Interview with Tony Ou (SilverStone Technology)

Position: Marketing Manager
Name of Rig: ‘Mighty Milo’

IC: How long have you been at SilverStone?

TO: A long time! 11 years.

IC: Has it really been 11 years?

TO: It seems to be rare to stay at the same company that long these days. We met talking over that external GPU box, the very first Thunderbolt type.

IC: We’re still waiting for that to come out!

TO: Creating anything graphics related over Thunderbolt like that is difficult, especially for consumer. We always try some internal things, like a technology showcase for events.

IC: I know you travel a fair bit in your job and you’ve been out and about recently.

TO:  Yeah, I was in Australia and New Zealand for two weeks, and I’m travelling to Japan in a couple of weeks also. This is all work, not for pleasure!

IC: Are you global marketing or tied to a specific office?

TO: Technically I deal with global marketing, but we have a number of regional offices that focus on that region, such as in Europe and our US office. I don’t handle their activities, but we do keep in contact for big projects.

IC: Onto products – from SilverStone’s perspective, how competitive are the chassis and power supply industries right now?

TO: Very! Even in the last few years, there are new players coming into the market. There is no let-up. Some PC component industries are going through a change, especially as low end product becomes more scarce.

IC: Why are there so many new companies trying to get in if the market is competitive?

TO: For many I guess the technology barrier for chassis and power supplies, if you just want to do a simple design, it’s not a very difficult thing to start. It’s not as technical, so I guess more companies think they can come in and shake up the market. Also everyone has a subjective outlook on how they like to have their computers look – there is no one look that fits everyone’s taste so that is another reason we have so many players. You’re always going to have someone that wants a different look.

IC: So SilverStone plays in small form factor, mid-size, all the way up to full tower and some of those crazy feats of engineering we see at the trade shows for chassis. SilverStone also does the same for power supplies. What types of these are the most exciting right now – is it the small form factor, or the showcase builds?

TO: I think the market is growing more multi-faceted right now. Because of the personal preferences of the user, the products are becoming more focused so we are getting a lot of different categories. The tower style of PC case that most people are used to is still going to be there, but for enthusiasts at least, there is more diversification in the market. For the industry as a whole I don’t think our focus is towards either end – it may seem that for the last few years we are more focused on the small form factor, but we are still working pretty hard in trying to create new larger cases. Actually the larger cases take longer to design – we can start a project that lasts a couple of years and eventually scrap it because the market is not ready for it, or has moved on.

IC: We have a lot of users that used to have the desktop but are now migrating to other form factors to either mini-PCs or tablets or laptops. What can SilverStone do to keep the customers and business when the market has ups and downs?

TO: In the past we’ve helped introduce new form factors or push that type of form factor more into the mainstream market and we think we’re pretty good at it. Ever since we started at SilverStone, we pushed HTPC (home theatre) to become more popular that it was previously. We’re doing something similar now with many different form factors – cube cases for example we have pushed more into mainstream and retail markets back in 2005-2006, and mini-ITX cases around 2009. Now it’s focusing on the slim form factor type of steam machine from 2014 (like the Milo ML08 in this build). I think we’re pretty good at trying to create a different look with these machines. We have a lot of system integration customers that build complete PCs so we get inspiration from them as well, turning their ideas into good products.

IC: Is there more focus in SilverStone these days for self-builds and end-users, or system integrators? How about geographical markets?

TO: They’re both very important to us – we have a lot of system integrator partners, but our retail presence is also very strong. Every time we build a new product, both sides are kept in mind. The US still ranks as our number one market right now, with Europe close to it. Japan also factors as a strong single country, with APAC as a whole increasing in importance.

IC: So we invited you onto our second round of the Build-A-Rig project, with a budget of $800 to build a ‘back-to-school’ given that students are now going back to class. How difficult was the budget constraint?

TO: I was very surprised we only had $800 to play with! We’re not a brand known for budget cases and power supplies so it was quite tough. So we had to go for a cheaper CPU for example as a compromise, but the build covers performance and gaming too.

IC: What sort of features should a back-to-school system have?

TO: A system that is fast for Office is a must, so having a CPU very high should help. Most Office applications I guess are not so multi-core heavy. For college students, they might want to do some LAN gaming, so we gave the build a good graphics card for the budget.

IC: For the gaming, do technologies like Windows 10 and DirectX 12 do much for SilverStone?

TO: I hope so! Usually with these changes, some users feel the need to upgrade so hopefully our range of form factors will be considered for new builds.

IC: I want to talk about this case you chose, the Milo ML08B-H. It seems to be a new product SilverStone have been presenting at trade shows in recent months.

TO: Because this is a back-to-school build, I purposely chose a case that has a handle on top for easy carrying. It shares the same internal structure as our Raven RVZ02 which was also recently released. This is considered our second generation slim case design to build on our first one launched last year to very good reviews. The number one feedback we got from customers and system builders was that the case was great for its dimensions but it was a bit difficult to assemble, so this is something we worked on for the second generation. So for users wanting to build a small thin system like this but think it might be too difficult or too fiddly for them, they should be really happy with this case.

IC: You’ve chosen a small form factor 450W Bronze power supply to go with the GTX 960.

TO: Correct – this power supply has been proven to be capable of driving a GTX 970 plus a high end CPU, so we have no worries here. You guys are overclocking, right?

IC: Well you’ve chosen an overclocking processor, but an H-series motherboard.

TO: The H97 motherboards will allow CPU overclocking, so I’m hoping you guys will do that!

IC: Will the SilverStone Argon AR06 handle some overclocking?

TO: So that CPU cooler is good for up to about 86W, so there should be some headroom with both the CPU and an overclock to around 4.0 GHz. It will be interesting to see your results!

IC: So you’ve clearly outfitted this system for gaming in mind. Are you a gamer? What games do you play?

TO: Like most people my age, I don’t have that much time to play games these days with two children who are both very small to look after! I used to be a big racing game fan, but I had to sell my setup which included a racing seat, wheel and pedals before my second child was born. While not on the PC I was a big fan of Gran Turismo. I haven’t actually had a chance to play the latest one – I bought it but had to sell it without even opening it. But with Gran Turismo 5, I enjoyed the handling of the Ferrari 458.

IC: So to finish – if you had half of the Build-A-Rig budget ($400) to spend on upgrades in twelve months, what would you consider?

TO: I would guess the CPU would be the first thing, depending on what is the mainstream on the market at that point, followed by a bigger GPU. Everything else should stand up well over the year – the case and power supply should last a lot longer than that!

Build-A-Rig R2: The Rules, The Participants Build-A-Rig R2: SilverStone’s ‘Mighty Milo’
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  • tonyou - Thursday, November 5, 2015 - link

    When we submitted the parts list on September 16, our total price was $794.90 excluding special incentives or rebates. So it wasn't our intention to overspent and flirt with the 3% flex, we just didn't have information about the part's 90 day average price unfortunately.
  • meacupla - Wednesday, October 14, 2015 - link

    I just bought a ML08 yesterday. Build quality seems to be a bit under what silverstone usually has, with bent tabs causing loose panels and HDD mounts that don't snap in place.

    It's nothing a bit of bending can't fix, but I think it's worth mentioning.

    Overall, I like this better than the RVZ01.
  • SaintStryfe - Wednesday, October 14, 2015 - link

    So I went on PC part picker and made a few choices of my own. Here's what I think:

    A student PC for playing MOBAs, light MMOs and school work should overall have a mid-range processor, a solid amount of RAM and a reasonable graphics card. More is always better, but 800$ is more than enough.

    Now I've got a few degrees so I know the ritual of lugging everything to school. It is... not fun. So I wanted to make it small enough to make it easy. So I went Mini ITX. To keep costs down I went with a non-overclockable chip and stock cooling. I am an Intel and nVidia person myself, so I went those too. Without further ado, here you go:

    PCPartPicker part list:
    Price breakdown by merchant:

    CPU: Intel Core i3-4330 3.5GHz Dual-Core Processor ($129.89 @ OutletPC)
    Motherboard: ASRock B85M-ITX Mini ITX LGA1150 Motherboard ($67.98 @ Newegg)
    Memory: Kingston HyperX Fury Black 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($43.99 @ SuperBiiz)
    Storage: OCZ ARC 100 240GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($89.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($45.89 @ OutletPC)
    Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 960 4GB Superclocked Video Card ($215.99 @ SuperBiiz)
    Case: Rosewill Neutron Mini ITX Desktop Case ($39.99 @ Amazon)
    Power Supply: Thermaltake TR2 430W ATX Power Supply ($33.99 @ Best Buy)
    Optical Drive: LG GH24NSC0B DVD/CD Writer ($16.89 @ OutletPC)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10 Home OEM (64-bit) ($93.75 @ OutletPC)
    Keyboard: AmazonBasics KU-0833 +MSU0939 Wired Standard Keyboard w/Optical Mouse ($14.99 @ Amazon)
    Total: $793.34
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
    Generated by PCPartPicker 2015-10-14 15:12 EDT-0400

    Ivy Bridge Core i3's are a solid value. They have more than enough processing power for a modern game, while being cool and energy efficient. The motherboard will hold everything we're throwing at it easily. 8GB of RAM is more than enough for these tasks.

    I went with a lot of IO - a DVD-RW (hey, they're college students, they'll want to trade music, also some school books still insist on using DVDs), a 240GB SSD for boot and a favorite game or two, and a bigger bulk storage drive - I was able to wedge a whole TB drive in there. The kid is NOT running out of storage. If I had an extra 50$ I'd also tack on a external for backup. Oh well - that's for Christmas.

    For MOBAs, light MMO's (WoW or GW2), or older shooters (CS:GO) a 960 is a great card. This EVGA model is only 6" long, but has a full 4 gigs of Memory, so it'll be a hit at LAN parties.

    The case is a nice lil Rosewill number that'll hold all our bits, and have external USB 3 for hooking up a high speed flash drive, plus look good for those LAN parties. The classic Corsair power supply will provide all the juice needed, and being semi-modular lends to removing some of the bulk that won't be needed, like a lot of MOLEX cables.

    I had plenty of cash upto this point, so I tacked on Windows 10 (Most schools have some form of getting MS Office to kids on the cheap, so I forwent that, but hey, OpenOffice, iWorks in the Cloud, ect.) and tossed a simple keyboard and mouse on there.

    This rig will last a kid 4-5 years easily, and comes right in on budget. What do you think of my solution?
  • SUpstone - Friday, October 16, 2015 - link

    Nicely done! and your comment about the necessity of a back-up drive is spot on too... I can easily imagine a student leaves home for college and also leaves behind them the back-up service that mum and/or dad did on the home PC. Easily overlooked.
  • SaintStryfe - Tuesday, October 20, 2015 - link

    Thank you!

    I know I've seen a few Core i5's with a small SSD or just a mechanical drive, and such, but I just feel that in my experience as a college student, having that bulk storage is the most important thing. You get files/music from your friends, you install games, you save videos for school projects, it just gets eaten up. Having the SSD, DVD and 1TB means you never have to say "Sorry".

    Note due to college networks being pretty good most of the time, it is entirely reasonable to do a cloud backup service too - Pogoplug or something like that. But I don't know, I guess I'm just old fashioned. I like a disk that if the world is burning, I can grab on my way out.
  • lichoblack - Wednesday, October 14, 2015 - link

    I've made this excersise of a 800$ BTS rig and went about 3$ overbudget. Instead of the milo, I went with the FT03mini, for a really distinctive miniITX build. So here it is:

    My entry to the 800$ BTS build

    Cart Item List:

    Qty. Product Description Savings Total Price
    SILVERSTONE Black Fortress Series SST-FT03B-MINI Mini ITX Media Center / HTPC Case
    Item #:N82E16811163197
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

    EVGA GeForce GTX 960 04G-P4-3962-KR 4GB SC GAMING, Only 6.8 inches, Perfect for mITX Build Graphics Card
    Item #:N82E16814487133
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

    OCZ ARC 100 2.5" 120GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) ARC100-25SAT3-120G
    Item #:N82E16820228115
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

    Microsoft Windows 8.1 64-bit
    Item #:N82E16832416776
    Return Policy: Consumable Product Return Policy

    Kingston 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model KVR16LN11K2/8
    Item #:N82E16820239877
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

    Intel Pentium G3258 3.2 GHz LGA 1150 BX80646G3258 Desktop Processor
    Item #:N82E16819117374
    Return Policy: Replacement Only Return Policy

    ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac Mini ITX Intel Motherboard
    Item #:N82E16813157504
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

    SILVERSTONE ST45SF 450W Power Supply
    Item #:N82E16817256063
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

    NVIDIA Gift - Heroes of the Storm
    Item #:N82E16800995242
    Return Policy: Consumable Product Return Policy

    Grand Total: $828.92
  • twotwotwo - Thursday, October 15, 2015 - link

    OK, that SFF SilverStone is *cute*, and (or, because) I usually don't like desktop designs.
  • BrokenCrayons - Thursday, October 15, 2015 - link

    Yes, that's so true about the SilverStone case. It's very worthy of a few squees. A few years ago, I had a gigantic Lian Li case which I got second hand. It was the most impracticaly, obnoxiously huge thing and had it's own set of wheels. Since the Crucial box is sort of like a cute little baby version of that same case, I really can't completely side with SilverStone on this one based on the case. Either way, I'm glad the days of full tower cases are behind us. Honestly, pretty much anything bigger than a MicroATX is impractical and I'd much prefer a laptop over anything chained to a wall via a power outlet. Even the ease of getting a discrete GPU doesn't justify the extra size. I'll just keep my expectations low and enjoy older/less demanding games on an iGPU in a laptop.
  • PPalmgren - Thursday, October 15, 2015 - link

    Imagine, once M.2 takes off and as SSD prices continue to plummet, being able to build a system in a case that has no expansion slots. Lots of interesting possibilities.
  • gamer1000k - Thursday, October 15, 2015 - link

    This is already possible, the price of M.2 SSDs (the sata ones anyways) are equivalent to the other form factors and 500GB drives are readily available.

    Combine that with an Iris Pro iGPU and you would have a very capable, compact system.

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