Introducing the SilverStone Raven RV03

At this point, SilverStone's signature in the enclosure world is the 90-degree rotation of the motherboard. This unique engineering decision makes cases like the FT03 possible, but for a long time enclosures with this design have been extremely pricey and outside the reach of most users. While the new Raven RV03 is still fairly expensive compared to the enclosures we've tested thus far, at $159 it's at least closer to the realm of reasonable though it still must contend with offering at least as much value as the cases at $100 or below we've reviewed so far. Is it worth spending up?

Since restarting our case reviews with the new testing methodology, we haven't had in an enthusiast-class (and enthusiast-priced) enclosure like the RV03 in house yet, so our comparisons may seem a little bit unfair. This can't really be helped, but we have a Thermaltake Level 10 GT in for review soon and that should balance things out a bit. In the meantime, the RV03 is certainly bigger than the other units we've tested, and I'm anxious to see how it turns out.

The last generation Raven, the RV02, was expensive but proved popular nonetheless. The trio of fans, fairly clean internal design, and SilverStone's signature rotated motherboard helped keep that enclosure running cool and quiet, and the styling was a little bit more subdued. To reduce the Raven's price tag (and its footprint) for the RV03, some changes needed to be made. SilverStone has reduced the number of internal 180mm fans from three to two, but increased their efficiency. Mounting space for drives has been dramatically increased, and as a whole the RV03 is a far more modular design than its predecessor. At least on paper, this Raven is an impressive specimen.

SilverStone Raven RV03 Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor SSI EEB, SSI CEB, Extended ATX, ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX
Drive Bays External 7x 5.25" (six occupied by 2x5.25"-to-3x3.5" adapters)
Internal 10x 3.5" (see above), 2x 2.5"
Cooling Front 4x 120mm fan mount (attached to bay adapters)
Rear 1x 120mm fan mount
Top 1x 120mm
Side 1x 120mm fan mount (back)
Bottom 2x 180mm (compatible with three 120mm fans)
Expansion Slots 8 (one blocked off if rear fan mount used)
Front I/O Port -
Top I/O Port 2x USB 3.0, headphone and mic jacks, fan controller
Power Supply Size ATX
Clearance 13.58" (Expansion Cards), 163mm (CPU HSF), 180mm (PSU)
Weight 25.1 lbs.
Dimensions 20.55" x 9.25" x 22.44"
Price $159

The enclosure is essentially designed to employ bottom-to-top convection style cooling, but SilverStone includes the means to turn it into a more typical front-to-back design using the bay adapters. Admittedly, one of my biggest concerns with the rotated motherboard design is the noise being moved out of the top of the enclosure instead of the rear since so many users keep their towers on the floor (myself included.) With cases as big as this one, that's really the only place for it.

In and Around the SilverStone Raven RV03
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  • V3ctorPT - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Sorry man... I have an FT02WRi and it's a beautiful case, it's not like this ugly case.

    It's not even close to this RV03
  • Zoeff - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    The FT02 was actually my first choice but that actually costs about 90 euros more than the RV03. So I went for the RV02-E which only costs 10 euros more than the RV03.
  • HanSolo71 - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Dustin first off I have been loving your recent work keep up the great work.

    Secondly as a reviewer myself I have to agree about the type of noise these cases give off. I have found that it isn't so much of a winny noise that other cases have but rather a low wooshing noise that sounds much like the noise that the ventilation system in a building would give off. Also I would have to agree that while the RV02 was far from subtle the RV03 went in the wrong direction. Personal I love the Apple-esque design of the TF02 and was hoping more of its design would rub off on the new RV03 design.

    Still with all of its faults I love the RV02 as it is great to work with and keeps my 4.7Ghz i5 2500k nice and cool.
  • 7amood - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    I wanted a trusted review for the RV03 and I finally got it from a trusted site.

    I'm missing a review for the RV02-E.

    You might wanna review the SG08 when it comes out, it's a nice one.

  • beginner99 - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    ..the fractal define R3 case. It has tons of 3.5 bays (and only 2 5.25), more than enough possibilities for mounting fans and a simple, straight forward design. ( I have the R2)

    It is also small compared to monsters like the Ravens or FT. Only complaint i have is space behind mobo tray and the side panel mounting but maybe that was improved in the R3.
  • AssBall - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Great review, Dustin.

    The killer for me on this case is having the I/O come out of the top. It is a cool idea, but I put too much junk on the top of my cases; I need em to be flat for the extra shelf room. Their nontraditional approach to cooling makes me a little weary too. The thing looks pretty nice though.
  • Footman36 - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    I just got rid of this case. I gave it to my father in law. It now houses a very simple i920 at stock with stock cooler and 5670 with Artic Cooling HSF.

    I previously owned the RV-02 which was an Epic Fail, burnt out an X58 motherboard around the IO area as there was not enough air flow to cool the VRM's positioned there.

    Anyhow, decided to try the RV-03. (I also own the Thermaltake Level 10 GT and the CM HAF-X).

    Not a good idea, first of all the design is terrible, from the lousy magnetic dust filters that either vibrate or fall off if you blow on them, to the abysmal design of the hard drive cages!!!

    The icing on the cake is this type of design does not work with certain heat pipe coolers. For example my pair of GTX 560 Ti's would run full load at 68C in the HAF-X, but in the RV-03 they hit 94C before shutting down the computer (and this was after 10 minutes of BF2).... This is by far one of the loudest cases I have owned at full speed.....

    Avoid like a plague....

    While i like the idea of this design it is not as efficient as standard cases with the motherboard in the usual position....
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    I'm not sure your complaints are entirely fair.

    First, just looking at the airflow in the RV03 vs. the more traditional cases I have on hand, I don't really see how the inverted motherboard layout and airflow design starves the VRMs any more than a traditional layout would.

    Second, SilverStone even says as much that these enclosures aren't going to be at their best with heatpipe based GPU coolers that don't exhaust out the back of the case; SilverStone's design is really geared towards the blower-style coolers that higher end graphics cards tend to ship with stock, and from our testing it does handle those with aplomb.

    It's true the RV03 is pretty loud at full speed, but it also doesn't NEED to be run at full speed.

    The rotated board kind of changes the game a bit. In some situations it's not going to seem quite as efficient as a traditional orientation, but once we went into the overclocked configuration I think it proved itself.
  • Footman36 - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    Reviewing a case is not the same as living with a case 24/7. I have many months of experience with the RV-02 and RV-03 Dustin. I agree with your review on many levels but feel that there are inherent issues with this case, notwithstanding the 90 degree turnaround of the motherboard.

    First of all the two front mounted drive cages are the worst designed drive cages I have ever had the misfortune of working with. They need to be completely disassembled before a drive can be placed within. This takes a considerable amount of time and if you want to add an extra HHD or SSD after the fact you have to disassemble again.

    The bottom dust filters do not stay in place and vibrate if they are even 1mm out of place, what a terrible idea compared to the dust filter design of the RV-02.

    Finally airflow, while Silverstone may indicate in their manual that the RV03 may not be suitable for certain heat pipe coolers or GPU's I wonder how many purchasers will have access to this information BEFORE they buy the case? Hot air rises, as we all know and in an atx case the IO plate is not the top of the computer, there is usually space above for a power supply or top mounted fan, so hot air does not accumulate around this point. In the RV-02 and RV-03, the IO plate is the uppermost point in this case and as it is solid, the hot air remains around this area in a pocket, heating up the VRM's which again dump more heat in to this localized area. I guarantee you that after running for 3-6 hours you will find the IO plate extremely hot and this is ultimately what caused a VRM to burn out on my X58 motherboard according to the report from their support team.

    I am a enthusiast and this year alone I have purchased approximately 15 or so cases for my builds including Silverstone, Coolermaster, Antec, Lian-Li and NZXT....

    In any event, this case is performing well for my father in law who likes the top IO ports as he does not have to pull the PC out of position when he wants to connect a peripheral, also I used the solid i920 stock HSF and the 5670 has solid HSF, the hard drive was mounted on the backside of the case and the fans are running at low. I just believe that there are better cases available for less, the CM 690 springs to mind for one.....
    Looking forward to your next review.
  • MagicPants - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    One thing I'd really like to see in case reviews is just how much you can jam into the thing. Most of the stats relayed in the article are things I can pick up from reading documentation, or opinions on the looks and build quality.

    What I really want to know is how many video cards can I jam in into the thing, will the cooling still work well, and will there be enough room left over for a sound card.

    I'd like to see an sli/crossfire system with a soundcard, and a pci-xpress interface ssd. Single video card only installations in case reviews are next to useless. Please review how well each case will work in (and limit) the type of system it is meant for.

    Most case reviews (on this and every other mainstream site) are the equivalent of testing the newest video card with only WoW, or testing a race car by driving to the store.

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