A great pint-sized mix of low noise, great cooling and sensible design
This year looks set to be a great year for mini-ITX fans and Corsair has, at last, finally got on the bandwagon too. Rumblings of a Corsair case mini-ITX have been felt for some time, but the Obsidian 250D has finally hit the shelves. It’s Corsair’s smallest ever case and, thankfully, one of its cheapest too. The Obsidian 250D is certainly looking to usurp the likes of BitFenix’s Prodigy and Antec’s ISK600.
The exterior exudes the typical clean, styling of Corsair’s other Obsidian cases, with its all-black finish laced with brushed metal, and a minimum of ports and switches on display. Cooling was clearly at the forefront of the minds of Corsair’s design team, with a large vent in either side panel, while on the base the PSU has its own removable dust filter.
Dimensions (mm) 277 x 351 x 290
(W x D x H)
Available colours Black
Front panel Power, reset, 2 x USB 3,
Drive bays 1 x external 5.25in, 2 x
internal 2.5/3.5in, 2 x 2.5in
Form factor(s) Mini-ITX
Cooling 1 x front 120/140/200mm fan
mount (140mm fan included), 2 x side
120mm fan mounts (1 x 120mm fan
included), 2 x rear 80mm fan mounts
(fan not included)
CPU cooler clearance 135mm, or
95mm if 5.25in bay is filled
Maximum graphics card length
Extras Front, PSU and side dust filters
Meanwhile, the front of the case sports a large pop-down door, which makes up most of the front section, and behind it lays another removable fan filter, which covers the large air intake.
While Corsair is clearly committed to giving the 250D a clean, minimalist look, it’s also added a top window to the case, which gives a great view of the motherboard area to show off your shiny hardware. The use of individual side and top panels contrasts directly with the Antec ISK600’s neat-looking, one-piece shell, but the panels are easier to fit, and they also mean you don’t have to remove the whole shell to get at just one section of the interior.
The Obsidian 250D is very compact too, measuring just 290mm high and 351mm deep. The Prodigy, by comparison, shaves a few centimetres off the width, but is over 11cm taller.
Despite the small size of mini-ITX cases, there’s a surprising amount of variation when it comes to their layout, and the Obsidian 250D is no exception. Like the Prodigy, it sports a large front intake area, with support for 120,140 and 200mm fans, and a 140mm AF140L fan included.
Meanwhile, the left panel is equipped with a magnetic dust filter, and the right side panel has two 120mm fan mounts, with a 120mm fan included, and there are two additional 80mm fan mounts at the rear too. For water- cooling fans, you can squeeze Corsair’s H100i dual 120mm-fan all-in-one liquid cooler inside the chassis, or a half-height radiator of your choice, while the front fan mount could play host to a full-height single 120 or 140mm-fan radiator. There’s even room for a 180mm-fan radiator here too, although it’s a bit of a squeeze. Not only that, but the large area between the front fan and motherboard tray is perfect for mounting a combined pump and reservoir too.
Considering the side of the case, the amount of room for water-cooling equipment is remarkable.
The Obsidian 250D won’t leave too many people wanting for storage space either; a large drive cage next to the PSU mount in the base offers two dedicated 2.5in SSD tool-free bays, along with an additional two 3.5in or 2.5in bays as well, which are again tool-free.
These are all accessed by removing a small vent at the rear of the case, which is held in by thumbscrews. This access process is a little long-winded, but you won’t have to do it regularly, and there’s no need to remove the side panels either. Corsair has also seen fit to include a full-sized 5.25in bay – a feature the Antec ISK600 lacked, although installing an optical drive will restrict CPU cooler height to just 95mm. If you don’t need the bay then the mount is removable and you’ll gain another 40mm of clearance.
There’s also room for 300mm graphics dual-slot cards, which is enough space for all but monstrous dual-GPU models such as Radeon HD 7790 6GB cards, and those with large third-party coolers. Meanwhile, the PSU mount sits under the motherboard, and PSU length is essentially unlimited; there’s even room for the cables on modular PSUs, which the Prodigy can have trouble accommodating.
The only slight downers in terms of design are that the insides get a little cramped in comparison to the Prodigy, and there isn’t a lot of room for cable routing, due to the small size of the case. However, there are a few handy cable-tie mounts in front of the PSU and drive cage, so you can at least build a vaguely tidy system.
Performance With its unique cooling arrangement, we initially couldn’t predict how the Obsidian 250D would perform, but we weren’t disappointed. Its CPU delta T of 52°C was 9°C warmer than that of the larger Prodigy, but also 4°C cooler than the ISK600. It was its GPU delta T that really wowed us though – at 47°C, it’s the equal top-performing mini-ITX case, matching Fractal Design’s Node 304 on its highest fan speed setting and bettering the ISK600 again by 4°C.
This is likely due to the fact that the graphics card’s fan is placed right against the side panel, meaning it has direct access to cool outside air. While the Prodigy’s CPU delta T was much lower – this is due to its noisier, high-airflow fans – the Obsidian 250D, by comparison, was extremely quiet.
Conclusion With the Obsidian 250D, Corsair has created a fantastic first effort at a mini-ITX case. It has many of the best features of the competition, plus plenty of unique features of its own.
The ability to house two radiators, including Corsair’s large H100i, is amazing in a case this size, yet it manages to offer good water-cooling support without sacrificing air cooling.
The interior can be a little cramped, and there’s little space to hide cables, but that’s the same for any case of this size.
While CPU cooling isn’t spectacular, to Corsair’s credit, it could easily be improved by using an all-in-one liquid cooler as opposed to our test cooler. The all-round good specifications, excellent GPU cooling, small size, low noise, great water-cooling support and very reasonable price tag make the Obsidian 250D our new favourite mini-ITX case.