In and Around the SilverStone Raven RV03

I may be a glutton for punishment at this point, but for me, half the fun of a SilverStone enclosure is figuring out how it comes together. There's always a logic to it, but SilverStone's designs often deviate wildly from the norm and so assembly is oftentimes just as unusual. Before getting into that, though, it's worth addressing the RV03's exterior and unfortunately I think they've taken a step back with this model.

The gold strips that run up the front and across the top are removable, and that's good because they're an accent that cheapens the look of the RV03. Taken on its own this iteration's face is a little more subdued than most gaming enclosures, but compared to the RV02 it's gaudy. The RV02's 5.25" bay covers didn't have the same V-shaped accents the RV03's have (or the colored trim for that matter), and the top of the enclosure was sleeker.

There's a little bit of schizophrenia in the placement of the fan controls and USB 3.0 ports as well; the USB 3.0 ports and audio jacks are covered by a door while the fan controls are entrenched in a metal plate in the open gap between the door and snap-on cover that shields the expansion slots and I/O cluster. I can't help but feel like all of these should've been hidden under the door.

When you do pop the RV03 open, you'll find an interior that seems a lot busier than its predecessor (not to mention most other cases), and that's due to the modularity of the design. SilverStone is pretty big on customization with their enclosures and the RV03 is a doozy that way. Cable routing should be fairly simple given the spacious motherboard tray and routing holes surrounding it, and SilverStone included two drive bay adapters for the copious 5.25" bays in front (seven in all) that allow you to trade three 5.25" bays for three 3.25" bays and additional 120mm fan mounts.

Beneath the column of 5.25" bays is the power supply mount with a cable that routes in from the plug on the bottom of the case. Users of larger PSUs beware: this bay supports 180mm of depth max. There are grilles on both side panels around this bay to improve airflow and cable clearance, but this bay is really designed for PSUs with bottom intakes.

Next to the motherboard tray at the "rear" of the case is yet another 120mm fan mount that, if used, will block off the eighth expansion slot. Finally, there's a 120mm exhaust fan at the top of the case, where one would usually be in relation to a motherboard. Well, not finally, we're not quite done yet.

Pop over to the other side and you'll see not only the opening in the motherboard tray for aftermarket cooling ([insert generic jab at Intel's HSF mounting mechanism here]), but four 3.5" drive mounts and a fifth mount able to hold a pair of 2.5" drives. That fifth mount is expressly for SSDs, as odds are good two stacked mechanical drives would overheat if used there. Keeping the drives behind the motherboard tray is an interesting choice since it helps minimize cabling around the motherboard itself, but there's virtually no ventilation back here. SilverStone includes a 120mm fan mount in the side panel that will blow directly onto the back of the processor socket and hopefully spill some of that air to the surrounding drives, but I'd be concerned about heat nonetheless. Mechanical hard drives are specced to tolerate between 50C and 60C maximum, but remember they're mechanical: do you really want to push it?

Introducing the SilverStone Raven RV03 Assembling the SilverStone Raven RV03
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  • yelped - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Great job on the review!

  • tzhu07 - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Do these industrial designers have any taste at all?

    That thing looks like crap. So tacky looking and lacking any kind of grace.

    If there was a Razzie award for industrial design, this thing would be nominated for sure.
  • B3an - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Exactly! Why is it SO ridiculously hard to find cases in this category that actually look good? And not like they've just got a load of ugly random plastic parts and glued them all together?

    I mean just look at the first pic on page 1, thats one seriously ugly case, but almost all cases like this look just as bad (or close anyway) and cheap/home-made looking.

    For a long time i've been looking for a case with good cooling, loads of space and features and theres such extremely little choice as 99% of them look like cheap tacky shit even when they cost hundreds.
  • Impulses - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    I feel like a lot of case manufacturers are trying to solve non-existent problems... While ignoring the real issues. CPU heat output hasn't increased all that much over the last ten years, the latest HSF tower designs have largely kept up with the demand and other components have become much more efficient (PSU, HDD, SSD, larger fans, etc.)... The one outlier is the GPU(s).

    Silverstone's internal design does address that to an extent, but I think they're over-complicating matters. The tried and tested ATX design of old still works wonders, especially if manufacturers stop insisting on throwing in so many useless drive bays that the majority of people just aren't using (5.25" particularly).

    People with multiple GPUs aren't usually running a server or a RAID 5 array inside the same rig... Cases don't need to be huge to cope with multiple video cards, just deep. Take any mid-range case that allows you flexible placement of 120mm fans across the front bays and line up those fans so that they each push air directly past the CPU and GPU independently and you don't even need discrete thermal zones, because the airflow creates it.

    As far as external design... It's a crying shame Silver stone has forgotten their CM ATSC roots, the understated design of those old AL cases would still sell like hotcakes today imo. Corsair understands that to an extent, tho I think they could go even cleaner.
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    I disagree with the many drive bays thing - I think it's very useful to fit as many internal 3.5" bays as you can - I have an Antec P182 and I'm running 9 drives - an SSD that I cable tied in, and 8 3.5" hard drives (no optical drive).

    However, we live in a world where CPU cooling issues can be fixed with something like a Noctua NH-D14, and will be almost silent under any condition, as long as you put a 120mm fan in line to exhaust the heat, that problem is solved, so I completely agree with the GPU cooling issue, since that's the thing that will cause the most heat and noise inside a case.
  • The0ne - Monday, July 25, 2011 - link

    Yep, I like having as man internal drive bays as I can for my main computer. But recently, with USB3.0 and such I've started to lighten up as more devices comes out to make use of it. This is because for the most part most of the HDD are storing data, backups, movies, music and TV shows. Still, it is very convenient to have all the drives in one case and at full speed.

    This case is not attractive.
  • EnzoFX - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Agreed. I too would like a compelling reason to upgrade. I think a layout re-design would be great, and easy for them to do, yet they waste all their time into ugly exteriors and features no one really cares about.

    How about something with positive air pressure? (Yeah this and other cases do, but most are negative). Get rid of all those 5.25 bays! Fine if you need one, keep one, but make the ones you do put on there have a secondary function, and not just it be wasted space. I also dislike when they add features that other people may add through 3rd party manufacturers, like card-readers, etc. but they are no more better integrated than theirs. If it's coming direct from the case manufacturer, how about integrating it so that it isn't wasted space, or a mess of wires to handle, etc.
  • SamVimes - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    at the moment most of the cases can be classified into the two main looks, the KITT (Knight Rider) look (with moving lights on the front) and the Transformers look.

    When I see the RV03 I'm afraid of pushing the wrong button, not booting my machine but making it convert into a robot, ...

    FT02 wft!
  • gramboh - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Chiming in to agree with you here. The FT02 is a nice, subtle, high quality looking enclosure. Excited for a new product from Silverstone, I took one look at the first picture of this thing and didn't even bother reading the review.

    There is a big segment within the enthusiast sector that wants high quality materials, sleek, understated looking cases like the Antec P180/182/183, FT02, Corsair 650D etc. Personally I prefer an option for a window-less side panel as well.

    I get there is still a bling contingent who like the hideous stuff that Thermaltake and others put out.
  • Zoeff - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    I don't understand the reason why this case exists when you can get the RV02-E if you pay 10 more euros. (This case is mostly identical to the FT-02 that the reviewer mentions)

    This is what I did and many of the flaws of this case don't exist. The mechanical HDD's are properly cooled by a 180mm fan, the PSU length is of no concern and the design is much more simplistic which would appeal to a wider audience. How a case looks like isn't usually what makes or breaks a decision for me but that's just too flashy for me.

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