In and Around the GD04

A jaunt around the GD04 reveals a case that at least appears to be well-suited to its task. Most of the case is constructed with steel, but the front bezel is an attractive brushed aluminum and again, the case comes in silver or black depending on your taste. Personally, I think black goes with everything.

The front bezel is nice and spare, featuring the two USB ports, microphone and headphone jacks, the power and reset buttons, a power LED, the optical drive bay, and a SilverStone logo. There's a lot of negative space here and it's appreciated; the GD04 is going to look like it belongs in your home theater setup. When you look at the sides, you'll see the three 120mm intake fans: one on the left, two on the right. This is a positive pressure case, designed to bring in air through the sides then push it out through ventilation in the top and the back. There's also a vent on the bottom of the case, beneath where the power supply's intake fan would typically be, that stays unobstructed as a result of the reasonably tall standoffs.

The rear of the case features four expansion slots, the power supply bay, and a fifth expansion slot above it presumably meant for extra USB ports or an eSATA bracket. There's also ventilation above the port cluster that could support additional cooling, if you wanted to add a couple 80mm fans.

Assembly of the GD04 is done by removing the top panel and it's here that you first realize this is not going to be a tool-less affair: the panel is fastened with three Philips head screws, and these are only the first of many you'll need to use when you start putting your HTPC together in this case.

Once you get the top off, there are three additional pieces that can be and in fact need to be removed: the optical drive tray, the hard disk drive mount, and the crossbar. Removing all of these parts requires a grand total of ten screws, and you'll want to keep those in a safe place. That said, the inside of the GD04 is actually remarkably spacious, but people with long power supplies should be forewarned: something as long as the spare Corsair HX750 I had won't fit, as trying to install it results in it butting squarely up against the intake fan on the left side.

What's also worth noting is the low clearance beneath the optical drive tray. While stock coolers for most AMD processors will work fine, the Zalman CNPS7000 cooler I'm using in my build is only a few millimeters from scraping the bottom of the tray. You're going to want to use either the stock or a low profile cooler like a Scythe Shuriken (or, if you don't mind the scant clearance, the Zalman CNPS7000) when assembling a machine in the GD04.

Introducing the SilverStone GD04 Assembling an HPTC in the GD04
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  • asgallant - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    I recently built an HTPC based on the GD05, and with a low-power CPU (the Athlon II X3 415e, stock cooling) at it's center, the system is barely audible from ~1 meter away, nevermind sitting ~15 feet away from the couch. The only noise issue the system has is the Blu-Ray drive, which makes a racket when it spins up to full speed. Vibration dampers would help here, but even with them, it would still be an unpleasantly loud noise source. Aside from the lack of vibration dampers on the ODD tray, the only problem I have with this case is that it doesn't have a built in infrared port for remote controls. Reply
  • mcveigh - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    I agree with some of the other posters. The sound testing should have identified what components were noisy...not just this particular configuration is loud.
    maybe try other video cards, and power supply's. I'd love to see testing with fanless video cards and power supply's so we can compare the changes.

    I'd love to see more HTPC case testing! Well Done!
    Reply
  • Drizzt321 - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    I don't mean to nitpick...but I am. Last page, 2nd paragraph, 1st sentence, the word 'confern' I think was meant to be 'concern'. Reply
  • Beenthere - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    Silverstone products are considered mainstream not high end quality. You generally get what you pay for in life. I'd skip Silverstone products if I was looking for quality. Reply
  • micksh - Sunday, December 26, 2010 - link

    They are generally better than Thermalfake or Moneual for example. Zalman, Lian-Li are too overpriced, I think. Lian-Li cases also look like soulless boxes with no identity.
    In fact, I believe Silverstone makes well designed products.
    So, what do you typically buy for your HTPC, that $1200 OrigenAE S21T case?
    Reply
  • MeanBruce - Sunday, December 26, 2010 - link

    Again agreeing with Micksh, the Lian-Li’s although very well built all look alike to me and there are so many of them, it’s like going to a paint store and deciding over 85 shades of blue, how could you possibly choose? Don’t know why they have to produce 200 different black boxes that are mostly indistinguishable. My last build I could have spent up to $700 on a case as I even considered that Thermaltake Level 11/BMW design thing, but I didn’t want a 40pound case or a full tower since I only run one video card, I needed the smallest case that could still house a full ATX mainboard, and this new size that many companies are producing the “midi” tower is perfect. Bitfenix Survivor, Fractal Design’s new Arc case, Lian Li also makes a midi LanCool brand, and Cooler Master 912 Advanced. I settled on the Cooler Master, it really is the most complete and feature laden case of the four. Bitfenix is not selling in the US yet but next year they will have a Survivor with full mesh panels, which will make a great silent pc. There seems to be two approaches to a silent build, noisy components, closed case design and soundproofing, Or the one I like, ultra quiet components, and open case design with lots of ventilation and moving large amounts of air quietly. I don’t agree with this mainstream vs high- end argument, it really should be the case that is perfect for your needs, at $99dollars the 912 Advanced may seem mainstream or even budget to some, but the design and quality are amazing, so whether its mainstream or high-end who cares as long as it’s just right for the build. Also I went through that Zalman phase, didn’t we all, CPU cooler, VPU cooler, PSU, they were the quietest at the time, but now it’s Noctua, I run the extra-large NH-D14 CPU heatsink with no fans at all, it’s that good. VPU heatsink, the Prolimatech MK-13 is the current silent leader, but it’s also Huge, taking up 4slots with a fan attached, so not for a multicard set-up. Micksh seems to know what he is doing, let me know if you need any info I have.

    This may not have been an article on creating a silent pc, but the discussion definitely turned into one, and that’s why we all come here, to find out what works, what doesn’t, and what works extremely well. There are a few products out there that fall into the latter category and they truly should not be missed.
    Reply
  • Jhatfie - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    I have the GD04 as my HTPC with a Phenom II X2 555 unlocked to a 955 @ 3.6Ghz and a XFX 5850 using and you can barely hear the thing even when under heavy load gaming. My xbox 360S is easily twice as loud.

    For $99 this is a excellent case. Clean design, plenty of room for full size graphics cards, good cooling that blows away other HTPC cases I tried. CPU dropped 10C alone under load over the prior case I was using. Layout is good, only real negative I have is the lack of cable management.
    Reply
  • londiste - Sunday, December 26, 2010 - link

    i have not seen a built-for-purpose htpc case (not even an extremely expensive one) that was easy to build a computer in. reviewer says almost the same thing at the top of the page and at the end of page complain about the complexity?

    complaints about long power supplies seem a bit arbitrary, i can't imagine an htpc that would warrant a 700+w power supply while being even remotely silent enough to fill the role.

    sorry but the components of your choice are loud. i understand that you picked what was laying around but if you put silence as paramount as you say, you should know better than to use components like that. if you need/want amd, at least go for energy efficient models (605e/615e work wonders with power usage/heat and thus, noise).

    getting as little heat as possible is even more important in a case like this - while there is a general scheme for airflow, it is far from optimal and i would not count on heat getting out of this case easily. a delta of 40c (cpu/gpu) for idle/load seems to confirm that.

    as already commented, noise number do not say much in this way. how much was contributed by case fans and how much by cpu/video cooler, psu fan? was what the noise floor? you did mention a fan controller in the article - did you have/get one and try to slow down the fans, did it help, were the temperatures still reasonable?

    i see from comments that the noise questions have been downplayed as not that important but i do not believe that is the case. reviewer clearly states silence as a goal and htpc as an entire category has low noise as one key aspect.

    while it is not new and it has been said in this article's comments as well - tolerable noise level is a very subjective thing. just an example - i had to replace zalman cnps9500 (at minimum rpm with fanmate) as it was much noisier than anything else in my computer. now i can hear the corsair hx520 fan at idle (using 100-120w, psu stats state ~16dba).
    Reply
  • justaviking - Sunday, December 26, 2010 - link

    Dustin,

    Writing for Anandtech might be like going to the Olympics. The standards of excellence are extremely high. You are not judged against average writers, but the against very best.

    Some of the comments are, I think, very valid feedback. Use it to make your next article stronger. Not only are the Anandtech writers the best, so are their readers. Reader feedback here is often better than other people's articles.

    My $0.02 is I would like to see and apples-to-apples comparison. Use the same components in two cases. Then you could compare the audio levels, and adding some subjective comments would put the numbers into context. (You should include your background noise levels too.)

    Thanks again. Hang in there. Use the feedback to get stronger. And lastly, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
    Reply
  • micksh - Sunday, December 26, 2010 - link

    Yes, that's what I tried to achieve with my comments - make next articles stronger.
    Finding information about quiet HTPC build is difficult and I would appreciate if Anandtech becomes a good source of information in this area (as excellent as it is in other areas).

    I hope authors disregard parts of comments that sound too emotional (I know I could have been more polite, I'm sorry if I sounded inappropriate). But I also hope they will use information parts of the feedback for next articles. Looking forward to see follow up, Dustin.
    Reply

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