In and Around the SilverStone Sugo SG05

The great thing about reviewing these Mini-ITX cases is that oftentimes there just isn't a whole lot to them, and that's true of the SilverStone Sugo SG05. This is the smallest case I've reviewed yet (at least until the impending review of the Antec ISK 110), and SilverStone makes smart use of the entire space. You can get most of the information you need just by looking at the case, and in fact when I went to assemble it I found myself checking the manual just to make sure it really was this simple.

The front is a clean black plastic bezel with sharp lines. On the right are the pair of USB 3.0 ports, the indicator LEDs, and two very small power and reset buttons, while the top of the fascia features the slimline optical drive bay. Of course the star of the show is the beefy 120mm intake fan at the center, and this 120mm fan represents the bulk of the cooling system. It isn't the most attractive thing in the world, but it's very functional as you'll see later on.

When you look at the top and sides of the SG05, you see how SilverStone is managing the rest of the case's thermals: copious, copious ventilation. This type of design choice winds up being a bit of a double-edged sword; there's nothing keeping the internal fan noise internal, but it also allows enough cool outside air to reach the components that the fans don't have to work as hard in the process. In my experience, smart airflow design can oftentimes be more conducive to keeping noise down than any kind of sound dampening material. Where I do think SilverStone misses the boat a little bit is the back. There's the expected extrusion to cover the expansion slots, but I feel like they could have and should have ventilated the space between the downward-facing PSU and the I/O cluster.

Popping open the SG05 reveals a very straightforward internal design. Given the fact that none of the case's dimensions exceed a foot, there just isn't space inside for any kind of chicanery; every inch must be accounted for. With that in mind, there's a removable support bar for the PSU (not strictly necessary but a nice touch) and the 3.5" drive cage and optical drive/2.5" drive cage are removable. That's it. There's the 120mm intake fan in the front, the cluster of headers for the case's I/O, and motherboard standoffs built into the bottom, but that's the extent of it.

Finally, SilverStone includes a very robust power supply with the SG05. The 450-watt unit is 80 Plus Bronze certified, and has a healthy 36 amps on the single 12V rail. This should be adequate for just about any video card you can actually fit inside the enclosure; NVIDIA's recent GeForce GTX 660 Ti may very well be an ideal candidate.

For how simple the SG05's design is, though, I feel like there's a bit of wasted potential here. The optical drive cage probably could've supported a pair of 2.5" drives side-by-side on the underside without interfering with the expansion slots, or alternatively could've included some means of mounting a 2.5" drive to the optical drive area. Interestingly, SilverStone opts not to include one of their 120mm Air Penetrator AP121 fans in the front, sticking with a more conventional fan. The AP121 can get a little noisy, though, and they may have just elected to err on the side of silence.

Introducing the SilverStone Sugo SG05 Assembling the SilverStone Sugo SG05
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  • Chaitanya - Sunday, August 19, 2012 - link

    Could you do a comparative review of the some of the mini-ITX cases(thermaltake, coolermaster, silverstone, lian-li and bitfenix) available in market? as most of these cases look similar on the outside(except for the bitfenix one) I am interested to know how they stack up against each other in terms of usability and cooling performance. Reply
  • n13L5 - Sunday, August 26, 2012 - link

    yes, would be nice.

    As far as I know, there isn't a better form factor + cooling concept case than the SG05 and its sucessors.

    So, why haven't I bought one?

    Cause Silverstone doesn't give them a nice build quality. Its iron, its got sharp edges inside and the plastic front had a crummy fit.

    By far the greatest annoyance is, that Silverstone forces you into a crappy, non-modular PSU! Why oh why would you ever use a non-modular PSU in a tiny case where you want to avoid extra wires obstructing airflow???

    A few years back, I went so far as posting the measurements and concept to Lian Li's support site, asking them to please make a form factor like that, so that we could finally have a high quality, slightly elongated version of the SG05...
    Reply
  • wahaha686 - Saturday, September 08, 2012 - link

    n13L5,

    I share your frustration towards the build quality of the SG05 and have plans to address the demand for an aluminum alternative to the SG05 (Kickstarter + batch custom order :p).

    I'm interested in knowing 1) what Lian Li told you, 2) how serious you are about getting a new mini-itx case.

    Let me know
    Reply
  • sean.crees - Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - link

    Modular PSU's take up more space because of the connector to the PSU chassis. When space is a premium, an extra inch or so can make a big difference in such a small enclosure. Plus it's easier (cheaper) to get higher effeciency in a PSU that is non modular due to resistive losses from extra inter connects. Not saying it cannot be done (obviously it can), but it would make the PSU more expensive, and the case it comes with more expensive.

    Personally i prefer steel enclosures. The weight difference is negligible once you load it up with electronics, but the steel panels resonate sound less than aluminum panels. Plus steel is cheaper. I know a lot of people in the silent PC field who HATE aluminum enclosures with a passion for this very reason and refuse to buy them. So while making it aluminum might make some buy it, it will make others not buy it, and in the end only result in a more expensive overall product.

    Now i do agree a nicer (aluminum) front panel instead of plastic would be nice. Wouldn't affect sound quality since it would have steel behind it, and should only increase cost slightly, but make it look much more professional.

    You have to remember, nothing is ever going to be perfect for everyone, and so they have to make compromises hoping to appeal to the widest possible group of potential customers. For the last 5 years or so, the SG05 has been the standard all other ITX enclosures are compared to, so i think the compromises Silverstone has made were the right ones.
    Reply
  • wahaha686 - Monday, December 31, 2012 - link

    n13L5,

    If you are still looking for an alternative to the SG05, I started a project with the help of Lian Li and SilverStone to build an alternative to the SG05.

    The information can be found here:
    http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1717132
    Reply
  • gandergray - Friday, February 08, 2013 - link

    wahaha686:

    The NCase M1 is impressive. I hope you are able to achieve a production run. I'll support a funding effort.
    Reply
  • Zhelus - Monday, August 12, 2013 - link

    holy mother of god i just stumbled upon the meeting of the ncase m1 team Reply
  • techexperience - Thursday, September 12, 2013 - link

    and now I, too, bear witness on this union. Can't believe I stumbled upon this after all these years. Reply
  • 457R4LDR34DKN07 - Sunday, August 19, 2012 - link

    I sprung for the sg08 and z77, design is very similar and due to the 130mm fan needed a right angle slimline SATA power adapter. Reply
  • krumme - Sunday, August 19, 2012 - link

    Thank you Dustin for another excellent review.

    I like the appriciative style for the product and the consumer oriented approach instead of a hysterical or hidden angry style.

    Mini itx cases is an interesting product at the moment. Ib and 28nm gpu iis one thing, but performance on many other components is just not interesting anymore. Who gives about 400Mb/s ssd og 550Mb/s or 60 or 90 iops, in an workload only a minority uses very seldom.

    One of the forum members have a powercolor 7550 running inside a sg05, forum is down for maintenance now, so no link.

    I am very interested in this case, but would like to get noise down. Can i just fit silverstones own 12mm low noise fan instead? or what else is needed?

    Any chance silverstone will upgrade to the gold standard ps?

    If this can be a message to silverstone reps, can we have a lower noise, higher efficiency deluxe version ? :) - i mean its pretty cheap as it is, you got all the other parts in house come on !
    Reply

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