Introducing the Puget Systems Obsidian

Today's review unit marks our third from Puget Systems. Thus far they've all been remarkable builds and this one proves to be no exception. Designed expressly for users (including businesses) who need the most reliable machine they can get, Puget has shipped us their Obsidian tower. On paper this machine is reasonable if unexceptional, but the choices behind its design are anything but ordinary.

If you read our review of the Puget Systems Deluge Mini gaming machine, some of this configuration is going to seem a bit like deja vu. We mentioned in that review that Puget qualifies and chooses components through fairly rigorous testing and data collection, and we've been able to actually look at some of their data thanks to their CEO, Jon Bach. The seemingly unremarkable Obsidian line is most emblematic of that philosophy. Geared specifically towards enterprise and government use, the Obsidian is designed and backed expressly for maximum reliability.

Puget Systems Obsidian Specifications
Chassis Antec Mini P180
Processor Intel Core i5-2500K (4x3.3GHz, 32nm, 6MB L3, 95W)
Motherboard ASUS P8H67-M EVO (Rev. 3.0) Motherboard with H67 chipset
Memory 2x4GB Kingston DDR3-1333 @ 1333MHz (expandable to 16GB)
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 3000
Hard Drive(s) Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB SATA 6Gbps HDD
Optical Drive(s) ASUS DVD+/-RW Drive
Networking Realtek PCIe Gigabit Ethernet
Audio Realtek ALC892 HD Audio
Speaker, mic, line-in, and surround jacks for 7.1 sound
Optical out
Front Side 2x USB 2.0
eSATA
Headphone and mic jacks
Optical drive
Top -
Back Side PS/2
6x USB 2.0
2x eSATA
6-pin FireWire
DisplayPort
HDMI
VGA
DVI-I
Optical out
2x USB 3.0
Ethernet
Speaker, mic, line-in, and surround jacks for 7.1 sound
Operating System Windows 7 Professional 64-bit SP1
Dimensions 8.3" x 17.2" x 17.1" (WxDxH)
Weight 20.9 lbs (case only)
Extras Antec TP-650 650W Power Supply
Scythe Katana 3 Air Cooler
Warranty 1-year limited parts warranty and lifetime labor and phone support
2-year and 3-year warranties available
Pricing Obsidian starts at $1,149
Review system configured at $1,307

On paper, the Obsidian is going to seem pretty unexciting. The included Intel Core i5-2500K has four physical cores specced to run at 3.3GHz, up to 3.7GHz in turbo, along with 6MB of L3 cache, but the real reason Puget opted for it in this build was due largely to Intel's freakishly bizarre market segmentation on their Sandy Bridge desktop processors. Intel opted to castrate the Sandy Bridge integrated graphics on every desktop chip except the ones no one would care about them on: the unlocked K-series processors. Given the decision to rely on integrated graphics for this build (especially because the ASUS P8H67-M EVO motherboard has every type of modern display connection available), it's easy to understand why the i5-2500K was chosen.

The rest of the parts are going to appear just as unexceptional, but when you check out the configurator on their site, you'll notice there are even less options for parts in the Obsidian than there are for any of their other machines, and this is by design. The Obsidian is very specifically meant for enterprise-class work with an extremely low noise level and power draw. As a result the industry standard 1TB Western Digital Caviar Black is a given, and as with the Deluge Mini only Intel SSDs are offered.

Again, pay attention to the details. Thanks to the ASUS P8H67-M EVO the Obsidian has every type of modern connection you could conceivably ask for--though it's fair to suggest that in enterprise situations serial or parallel connectivity may yet be required, as some larger businesses have a tendency to keep old hardware on hand without moving forward with the times. The Antec Mini P180 coupled with the Scythe Katana 3 air-cooler ensures the system runs cool and quiet.

Application and Futuremark Performance
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  • Belard - Thursday, April 07, 2011 - link

    The Obsidian is designed for business people who don't want a generic looking Dell or HP or something that is tiny and hidden. Perhaps something they can see in their office.

    The parts makes it easy to work with and replace in the future. I had some older Dells that have to be sold for cheap or whatever because while the case/PSU are fine - the non-standard parts makes the computer fit for the city dump.

    I've changed out full offices out of DELLs into hand-built computers I made myself. Usually with Antec cases - high end when possible. I am usually able to do a complete rebuild on the inside while keeping the PSU / optical drive.

    Things like filters and high end anti-noise features are not part of Dell and HP, etc. Those are mass produce standard generic computers.

    I've built a computer for a client 8 years ago - because of the RAID and extra features - it was about $800 in labor. I don't do work like that anymore... at most a rare gaming machine would require a bit of work.

    As the article stated: The parts are nothing special. But its the testing and making sure they use some of the best parts that they sell to their customers.

    IMHO: WD drives are louder than Seagates thou... ;)
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, April 07, 2011 - link

    Most of the big businesses I know just junk (well, wipe and then recycle) old PCs after four or five years. That's what a corporation I worked at for four years did anyway. Some of the conclusion was added by me based off of my experience supporting Dell and HP desktops and laptops over the years, and I can guarantee that neither company that I worked for would have even considered a smaller computer shop.

    At one company, we also had the option for mini towers or desktops, and about 80% of the people preferred desktops. I like my towers, though, and would have loved an Antec P180 chassis. Not for $450 extra, though.

    Obviously, different companies will have different priorities, but considering the cost and the size of Puget Systems (e.g. quite small), I'm betting mostly they get smaller local companies as opposed to any "enterprise" customers.
    Reply
  • Penti - Friday, April 08, 2011 - link

    Plus if businesses wants workstations they do have the much better option of buying professional properly built workstations from the OEMs such as HP and Dell that is designed to be workstations and have support. DIY builders cases such as this Antec is bad in comparison any way. So is the high-end gaming cases too. If they just want cheap clients then the cheap OEM machines is better any way. You cant add 70 - 110 dollar cases and 100 dollars PSUs onto 400 dollar clients. With 3 years warranty from the supplier. They simply get better desktopsdeals from others then you (OP). Small businesses can add other services though. You can even add 80+ PSUs as an option to those cheap 400 dollar clients by the way. I doubt anybody wants to support those 4+ years PSUs on the rebuilt clients any way Jarred. Computers can generally be used until they and their components is mostly useless a 3-4 year old PSU and optical drive isn't worth the time / labor to save / reuse. They are at home if there hasn't been shift in standards like moving to new connectors but thats another deal. Reply
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  • Azethoth - Thursday, April 07, 2011 - link

    I used this case on a custom build. It is full of win and awesome and quiet, etc.

    But wtf is up with the reset and power switches being hidden? You have to open the case to turn it on or off or reset it. Or if you do not have sausage fingers you can kind of hit the power button through one of the slots but its damn awkward.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, April 07, 2011 - link

    I could use something like that thanks to my one-year-old running around the house. LOL Reply
  • Gami - Thursday, April 07, 2011 - link

    it won't help..

    even at the age of one. They'll figure out how to open the door and than push those buttons.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, April 08, 2011 - link

    No, trust me, it would help. Right now, he's staring at my big blue glowing button on the front of my case and it's only a matter of time before he pushes it. Luckily it will just hibernate the PC and this particular system doesn't have a reset button. My wife's PC, though.... :) Reply
  • RaistlinZ - Thursday, April 07, 2011 - link

    Nice system, but I think a business would be looking to minimize costs as much as possible. I configured the below from HP.com

    HP Pavilion Elite HPE-570t customizable Desktop PC
    LC120AV#ABA

    Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
    Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-2600 quad-core processor with Turbo-Boost [up to 3.8GHz, 8MB cache]
    8GB DDR3-1333MHz SDRAM [4 DIMMs]
    FREE UPGRADE! 1.5TB 7200 rpm SATA 3Gb/s hard drive from 750GB
    No additional office software
    Norton Internet Security(TM) 2011 - 15 month
    1GB DDR3 ATI Radeon HD 5570 [DVI, HDMI, DP, VGA adapter]
    FREE UPGRADE! Blu-ray player & Lightscribe SuperMulti DVD burner
    Integrated Ethernet port, No wireless LAN
    15-in-1 memory card reader, 1 USB, audio
    No TV Tuner
    Beats Audio (tm) -- integrated studio quality sound
    HP USB keyboard and optical mouse

    TOTAL: $909.99 + Free Shipping.

    This system has the advantage of a faster CPU with Hyperthreading, larger hard drive, Blu-Ray player, and discrete graphics and still costs $400.00 less than the Puget system.

    Just saying.
    Reply
  • argosreality - Thursday, April 07, 2011 - link

    Except a business is typically not going to buy a machine aimed at a consumer. Atleast, not a business larger than say 10 or so machines. The business line comes with better support, generally better design and is easier to work on. You also typically get better warranties and options for onsite, 24hr support let alone uplift capabilities. That makes a huge difference in the bottom line especially if you're leasing the machines or writing them off for tax purposes.

    I can't count the number of times we see business line machines from HP or dell (ok excluding the Dell GX2xx series...) that have been running for years without hardware problems. Consumer grade? Yea, good luck
    Reply

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