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’
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • coconutboy - Thursday, October 15, 2015 - link

    Awesome to see Tony Ou up at bat. Dude has been great in his community/forum interaction and Silverstone has produced some awesome and compelling rethinks of pc case design these past few years. Little doubt Tony's had something to do with that.

    Too bad then Tony, that you've lost this round. I'm not talking about the build-a-rig battle, I'm talking the pictures on page 1. Jeremy Mortenson's game face is AWESOME, and sets a new standard for all future competitors in build-a-rig duels. He even has nunchucks and appears to be ready to enter a no-holds-barred cage fight!

    As far as the systems, man... very tough call. Tony and Silverstone have the better case and vid card, while Jermey and Crucial have the better ssd and cpu. It's close, but I think I'll give my vote to Mighty Milo. I love that case with it's small footprint and brilliant design, and it'll be the better gaming machine with that gtx 960oc. Then again, that rig is more likely to eat up a students time and have them flunking out of classes because they're hooked on DotA!. Maybe Jeremy's better cpu will help students finish school tasks quicker while not tempting them to spend so much time gaming. ;-)
  • coconutboy - Friday, October 16, 2015 - link

    Noticed a few prices have changed since the post date, but figured I love these build-offs so much, I'd tinker with my own while watching the MLB playoffs. I'll say up front I really wanted to use the same case as Tony's Silverstone build (including the handle, it's totally worth the $10 increase) because that thing is just badass, just look at that tiny footprint! Buuuut... since I'd rather not be a complete copycat, I tried to offer some different options with explanations after the list.

    coconutboy's cool white chiller:
    cpu: intel core i3-4170 $125
    note: no aftermarket cpu cooler, stock intel
    mobo: asrock h81m-itx/wifi $63
    gpu: msi gtx 960oc $180
    ram: corsair vengeance 8gb cas 9 low profile ddr3 1600 $41
    storage: no hdd, only crucial's bx100 500GB ssd $150
    psu: corsair cx430m 80 plus bronze modular psu $50
    case: xigmatek aquila white steel micro-atx cube chassis $90
    os: windows 10 home oem $100
    total cost: $799

    Breakdown of parts:
    cpu: I love that Tony gave a shout out to the overclocking crowd with the g3258, but Jeremy nailed this one. If Windows 10 microcode concerns about nerfing the oc become long-term reality, then that Pentium cpu loses most of its appeal. Meanwhile the i3-4170 can handle 4 threads, is clocked 500MHz higher out of the box. No ocing required is very welcome in a tiny itx case packing a 120w vid card.

    mobo: easily the most debatable part of this build. Like Jeremy's gigabyte board, this asrock only has 2 usb3.0 ports (and 4 usb 2.0 ports). Unlike Jeremy's mobo which can add more usb3.0 via headers, this asrock only offers up more usb2.0 headers, so 2x usb3.0 is all you get, period. My chosen mobo's intel h81 chipset also limits you to pci express 2.0 instead of 3.0, and only offers wireless b/g/n wif instead of the ac seen on Tony and Jeremy's picks.

    "Wow that's a lot of freakin' compromises!", you say? Aye, but the questions are, will they actually have an impact, and would you even notice? The usb 3.0, that's something each individual has to address for themselves. PCI Express 2.0 vs 3.0 with single gpus has been covered in depth most recently by guru3d, but hardocp/anand/toms/etc have also done tons of great write-ups. The difference is either nonexistent or at most 2% when using the latest high-end cards like a gtx980 or better. With a gtx 960oc it won't matter.

    The wireless ac vs b/g/n could be something that might be more noticeable to the end user however, so if that or any of these issues concern you, upgrade to either of the mobos recommended by Jeremy/Tony.

    gpu: the white MSI will look great through the white Xigmatek case's window, but even better is that it gets excellent reviews. A very strong alternative tho is the Powercolor PCS+ Radeon r9 380 axr9. Not as pretty in the case, but for $10 less than the msi, the powercolor card is generally going to be even faster at the expense of greater power draw. ymmv

    ram: excellent reviews and the low profile make it a tad easier to fiddle about inside a tiny itx case.

    storage: it's not the fastest, but very reliable with excellent reviews. I think most folks would prefer a 500gb ssd over a hybrid setup with only a 1TB hdd.

    psu: a 5.9" deep modular and inexpensive corsair to clean up that tiny case. 'nuff said.

    case: like the mobo, one of my toughest choices. The Corsair 250d looms large here for essentially the same price. Then there's other great options like the Fractal Node 304 for $65, Jeremy and Tony's choices, or unusual but potentially awesome stuff like the Xigmatek Nebula C for $60. Want a portable case that can take a bit of a beating? Check out the Azza csaz-105 which is basically a modern version of the mods from the late 1990s where people would stuff their computer into a portable briefcase or some such. Really, options for cases are always endless and fickle for every user.

    I picked the Xigmatek because, like the Nebula, it looks fantastic, but also because it's known to be quiet and has so many other niceties like top front and bottom dust filters. The mobo being laid horizontal increases the footprint of the case to a similar size as the 250d or Jeremy's Thermaltake cube, but in exchange it shows off the vid card through the side window. The huge 200m fan up front along with 120mm out back is solid for cooling, but you can increase this further if you like by mounting up to a 240mm radiator up top (but losing the 5.25" bay in exchange. Being able to install 4 internal hdds is also great. Overall, the case has a lot of flexibility with a good reviews both on newegg and websites.

    /mic drop
  • SUpstone - Friday, October 16, 2015 - link

    Good build list - that's a sweet PC
  • DLimmer - Friday, October 16, 2015 - link

    First, I hope that both boxes are tested with GeForce GTX 960s in them, since the second build was $20 less than the first, and that's the difference between video cards.

    Secondly, If I were to make one, I would trim the fat in order to get a quad core CPU. Here goes:

    CPU - Intel Core i5-6400 $190
    Mobo - Gigabyte GA-H110M-A (rev. 1.0) LGA 1151 Intel H110 $56
    (1st corner cut)
    GPU - MSI Radeon R9 380 R9 380 GAMING 4GB LE 4GB $200
    RAM - Crucial 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR4 2133 $48
    SSD - ADATA Premier SP600 256GB SSD $70
    (2nd corner cut)
    HDD - none
    PSU - Antec EarthWatts Platinum Series EA-550 $80
    Case - Antec ISK 600M Black Aluminum $70
    CPU cooler - none/stock
    OS - Windows 10 $100
    Total: $814

    Performance should be near unbeatable at this price. The only way to improve is to skimp on the case and power supply in order to select a better SSD.

    That said, with $400 to spend next year, I would purchase a wi-fi card, HDD, a better SSD, and possibly a slim optical drive. ($50 / $150 / $150 / $50).

    Weaknesses: no Wifi, single/slower SSD, small storage (removed in 1 year)
    Strengths: Quad core Skylake, R9 380, efficient/ample power supply
  • coconutboy - Friday, October 16, 2015 - link

    Nice build. For people that stick to just one game or maybe carry the bulk of their data on portable hdd/usb, the 256 should be fine. Meanwhile the beefy cpu and gpu's 4gb vram give a lot of oomph that don't need upgrading so quickly.

    Even better, as">Scott Wasson astutely pointed out, your build gets even more affordable when the Skylake i3-6320 releases. That cpu would sacrifice 2MB of L3 cache, but has a base clock that's a whopping 600MHz higher than the Core i5-6400's turbo maximum.
  • SaintStryfe - Tuesday, October 20, 2015 - link

    For a college student, no Wifi isn't a problem, most students have an Ethernet jack right in the room. That's fine by my book.
  • Tchamber - Friday, October 16, 2015 - link

    Wow, both are compelling systems. It's amazing how much performance we have available for such a reasonable price!
  • lindda8764 - Saturday, October 17, 2015 - link

  • Kokapelli - Sunday, October 18, 2015 - link

    while this might not be in the spirit of picking each and every individual part, there are numerous deals to be had on newegg in terms of buying an "off the shelf" pc with an i5 for around $500. Take the remaining $300 and get the 960, or maybe even a 970 on sale. End result beats both of these. There's also several prebuilt gaming computers with various i5's + 960s as well as FX8k series + 960s for less than 800, and all of these options come with windows.
  • DLimmer - Monday, October 19, 2015 - link

    I just looked, and it's $450 for a 4GB memory option and $500 for 8GB DDR3. So, you add $200ish for the best affordable video card (R9 380 4GB is $205) and $70-95 for a SSD and you come out ahead (a 500GB-1TB hard drive)... or do you?

    You're missing out on Skylake and your power supply may not be able to handle the video card upgrade.

    ($799 for i5, 8GB, R9 380 2GB, 2TB HDD, 120GB SSD)

    in fact, the same maker sells the box I made (with 2GB video card, half the SSD, but adds a 2TB HDD) for $950.

    Bottom line: making your own is the the fastest option.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now