Test Setup

Professional testing requires the emulation of real-world situations but with repeatable results; thus, a perfectly controllable test setup and environment are required, especially for comparable results. Testing the thermal performance of any case with a typical real-world setup technically limits the comparability of the results to this setup alone, as an active system interacts with its environment and the change of a single component alters (albeit in small ways) myriads of variables. In order to eliminate such factors, we developed synthetic loads that emulate the thermal output of real systems that are passive, steady and quantifiable.

Our thermal testing now displays the thermal capabilities of the case alone, as if it must deal with the entire thermal load by itself, regardless of the system that might be installed inside it. Laboratory data loggers are used to monitor the PT100 sensors and control the safety relays, which are fully accessible via our custom software. Three such loads have been developed, and today we'll be using the ATX load.

The ATX version simulates a 200W CPU, 50W VRM, 30W RAM and 4 × 120W GFX card thermal load; additionally, three 3.5" HDD dummy loads are also present that each convert 30W of electrical power to thermal, bringing the total thermal load of the ATX test setup up to 850W. As such, the thermal load is immense and only the best of cases will be able to handle it for more than a few minutes. We also test with a thermal load of 400W, with all of the aforementioned components except the HDD drives at about 42% power, which is more suitable for the majority of cases.

Thermal testing is performed with all of the case's stock fan operating at maximum speed. Noise testing is performed with a background noise level of 30.4dB(A).

Results and Discussion

Due to the excessive ventilation and good stock cooling fans, the thermal performance of the Corsair Obsidian 450D is great for a mid-tower case. As there is virtually no way for the warm air to get trapped inside the Obsidian 450D, even the stock cooling options are sufficient to handle a massive thermal load. It handled the massive 850W load induced by our test system for over one and a half hours and displayed great thermal inertia when the load was reduced down to 400Watts. Judging by the performance figures of our testing, the thermal performance of the Obsidian 450D could give a lot larger and more expensive cases a run for their money.

The excellent thermal performance of the Obsidian 450D however is not without side effects. With the exception of the side panels, every other panel of the case is perforated and virtually no measures have been taken to reduce the noise output; even the front panel cover is punched full of holes. As a result, the Obsidian 450D makes virtually no attempt to reduce noise levels in terms of the casing. Fortunately, Corsair has installed very good stock cooling fans that generate very little noise even at their maximum speed. If the voltage of the fans is reduced to 7V or below, the most sensitive ears will be able to catch only a very slight aerodynamic humming noise from a short distance. If low noise operation is a concern, with careful planning it is easy to have a very low noise system set up inside the Obsidian 450D, but this case has not really been designed with that in mind.

Corsair Obsidian 450D Interior Final Words
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  • lmcd - Friday, April 4, 2014 - link

    I think a reference article suggesting one generic system the test loads would be equal could help?

    It's tough to envision where these thermal dissipations fall in with the market.
  • vgray35@hotmail.com - Saturday, April 5, 2014 - link

    I do not concur with your reasoning in large part. Yes comparisons are excruciatingly difficult, and in many instances possibly even impossible to construe reasonable conclusions. So what! Comparisons are not everything. Comparisons are difficult yes, but nevertheless a figure of merit in the form of a specific test case gives an idea of what the Case design is capable of achieving, quite apart from the rudimentary machinations of comparing results. We have a need for comparisons to some extent n you constant heat load idea will help here, but we also have a need for a SPECIFIC perspective on Case design. Specific test results are not invalid just because comparisons are difficult. Once I have chosen a specific Computer Case for a build, I use the specific test case as a representative example of internal case design, in terms of airflow and specific components. I am then no longer interested in comparisons.

    Difficulty in comparing results in no wise invalidates the usefulness of a specific test case, somehow making it useless. Measuring total heat load for a specific test case with CPU etc, temperature rises, is just that - a specific test case - that is not invalidated by some different testing methodology. It remains a real world test - just a SPECIFIC case test, comparisons aside. A single snapshot view and heat load example is not useless expressed in the form of specific components and temperature differentials.

    Applying a constant heat load is a good idea as an alternative test, but you reach too far when you declare specific test cases are invalid, just because comparisons of specific test cases are difficult.They provide a figure of merit of one sort, and these are not necessarily intended to be compared with other results. Difficulty in comparisons is not a legitimate reason for abandoning specific test cases, as comparisons are not the holy grail of these results.

    I like the notion that: "these specific components loaded to this specific heat load produces a specific series of temperature differentials with this specific Case and components". For example I may want to build the specific test case with only minor changes, and the impact of making the minor changes is what is of interest - not comparisons with other specific tests.

    The whole gamut of your methodology intimates that "comparisons are impossible to make", and therefore specific test cases are invalid. That is wrong. Yes settings change things a lot - so just measure input power and temperatures and be done with it. Specific test cases serve much more beyond merely being used for comparison purposes, which makes them valid real world test cases.
  • vgray35@hotmail.com - Saturday, April 5, 2014 - link

    Guess what! real work includes interacting with your client base. Reading review comments constitutes a part of your real word job.
  • FriendlyUser - Friday, April 4, 2014 - link

    Great review! I'd really like to see a similar review of the 750D one day, since I'm interested in more spacious enclosures.
  • HisDivineOrder - Friday, April 4, 2014 - link

    I wish Corsair would iterate on the 550D with a cube-shape. That'd be hot as an Obsidian product. The current Corsair cube leaves much to be desired.
  • rpjkw11 - Friday, April 4, 2014 - link

    I really like Corsair's use of magnetic dust filters, but not on the bottom as in this case. Tipping a case to remove a dust filter for cleaning is, according to Murphy's Law, an accident waiting to happen. That's nitpicking, true, but one little Ooops can ruin one's day, so for me at least, it's a deal breaker. Except for that, the 450D is a great looking, very well designed case.
  • kmmatney - Friday, April 4, 2014 - link

    You don't have to tip the case to get the bottom filter - you can use a screw driver to pop it off, or even just your fingers. Well worth it for a dust-free case.
  • FoRealz - Friday, April 4, 2014 - link

    Can you please list the weight of the cases? Many thanks!
  • E.Fyll - Friday, April 4, 2014 - link

    Yes, I will in future reviews, I just received a proper scale that was bought for that specific purpose.
  • Subyman - Friday, April 4, 2014 - link

    It seems Corsair keeps stepping down the quality of plastics they use. The front facia looks like really cheap plastic compared to their older products. This doesn't seem like a $100+ case.

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