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SilverStone Raven RVZ02 Slim Tower

SilverStone Raven RVZ02 Slim Tower

January 4, 2016 by Lawrence Lee

Product
SilverStone Raven RVZ02

Mini-ITX Case
Manufacturer
Street Price
US$70

US$80 (window version)

The SilverStone Raven RVZ01/FTZ01 was an ambitious case that allowed users to build a high-end gaming PC within its compact 14 Liter chassis. Adopting a broad and slim console-like form factor, it used a riser card to lay the GPU parallel to the motherboard. The CPU and board was cooled by a slim fan on one side while the video card received the same treatment on the opposite side with a physical divider on the inside keeping the two sections compartmentalized. It was best utilized in the vertical position as a thin tower with ample airflow on both sides.



The SilverStone Raven RVZ02.

The new model, the RVZ02 has essentially the same layout but is noticeably slimmer, shaving about an inch off its thickness, though it is somewhat deeper than its predecessor. The overall volume has been reduced to an even more impressive 12.2 Liters, smaller than the NCASE M1, though not as evenly proportioned. The features are mostly unchanged as it can still fit a slim optical drive and a graphics card up to 13 inches long and retaining the SFX-L power supply compatibility that SilverStone added with the release of the FTZ01. However, the sleeker profile means there is no room for case fans at all, even the slim variety.



RVZ02 laying horizontal.

To make up for the loss of airflow, the air vents have been greatly increased in size to better feed the CPU and GPU fans. The vents are the only difference between the two RVZ02 models — they're part of the window in the windowed variant (RVZ02B-W) and built into the steel panel on the standard black version (RVZ02B). A third model, the Milo ML08, also uses the same all-steel chassis/panel design except it has a more boxy front panel and a carrying handle. Unfortunately, there is no Fortress version being offered so fans of aluminum construction currently have to settle for the Fortress FTZ01.



Accessories.

Along with an assembly manual, the RVZ02 comes with a white accessory box inside holding all the accouterment. The case ships screws, zip-ties, a riser card, a 9.5 to 12.7 mm slim optical drive face plate adapter, horizontal and vertical case feet, and two plastic clips, one to help secure the power supply, the other to keep the graphics card from drooping. The vertical case stands are much improved as the mechanism used for expansion/contraction is tighter. On the RVZ01/FTZ01, the interlocking portions were so loosely connected, they slid apart with little effort.

Specifications: SilverStone Raven RVZ01

(from the
product web page
)
Model No. SST-RVZ02B (black)
SST-RVZ02B-W (black + window)
Material Reinforced plastic outer shell, steel body
Color Black
Motherboard Mini-ITX
Drive Bay External Slim optical 12.7 mm or 9.5 mm x 1

(9.5 mm compatibility limited to tray type)
Internal Internal 2.5” x 2

(one additional 3.5” or 2.5” space depending on expansion card installed)
Cooling System Rear Passive exhaust vents
Side Oversized vents over CPU/motherboard and expansion area
Expansion Slot 2
Front I/O Port USB 3.0 x 2
audio x 1
MIC x 1
Power Supply SFX & SFX-L
Expansion Card Compatible with 13” long, width restriction – 4.78”*
Limitation of CPU cooler 58 mm
Net Weight 3.2 ~ 3.3 kg
Dimension 380 mm (W) x 87 mm (H) x 370 mm (D), 12 liters
Extra Support two Kensington locks
Remark *Expansion card holder needs to be removed when installing expansion/graphics card wider than 4.78 inches. When system is assembled without the holder, vertical orientation of the case is recommended and transporting/shipping should be avoided. For more details, please refer to manual.

EXTERIOR

The SilverStone Raven RVZ02 weighs 3.2~3.3 kg or 7.0~7.3 lbs and has a chassis made of steel along with acrylic windows (on the windowed version only of course) and a plastic front panel. It measures 38.0 x 8.7 x 37.0 cm or 15.0 x 3.4 x 14.6 inches (W x H x D) for a total volume of just 12.2 Liters.



In the proper vertical orientation, the window on the left side resides at the top while the window on the right side is located at the bottom. A great deal of care has been taken to keep the case as symmetrical as possible. Aside from the front and back, everything looks the same if the chassis is turned upside-down.



The shape of the front bezel abides by this symmetry as well with the same proportions mirrored on each side.



The name/lighting plate slides down to reveal the I/O panel consisting of a pair of audio and USB 3.0 ports. The power button is located down in the corner.



Some vents are provided on the sides but it's quite limited just as before. The portion of the window that extends around the corner is solid. This spot is the only place you can see clearly inside the case.



The AC power plug is located at the back in the corner near the expansion slots, connected to the power supply inside by an extension cable. The side panels are held on with three screws a piece.



The RVZ02 uses symmetrical L-shaped panels that pull out from the rear, making it easier to get at all the components inside than the RVZ01 . The transparent portion is a substantial 4.5 mm thick while the surrounding steel is 0.9 mm thick.

INTERIOR

The interior is much better constructed than the RVZ01 as the plastic GPU/drive bracket held on with screws has been replaced with riveted steel. The bracket felt rather flimsy especially with the GPU attached to it and fitting it was a fidgety experience so I'm glad to see it gone. The entire chassis feels more sturdy and professional this time around.



The layout of the interior is essentially the same as the RVZ01 with the motherboard and power supply on one side and the GPU on the other with the drive assembly sitting above it. The most significant difference is the drive bracket being constructed out of metal rather than plastic. There's also a spot for a 2.5-inch drive underneath the PSU position.



The slim optical drive position is elevated, allowing the AC extension cord to run underneath it. There are also 2.5/3.5-inch drive mounting holes for installing an extra drive on the opposite side in the GPU compartment.



A pair of plastic 2.5-inch drive frames are provided above the hole for the riser card. These trays are hinged on one side and have release tabs on the other and are somewhat loose.



Without colored wires, the RVZ02's front panel cables are more difficult to identify but being braided/sleeved, they're easier to untangle and manage.



As both panels are removable, the RVZ02's design is far more user friendly than the RVZ01. Unlike its predecessor, you can access the fan side of the video card and the underside of the motherboard.



A padded adjustable plastic bracket is provided to squeeze the video card's cooler and PCB together so the card doesn't droop. Unfortunately, the clips don't extend out far enough to work on wider video cards.

ASSEMBLY

Having removable panels on both sides and ditching the plastic GPU bracket makes assembly much easier than the RVZ01/FTZ01 but the usual rules for putting together a small PC still apply. Most notably, anything that plugs into the motherboard should be connected before it's installed, especially if have a large CPU heatsink covering much of the board.



Our test system fully assembled. We're using a SilverStone SX500-LG power supply and Scythe Big Shuriken 2 Rev.B. No drives are visible because our 3.5-inch SSHD interferes with the graphics card, so a Kingston M.2 SSD has taken its place.
Most of the cables are bunched up between the drive bracket and the power supply.



The Big Shuriken 2 is the best compatible CPU cooler we have on hand and it conforms exactly to the specified 58 mm height limit, though there actually is 3 mm of clearance between the fan and window/vent above it.



The only spot for a A 3.5-inch drive is in the GPU compartment but its presence limits video card length to ~21.0 cm. Also keep in mind the drive may interfere with PCI-E power connectors.



Our 28.9 cm long Asus GTX 980 Strix fits comfortably with 5.3 cm to spare.



Our GTX 980 is rather wide though, necessitating the removal of this plastic corner support which is held on with three screws.



If want to use an M.2 drive installed on the backside of the motherboard, mount it before the motherboard itself. The screw hole for our M.2 slot is covered up.



In the proper vertical orientation with the Raven logo right side up, the video card section is at the top with the fans visible on the left side. The CPU and PSU fans are on the right side in the bottom half. The only problem with this placement is the power supply fan blows its exhaust downward.



Power is indicated by a pleasant orange glow. It's accented nicely by a red hard drive activity LED at the center.

TESTING

System Configuration:

  • Intel Core i5-4690K processor - 3.4 GHz (3.8 GHz with Turbo
    Boost), 22nm, 84W
  • Scythe Big Shuriken 2 Rev.B CPU cooler
  • ASUS Z97I-PLUS motherboard - Intel Z97 chipset, mini-ITX
  • ASUS Strix GeForce GTX 980 graphics card - 2048 CUDA cores, 1178
    MHz clock (1279 MHz with GPU Boost), 7010 MHz memory
  • Kingston HyperX Genesis memory - 2x4GB, DDR3-1600, C10
  • Kingston SSDNow solid-state drive - 240GB, M.2
  • SilverStone SX500-LG power supply - 500W, SFX-L
  • Microsoft
    Windows 7 Ultimate
    operating system, 64-bit

Measurement and Analysis Tools

  • Prime95
    processor stress software.
  • FurMark
    stability test to stress the integrated GPU.
  • Asus GPU Tweak to monitor GPU temperatures and adjust fan speeds.
  • SpeedFan
    to monitor system temperatures and adjust system fan speeds.
  • Extech 380803 AC power analyzer / data logger for measuring AC system
    power.
  • PC-based spectrum analyzer:
    SpectraPlus with ACO Pacific mic and M-Audio digital

    audio interfaces.

  • Anechoic chamber
    with ambient level of 11 dBA or lower

Testing Procedures

The system is placed in two states: idle, and load using Prime95 (2 out of 4 possible threads, large FFTs setting) and FurMark, an OpenGL benchmarking and stability testing utility. This puts more demand on the CPU and GPU than any real life application or game. Throughout testing, system temperatures, noise levels, and power consumption are recorded. During the load test, the system and GPU fans speeds are adjusted to various levels in an attempt to find an optimal balance between cooling and noise while maintaining a GPU temperature of 85°C (at an ambient temperature of 22°C).

Baseline Noise

For our baseline noise tests, the system is left idle, the CPU and GPU fans are set to their minimum speeds. The system fan(s) are connected to controllable fan header(s) and are set to a variety of speeds using SpeedFan. This gives us a good idea of what the stock fan(s) sound like at different speeds with minimal interference from other sources.

As the RVZ02 does not have any system fans or even an option for them, there are no baseline tests to perform.

TEST RESULTS

System Measurements: Prime95x2 + FurMark,

85°C Target GPU Temp (at 22°C Ambient)
Orientation
Vertical
Vertical (upside down)
Horizontal
GPU Fan Speed*
1160 RPM (42%)
1040 RPM (40%, min)
1740 RPM (53%)
CPU Temp
52°C
54°C
55°C
MB Temp
48°C
52°C
55°C
GPU Temp
85°C
80°C
85°C
System Power (AC)
280W
283W
286W
[email protected]

(GPU fan side)
24~25 dBA
25 dBA
N/A
[email protected]

(CPU fan side)
25~26 dBA
27~28 dBA
32 dBA
* set as low as possible to maintain target GPU temperature on load.

CPU fan at 1000 RPM.

Ambient temperature: 22°C.

A CPU fan speed of just 1000 RPM is sufficient to keep the processor comfortably below 60°C and the noise this produces is low enough to be drowned out by the other components, so this speed is fixed throughout stress testing.

Standing in its proper orientation with the graphics card in the top portion of the case, a GPU fan speed of 1160 RPM is required to keep the GPU at our target temperature. The system measures 1 dB louder when the mic is positioned on the right side where the CPU/PSU fan are exposed so it would seem that the power supply fan is actually the noisiest component in our machine.

Flipping the chassis upside-down positions the video card in the cooler lower portion of the case, allowing its fans to run at minimum speed. This section is so cool that our 85°C target temperature can't be reached due to the minimum speed of the GPU fans. In this orientation, the CPU heats up by 2°C and the motherboard by twice that, with both components now residing in the hotter upper part of the enclosure. In this position, the machine actually measures louder on both sides, again likely due to the power supply. Despite my earlier reservations of the power supply blowing downward in the recommended orientation, it appears that the unit actually heats up more in the top half of the case and its fan has to work harder.

Like its predecessor, the RVZ02 suffers greatly when situated horizontally. The limited clearance provided by the case feet restricts airflow to the video card so a much higher GPU fan speed is necessary, resulting in a 4~5 dB spike in SPL. The extra heat makes its way over the CPU side of the case as well, making everything a tad warmer. This orientation is fine for typical operations of a HTPC but add gaming to the mix and it's going to run much hotter and louder than when standing upright.

As there are no case fans, how the SilverStone RVZ02 sounds is entirely dependent on what you put into it. In our case, it's eerily quiet at idle as there is no mechanical hard drive and the GPU fans are off when the video card isn't being taxed. The minimum PWM speed of our CPU fan is just 800 RPM, so the machines measures a mere 13~14 [email protected] The only sore-point is our sample SX500-LG PSU, whose fan produces a clicking noise at very low speeds that's noticeable at close proximity.

On load, the noise generated is more well-rounded with additional contributions of the CPU and GPU fans. The Scythe fan has a pleasant smooth profile but it's drowned out by the PSU fan which still suffers from the occasional tick when running at higher speeds but is otherwise benign sounding. The GPU fans are tolerable as well but what little coil whine being emitted by our video card is more audible than usual due to the open vent right next to it.

Comparison

Case Comparison: Prime95x2 + FurMark

(85°C Target GPU Temp at 22°C Ambient)
Case
Lian Li

PC-Q10
BitFenix Prodigy Black
Fractal Core 500
SilverStone FTZ01
SilverStone RVZ02B-W
Phanteks Evolv ITX
CPU Cooler
Kotetsu at 600 RPM
Mugen Max at 500 RPM
Kotetsu at 900 RPM
NH-L12 at 1000 RPM
Big Shuriken 2 at 1000 RPM
Kotetsu at 900 RPM
System Fan Speed
620 RPM

(1 x 40%)
500 RPM

(2 x 60%)
620 RPM

(1 x 60%)
1040 RPM

(2 x 60%)
N/A
620 RPM

(1 x 80%)
GPU
Asus HD 7870 DC2
Asus GTX 980 Strix
GPU Fan Speed
1290 RPM
880 RPM
1040 RPM
1260 RPM
1160 RPM
1670 RPM
CPU Temp
52°C
55°C
52°C
45°C
52°C
57°C
MB Temp
50°C
50°C
52°C
44°C
48°C
58°C
SSHD Temp
41°C
N/A
44°C
42°C
N/A
34°C
GPU Temp
85°C
85°C
81°C
85°C
85°C
85°C
17~18 dBA
20~21 dBA
24 dBA
24~25 dBA
24~25 dBA
29 dBA
System Power (AC)
266W
278W
288W
279W
280W
308W
Apx. Case Volume
19.2 L
26.4 L
18.6 L
14.1 L
12.2 L
34.1 L
Ambient temperature: 22°C.

Under optimal conditions, the RVZ02 matched the FTZ01/RVZ01 in terms of overall noise, albeit with higher CPU and motherboard temperatures and no mechanical hard drive. 24~25 [email protected] is worse than larger mini-ITX offerings but when you factor in size, it's a strong result.

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

The Raven RVZ02 performs surprisingly well considering it is even smaller than its predecessor. The sleeker profile reduces the CPU heatsink height limit and takes case fans off the table altogether, but the end result is hardly disastrous. Compared to the RVZ01/FTZ01, our CPU heated up significantly while the GPU actually benefited from the design changes. The video card, fed directly from the larger/closer vent without a restrictive dust filter in the way, received improved cooling. More importantly, the video card fans could be slowed to achieve a similar overall noise output when the GPU side was facing us. The PSU fan on the opposite side of the case, along with the CPU fan, was the primary noise generator.

From a usability standpoint, the new model is a huge upgrade. Mounting the plastic GPU/drive bracket to the previous RVZ01/FTZ01 chassis was a nightmare. Each time I had to fit the bracket with a big video card attached, it felt like a piece would break off if the alignment wasn't just right. And once lowered into position, it was difficult to move any errant cables away from the fan blades. The RVZ02's fixed metal bracket and two panel design makes it more accessible and a snap to assemble by comparison. The vertical stands have also been improved, requiring more force to open and close. The only feature that has been lost is 3.5-inch drive support when using a long graphics card. A big hard drive would be more beneficial to most users so SilverStone should considering adding one in place of the optical drive bay in future revisions.

The aesthetics of the case have been revamped by removing the feather-like features along the sides which I found kind of creepy. The angular front panel is more than enough to convey the corvid motif without looking morbid. To me, the windowed version appears odd but I'm not used to see acrylic windows on this type of chassis, let alone ventilated ones. The vents on the standard black model blend in better color-wise but they protrude outward rather than being flush with the panel surface. Providing ample airflow in an attractive way seems to be a challenge for SilverStone.

Despite its issues, I recommended the Raven RVZ01 and the slimmed down RVZ02 retains almost everything I liked about the original while addressing its problems. What hasn't changed is the price, a perfectly reasonable US$70 for the plain version and US$80 for the windowed variant. If you're in the market for a compact high-end gaming case with console-like proportions and don't mind the lack of storage, the RVZ02 should be at the top of your list. The only thing it could really use is a premium counterpart, an aluminum-clad Fortress FTZ02 would certainly be welcome.

Our thanks to SilverStone
for the Raven RVZ02B-W case sample.



The SilverStone Raven RVZ02 is recommended by SPCR

* * *

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Lian Li PC-Q10 Mini-ITX Case

Fractal Design Core 500 Mini-ITX Chassis

SilverStone FTZ01: Mini-ITX Fortress

Fractal Design Node 202 Compact Gaming Case

SilverStone RVZ01: A Mini Raven

Quiet Mini-ITX Gaming Build Guide #2: NCASE M1 Edition

* * *

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