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Q&A With our Case & Cooling Product manager


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George Makris was kind enough to answer your questions regarding the Hydro Series H50 and the Obsidian 800D chassis.

 

What's your title and what do you do at Corsair?

 

I’m the Product Manager for Case & Cooling products, which means that I’m mostly responsible for the development and marketing of those products. I get to do cool stuff like say “that part should be black” or “it should feature six instead of four” and then I get to yell at our engineers until they secretly make fun of me behind my back and let the air out of my car tires.

 

 

What is the Hydro Series H50?

 

The H50 is an all-in-one CPU cooler you can buy for around $70-$80 US.

 

 

What was the concept behind the H50?

 

We wanted to make the best $70-$80 CPU cooler we could, and the H50 was the result. We didn’t want to limit ourselves to aircooler or watercooler, but we wanted something compact, widely compatible, and high performance, and after some work we got it done I think.

 

 

What changes did Corsair make from the Asetek OEM unit?

 

Asetek has been selling a similar unit known as the LCLC (Low-Cost Liquid Cooler) to System Integrators for a while now, but it’s never had the performance that would allow us to compete with high-end aircooling. We worked with them to modify a version for us – it basically involved a new copper cold plate and a fan that balances performance and silence pretty well. The cold plate itself is the most performance-affecting component we changed – the new one is much, much more effective at removing heat into the water. Also, it scales nicely, so if you want to add a 2nd fan or a much more powerful fan, performance will go up quite a bit.

 

 

Why bring the air into the case where there's normally an exhaust fan?

 

In order to get the best performance with the H50, we recommend turning the rear 120mm exhaust fan into an intake fan. This blows cool air directly across the radiator fins and will lower your CPU temperature quite a bit. If you have a top exhaust fan or a side panel fan (which you turn into an exhaust fan) to balance out the intake/output of air in the case, you should be fine. In our tests it did not increase case ambient temp significantly, provided the case also had another exhaust fan.

 

 

Does it matter which way the pump/radiator are oriented?

 

No, the unit can be installed in any orientation.

 

 

What advantages does the H50 offer over high-end air cooling?

 

Well it’s certainly darker in color than most…okay, just kidding. The first benefit would be performance – in a typical case the H50 will outperform any high-end aircooler on the market. The performance delta changes a bit if you have a super high-airflow case or are testing on an open bench, but in most cases the H50 will give you better performance.

 

Also, we’re much safer from a weight perspective. Some of these high-end aircoolers can weigh well over a pound! That well exceeds the socket specifications for weight, which is why the backplates are all included. But that being said, if you’re carting your system back and forth from home to a LAN party or something, the amount of stress on the motherboard socket area can easily cause microfractures in the PCB which can in turn cause hard-to-diagnose stability issues. The H50 gets rid of that problem because there’s no significant stress on the motherboard itself, all the weight is really supported by the chassis where the 120mm fan/radiator mounts.

 

 

What is the Obsidian Series 800D?

 

The Obsidian Series 800D is Corsair’s first entry into the case market.

 

 

What was the concept behind the 800D?

 

A few years ago, I was building all our show systems for trade shows like CES, Computex, and CEBIT, and I realized that no matter what case we used, there were always little things that annoyed me. So a few of us got together and we brainstormed what the perfect case would be like. Sadly, anti-gravity and neural telekinetic building materials aren’t really available, so we went back to the drawing board and created the 800D.

 

It’s really designed to focus on a few things: Cooling, Building, and Hassle-Free upgrades. We wanted to make it super-easy to run cables, install new heatsinks, hard drives, graphics cards, and optical drives, while at the same time looking great. After over a year of toying around with it, we’ve finally got a great product for true builders and enthusiasts.

 

 

Why go after the high-end first with the 800D? Why not go for a low-cost mid tower?

 

Corsair doesn’t really do compromise too well. We wanted to make the best case we could without cutting out features, at first. We wanted to get the right product to the right people and have everyone that plays with it realize how many features it has.

 

One of the big things about the 800D is that you’ll be constantly noticing features that make it easier to work with. Tool free side panel removal, easy CPU heatsink upgrades, quick hard drive swaps, and super-clean cable routing to reduce cable clutter are things I can think of right off the bat. There’s no one huge smack-you-in-the-face feature, aside from the really cool appearance (in my opinion), but the little features add up and make it the best case out there, I think.

 

 

What has changed between the last time we saw the case at Computex and what will be on store shelves?

 

Mostly fit and finish things. The biggest change is the new CPU backplate cutout. When we designed the 800D originally we had Core 2 processors in mind with their Socket 775 boards. When Core i7 launched with its Socket 1366 boards, we realized we needed to modify the CPU backplate cutout area to be compatible with some of those boards. So that’s the biggest change.

 

 

Other than that, it’s a rivet here and a screw there – mostly things to make the case more polished.

 

 

 

Will the 800D have positive or negative air pressure?

 

This has been a kind of interesting issue lately – a lot of questions about this are on the forums. By default it’s positive air pressure (2 intake fans, 1 exhaust) but to be honest with you, it’s not just air pressure that matters, it’s airflow design. In reality, no case I know of is completely sealed off to the surrounding air, so the air pressure is going to be pretty much equal. The airflow design, however, has to guarantee that cool air can get directly to warm components, and that once that heat is transferred to the air, the air has a clean and quick path out of the case.

 

On the 800D, we bring in cool air from underneath the case for all components, and then it’s compartmentalized into three sections. The PSU cools itself and exhaust out the rear. The hard drive fan bring in cold air from under the case, blow across the drives, then get ducted out behind the motherboard tray so that warm hard drive air isn’t blown over your super-hot graphics cards or CPU. The main chamber brings in air from under the case, and blows it directly over the GPUs and CPU area, and that air is exhausted out the back by the 140mm fan. If you install the optional three top 120mm exhaust fans, the hot air really gets shot out of the case quickly and ambient temps drop quite a bit, but even as shipped, the case cools components quite well.

 

 

Can you clarify if SSD drives will work with the hot-swap bays?

 

Yes, 2.5” SSDs will work on the hot-swap bays without any adapter.

 

 

When will we see the 800D for sale?

 

Hopefully it’s a matter of weeks now. We’re in production at our factory, and the first shipment is scheduled to hit the water in August. From there it’s just a matter of hoping the boats don’t sink or get attacked by the Kraken.

 

 

Any final words?

 

I started at Corsair about 5 years ago working in the lab just swapping memory sticks out and finding which ones were fastest, but I’ve been a gamer and enthusiast as long as I can remember. My first overclock was a Pentium 133 that I overclocked to 150 (by changing motherboard jumpers!). I think my cell phone has more processing power than that computer. I know it has more storage space and better internet access! I’m lucky enough to have a job that I love, and I get to design and build all the cool toys that I dreamt about for years while I was working outside the industry.

 

That’s why I really value feedback on these products – constructive criticism is how we make our products better! If you guys tell me what you want in a cooling product or case, I’ll do my best to build that product – so let’s work together.

 

I post as Redbeard on most of the hardware enthusiast forums, so if you see me and you’ve got a question, send me a PM and I’ll do my best to answer it. I want to build the products you guys like, because I like them too. it’s a win-win for me.

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