Assembling the SilverStone Raven RV03

While assembly of the RV03 is remarkably straightforward given its unusual design, you may still want to keep the instruction manual handy just in case. Thankfully, the steps we usually go through when installing our testbed into a new chassis can still be followed easily enough with the RV03: motherboard, then drives, then expansion cards, then PSU, then cable everything and call it a day.

Installing the motherboard was easy enough; you'll need to place all the standoffs yourself, but the case is able to accept so many different form factors that this isn't too surprising. Our CPU cooler has pretty much stayed mounted to the board since the word "go" when we started doing these reviews, and there weren't any clearance issues. In fact this will be one of the few enclosures you'll ever see where trying to connect the AUX 12V line doesn't result in bloodletting.

Everything else is trickier--way trickier. The 5.25"-to-3.5" drive bay adapters require you to remove drive trays behind the motherboard tray in order to access the screws that keep them in place, then remove the face plates for the necessary 5.25" drive bays. Those 5.25" bay covers, by the way, are actually two pieces: a vent and an actual plate. The vents are for those that plan on using the drive bay adapters, while the plate is designed to be affixed to the front of an optical drive to maintain the looks of the face of the tower. That's a nice idea, but SilverStone only includes enough material to install just one optical drive.

Thankfully, the top 5.25" bay is empty. You'll need to pop the bay covers off with a flathead screwdriver or your fingernail and I never was able to get them to snap back on exactly right, but once you've opened up the front of the bay, the optical drive slides in easily and the tool-less mechanism works well for keeping the drive in place.

Installing 2.5" or 3.5" drives using the drive trays behind the motherboard tray isn't particularly difficult, but the optical drive was the only tool-less part of this assembly. The 3.5" drive trays each have silicon grommets that dampen vibrations, and you'll need to use special screws that come with the RV03 to mount drives in them, while the 2.5" drive tray is again--I can't stress this enough--really intended for SSDs instead of notebook-sized mechanical hard drives. (Not that most people would be interested in using notebook HDDs.) It supports two drives but it does stack them almost directly on top of each other. All of the drive trays are affixed to the back of the motherboard tray with screws, so you'll be using between six and eight screws per drive installation. This is par for the course for the unusual design, as the FT03 worked the same way.

When I mounted the GeForce GTX 580, I did note that I had to "stretch" the mounting plate on it a little more than I've normally had to in order to line it up with the screw holes. Alignment issues are honestly par for the course when assembling new cases and it's not the first time I've had to struggle a little, but this was a slightly larger gap than I've normally seen.

The power supply we use for testing cases fit into the PSU bay, but it was mighty snug and at times I was worried I was going to scratch up or damage something. You can force it almost all the way in, then use the mounting screws to get it the rest of the way (minds out of the gutter, folks) and lock it into place. I've read other reviews where reviewers have had issues with connecting the power cable to the PSU due to a cable tie on the interior of the case, but my review unit had no such tie and it's my understanding that was an issue confined to early review hardware. The case I have could easily connect the PSU cable anywhere within the confines of the bay.

Routing cables was for the most part simple but the space behind the power supply, despite the allowance made in the design of the case panel, was still pretty tight. This has been yet another enclosure where I've been overwhelmingly glad the power supply was modular. There's definitely space behind the motherboard tray for all of the cables along with places to wrap zip ties, but part of the issue is that ventilation behind the motherboard tray is actually important in the RV03. If you're planning to install a rear 120mm fan (and it's something I'd seriously consider), this could become a bit fraught. Finally, the USB 3.0 ports at the top of the case still use routing cables to the I/O cluster instead of a front panel header. It would've been nice to have had a bridge on hand at least, but some motherboards come with a USB 3.0 port bracket that could probably just be routed internally behind the motherboard tray.

"Closing up" took about the same amount of effort it almost always does with traditional enclosures, requiring some pressure on the back panel to lock it into place. The RV03 does require an additional step beyond most cases, though: since the I/O cluster and expansion slots are at the top of the case instead of the rear, there's a vented cover that needs to be snapped on and off. I've read some people concerned that the cover is fragile, but I removed and reattached it quite a few times and it seems fine. Cables get routed out a special loop in the back of the case and there's enough space there for even the menagerie coming out the back of my own case. Note that if you're using any type of display connector changer, like DVI-to-VGA, there isn't enough clearance for the large block adapters; you'll need a flexible one.

In and Around the SilverStone Raven RV03 Testing Methodology
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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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