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Silverstone Grandia GD05: A Versatile HTPC Case

Silverstone Grandia GD05: A Versatile HTPC Case

March 22, 2010 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Silverstone Grandia GD05/04

microATX HTPC Case
Manufacturer
Market Price

Home Theatre PC cases are usually of the desktop rather than the tower style
to camouflage itself as an appliance like a DVD player rather than a computer.
As a result many manufacturers focus on fairly low profile cases that limit
the components you can place inside them. It also makes them inherently louder
as the tighter confines are more difficult to cool, a fact that is not helped
by the reliance on small fans which have to spin faster than larger fans.


The Grandia GD05.





GD04: Same case, different facia with stealthed optical drive door.

The Grandia GD05 is imbued with the understated aesthetics Silverstone is
famous for. It's not your typical HTPC case, though, as it has a pragmatic design
that allows good versatility. The GD05 is designed for microATX motherboards,
but it is big enough to fit an ATX power supply, a full-sized graphics card,
a standard 5.25" optical drive, and comes equipped with three low speed
120mm fans all blowing inward to generate positive pressure, following in the
footsteps of the Fortress
FT01
.

The GD05 retails for only $90 USD, while the nearly identical GD04 seems to
cost slightly more. The GD04 is the same case, but it has a stealthed optical
drive cover and is available in silver as well as black. In addition, the GD05's
front bezel is constructed of plastic with an aluminum skin while the GD04's
is all aluminum which also makes slightly heavier. Otherwise, the specifications
are identical. There is no functional difference.

Specifications: Silverstone Grandia GD05

(from the
product web page
)
Model No. SST-GD05B (Black)
Material Aluminum skin over plastic
front panel, 0.8mm SECC body
Motherboard Micro ATX, Mini-DTX, Mini-ITX
Drive Bay External 5.25" x 1
Internal 3.5" x 2, 2.5" x 1
or

3.5" x 1, 2.5" x 2
Cooling System Rear 2 x 80mm fan slots (optional
mounting)
Side Right: 2 x 120mm intake
fans, 1200rpm, 20dBA
Left: 1 x 120mm intake fan, 1200rpm, 20dBA

Also compatible with 80mm fan
Expansion Slot 5
Front I/O Port USB 2.0 x 2

audio x 1

MIC x 1
Power Supply Support standard PS2 (ATX)
Expansion Card
Support graphic cards up to 11 inches.
Net Weight 4.7kg
Dimension 440 mm (W) x 150 mm (H)
x 325 mm (D)

THE EXTERIOR

The GD05's front facia is almost the same size as that of the now-classic Antec
Fusion or NSK2480
. It's a centimeter taller (14cm vs 15cm) but the same
44cm width. Those seeking to match their traditional-look A/V components should
find the familar look comforting. The GD05's depth (from front to back) is shorter
than the majority of HTPC cases, however, measuring just 32.5cm. The aforementioned
Fusion, in contrast, 41.4cm, is nearly 9cm or 3.5" deeper.

This difference is significant: The total volume of the GD05 is about 21.5
liters, compared to 25.8 liters for the Antec Fusion/NSK2480 — or the 31
liters of Silverstone own "full size" HTPC cases such as the GD01
or LC17
. In fact, the overall size is close to the 19.2 liters of Antec's
much lower profile but considerably deeper Antec
NSK1480
. Unlike the slim NSK1480, however, the GD05 has the cooling and
noise benefit of three 12cm fans; the former case is only tall enough to accommodate
8cm case fans.


The front bezel has the familiar brush aluminum surface for which
Silverstone is well known. There are two USB ports, and a pair of front
audio ports (line-out and mic).



The left side of the case is home to a single 120 mm fan near the
front.



Silverstone doubles up on fans on the opposite side close to the CPU
position. Note the relatively shallow 13" depth. This can be very useful
to fit into the often-shallow shelves of cabinets made to house typical
A/V gear.



The power supply goes on the right side underneath the expansion slots.
The slot covers are ventilated and there is a small exhaust port on the
top cover as well. There are also a pair of 80 mm fan placements above
the I/O shield if the provided 120 mm fans are insufficient.



One side of the front bezel has an odd little twist as if someone
had pressed that portion inward. It is deliberate but doesn't appear to
have any function. The power supply intake is located on the bottom of
the case and is filtered.


THE INTERIOR & ASSEMBLY

The GD05 supports a microATX, mini-ITX, or mini-DTX motherboard,
three hard drives (2 x 3.5" and 1 x 2.5" or 1 x 3.5" and 2 x
2.5"), and a standard 5.25" optical drive.


The hard drive tray has robber grommets to reduce the vibrations from
3.5" drives. Notice the series of little rubber pads on the edges
and on the center support beam to ensure a tight seal with the top cover
and prevent vibrations from being passed on.



The interior with the drive trays removed. The chassis is very strong,
as is the top cover, though not as sturdy as Silverstone's tower cases.



Four rubber feet are placed on the power supply prior to installation.
This reduces vibration and creates clearance between the fan and the intake
vent.



One of the hard drive mounts has an odd rubber holder with a series
of slits on the outside for cabling. This contraption is designed to direct
airflow toward the top panel vent and away from the drive.



The GD05 interior with our test system assembled. Cabling can be a
bit of a nightmare without a modular power supply. The best place to put
the bulk of the extra cables seems to be the underneath the optical drive
or over the expansion slots if they are unused.



GD05 with our test system fully assembled. The hard drive was placed
in the front position directly in the path of the intake fan.

CLEARANCE & COMPATIBILITY

According to Silverstone, the case can fit full-sized graphics
cards up to 11" long and CPU coolers 70 mm tall (120 mm tall without an
optical drive).


The GD05 is one of the few HTPC cases that can comfortably fit long,
high performance graphics cards. With a 10.5" GTX
260
installed there is about half an inch to spare. If you wish
to use a third party video card cooler, watch out for overhang as the
distance between the edge of the graphics card PCB and top cover is only
about 1.5 cm.




Due to the case's depth, the optical drive overhangs the CPU socket,
so a low profile cooler like the Scythe
Big Shuriken
is optimal. Alternatives include the Nexus
Low-7000
and the Silverstone NT01-E
which they claim can run passively when paired with a 65W CPU in the GD04/05.



Even modest-sized coolers like the Arctic
Cooling Alpine 7 Pro
interfere with optical drive installation.





If your media library is mostly digital you may wish to ditch the optical
drive and free up space for larger heatsinks. However, you will still
be limited to a height of 12cm, which rules out most tower coolers with
92 mm fans like the Xigmatek
HDT-S964
pictured above.


TESTING

System Configuration:

Measurement and Analysis Tools

  • CPUBurn
    processor stress software.
  • FurMark
    stability test to stress the integrated GPU.
  • GPU-Z to
    monitor GPU temperatures and fan speed.
  • SpeedFan
    to monitor system temperatures and fan speeds.
  • Seasonic
    Power Angel
    AC power meter, used to measure the power consumption
    of the system.

System temperatures and noise levels were recorded with SpeedFan and GPU-Z
at idle and on load using 4 instances of CPUBurn to stress the CPU and FurMark
with the Xtreme Burn option to stress the GPU.

Stock Fan Measurements


Silverstone equips the GD05 with three 12 cm sleeve bearing fans made
by Globefan: Note the 7 rounded, dimpled blades.
Stock Fan Specifications
Manufacturer
Power Rating
3.12 W
Model Number
RL4Z S1202512LIW3M
Airflow Rating
?
Bearing Type
Sleeve
RPM Rating
1200 RPM
Corners
Open
Noise Rating
20 dBA
Frame Size
120x120x25 mm
Header Type
3-pin
Fan Diameter
111 mm
Starting Voltage
~6.5V
Hub Size
45 mm
Weight
150 grams
Data in green cells provided by the manufacturer or observed;
data in the blue cells were measured.


Fan Measurements
Voltage
Speed
SPL @1m
Without Filter
With Filter
12V
930 RPM
13~14 dBA
14~15 dBA
9V
710 RPM
11~12 dBA
11~12 dBA
7V
540 RPM
<11 dBA
<11 dBA
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle from
the intake side of the fan.

Ambient noise level: 11 dBA.

The fans are listed as 1200 RPM models, but the ones in our sample spun under
1000 RPM at 12V. With low fan speeds, sleeve bearings, and little blade curvature,
the stock fans are very quiet, close to our anechoic chamber's noise floor at
9V, and under it at 7V (ie, audible from only inches away). All three fans also
come with air filters that increase the noise level slightly, but only at full
speed, regardless of whether the filter is placed on the intake or exhaust side
of the fan. The overall character of the fans is very smooth and unobtrusive.

Baseline Noise

The air cavity resonances inside a case amplify fan noise, as do any vibrations
transferred from the fans into the case, so these measurements can be regarded
as the baseline SPL levels for the GD05 and stock fans.

Baseline Noise Level
Fan Voltage
all fans (3)
right side fans (2)
12V
24 dBA
21 dBA
9V
18 dBA
16 dBA
7V
14 dBA
12 dBA
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle from
the front of the top of case (center).

The baseline noise of the GD05 is excellent, quiet with all fans at 9V and
below. Even at 12V, the noise generated is modest as the acoustic profile is
dominated by turbulence and does not have the unpleasant whiny, droning character
of most stock fans.

TEST RESULTS

Our test system this time around was fitted with an Intel Q8200S, a
low power (65W TDP) quad core processor, cooled by a Scythe
Big Shuriken
, a formidable slim heatsink. The motherboard is a G45 model
with GMA X4500HD integrated graphics and the hard drive is a
WD Caviar Green
, famous for excellent acoustics and low vibration.
We also used a Nexus NX-5000
power supply which is very quiet, particularly when handling loads under 200W.
At full load our modest test configuration draws just above 110W from the wall
and is representative of a typical HTPC.

System Measurements: CPU + GPU Load
System Fans
none
left (1) + right (1)
left (1) + right (2)
16~17 dBA
17~18 dBA
18 dBA
CPU Temp
52°C
40°C
36°C
SB Temp
53°C
44°C
37°C
HD Temp
42°C
34°C
34°C
System Power
113W
112W
111W
CPU fan set to 8V, system fans set to 7V.

Ambient temperature: 22°C.
Ambient noise level: 11 dBA.

With no help from the case fans, the system measured only 16~17 [email protected] with
the CPU cooler running at 8V being the main source of noise. The CPU temperature
was acceptable, slightly over 50°C, but the Southbridge and hard drive temperatures
were noticeably high.

Activating a pair of the system's fans (the one on the left side near the hard
drive and the one on the right side next to the CPU cooler) and setting them
to a low 7V improved the thermal situation greatly. The CPU cooled down by 12°C,
the Southbridge by 9°C, and the hard drive by 8°C. As we mentioned earlier,
the stock fans are very quiet and the noise level only increased by 1 dB. Turning
on the third intake fan was perhaps an unnecessary step, though it did have
a big impact on the Southbridge temperature, it was already at acceptable levels.
It also brought the CPU temperature down by a small margin.



The system measured 18 [email protected] with all three system fans @7V.

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 design of the Silverstone Grandia GD05 allows the use one of the many quiet
ATX power supplies on the market. Lower profile cases are usually limited to
smaller SFX, FlexATX, and proprietary power supplies, which almost always run
a bit noisier due the use of a smaller fan which must spin at higher speed.
The components also get good cooling with three 120 mm fans and plenty of ventilation;
cooling the typically low-power HTPC configuration is trivial. Only two fans
undervolted to 7V were required to keep our modest test system reasonably cool,
and the noise level was superbly low. The supplied stock fans are remarkably
quiet compared to most.

The effective cooling also allows the option to house a more formidable system.
Though an optical drive limits the size of the CPU cooler, a more power hungry
processor isn't out of the question as there are a pair of 120 mm fans merely
millimeters away. Not only can the GD05 take full-sized graphics cards, with
11" of clearance, there is enough room for any of ATI and Nvidia's current
single GPU cards. One could even attempt a high-end SLI or CrossFire configuration
as the case can accommodate extra large power supplies.

It is hard to find fault in the GD05 design. Hard drive mounting could be improved,
but really only by a floating suspension system. Cabling is a bit of a mess
if a non-modular power supply is used, but beyond the provided holes for slipping
in cable-ties, there's little Silverstone could have done. Our only real complaint
is the optical drive that overhangs the CPU socket and interferes with larger
CPU coolers, but possible solutions are less than ideal. The obvious fixes include
making the case deeper, using a slim optical drive, or putting a slim optical
drive on its side, which would displace one of the 120 mm fans.

Like most Silverstones, the Grandia GD04/05 cases are rather muted looking
and have good build quality. It is not a slim HTPC case that can be mistaken
for a DVD/Blu-ray player — the dimensions are closer to that of an AV receiver.
However the Grandia GD04/05 design gives it inherent advantages in component
selection and cooling, giving it more potential to be both powerful yet quieter
than most cases of this type. Its low
$90 sticker price
is the icing on the cake.

Silverstone Grandia GD05/04
PROS



* Excellent cooling

* Solid construction

* Quiet stock fans

* Short 13" depth

* Plenty of video card and power supply clearance

* Uses ATX power supply

* Well priced
CONS



* Taller than some HTPC cases

* Optical drive interferes with larger CPU heatsinks

* No fan control

Silverstone GD05/04 HTPC Case



SPCR Editor's Choice Award

* * *

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* * *

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