Assembling the SilverStone GD07

Given the relatively logical internal layout of the GD07, assembly was for the most part fairly simple and straightforward. That said, being that this is a SilverStone case, there are still some kinks and idiosyncrasies that the end user is going to want to watch out for.

I actually made the mistake of running into a pretty big one early on, an issue that most users who do their homework won't run into but someone with my poor eyesight and general autopilot mentality will slam into face first. It wasn't until after I'd mounted our standard case testbed that I realized something: there's very minimal CPU heatsink clearance. Our primary testbed actually doesn't fit into the GD07 due to the height of the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo; that means that most tower-style CPU coolers are right out the door, which in turn threatens to limit the overall performance potential of the case. There also isn't enough clearance between the motherboard and the side panels to mount a closed-loop radiator, so cooling options are going to be fairly limited overall.

At this point I was forced to make a judgment call before moving forward. This is something that was the subject of a bit of debate between Jarred and I, and is most certainly going to be something a decent portion of you will disagree with. I was left with two options, essentially. The first was to test the GD07 as an ATX/Micro-ATX enclosure and swap out the Hyper 212 Evo for a stock Intel heatsink, but the problem there is that the GD07's test results wouldn't actually be comparable to the other ATX/Micro-ATX cases since one of the major components had changed substantially for the worse. That would mean that in each subsequent review, if I was going to compare the GD07 to other cases, I'd always have to include an asterisk and explain why the GD07 sticks out from the group.

The second choice, and the one I went with, was to use our freshly minted Mini-ITX testbed. This testbed was engineered to fit in much smaller enclosures, but as a result everything would fit perfectly fine. It would be roomier than usual, but it would also leave us with test results that could be compared to other enclosures using the same testbed without having to make any special notes. Undoubtedly some of you are going to be displeased with this decision, or wonder why I didn't just do both options. The fact is I simply didn't have enough time to assemble and test using both testbeds, and I made the call.

As I mentioned before, assembly was fairly easy but there were some hiccups. The removable drive cage uses six screws, which is a minor nuisance, but removing it does make things much easier and is essential for mounting any of the drives.

Clearance between the side intake fan and the motherboard is borderline nonexistent. The GD07 fits things together about as tightly as it can before assembly becomes too much of a chore. Smaller motherboards aren't going to have too many issues in assembly (specifically motherboards that aren't particularly deep), but I'm not sure I'd recommend putting a full-sized board inside the GD07. A seven slot ATX board, sure, but not one with the full ATX depth. The power supply goes in just as easily as the motherboard does.

I understand why the case uses an extrusion and cover for the expansion slots, but I've nonetheless always hated dealing with this type of solution because it adds extra steps to swapping expansion cards in and out, and it almost always requires the end user to carefully re-align the cover plate. There has to be an easier way to handle this kind of design choice to keep it from being so needlessly onerous.

Finally there's the drive cage. The drive cage isn't necessarily badly designed, but there's definite room for improvement here. For the 5.25" drives, you'll want to remove the bay shields in the front first before mounting the drives. There's some give to how far out or in the drive can be mounted (three notched steps to be exact) and no easy guide for what it needs to be. 3.5" drives are easier to figure out; they slide in vertically and are screwed in twice on one side and once on the other. This leaves the bottom of the cage open for fresh air from the intake fan to blow over the drives and be guided out towards the back of the case.

Unfortunately the 2.5" drive mounting system leaves a lot to be desired. 2.5" drives are mounted side-by-side between the topmost optical drive and the top of the drive cage, and while there are holes in the top to help guide cabling, they're nowhere near enough. Clearance between the 2.5" drive and the 5.25" beneath it is so poor that the bog standard L-shaped SATA power lead won't actually fit; you'll need to essentially use either an extension or a molex-to-SATA adaptor. If there's one thing I feel like SilverStone really needs to go back and change, this is it. Kill the extra vertically-mounted 5.25" drive bays (since you're more liable to use them to stash cable) and put some proper 2.5" drive mounts in their place.

Cabling is relatively easy otherwise, but it should come as no surprise that the GD07 doesn't make any real allowances for cable management outside of politely suggesting you use the vertically-mounted 5.25" bays. One major loss in the move from the GD04 to the GD07, though: the GD04 had internal fan grilles that kept cables from getting caught in the fan blades. Without these it's much, much easier for cables to get stuck in the fan blades in the GD07.

There was a lot to like in assembling the GD07; it's more straightforward than I'm used to seeing from SilverStone, and it never felt too cramped. Yet I still feel like we're kind of in "rough draft" territory with the interior. Better allowances should've been made for 2.5" drives, and the inside fans do need fan grilles. The drive cage should also be at least a little easier to both remove and secure, and there has to be an easier way to handle the expansion slot cover. I'm not expecting a toolless chassis design here, but small changes could make all the difference in assembly and make the GD07 much easier to build and service. Finally, given the size of the chassis, a slightly taller design would have allowed for tower CPU coolers, which have proven in the past to be very effective without requiring a lot of airflow (i.e. noise)--two things that many media center PCs would benefit from.

In and Around the SilverStone GD07 Testing Methodology


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  • randinspace - Monday, April 30, 2012 - link

    Dustin, I enjoyed the review, and in particular think you absolutely hit the nail on the head with your conclusion that the system has a lot of potential. I'm left wondering if it has a bit too much potential in place of realized excellence since I would personally have appreciated better cabling options, a fan controller that actually worked, and a straight out dedicated hot swap bay, but the headroom (and accompanying theoretical lack of expense from such inclusions) must only make it more attractive to boutiques like the very Puget Systems mentioned in passing for providing the i3 used in the review.

    I bring them up mostly since I recall reading a case evaluation they did last year, though unfortunately not the case, in which they mentioned that because of some of the design choices that were made in order to make it "toolless" they didn't trust it to survive shipping with a fully installed system in it. I personally find Puget to be a little too conservative in various ways, but considering that and their willingness to make their own modifications to cases I can at least imagine how a toolless version of the GD07 with grilles on the fans might be an unappealing prospect to an outfit like them. Then again it's not like they actually have a product line the GD07 seems to beg inclusion in (yet?).

    As to the "controversy" you alluded to at the start, I don't expressly have a problem with the fact that you used the mini-ITX testbed instead of the (micro) ATX one with a different cooler. However, with the present lack of apples to apples comparisons in the charts, I think the review would have been better served with additional anecdotal comparisons, or even testing out additional fan configurations like some people have been clamoring for. Pulling the fans and maybe even a drive or two out of your own GD05 and then taking the noise and thermal readings again (or even doing noise readings on your GD05 as it usually runs for the aforementioned anecdotal comparison) for instance would have been absolutely brilliant. Then again if you give in to a dog begging for food from the table even once...
  • Hulk - Monday, April 30, 2012 - link

    17" depth is simply too much for most entertainment centers once you figure in stiff HDMI cables. I'm using the GD04 which Anandtech rightly criticized for the loud fans. All you have to do is reconfigure the power leads to the fans so they are running off the 5V rail and voila, it's quiet. Takes about 1 minute and costs nothing. And the cooling of the three 120's is fine for a low power HTPC. In fact I'm running mine that way with a C2D at 3.0GHz no problem with the stock cpu cooler. Reply
  • PhoenixEnigma - Tuesday, May 01, 2012 - link

    Agreed on the depth - my GD04 is about as deep as I'd want a media center case to be. 17" is ridiculous, IMO. It's at the point I'd be setting it on its side (tower case style) beside everything else, which sort of defeats the point.

    One tip - you can get around the HDMI cable (and most other cables, for that matter) issue with angled connectors, or possibly Redmere cables.
  • zlandar - Monday, April 30, 2012 - link

    I have a Grandia GD06. Not sure what the point is of making a case large enough to support ATX boards. As the reviewer pointed out, a major problem with this case style is the lack of height to support a tower-type cooler. There is a 18mm of additional height compared to the GD06 I have, but most tower coolers require 150mm+ which this case is short by 12mm. You can go with a low-profile cooler like a Gemini 2 but the performance will never match a cheap tower like a Hyper 212+.

    Depending on your HTPC usage you can use a stock cooler and be happy. I use my HTPC for commercial skipping (DVRMStoolbox and showanalyzer) and for transcoding to my iPad (Airvideo) which will take as much cpu as you have. My i3-550 runs fine with a slight overclock to 3.6GHz.

    Would also prefer these type of cases come with a fan controller.
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 - link

    I had not problem with my Silverstone LC10B-E. It could fit a tower CPU heatsink just fine and was pretty quiet. You seem to think there are really only about 3 options, which is ludicrous. Tons of CPU heatsinks of various designs fit in those ATX desktop cases quite easily and can cool even overclocked quad cores. My i3 530 ran with the aforementioned tower cooler (cheap Arctic Cooling 64 or something) at 4.5GHz. When I used a Lian Li Cube (V351-B) I had a Noctua NH-C12P, which is just under 12cm with the standard fan (you could always use slims) ,I had my i7 860 running at 3.5GHz just fine. :-)
    So don't be so narrow minded. Lots of options to choose from in every height and cooling segment. :D
  • mcnabney - Monday, April 30, 2012 - link

    The purpose of this box is to hold an ATX-sized board which provides the extended number of slots and drive connectors to completely populate the case as a home/media server. It has made some mistakes along the way.

    1. It should have been built 'up' instead of 'out'. It is just too deep. I had to modify my entertainment center for a similar design four years ago. You would have thought that the engineers would have corrected that issue by now.
    2. By being too thin you noticed that it wouldn't hold many CPU coolers. This also eliminates the ability to silently cool a CPU - a colossal mistake. Living room PCs shouldn't be making noise.... at all. Small HTPC cases can do it, why not a larger one which should have more options.
    3. The drive cage design is stupid. If they are going to provide groups of 5.25" drives they should put them in groups of 3 and also include 3to5 adapters to allow their use in holding 3.5" drives.
    4. The best design for the cage would include a thin area across the top that is designed to hold the two 2.5" SSDs AND a slim DVD/BD drive. This would allow the rest of the space to be dedicated 3.5" drive space for storage.
    5. There may be ventilation issues for the hard disks. Have you tried filling the case completely with drives (and put them in an array so that activity spins them all) and checking the drive temps? The board looks adequately cooled, but the drive cage looks like a pit of dead air.
  • mmsmsy - Monday, April 30, 2012 - link

    I don't know how PC enclosures could stay pretty much the same for so long when they can be totally reinvented to be less noisy, have less wasted space, be much better ventilated and be much, much, much cheaper. This is getting frustrating since I can't buy literally anything neither to my PC nor a PC to the living room that wouldn't be a complete waste of money, because every single one of them is basically the same and begs to improve it's design. There's only so much to do about it as to build one myself... if I had any skills in bending and cutting metal. Ridiculous... Reply
  • xpeacemaker - Monday, April 30, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the review -- I was excited to see a review of this Silverstone's latest product. I own a GD04 and love the look and quality of it. My biggest gripe for the case is that it's obviously cramped and a nightmare to do maintenance on.

    As time went on, my need for hard drive space has increased in priority, yet physical room inside the case is not available (GD04). In addition, I have a sound card that I would love to add to take over the primary responsibilities of sound output, but I can't because with a 5770 in there, there just isn't any room for it.

    I would love to see how this case stacks up compared to the GD04 in detail (since this is a newer model). I am most curious to know, what can I fit in here more comfortably that I couldn't do before? How much hardware can I actually stuff in here without modifying the case? How many hard drives were you able to actually install and wire up completely?

    I would have liked to see what you meant by the clearance issues you encountered with the 2.5" drive install.

    Sorry for the critical feedback. All that being said, I do appreciate your review.
  • Stabgotham - Monday, April 30, 2012 - link

    Yes, please answer all of these questions. These are the exact questions coming to my mind as well. I'm in the market for an HTPC case, but I really need it to store the physical hard drives (5 x 3.5" HDD's).

    I'd also really like to see some future reviews of some of the Lian-Li HTPC cases as comparison.
  • zlandar - Tuesday, May 01, 2012 - link

    I keep my hard drives in a separate Sans Digital enclosure. I use four 2TB drives in a RAID 5 connected to my HTPC through eSATA. Reply

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