Silverstone Raven EATX Tower Case

Cases|Damping
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AUDIO RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

Each recording starts with ambient noise, then 10 second segments of product at various states. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Silverstone Raven is one of the more interesting cases we've come across. There are many advantages to rotating the motherboard tray. Doing so brings the power connectors closer to bottom-mounted power supplies, and it may help with cooling by aligning the airflow through the case with the rising heat of natural convection. Whether there's enough heat in our test system to make the advantage of convection significant is not possible to determine, but it's safe to say that the hotter your system, the more convection should help.

The inclusion of two very quiet 180 mm fans was a good decision on Silverstone's part. They move a lot of air with very little noise. The 120mm exhaust fan, which is not as smooth sounding as we would like, is probably unnecessary. Most of the top of the case is ventilated, so letting the airflow take its natural rising course is not a bad plan of action.

As a consequence of the design decisions, the case is much taller than typical towers. A rotated extended ATX tray makes the motherboard area taller than it is wide. Including thick upward blowing fans with enough breathing room below them adds an additional two inches. Finally at the top of the case, the cables and the cover that hides them from view extends the case another two to three inches. Not only is the case bigger, there is also some wasted space, namely the spot opposite the power supply at the floor of the case. They obviously couldn't think of anything useful to put in that space.

The hard drive mounting system is one of its best features. The soft, flexible drive sleds with rubber grommets are very good for reducing vibration. The effect was noticeable on the WD Caviar Black we used during testing, though it is not a replacement for elastic suspension as we could still feel the drive humming a bit through the case. The large size of the panels tend to exacerbate this effect. The drives slide into place easily and the included SATA backplane is a nice touch, though we wish Silverstone had provided more than one. Cooling is not an issue, even if six hard drives were packed together, as one of the massive 180 mm fans sits directly below the hard drive compartment.

There are a few aspects of the case that could use some improvement. To install optical drives, there is a simple, secure one-touch lock system, but it is not as secure as it could be as it is only present on one side. For complete security, the other side requires screws just like a generic $30 case. Similarly, the air filters at the bottom of the case are easily removable, while those on the side panel require several screws to be removed. Finally, there is the door mechanism, which is noisy, slow and awkward.

Cable management at the back side of the motherboard tray is fairly good with hooks provided to hold up the slack from the various cables inside, though we wish there were a few more holes, and larger ones to help hide the larger bigger connectors, like those for PCI-E power. The cables at the top of the case may cause headaches for some. As previously noted, using a tall adapter makes it impossible for the top cover to fit. Furthermore, popping off the cover every time you want to remove or install a cable may prove to be an annoyance, though whethere this is worse than getting behind the typical tower case is a bit of a tossup.

The overall build quality is good. The steel side panels are reasonably thick, the molded plastic is very sturdy and doesn't bend or buckle under pressure. The Raven's physical appearance is likely to elicit a strong reaction — whether it positive or negative will depend on the eye of the beholder. No matter how you feel about its look, you certainly have to admire Silverstone for buying into the whole Raven motif — they certainly didn't hold back.

In summary, the Raven is a solid case, especially if you require an enclosure with plenty of room and expansion options, and it's easy to work in. Most of its faults are minor and can be forgiven if you admire its aesthetics and the bottom to top airflow dynamic. At the current $210~250 street price, it's a viable option to other competitors in the high end gaming case market. It's a perfectly viable option even for a super quiet PC... but for most silent PC enthusiasts, a more minimalist approach to visual stealth is probably preferred.

Silverstone Raven
PROS

* Decent airflow design
* Excellent HDD mounting system
* Smooth, quiet 180mm fans
* Roomy
* Very low baseline noise
* Unusual aesthetics?
CONS

* Very large
* Only one SATA backplane provided
* Unusual aesthetics?

Our thanks to SilverStone Technology for the Raven case sample.

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Computex 2008: Antec's Skeleton, P183 & Sonata Elite cases
Antec Mini P180: A micro-ATX P182

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