Over the past few years of its young foundations in the PC hardware industry , Silverstone has taken upon itself a philosophy of engineering design excellence in its wide range of cases, power supplies, and accessories. In the last two years or so, the company has made several strides in the computer case and chassis market and has developed some adequate responses to other big names in the top tier retail channel.
Over the second half of 2008, the company’s reasonably talented product engineers decided to go back to the drawing board and attempt to give the modern enthusiast computer case a definitive yet strikingly original form factor redesign. At the same time, it wanted to design a case with aggressive styling and features that exceed classic originals in boldness and intention.
In December 2008, the dream was finalized and the SilverStone Raven RV01 was released as the world’s first enthusiast computer case with a 90-degree motherboard mounting design. Essentially it was an EATX form-factor case tilted on its side in a new revolutionary layout simply designed to take advantage of one natural thermodynamic concept – heat rises. SilverStone concluded that this would allow for better GPU ventilation with even the most blistering hot high-end cards such as Nvidia’s Geforce GTX 295.
Just recently, SilverStone decided to take its original Raven design, less than a year old, and re-optimize it even more mass appeal in a smaller , lighter and more thermodynamic revision. The company decided that if the Raven was to be a series worthy of competition against Cooler Master’s and Lian Li’s higher-end end designs wins, then it had to maintain a balance of consumer appeal in a practical sense.
Unboxing and first impressions
When the SilverStone Raven RV02 arrived, it was encased in a typical rectangular “case box” very similar to that of the RV01, featuring several photos that show the proprietary and practical marketing points. However, we aren’t a fan of the large “RAVEN 2” design that the company chose as it looks half-baked and the “2” looks like it was photoshopped in at the last minute. The Raven 2 logo at the top left of the box front looks very professional and we would have preferred that symbol to represent the entire product instead.
Superficialities aside, the case came wrapped in nylon fabric and sandwiched between two large Styrofoam placeholders, making for an ample amount of shipping security while being transported in the box.
After unpacking, not a dent, scratch, or smudge was to be seen – just a sleek looking black case with tape and plastic wrap covering the corners and delicate locations. The manual, screws, fan adapters and hard drive mounting accessories all came in a separate white box.
Specifically, the SilverStone Raven RV02 (SST-RV01B-W) features a total size of 212mm (W) x 503mm (H) x 643mm (D) as opposed to the Raven RV01 (SST-RV02B-W) at 280mm (W) x 616mm (H) x 660mm (D). Rather than having dual 180mm fans at 700RPM and 18.5dBa and a SECC outer body, the Raven RV02 includes triple 180mm fans with adjustable intake and a reinforced steel body design. With the addition of a few minor aesthetic facelifts, the newly redesigned Raven is an all-around tougher and more practical 90-degree solution for enthusiasts and gamers alike.
As with any enthusiast case we have the opportunity to review, there is always a justification for equipping it with luxury hardware in order to embrace the maximum potential of the company’s offering. In this circumstance we loaded our SilverStone Raven RV02 with an EVGA X58 3X SLI Classified E759 motherboard, two EVGA Geforce GTX 295 Plus Edition dual-PCB cards, a Creative X-Fi Fatal1ty XtremeGamer sound card, three sticks (3 x 2GB) of Mushkin XP Series DDR3 1600MHz CL7, an Intel Core i7 Extreme 965 and a Thermalright TRUE Copper with dual Noctua NF-P12 fans to cool it. To top things off, we added a Sony BDU-X10S Blu-ray ROM drive, a NEC DVD+RW IDE drive and the EVGA Control Panel (ECP) to the front bays of the case.
As we mentioned earlier, the case itself is made of a steel shell with an entirely sleek black paint job. Probably the most noticeable difference at first sight between the Raven RV01 and the Raven RV02 is the fact that the acrylic window has been moved from the left side to the right side (when looking at the case from the front). This implies that SilverStone decided to get a little more exclusive with the RV02 as most cases usually have an acrylic window on the right side.
It is immediately clear that the RV02 is more than just a tweaked RV01. Those familiar with the RV01 will find this new iteration noticeably roomier on the inside, allowing for some (but not all) Extended-ATX motherboards to sit comfortably in the tray with up to 12” by 11” dimensions. Our EVGA X58 3X SLI Classified E759 board fit perfectly and we could not be any happier with the fit. However, we should note that EVGA’s new X58 4-way SLI board with seven PCI-E slots probably will not fit in here or the majority of EATX cases you see on the market. All said, that board is a completely different story.
From an initial perspective of form and function, the RV02 presents itself with a roomier appearance and seems to be a more reasonable solution for liquid cooling configurations. The edges of the case have been SilverStone cut a reasonably sized hole in the motherboard tray for the removal of a heatsink bracket, but they didn’t make the opening big enough for the bracket for our Thermalright TRUE Copper LGA 1366 heatsink.
There is also a slight issue with installing a standard sized 5.25” SATA drive into the top most bay. SilverStone did not leave enough room to mount one in this position without leaving room for wiring to run from the drive. It is close to impossible to get a drive installed in this slot because the PCI slot bays on the top panel are in the way.
Apart from this, we were able to install our two disc drives in the second and third slots just fine, one being a SATA drive and the other being IDE respectively. We also took our trusty Dremel tool and cut out a gap in one of the drive bay covers in order to mount the EVGA Control Panel to it. This small piece of hardware would serve as our primary Power and Reset buttons due to the convenient nature of it providing CPU temperature information directly from the Classified motherboard.
On another note, the front panel aesthetics on the RV02 seemed to be a “downgrade” from the RV02. The drive bays are openly accessible without a cover, but the beauty in the sleek form factor of the RV01 cover seems to be missing. Perhaps SilverStone is trying to exclaim that it is truly up to the user to design an aesthetically appealing front panel with a limitless variety of LED fan controllers, drive bays, thermal sensors, or any other hardware monitoring and storage peripherals for a unique Raven look.
SilverStone adjusted the top panel of the RV02 as well, primarily in the areas of length and airflow. Compared to the original design, the RV02 top panel features significantly more black mesh breathing room for air to vent through the system and out the top. This is particularly useful for the GTX 295 dual-PCB card and similar cards where steaming hot GPU air blows out both the top and side of the heatsink.
As mentioned previously, the Raven RV02 features three large 180mm fans (32mm thick) on its base for maximum air flow throughout the case, reaching virtually all motherboard components including the northbridge/IOH area and possibly the CPU PWM area depending on the design of the board. These can be adjusted independently to run at 700RPM or 1000RPM with the three built-in fan controller channels on the top of the case. SilverStone also added dust filters to these three fans as well as the 120mm power supply fan on the back, all of which can be removed very easily. In perspective of the entire design, fan noise is displaced primarily through the top and bottom of the case.
Wire management was not a huge issue when assembling our components. The company conveniently placed wiring and cable routing pathways throughout the fame of the case, primarily in the motherboard tray. We were able to bend the modular cables on the Strider 1500W power supply accordingly and fit everything into place without any major setbacks. However, we should note that it did take a little over ten minutes to strap the SilverStone power supply into position because the four screw holes were not perfectly aligned with the top of the case. This was our only minor disappointment, seeing that the company’s top-end power supply should fit seamlessly with its top-end case.
After three hours of assembly, wire management, and some final adjustments, the bulk of our Raven RV02 build came to meet even our most critical expectations. More or less, we were very pleased with the final outcome of the overall case aesthetics, functionality, and airflow performance on our enthusiast hardware components and the overall value that the case adds to the system components that it holds. SilverStone has proven its word that the Raven RV02 is indeed a significant revision to the Raven series. The company took its original 90-degree motherboard design and attempted to economize it for a wider market of users. However, it took to heart the cries of the enthusiast for a more functional form factor design with improved overall aesthetics, improved airflow performance with a triple fan design win, and improved functionality with more room for even the largest of modern enthusiast hardware components. Although not entirely perfect, the SilverStone Raven RV02 is a uniquely crafted work of art that definitely deserves our approval as a solid system investment.