even the messiest of rigs tidy. With the PSU in the lower level plus cable management holes already in the back panel this will please many of you reading, there is also plenty of room behind the motherboard tray to hide all your cables. The 5.25" Bays have tool-less mounts which helps make building faster.
 
Internals     Internals
 
There is only a single 140mm intake fan for the main chamber, which is mounted in the dividing panel, its designed to suck air up from the PSU section of the case where the dust filter and vents are. This seems to be a very minimal approach to intake airflow so I am very eager to get this side of things tested. There is also a fan for the hot swap hard drives, this in a complicated fashion also pulls its air from the lower section with help of a shroud, but to make things even more complicated the airflow passes behind the motherboard tray and out the back of the case where there are even more vents. This seems amazingly complicated to me and before I do any testing I will say that I am sceptical to how efficient this will be. There is an additional mount for a 120mm fan for the lower 2 hard drives, this also has the same airflow pattern as the hot swap bay.
 
 Rear Look     Rear panel vents
 
Head over the page for details on installation.


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Installation
 
With the hype proceeding this cases release we couldn't fit any old system into it, so I opted for a high heat gaming system to not only test the cases size when installing but most importantly how it copes with the heat created.
 
Test set up

Intel Core2Duo Q6600
Intel stock HSF & Nexus HOC-9000
Asus Rampage Extreme
4GB Corsair XMS3 PC3-12800 Ram @ 9-9-9-24 1.9v
2x HIS 4870 1GB IceQ 4+
Corsair HX1000w
Western Digital VelociRaptor 300GB - OS
Samsung Spinpoint F1 - 1TB
Windows 7 RTM x64 Ultimate
 
The accessories pack that came with the case is brilliant, I like small details it shows thought went into something. It may only seem a small thing to some but all black screws and motherboard stand offs is a first with a retail case as far as I'm aware. Theres an all black SATA power cable for the hot swap bay that matches the Corsair PSU sexy black cable theme and 4 black SATA data cables also. A rubber fan gasket for the 120mm lower optional HDD fan, some cable ties and a 4/8pin power extension cable.
 
 Accessories     Build Pictures
 
Due to the size of the case installing the hardware was a breeze, everything went in very fast and cable tidying was made very easy by all the grommets in the motherboard tray. I used a push pin style CPU cooler but should you use one that has a back plate or need to fit a CPU block there is so much room behind you wont have any problems. One thing I wasn't sure about was the lack of zip tie tabs behind the motherboard tray. There is an awful lot of room for cables but no way of fixing them in place, this means that even with all this room when fitting my back panel it still had the 'cable bulge'. It could easily be fixed with some sticky zip tie fixing tabs, but where the case didn't come with any I didn't use any.
 
Build Pictures     Build Pictures
 
There are rails in the lower section to help support the PSU, these are millimetre perfect both in width and height, very simple design but work very well, its a shame more cases don't have detail like this. As the case has 360mm radiator support, and a great deal of you will be looking at this case as a basis for a water cooled system I decided to fit one of the thickest radiators on the market just to show you the space available (this will not be used in testing) - a Black Ice Extreme. Even with the large heat sink fitted the case easily swallows the full sized radiator and fans, if running a smaller heat sink or a CPU water block you could also fit a second set of fans for a 'push pull' configuration and still have room above the motherboard.
 
Build Pictures     Build Pictures
 
 So with a full sized gaming system fitted its now time to see if it performs as good as it looks.


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Testing
 
Idle temperatures were taken after thirty minutes of sitting idle, and load temperatures after thirty minutes of torture tests using Prime95 to max out the 4 cores. Ambient temperature during testing was 22°c controlled by an air conditioner. The 800D was tested against a Cooler Master HAF 922 for comparison.  The hard drive temperatures were tested by cutting and pasting a 100GB random text file between the 2 hard drives 4 times and recording a maximum temperature over the course of the test. All fans in the both systems were run at 12v.
 
• HW-Monitor - record and monitor all temperatures
• Prime95 - CPU & Ram testing
• 100GB Random text document copied & pasted 4 times between the 2 drives
• ATI Tool - GPU testing
 
The excited kid with a new toy inside me soon calmed down when I booted the case for the first time, I let the system idle for 30minutes before taking these readings. The temperatures just kept rising, 8 degree's alone on both of the GPU's was enough for me to wonder what the hell was going on. So I popped the door open to inspect. The fans were moving hardly any air! I first thought they were wired wrong and were running at 7v, but no they were at maximum speed and running off a 12v molex correctly. The other big area of difference is the hard drive temperatures, I had worried the complicated layout would not work all that well, and compared to the 922 even at idle there is 8c difference on the Velociraptor and 7c difference on the Samsung. I did disconnect the fan and temperatures went up another 5-8c, so its the design thats making the drives this much hotter.
 
 
Moving on to Load testing things didn't get better they got a lot worse, the GPU's again suffering the most with the 922 coming in at 68/70c the Corsair was running at an egg cooking 85c on both the GPU's. The CPU was much the same, the 922 ran at 58c but the Corsair struggling to keep it at 75c. Even the motherboard was running a whole 8c hotter.
This would normally be the point Id move on to the conclusion and say that this case has terrible airflow, but as many of us do like to make changes to upgrade performance. I'm pretty sure that the problem with the temperatures is just airflow, because the fans that are shipped with the case are just too quiet and move next to no air. 
 
 
So throwing tradition aside I set about making some changes. The bottom intake fan was swapped out for a 140mm Xigmatec, as was the rear fan but rather than exhaust I had it feeding air into the case, this is the way Corsair say their H50 all in one water cooling unit should be mounted also, so as its a Corsair case I thought it would be good to see this as a comparison as well. The only other change was I added a pair of 120mm Xigmatec fans into the roof as exhaust fans.
The results speak for themselves, the temperatures plummeted, bringing the difference between the Corsair to the 922 down to a much more acceptable level. I suspect this case was designed for water cooling systems all along and relies on the rear intake and a radiator in the roof to act as an exhaust.
 
 
Testing over with some wild differences in the results, lets move on to the conclusion.


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Conclusion
 
Final ImageYou can not deny that this is a good looking well built case, it may be steel but that just adds to the tough sturdy quality feel. The attention to detail is also the best Ive seen in any case on the market, even simple things like the front I/O bay kept me amused for ages playing with the pop down door. The case is also much bigger than I'd have ever expected, and this made installing even a full high end system easy with plenty of room to move around and fit the parts with out having to be some kind of Japanese contortionist.
 
When it came to testing it became apparent very quickly that the case was suffocating, there just wasn't enough cool air getting into the case to cool the parts. GPU's rely on cool air blowing over them to help keep the volcano of heat inside cool. The only intake was from the bottom blowing up wards, which in the Silverstone Raven with the GPU mounted vertically this works very well, but in the Corsair the cool air (what there is of it) completely misses the GPU's all together and the temperatures reflect this. Ill admit I'm no F1 aerodynamics expert, but surely if its so obvious to me what the problem is how did this case get this far, its a bit late to be changing things now. After a simple fan change and a slight rethink of the airflow pattern to get more air into the case the temperatures plummeted, there definitely wasn't enough air getting into the case but I think that its 50% design flaw and 50% that the fans provided were designed to be quiet rather than actually move much air. Once the changes were made the case performed much better against the 'High Air Flow' 922.
 
So for £229.99 you get a very tough and well designed case, thats going to look very sleek on any ones desk. But be prepared to spend another £20-£30 buying different fans if you are planning on running an air cooled system inside. I really think this case was designed all along to be a water cooled case with the H50 in the back of the case pulling cool air in because then as the tests have shown it performs much better.
 
 
 
The Good
- Very tough
- Designed to last
- Sleek sexy looks
- Masses of room
- Very good cable management
- Native 15mm fan spacing radiator support
 
The Mediocre
- Bottom hard drives go in from the front
- No cable tie mounts on back of motherboard tray
 
The Bad
- Stock Fans don't not move enough air
- Needs more/better intake fans
 
 
Innovation Award      
 
 
We would like to thank Corsair for the chance to finally review the 800D. Please discuss the review and videos further in our forums.