Testing Methodology

For testing ATX cases, we use the following standardized testbed in stock and overclocked configurations to get a feel for how well the case handles heat and noise.

Full ATX Test Configuration
CPU Intel Core i7-875K
(95W TDP, tested at stock speed and overclocked to 3.8GHz @ 1.38V)
Motherboard ASUS P7P55D-E Pro
Graphics Card Zotac NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 (244W TDP)
Memory 2x2GB Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer DDR3-1600
Drives Kingston SSDNow V+ 100 64GB SSD
Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB SATA 6Gbps
Samsung 5.25" BD-ROM/DVDRW Drive
CPU Cooler Zalman CNPS9900 MAX with Cooler Master ThermalFusion 400
Power Supply SilverStone Strider Gold 750W 80 Plus Gold

A refresher on how we test:

Acoustic testing is standardized on a foot from the front of the case, using the Extech SL10 with an ambient noise floor of ~32dB. For reference, that's what my silent apartment measures with nothing running, testing acoustics in the dead of night (usually between 1am and 3am). A lot of us sit about a foot away from our computers, so this should be a fairly accurate representation of the kind of noise the case generates, and it's close enough to get noise levels that should register above ambient.

Thermal testing is run with the computer having idled at the desktop for fifteen minutes, and again with the computer running both Furmark (where applicable) and Prime95 (less one thread when a GPU is being used) for fifteen minutes. I've found that leaving one thread open in Prime95 allows the processor to heat up enough while making sure Furmark isn't CPU-limited. We're using the thermal diodes included with the hardware to keep everything standardized, and ambient testing temperature is always between 71F and 74F. Processor temperatures reported are the average of the CPU cores.

For more details on how we arrived at this testbed, you can check out our introductory passage in the review for the IN-WIN BUC.

Last but not least, we'd also like to thank the vendors who made our testbed possible:

Thank You!

We have some thanks in order before we press on:

  • Thank you to Crucial for providing us with the Ballistix Smart Tracer memory we used to add memory thermals to our testing.
  • Thank you to Zalman for providing us with the CNPS9900 MAX heatsink and fan unit we used.
  • Thank you to Kingston for providing us with the SSDNow V+ 100 SSD.
  • Thank you to CyberPower for providing us with the Western Digital Caviar Black hard drive, Intel Core i7-875K processor, ASUS P7P55D-E Pro motherboard, and Samsung BD-ROM/DVD+/-RW drive.
  • And thank you to SilverStone for providing us with the power supply.
Assembling the SilverStone Temjin TJ04-E Noise and Thermal Testing, Stock
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  • Rolphus - Friday, February 10, 2012 - link

    I've just put my new gaming machine together using a TJ-08E (chosen largely because of your review), and I absolutely agree that they are tricky cases to put together - and this is coming from someone with an Antec P180.

    I had to substantially re-cable my machine 3 times during the build as I worked out the best places for everything to go.

    That said, I'm really, really pleased with my machine - the thermals are excellent, the case is reasonably light, and it's wonderfully compact and quiet.

    I think it's a real pity that they're only using 120mm fans in this more conventional case. The 180mm fan in the TJ-08 is key to its success.
    Reply
  • burntham77 - Monday, February 13, 2012 - link

    That is great to hear. I am planning to move my parts into a TJ-08E soon. I have been looking for a small case that doesn't sound like a vacuum cleaner, and that one seems to fit the bill. If I may, what CPU and GPU do you use? Reply
  • Rolphus - Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - link

    Sure! for completeness: my setup is:

    Intel Core i5-2500K (at 4GHz, stock voltages with vDroop correction: I've not tried pushing it harder)
    EVGA Z68 Micro SLI
    MSI GeForce GTX580 Twin Frozr II - actually not recommended: the TJ08's manual suggests only getting GPUs that blow air "out" of the case (as in the reference design) rather than those that blow air in both directions.
    Pioneer BDR-206DBK Blu-ray Writer - this is just short enough to fit in the case with...
    Silverstone Tech. Strider Plus 850W PSU
    Antec Kúhler H2O 920 CPU cooler
    1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200.12
    64GB Crucial M4 (as a Smart Response Technology cache)

    The machine is very quiet even under heavy load (FurMark + Prime95 x 3), with the only real noise being the GPU fans.

    I had to work a little to get the Kuhler in place, and think carefully about the order I installed things, but everything fitted nicely with clean airflow.
    Reply
  • Risforrocket - Friday, February 10, 2012 - link

    Thank you, Mr. Sklavos, for a nice review. I have been looking at this case.

    I have two remarks. I would like to see case reviews done with the case configured in a way a reasonably enthusiastic owner would configure the case. In this case, configured with the optional fans installed including the bottom fan and the SSD cage removed. I think that is reasonable especially as this case is not a low end case but rather a lower cost enthusiast case. Give the case it's best chance, within reason.

    My second remark is that you uncovered the weakness in this case, the cooling airflow. I think Silverstone should fix that but I suppose that won't happen. I don't think the use of screws is a negative at all whereas hard mounting the disk drives might be, well, *is* because that takes us back to a time when no one cared about noise or vibration. Lol, I know, I was there.

    That you need to remove the SSD cage in an attempt to fix the cooling airflow leads me to ask myself how would I fix this problem? I think the HDD cage and cooling fans are cool. Remove the SSD cage altogether and provide 2.5" mount options elsewhere, make the bottom cooling fan the main intake fan, make the top fans exhaust rather than intake. That's three intake, three exhaust and a reasonable airflow pattern.

    I actually think case design should begin with an airflow design. Well, I'm tired. Thanks again for a nice review.
    Reply
  • MilwaukeeMike - Friday, February 10, 2012 - link

    You're right about the case congifuration, but the case has to be setup in the same way that previous reviews were done or the comparison numbers won't be as meaningful. As soon as he makes some modification for a review the comments fill up with bias accusations, suggestions for improvement, and other differences of opinion. Reply
  • cjs150 - Friday, February 10, 2012 - link

    I love Silverstone cases and this is why:

    "it seems like nobody ever told their engineers something couldn't or shouldn't be done"

    Most case designers are lazy and nothing has really moved design forward for years (moving PSU from top to bottom is not a big jump forward!). Silverstone and Lian Li are the exceptions. Of course some of the designs do not work as well as originally thought but they are at least trying.

    This is a design that does not work as the airflow is not good enough.

    But please Silverstone keep trying
    Reply
  • Sabresiberian - Saturday, February 11, 2012 - link

    I don't know if you've paid attention to the Antec lineup, but they come up with an occasional new idea as well.

    I draw your attention specifically to the Skeleton and the Lanboy. These cases may not be what you find esthetically pleasing, but they are far from lazy, old designs.

    ;)
    Reply
  • cjs150 - Monday, February 13, 2012 - link

    I had forgotten about the Skeleton - definitely designed by someone who had never been told what should be done!

    Not convinced by the lanboy - assume you mean the Airboy (or whatever the mesh heavy case is called), other than the mesh, it looked a standard case design but have to admit I have not re-read the reviews for a while as it was not suitable for me.

    Antec do very nice small HTPC designs though - again highly original
    Reply
  • r3loaded - Friday, February 10, 2012 - link

    Silverstone are great because they innovate a lot in computer cases, an area that you'd otherwise think doesn't need or have much innovation. They certainly aren't afraid to try wacky things like the FT-03, just to see if it'll work. I own an FT-03 and while it's certainly not for everyone, you just have to admire the design and the quality of the finish.

    On the difficulty of assembling it, it's not difficult if you just follow the manual closely. This is certainly one area where it's best to drop the "real men don't need manuals" machismo and do exactly what it says. You'll get it right first time, and once it comes together, it comes together beautifully.
    Reply
  • Rick83 - Friday, February 10, 2012 - link

    Having discovered how the power cable is supposed to be installed in an FT-03, and performing the procedure, I disagree.

    Had to take a knife to the plug, to force it through the aperture it was supposed to go through, and through which it didn't go when it was delivered. Only discovered that that routing was possible at all when I swapped fans.

    While I really like the case, and it fits my needs perfectly, there are some very rough edges that occasionally rear their ugly head.
    another example would be the installation of the 2.5" drive with the customary angled SATA cables. Almost impossible, as the cable routing hole in the mainboard is just a tiny bit too low for an angled plug stuck on the mainboard.
    Also, 12 screws to install a second 2.5" drive did seem somewhat excessive to me.

    And why oh why didn't they have the titanium gray version at launch :D
    Reply

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