Conclusion: Still a Strong Contender

Having put the SilverStone Sugo SG05 through it's paces, I can see why our SilverStone rep was so interested in having us take a look at it, especially on the heels of our other Mini-ITX reviews. The SG05 has been around for a little while, but you can argue that it's still among the best at what it does. The next smallest case we've reviewed is the Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced, a case which supports larger components and also has a cheaper sticker price. Both of these things make it an appealing alternative, at least at first, but what happens when we break things down?

First of all, once you factor in the price of a power supply (because remember, the SG05 includes one and the Elite 120 Advanced does not), the difference drops to about $20. Also consider that given the size of these enclosures, there's no real benefit to getting a power supply that supports more than 450W since using components that are going to need as much or more than that means generating more heat than the Elite 120 Advanced is probably capable of handling. Really the major benefits of the Elite 120 Advanced are the full size optical drive bay and the increased capacity for storage; if those things are important to you, then your decision is made, but keep in mind a slimline blu-ray reader/DVD writer combo drive can be had for not much more than a full size one if you're willing to chance eBay.

The fact is, the SG05 offers incredibly compelling performance and a solid value for the money. I think there are still a few quirks with the design (the drive caddies probably need an overhaul), but it holds up remarkably well for a three year old, incrementally-updated enclosure. Just like SilverStone's enormous FT02, sometimes a design is so right on the first try that not a whole lot really needs to be done to improve it. That seems to be true here, and at less than $120 for a complete enclosure (with quality power supply), it's hard not to recommend it. If you're looking to do a Mini-ITX build and want something smaller than the BitFenix Prodigy, shortlist the SG05.

Noise and Thermal Testing, Dedicated GPUs
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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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