One company that’s relatively new to the case scene and has yet to offer up a case that we’d consider primarily water-cooling focussed is Corsair. However, it has been an ardent supporter of water-cooled PCs and strives to offer radiator mounts in all of its cases. Today though, it has released something rather special. First, a quick roundup of why Corsair’s Obsidian 900D is probably the most desirable case you’ll see in 2013.
Most of the staff that have passed through bit-tech’s doors have water-cooled their PCs at one time or another. This exotic form of cooling has traditionally offered lower noise and better temperatures than you could possibly hope to see with air cooling. It’s been a bit of a dark art until quite recently, not least because finding a case that you could fit double, triple or even quad-fan radiators in posed quite a challenge.
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This is due to several reasons. Firstly, water cooling has been a pretty niche hobby and as such, case manufacturers have understandably been reluctant to offer a case that’s more water cooling-focussed than it is for air cooling. You need large spaces for the radiators and plenty of options when it comes to mounting pumps and reservoirs, and all this extra material means that the type of case you’re looking at is inherently more expensive.
There’s also the issue that a case that’s made to house tons of water-cooling hardware is usually not great for air cooling. The SilverStone TJ07 is a classic example – tests we ran many years ago showed that the TJ07 is a pretty poor when it comes to air cooling out of the box, but it’s still considered the best case for water cooling and is currently the most popular modded and water-cooled case in our Case Mod Index as a result. The exception is the TJ11, but it’s only down to brute force, huge expense and gargantuan size that it proved to be great for both worlds.
More affordable cases such as the NZXT Phantom 820 go a long way to offering a case that’s good for both air-cooled and water-cooled systems, but they’re more jack of all trades rather than mastering one or the other like the TJ07 has for water cooling or SilverStone’s FT02 has for air cooling. Custom kit water cooling is much more popular than it was a few years ago, though, and while the need for it has actually diminished due to hardware being more efficient these days and the fact that all-in-one water coolers are actually pretty good, cases designed purely for water cooling are still extremely desirable.
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So when we saw the first images of the Obsidian 900D floating around on Facebook a couple of months ago, we were understandably excited. Not only has it been built from the ground up to offer great water-cooling support, but it looks great too – something that’s quite difficult to pull off with a large case.
However, the 900D is just that – large. So large in fact that it’s simply not in competition with the TJ07, which we’d initially envisaged. In fact, it’s larger than the TJ07’s hefty brother, the TJ11 – it’s just as well Corsair has included an 8-pin EPS 12V extension cable as we doubt any PSU would be able to reach the furthest depths of this case.
The TJ11 (left) is practically dwarfed by the Obsidian 900D - Click to enlarge
While this does raise several questions – the TJ11’s modding-friendly nature and ability to house a quad 140mm-fan radiator with no modding for starters - Corsair has one trick up its sleeve. The Obsidian 900D costs just £289. We say just – that is still a heck of a lot of money for a case but it’s still small change compared to the £450 asking price for the TJ11.
Dimensions (mm) 252x 649 x 692 (W x D x H)
Material Steel, plastic
Available colours Black (reviewed)
Front panel Power, reset, 2 x USB 3, 4 x USB 2, stereo, microphone
Drive bays 4 x external 5.25in, 9 x internal 2.5in/3.5in
Form factor(s) ATX, XL-ATX, E-ATX, micro-ATX
Cooling 3 x front 120mm fan mounts (fans included), 4 x top 120mm/140mm fan mounts (fans not included), 6 x base 120mm fan mounts (fans not included), 1 x 140mm rear fan mount (fan included), 1 x internal 120mm fan mount (fans not included)
CPU cooler clearance 200mm+
Maximum graphics card length 400mm (with drive cage)