Silverstone Raven RVZ01 Review
Published: 3rd March 2014 | Source: Silverstone | Price: 69.98 |
Minions of ever more powerful and feature rich M-ITX motherboards are marching forward hand in hand with the massed ranks of small form factor cases, Even if their destination isn't "Fort Steam Box" we, the consumers are faring well from the spoils of war.
OK, so this is either a bit of an exuberant over exaggeration or a prolific piece of prodigious prediction, think what you will but small form factor does seem to be the way things are heading. Into this fray, Silverstone, a Past Master of the Small form factor cases, pitch their latest offering; the Raven inspired and Raven Styled RVZ01.
Aesthetics are very much in the eye of the beholder. That said we have to admit to being more than a little smitten by the lines of the RVZ01. You are perfectly within your rights not to like the look of it, but you'll be wrong. Viewed from any angle the chassis is both darkly bold and elegantly demure. Like Angelina Jolie in a ribbed rubber little black dress, Stunning but deadly. Sorry, got a bit carried away there, but you get the idea, whichever way up you have it, it's going to look sexy....Ok I'm back now, had to go away for a quick think about a few "things" but we're now good to go. What we are alluding to is the RVZ01s ability to be mounted (ahem) either vertically or horizontally, depending on whether you intend it to be laid under your TV or sat upright on your desk (ok, this really is getting out of hand)
We think it's fair to say we've covered the aesthetics, as well as a few other things, however form counts for very little without function, so best we take a look at the stuff that really matters. Although this case can take a DTX motherboard it's fair to say it's most likely that you're going to put an M-ITX board in here. This used to be a bit of a limiting factor, but not anymore, whether you go for AMD or Intel, there's plenty to choose from with prices to suit most pockets. Accepting that if you're looking to build a lounge based steam Box with this unit it's unlikely you're going to need to house a monster GPU, outputting as it will be to your large screen TV with its native 1080p resolution. With the clever laterally mounted GPU adapter and riser it is entirely feasible to house some of the more powerful GPUs on the market today. Provided it's no longer than 13" or deeper than 5.88" it'll fit just fine.
CPU cooling offers fewer options and more challenges. With just 83mm of head room if you're going down the air cooler route then you're really going to have to look at low profile units such as Silverstone's own NT06-Pro. This of course will limit your overclock and may be slightly noisier than the large tower coolers you’re used to. Again, this is with the proviso that we understand the average Steam Box isn't going to need a top end CPU with a balls to the wall overclock, but then when have we ever done things by halves? If you're up for a challenge Silverstone do make a point of iterating that the 83mm of space between the top of the CPU and the roof is plenty enough to fit a thin 120mm radiator, a fan and a CPU water block, not only that, but they draw attention to the central 2.5" mount being able to securely mount a laing DDC pump. Theory is one thing, practice is another, and we’re not saying it's not possible, but we are saying it's not going to be a trip for the faint of heart.
Forays into water cooling aside the air cooling of the RVZ01 is otherwise pretty well sorted. A positive pressure set up is maintained by a pair of low profile 120mm fans, one under the GPU area, where another and be added, and one directly over the CPU mount. Silverstone have even included three magnetic fine mesh fan filters in their goody bag of accessories.
Storage is kept to a bare minimum, recognising that most people these days are opting for SSDs for their OS and large capacity HDDs for everything else not stored on t'web. As such there's only room for one 3.5" drive but no less than 3 SSDs. We do have a few concerns about the location of the HDD rack, located as it is directly above the PSU cage, it's not likely to be kept cool and calm, so best you choose a low rpm spinner and don't rag it too much.
If the RVZ01 has an Achilles heel, it's the choice by Silverstone to opt for an SFX PSU as opposed to a standard ATX unit. This isn't necessarily a disaster in terms of absolute power output as SFX PSUs with outputs of 450-500W can be had quite readily although watt for watt they do cost quite a bit more than a decent ATX unit. 450-500W should be more than enough for the average Steam Box, but "Ah" I hear you say, "what if I'm running a mid-high end GPU and a top end CPU"? Well contrary to popular belief if's not actually necessary these days to strap in a 1000W power supply to a mid-range system, as the days of dodgy single rail low power units necessitating a bit of healthy head room are well behind us. What it does mean unfortunately is that if you're planning on cannibalising your main rig, or using parts from an older system then you are going to have to fork out for a new PSU. Granted there's not exactly a lot of room in the PSU area, but with ATX PSUs only measuring 86mm in height we think they would fit, albeit a new location for the HDD would have to be found. Not exactly a disaster but we would have preferred to see a standard ATX PSU used.
There's a fair bit of competition in the Mini-ITX market at present, and if you're thinking of placing the RVZ01 vertically on your desk top then there are other cases out there from the likes of BitFenix, Corsair, Fractal and the like that you should also be considering, however the narrow footprint of the RVZ01 may be just the ticket if you're pushed for space. If though you're looking for a decent low profile case that will live happily in your lounge but is still able to take decent hardware then the options open to you start to narrow, especially when you factor in the Sub £70 price tag. The only other real options available to you being more HTPC focussed and as a result offering less in the way of GPU support or if they do, tending to be quite a lot bigger and more expensive, the Node 605 we looked at this time last year being a case in point. If the Steam OS and the concept of PC based lounge gaming really kicks off, we suspect we're going to see more and more cases like the RVZ01, but for now at least there are few if any out there that can better it, and so it gets top honours as a great solution for lounge based gaming. Now all we need is a keyboard and mouse that will hover over our laps.