This year when I was shown around the suite at CES in Las Vegas, Corsair had plans for two new chassis designs to enter the Obsidian series of cases. The first of them is a huge tower chassis that takes all of what made the 800D such a success, along with some redesigns and new ways of looking at solving problems of the previous designs, and if not for some shipping delays, I would have already shown you the new 900D. The chassis we are about to look at is more of a succession on the other side of the Obsidian offerings. Much like the 650D and 550D, where things were simplified, but yet kept the simple and elegant aesthetic that everyone likes about the Obsidian series, this new chassis is not a full-tower design, and not truly a mid-tower design either.
The idea behind this latest design was to give people who loved the previous cases in the Obsidian series a chance to get in to what they have to offer, but doing so in a much smaller area. As we all have seen, some of the coolest builds out there are based off Micro-ATX motherboards, without over filling the feature set with a bunch of irrelevant options that nobody will actually use. With this design, things are very straight forward, and both on the outside and on the inside, very cool changes are made to allow for better air flow, more interior spacing, and delivering it all in a sleek Obsidian packaging. What really helps keep the height down, and allows for some of that additional space is the fact that this chassis is designed for a Micro ATX motherboard - and I tried - and ATX motherboard will not line up well at all.
This new chassis is the Obsidian 350D that Corsair has sent over for testing. In this design you are currently left with two options. First is an all steel chassis that is painted black throughout, and offers a brushed aluminum fascia. The second option will come with all of those options, but also offers a very large clear window in the left panel. As our readers may know, I was just in the market for a chassis just like this for a build I had planned, but ended up with a Fractal Design solution. Considering these two cases are right in line with each other, you can see just as I will if maybe I may have jumped into a chassis too early, and maybe I should have waited for this instead.
There is quite a bit to cover in this Micro-ATX chassis called the Obsidian 350D, so get comfortable as I take you on this ride.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The Obsidian 350D is actually specified as a mid-tower chassis, but this one will only take on a Micro-ATX or Mini-ITX motherboard. The chassis only stands 17.7" tall, is 17.3" deep, and is 8.3" in width. This chassis is mostly steel in construction, and as for the outside of the chassis, only the bezel, feet, and the large window are made of plastic. The front of the chassis is very flat and offers black brushed aluminum running from top to bottom, even over the pair of 5.25" bay covers. The left side of the chassis offers a flat panel, and centered with just more than an inch on all sides is the window to view inside the chassis. In the back you have only five expansion slots, three potential holes for water cooling, and room at the bottom for a PSU. The left side of the chassis is just a flat expanse of steel with textured paint like the rest of the chassis has.
Internally there is a nice layout for all of the components. At the top of the front you have the tool-free bays for the 5.25" drives, and hanging below is a removable plastic rack for 2.5" drive. After a large gap that allows the 120mm fan to be installed in the front to blow into the chassis, there is also a rack for a pair of 3.5" drives on the floor. The motherboard tray is dropped down since the largest motherboard that can fit is a Micro-ATX, this way AI/Os and custom loop radiators can be installed at the top with no interference. The tray itself offers a huge access hole for the CPU cooler back plate, as well as offering six large wire management holes, and ten places to attach wiring behind it. In the rear of the chassis you have the second and final 120mm fan installed there, and the five expansion slot covers are held in with thumbscrews, inside of the chassis.
As I look around at the time of writing, it seems that the 350D is not quite ready for sale at this moment. What I am seeing is pre-orders in any e-tailer I am seeing this chassis. Amazon is listing the chassis for $104.99, offers free shipping, but shows shipping will take one to three months. I also see a listing on Newegg, the same one that went live way too early, is now showing as discontinued with no mention of pricing now. The third option to obtain this chassis is to order direct from Corsair at $109.99 for the chassis, but are also listing zero quantity as I write this.
So, if the Corsair Obsidian 350D seems like the right chassis for your next build, you may have to wait just a little bit to obtain yours.
Corsair sticks with the plain brown box with black screening to help save money. They do, however, use the space well to deliver not only an image of the windowed chassis, but also take the time to list the feature on the right in both English and French.
This side of the packaging offers the specifications chart in three languages above dimensional renderings of the chassis at the bottom in the black stripe.
Around the back, Corsair again uses all of the room to provide more information. At the top is a fully exploded diagram of the chassis covering every movable or removable part. The bottom information, in the black stripe, is the same as the features on the front, now listed in four other languages.
While somewhat blocked by the shipping tags, this side is much like the opposite side. This time the three charts are done in another three languages, covering the same as the features lists do.
Internally, to protect the chassis, Corsair sends the 350D with plastic stuck to the outside of the window, and the front panel gets taped in place. Once that is done, the chassis is enveloped in a plastic liner with thick Styrofoam caps on the top and bottom to keep the chassis safe in transit. It all worked very well as the Obsidian 350D arrived here in perfect shape.
Corsair Obsidian 350D Micro ATX Chassis
As you can tell, the front of the 350D definitely looks like it belongs in the Obsidian series, with the full aluminium panel and venting around its edges. The top holds the I/O panel above the pair of 5.25" drive covers, while the lower section is removable to access a dust filter, without the need to remove the entire bezel from the chassis.
By pressing in at the top corners, the lower section opens downward until you can release a pair of tabs that keep the bottom of the plate in the bezel. Behind it you will find that dust filter. To remove or add fans here, you remove the filter and screw in the fans from there.
The front I/O panel offers a headphone and microphone jack next to the small reset button to the left. In the middle is the power button with the power LED and HDD activity lights on either side. Then the right side offers you a pair of USB 3.0 ports for easily accessed connectivity.
The top of the chassis offers these longer slits as a mesh panel to allow users to install optional fans. There are rubber grommets in the pair of 120mm mounting positions. If you want to use 140mm fans, you can, but you need to move the grommets.
The left side of the chassis shows that the front feet are part of the bezel, and the small feet at the back are designed to match. As for the side panel, the window used here stretches to within about an inch of the sides and offers a full view of the inside.
At the back the chassis starts with three break-away holes for optional water cooling, and is followed by the rear I/O and exhaust of the chassis. Taking it lower, you run into the five ventilated expansion slot covers, and the bottom hole is of course for the PSU.
The right side of the chassis is a dead match to the left, sans the window. There isn't a bump out here to retain extra wiring, but to help, these panels open like car doors as the pivot on the front of the chassis once the thumbscrews are removed.
Under the chassis you will find a dust filter for under the PSU that slides out the back for cleaning. You will also see, if you look closely, that there are screws to allow for the removal of the HDD rack that is on the floor.
Inside the Obsidian 350D
The first look inside of the 350D looks very roomy. The wiring from the front I/O has been tied up behind the tray and is just poking out into the very large CPU back plate access hole. The hardware can be found in the HDD bay on the floor of the chassis in the brown cardboard box.
At the top you are given two 5.25" bays that use tool-free clips on this side of the chassis. Hanging below is a plastic cage that allows for the installation of three 2.5" drives. With the release of a tab and a tug to the center of the case, these bays come off and can be removed or relocated.
The triple rack for the 2.5" drives can be installed in the top of the 3.5" drive rack as well. Inside of the rack you have two plastic trays that accept standard sized spinners.
At the top of the chassis you can see again that there aren't any installed fans from Corsair. It will allow for dual radiator AI/O solutions to be mounted, and you can see the stand-offs are set lower, to allow lots of room for radiator and fans.
The motherboard tray will accept both Mini-ITX as well as Micro-ATX motherboards. There is a "helper" standoff installed in the middle, while all of the others use screws to secure the motherboard. Around the edges you can see four holes with grommets and plenty of places to tie up the limited wiring.
The power supply sets on four raised steel pads, and the ventilation is stretched forward for longer more powerful options, so they can breathe as well. In front of the PSU you have two holes to run wiring through to limit the amount of cables in one smaller hole.
The second fan in the chassis is this plain black 120mm fan. There are no LEDs, and this isn't even a takeoff on their new fans either. Below the fan you will see that the five expansion slot covers are held in with thumbscrews, and the covers are replaceable.
Behind the tray there is a minimum of 25mm of depth to hide and maintain the wiring. When tied to the tie points or crossing over a grommet, you are limited to less room, but there is plenty of room to the left to hide things if you need to.
Untying all of the wiring, we can see that everything is black so they will blend in very well. Besides a pair of 3-pin fan connections that need to be made, you have the front panel wiring to control the motherboard and LEDs, the native USB 3.0 connection and the HD Audio connector to complete the set.
Accessories and Documentation
In the hardware box you will find one larger bag that contains all that can be seen above. There are four wire ties next to the extra stand-off. You also get bags of hard drive screws, 2.5" drive screws, long fan screws, motherboard and PSU screws, and fat aggressive thread fan screws.
In another bag that you will find inside of the liner, but outside of the chassis is what I have in this image. There is a large fold-out of paper that is the Quick Start Guide for the chassis, and a little pamphlet for the two year warranty information.
As you unfold the paper and look inside, you will see the exploded diagram from the back of the packaging. If you can familiarize yourself with the 12 components that are addressed in the image and with descriptions, you are 95 percent ready to go.
The other five percent of the build is finding and using the correct hardware for the job at hand. The back of the guide will give you a count and description of each type of screw with an image of both the profile view, as well as looking directly at the head of the screws to help you distinguish between similar ones supplied.
The Build and Finished Product
When I got to the point of needing to remove a bay cover for the ODD, I looked to see how it all goes about. I found four tabs inside the chassis that after releasing the lower section, will allow the top of the bezel to come out. This allows you to remove the bay covers, and you can see that the wires stay with the chassis.
To remove a bay cover, Corsair uses a tab on both sides to lock them into place. All you have to do is press the tabs inward and the cover will slide out the front of this section of the bezel.
Once the cover is removed, the entire width of the section is inset as it exposed textured plastic to flank the DVD drive. Personally, I would do away with an ODD in this chassis because this really disturbs the sleekness that it had out of the box.
What seemed really roomy at first was found to be quite tight. I had to angle the motherboard to avoid the ODD rack to get it installed, and when the build is complete, there isn't a whole lot of room to add much more.
There weren't too many issues out back. The dust shield snapped right in, the card lined up well, but for the PSU, I was short one screw, so I used it in the motherboard instead of filling all four holes of the PSU.
I was able to stuff every wire behind the motherboard tray. I took advantage of the well placed tie points, and all of the grommets were close enough to not leave a lot of the wiring on the inside of the chassis. There was slight resistance when I put the panel on, but due to the way they "hinge" at the front, it closed with little effort.
Just stepping back to soak it all in as I grab for the power cord so we can see what the 350D is all about.
When powered, the only lighting that you will deal with is the faint white glow of this pair of LEDs. The power LED, the one on the left, is actually illuminated currently. As for the light on the right, there is just an occasional flicker from it after the boot sequence has finished.
Just to give you an idea of what you can see through the window, I took this above image. As you can see, there is a great view of the components even without any help from LED lighting, but you also get a good view of the bays at the front, and that is something I would rather not see, personally.
The Corsair Obsidian 350D is really hit and miss with me and I ponder what to say and how to address this case. While the external visual appeal is definitely Obsidian through and through, I feel that it is lost in the interior. Obsidian to me is just as unique and designed to allow something that not many other cases of their time could do. Here there is some uniqueness in certain things, but not enough to carry this prestigious name, in my opinion. Obsidian used to mean top of the line, the "end all, be all" of the Corsair lineup, and I feel here we got a lesser chassis in a sleek and sexy set of clothes. Don't get me all wrong here, for the specific market for those who want compact, but don't want to go into SFF chassis designs, this is a solid option to look at.
While I liked the sleek aluminum front insert, once you install a drive or a reservoir, you really break the aesthetic of the chassis. I also would have thought, that even at this price, we could have gotten more fans. Speaking of the fans, for such a compact area, they do allow the components to get a great amount of air flow, specifically since the front fan is uninterrupted by worthless bay drives. I do like the repositionable 2.5" drive rack, and I like that the bottom HDD rack comes out. This way if you don't want to use the top of the chassis for water cooling, you can address the front of the chassis for that too. I really liked the layout and room offered behind the motherboard tray, even if I did have to constantly fight the grommets from popping out.
There are some things that you need to consider up front as well. If you plan to use a dual radiator in the top of the chassis, you pretty much lose access to the top optical drive bay. If that isn't a big deal, let us move to the front. While you can remove the HDD rack, you are limited in space to what you can get in some custom radiators or most sealed AI/O units. Something like a Swiftech H220 is not going to work well in the front of this chassis. I also advise that you plan the wiring out carefully behind the motherboard tray. While I was able to get all of the wiring in there, there was some resistance with the panel - any more of a rats nest than what I came up with is definitely going to make for an ugly bulge in the right side of the chassis.
One thing I did not really expect when looking at an Obsidian chassis was to ponder one being offered at $109.99. I will admit I didn't follow this chassis that closely when the news hit of its release, but unless you have a specific need, or are looking to match the memory, PSU, AI/O cooler, and the chassis for a Micro-ATX or Mini-ITX build that needs room for longer video cards, I just think there are better offerings out there. I know there are few that fit in this exact footprint that the 350D brings to the table, but I also think that other offerings like the Fractal Design ARC Midi R2, while slightly bigger overall, was the right choice in my humble opinion for my Micro-ATX system build.
I personally would have rather seen a $125 to $150 version of this case with some better engineering of the face plate once it was removed, maybe add a couple more fans, or at least swap them to the more attractive Air series fans. And maybe even cut the window down some so I don't have to stare at my drive bays. The chassis is genuinely a nice product with quite a few usable options, I just expected more with an Obsidian series chassis.
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