Introducing the SilverStone Raven RV03

At this point, SilverStone's signature in the enclosure world is the 90-degree rotation of the motherboard. This unique engineering decision makes cases like the FT03 possible, but for a long time enclosures with this design have been extremely pricey and outside the reach of most users. While the new Raven RV03 is still fairly expensive compared to the enclosures we've tested thus far, at $159 it's at least closer to the realm of reasonable though it still must contend with offering at least as much value as the cases at $100 or below we've reviewed so far. Is it worth spending up?

Since restarting our case reviews with the new testing methodology, we haven't had in an enthusiast-class (and enthusiast-priced) enclosure like the RV03 in house yet, so our comparisons may seem a little bit unfair. This can't really be helped, but we have a Thermaltake Level 10 GT in for review soon and that should balance things out a bit. In the meantime, the RV03 is certainly bigger than the other units we've tested, and I'm anxious to see how it turns out.

The last generation Raven, the RV02, was expensive but proved popular nonetheless. The trio of fans, fairly clean internal design, and SilverStone's signature rotated motherboard helped keep that enclosure running cool and quiet, and the styling was a little bit more subdued. To reduce the Raven's price tag (and its footprint) for the RV03, some changes needed to be made. SilverStone has reduced the number of internal 180mm fans from three to two, but increased their efficiency. Mounting space for drives has been dramatically increased, and as a whole the RV03 is a far more modular design than its predecessor. At least on paper, this Raven is an impressive specimen.

SilverStone Raven RV03 Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor SSI EEB, SSI CEB, Extended ATX, ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX
Drive Bays External 7x 5.25" (six occupied by 2x5.25"-to-3x3.5" adapters)
Internal 10x 3.5" (see above), 2x 2.5"
Cooling Front 4x 120mm fan mount (attached to bay adapters)
Rear 1x 120mm fan mount
Top 1x 120mm
Side 1x 120mm fan mount (back)
Bottom 2x 180mm (compatible with three 120mm fans)
Expansion Slots 8 (one blocked off if rear fan mount used)
Front I/O Port -
Top I/O Port 2x USB 3.0, headphone and mic jacks, fan controller
Power Supply Size ATX
Clearance 13.58" (Expansion Cards), 163mm (CPU HSF), 180mm (PSU)
Weight 25.1 lbs.
Dimensions 20.55" x 9.25" x 22.44"
Price $159

The enclosure is essentially designed to employ bottom-to-top convection style cooling, but SilverStone includes the means to turn it into a more typical front-to-back design using the bay adapters. Admittedly, one of my biggest concerns with the rotated motherboard design is the noise being moved out of the top of the enclosure instead of the rear since so many users keep their towers on the floor (myself included.) With cases as big as this one, that's really the only place for it.

In and Around 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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