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SilverStone RVZ01: A Mini Raven

SilverStone RVZ01: A Mini Raven

May 7, 2014 by Lawrence Lee

Product
SilverStone Raven RVZ01

Mini-ITX Case
Manufacturer
Original Price
US$85

While the SilverStone RVZ01 carries the Raven name, it doesn't share a lot in common with its predecessors, especially its progenitor. The original Raven was the result of a grand experiment not unlike Frankenstein's creation. The RV01 had an enormous body covered with heavily angled plastic housing an alien layout and a series of gigantic fans. As an appeal to show enthusiasts SilverStone could think out-the-box, it was successful, albeit heavy-handed. Thankfully the series refined with time, whittling away the more gaudy elements, leaving behind a sleeker form while maintaining the new positive design elements.



The RVZ01 operating in vertical position.

Specifications: SilverStone Raven RVZ01

(from the
product web page
)
Model No. SST-RVZ01B
Material Reinforced plastic outer shell, steel body
Color Black
Motherboard DTX, Mini-ITX
Drive Bay External Slim slot-loading optical x 1
Internal 3.5” x 1, 2.5” x 3
Cooling System Top 1 x 120mm fan, 1500rpm, 18dBA
Bottom 1 x 120mm fan, 1500rpm, 18dBA

1 x 120mm fan slot
Expansion Slot 2
Front I/O Port USB 3.0 x 2

audio x 1

MIC x 1
Power Supply SFX
Expansion Card Support graphics card up to 13”, width restriction - 5.88”
Limitation of CPU cooler 83mm
Net Weight 3.71kg
Dimension 382mm (W) x 105mm (H) x 350mm (D), 14 liters
Extra Support two Kensington locks
Remark *Liquid cooling support limited to component that fit within RVZ01’s predefined dimensions. For detailed information, please refer to manual.

The Raven Z series is a new initiative to translate the success of previous Ravens into smaller form factors. The first model, the RVZ01, is a mini-ITX chassis that functions as either a slim tower or a wide desktop style case depending on the orientation. In the horizontal position, it has a substantial footprint but its slim 10.5 cm thickness trims down the volume to a mere 14 Liters. Despite this lack of girth, the case can house a long, full-sized graphics card, one 3.5 inch hard drive, and three 2.5 inch drives. It is tiny compared to the full-sized Raven iterations but it retains its positive pressure airflow scheme with a pair of slim 120 mm fans pre-installed and an optional third fan placement.

There are limitations of course — it supports only SFX power supplies, the optical drive bay is for a slim, slot-loading model, and the CPU heatsink height limit is just 83 mm. It just so happens that the Nitrogen NT06-E/Pro coolers are 82 mm tall and SilverStone is one of the few big name manufacturers with a line of 80 Plus Bronze/Gold SFX power supplies. Hopefully, this casual attempt at vertical integration doesn't compromise the case's performance or usability.



The box.



Packaging.



Accessories.

Previous Ravens arrived in dark and ominous packaging while the RVZ01 box has a brighter tone with the sides alight in orange flame. The case is wrapped in a black cloth bag and cushioned by standard styrofoam inserts. Tucked inside the video card compartment is a small white box containing the accessories. The contents include rubber case feet for both vertical and horizontal orientations, three fine mesh dust filters, a PCI-E extension (required to connect a graphics card to the built-in riser), a dual-headed fan connector, a bag of screws, and an extra case badge.

EXTERIOR & PANEL

The Raven RVZ01 measures 38.2 x 10.5 x 35.0 cm or 15.0 x 4.1 x 13.8 inches (W x H x D in horizontal orientation), with a total volume of 14.0 Liters which is compact for a case that supports a full-length video card. Sitting horizontal, it takes on the form of an old fashioned HTPC case at home in a multimedia cabinet. Propped up in the vertical position, it's a thin tower one would rather situate off to the side.



Like its predecessors, the RVZ01 has a molded plastic shell around the edges shaped in the style of a Raven's wings. Only a couple of other features pop out visually, the slim 120 mm fan on the top cover positioned over the CPU area, and the opening at the front for a slim, slot-loading optical drive.



The front audio and USB 3.0 ports reside on the right side near the top, while the power and reset buttons and LEDs take up positions at the bottom.



The RVZ01 is quite wide considering it's a mini-ITX model but about half of the case's real estate is reserved for a full-sized graphics card positioned sideways. Next to the expansion slots is the AC power plug which is attached to an extension cable leading to an SFX power supply near the front.



Underneath the graphics card area are the remaining two fan mounts, with one populated by another slim 120 mm fan (the white object covering the second position is the accessory box). The small SFX power supply vent is also located on this side. Note the discoloration near the bottom — the surface picks up smudges very easily.



The removable top cover is attached with two screws at the back, though surprisingly thumbscrews are not provided. The panel doesn't fit particularly well either, only flush with the rest of the chassis at the corners. The size of the gap near the center is off-putting and if you push down on the panel edge, it pops back up.



The steel panel is a sturdy 1.0 mm thick and hooks onto the chassis using two barbs on either side and three hooks at the front.

INTERIOR

Much of the interior is hidden by a large plastic contraption screwed onto the frame along the left side of the chassis to which the graphics card mounts. The other major feature is a metal frame for installing the power supply and a 3.5 inch drive above it.



Almost all the cabling originates around the front/right side of the case around the power supply, a nice by-product of the layout.



From the right side we get a better view of the riser board and the dual 2.5 inch drive bays above it. A third 2.5 inch drive can be installed on the metal bracket holding up the side of the GPU compartment.



The power supply mount is a simple metal frame secured with four screws to the bottom of the case.



Though partially covered by the plastic, both sides of the case are well ventilated.



Flipping over the graphics card holder reveals the two intake fan positions on the case floor.



The bare interior with all the mounts removed.

ASSEMBLY

Assembly is fairly straightforward though some consideration has to be given to convenience. SilverStone wisely advises to connect SATA cables to the board before installation as their location on mini-ITX boards is typically along the top edge, an area difficult to access as the side of the case is not removable. We also recommend mounting the power supply first as most of the cables run around its perimeter, making it difficult to get to its mounting holes on the floor.



3.5 inch hard and SFX power supply secured.



For our setup we used the largest heatsink we had on hand that would fit, the Scythe Samurai ZZ, which stands 69 mm tall without the fan. The fan on the top cover cleared it by only about 5 mm which makes the maximum heatsink height 74 mm, apparently contradicting SilverStone's specified limit of 83 mm unless the fan is removed.



Our Radeon HD 6850 attached to the video card mount and connected to the riser board.



Two plastic brackets are included to hold the graphics card in place. A series of holes running along the edge of the GPU mount allow the user to position it accordingly. The two pieces are also secured to one another with an additional screw but the open slots make it height adjustable.



Our test configuration fully assembled.



The entire area under the graphics card is hidden away so if you place any cables in this area there is no way to tie them down or keep them out of the way of the fan(s) after the fact. Incidentally we moved the intake fan to the adjacent spot to put it directly in line with our GPU fan.



Both the power and reset buttons glow blue.

TESTING

System Configuration:

Measurement and Analysis Tools

Testing Procedures

Our test methodology involves recording the system's temperatures, power consumption, and noise levels at both idle and on load (Prime95 using the small FFT setting plus FurMark's Xtreme burn-in test). Fan speeds were adjusted as we felt necessary in order to achieve an optimal balance between heat and noise.

Baseline Noise



Stock fan.

The Raven RVZ01 ships with a pair of 3-pin 120 mm fans just 15 mm thick (model number AS1215L12), one at the top acting as the CPU fan and one on the bottom to provide intake to the graphics card. Through the course of testing we discovered that one of the fans was faulty, generating a noticeable grinding noise when positioned in a vertical orientation. In order to proceed to testing without delay, we replaced it with the only slim 120 mm we had available, the stock fan from a Scythe Shuriken 2. Incidentally, the two share a similar frame structure with a ring orbiting the hub for added stability and struts curved in the opposite direction to the fan blades.

Stock Fan Measurements
Voltage
Speed
SPL @1m
12V
1580 RPM
26 dBA
9V
1270 RPM
19~20 dBA
7V
1020 RPM
15~16 dBA
Scythe + Stock Fan Measurements
Scythe Speed
Stock Speed
Combined SPL @1m
1380 RPM
1580 RPM
28 dBA
1080 RPM
1270 RPM
22 dBA
820 RPM
1020 RPM
17~18 dBA
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle left/front
of case.

Introducing a foreign fan into the equation was tricky as the Scythe model was thinner and noisier at equivalent speeds. We also didn't want the Scythe's acoustics to play a big role as it doesn't accurately represent the out-of-the-box sound of the RVZ01. Keeping this in mind, we placed the replacement fan on the GPU side as we measure noise from the left side, so the GPU is on the opposite side of the mic, and in horizontal position, the fan would be underneath the case. However, we didn't want it to be completely drowned out either, so we set it to speeds with which it produced about the same measured noise level as the remaining stock fan blowing toward the CPU. This turned out to be about 200 RPM lower than the stock unit.

While the Scythe fan was louder than the stock fan at equivalent speeds, the noise it generated was more pleasant, mostly smooth but turbulent and whiny at higher speeds. The stock SilverStone fan had an entirely different character unfortunately. It droned at at high speed, buzzed at low speed, all the while sounding rickety at close range. At the 1270/1080 RPM level, the SilverStone was responsible for multiple tonal peaks at around 200, 350 and 800 Hz in the combined acoustic profile. At 1020 RPM, much of the higher frequency tones dissipated.

TEST RESULTS

System Measurements: Core i5-2500K + HD 6850 Test System
System State
Idle
CPU + GPU Load
Case Orientation
Vertical
Horizontal
GPU Fan Speed*
1650 RPM
1560 RPM
2580 RPM
CPU Temp
31°C
71°C
72°C
PCH Temp
28°C
40°C
44°C
HD Temp
34°C
38°C
42°C
GPU Temp
34°C
82°C
90°C
GPU VRM Temp
46°C
90°C
99°C
System Power (AC)
58W
264W
267W
24 dBA
27 dBA
31 dBA
*set as low as possible to maintain a GPU temperature of ~90°C on load.

Stock fan speed: 1020 RPM

Scythe fan speed: 820 RPM

Ambient temperature: 21°C.

To begin, we placed the machine in the vertical position and set the system fans to the lowest baseline level which emitted 17~18 [email protected] The addition of the hard drive, power supply fan, and graphics card fan, pushed the overall SPL to 24 [email protected] when the system was turned on and left idle. On full load, the GPU fan slowed by 90 RPM (a quick of this particular video card), but the noise level jumped to 27 [email protected] due to the power supply fan increasing in speed.

Typically we adjust the GPU fan speed accordingly in order to maintain a GPU temperature of 90°C but this turned out to be unnecessary as it stabilized at 82°C with the fan at its minimum setting. As the CPU temperature of 71°C was adequate and the power supply fan was the primary noise source, we didn't feel the need to increase fan speeds.

Flipping the system horizontal made for a tougher challenge as all the intake vents became more restricted. The included round rubber feet didn't elevate the case much, making it more difficult for both the Scythe fan and the power supply to draw cool air into the case. Every temperature increased as a result and the GPU fan had to be set to almost 2600 RPM in order to keep the GPU at 90°C, driving the noise level up by a sizable 4 dBA. At this point we did attempt to increase the fan speed of the Scythe fan, but it barely had any effect on internal temperatures.

With the system operating, the stock fan's deficiencies were well hidden, blended away into/with the noise emitted by the rest of the components. The hard drive produced a noticeable peak at 120 Hz (corresponding to its 7200 RPM motor) but the vibrations were not audible and we felt only faint tremors emanating from the case. On load, the power supply ramped up, adding a sizable contribution in the 400 to 1000 Hz range. Typically the graphics card fan is worst-sounding component in our setup but in the vertical position, it was running at minimum speed, so the overall noise of the machine was not unpleasant.

Case Comparison
Case
SilverStone Raven RVZ01 (horizontal)
SilverStone Raven RVZ01 (vertical)
Lian Li PC-V354
SilverStone Sugo SG09
CPU
Core i5-2500K
Core i5-750
CPU Cooler
Scythe Samurai ZZ,

stock system fan at 7V
Noctua NH-C12P,

Nexus 120 at 9V
Power Supply
SilverStone ST45SF-G
CM Silent Pro M700W
Hard Drive
Barracuda XT 2TB
EcoGreen F3 2TB
System Fan Speeds
820 RPM (Scythe)
9V
5V/9V
GPU Fan
2410 RPM
1560 RPM
1740 RPM
1680 RPM
CPU Temp
72°C
71°C
59°C
68°C
PCH Temp
44°C
40°C
-
HD Temp
42°C
38°C
25°C
24°C
GPU Temp*
90°C
82°C
88°C
89°C
GPU VRM Temp
99°C
90°C
75°C
85°C
System Power (AC)
267W
264W
274W
275W
31 dBA
27 dBA
26 dBA
24 dBA
Ambient temperature: 21°C.

Despite being much smaller in volume, the Raven RVZ01 stacks up well against larger cases. The vertical configuration was only 1 dB louder than the Lian Li PC-V354 and if the SilverStone power supply had been quieter, it would have matched or beat that mark. The CPU and hard drive temperatures were both much worse but the RVZ01 had a distinct edge in GPU cooling as the card's fan never had to exceed the minimum speed.

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 5~10 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

While the Raven RVZ01 was undoubtedly created as a showcase for some of their other products, SilverStone would have been hard pressed to design something better regardless, at least with these dimensions. The allocated space is used wisely, forgoing ATX power supply compatibility in favor of the smaller SFX form factor with a spot for a 3.5 inch hard drive. The side-mounted video card keeps the chassis trim and the compartment securing it doubles as a home for 2.5 inch drives and a slim, slot-loading optical drive. This later aspect is limiting but with optical media being abandoned at an increasing rate, supporting the option using the smallest form factor possible is an appropriate compromise. Cable management features are nonexistent but in truth none are needed as layout of the interior naturally places almost all the wires in one corner around the power supply mount.

The RVZ01 is really only designed to do one thing, to house a gaming system, though it does this very well in the vertical orientation. The GPU cooling in this position is so strong, it defied one of the tenets of our testing procedures. Attempting to keep our HD 6850 test GPU at ~90°C on full load was impossible because it was closer to 80°C even with the card's fan running at minimum speed. It's certainly usable as a horizontal case as well, but the layout isn't as advantageous. The thermal conditions inside deteriorate in this position, making it difficult for the graphics card to keep cool regardless of how fast the case fans are going.

Limited versatility is the RVZ01's greatest weakness, and we're not just talking about the case's orientation. Almost half of the space inside is dedicated to an expansion slot and it can't be repurposed for adding storage like other cases. CPU cooling is somewhat lackluster and while the top fan is designed to function as the CPU fan, we would've like to see a PWM model included instead. A better sounding fan is also on our wish list though at lower speeds, it's not too much of an issue. Our last point of contention concerns the top panel, which is ill-fitting and lacks thumbscrews. It is a budget case, but we feel like fit and finish is part of SilverStone's core identity and it shouldn't be forsaken at any price.

The Raven RVZ01 is possibly the only slim mini-ITX gaming case currently available, not that this is a niche demanding to be filled. However, at the very least, it gives consumers another option, a console-style 14 Liter chassis capable of housing full-sized PC components. This form factor isn't for everyone, but if you're partial to it, its US$85 price-tag is well worth it.

Our thanks to SilverStone
for the Raven RVZ01 case sample.



SilverStone Raven RVZ01 is Recommended by SPCR

* * *

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