SilverStone Raven RV03 Case Review
By Gabriel Torres on May 5, 2011
SilverStone created a new chaper in computer case history with its Raven series of cases by rotating the motherboard 90° and making the rear panel of the motherboard to be on the top of the case, rather than on its back. This design change improves heating dissipation, since hot air tends to go up, and by putting the heat exhaust of the video cards on the top panel, it is easier for the air to follow its natural path. This concept was first introduced with the Raven RV01 and perfected with the Raven RV02 and the Fortress FT02. Now SilverStone is bringing a more economical version of the Raven, the RV03. Let’s see if this case is a good buy.
The Raven RV03 follows the normal way of installing motherboards; the motherboard tray is located on the right side of the case, making the left-side panel of the case the entry point to the computer internals. This is worth mentioning because the Raven RV02 and the Fortress FT02 use a mirrored design, where the motherboard tray is located on the left side of the case, making its right-side panel the entry point. The RV01 follows the traditional orientation.
The left-side panel has a big transparent window and a small ventilation mesh with big holes, while the right-side panel has a mesh for installing a 120 mm fan to cool down the bottom part of the CPU, also coming with a small ventilation mesh with big holes.
The Raven RV03 has seven external 5.25” bays, and six of them come with adapters inside for you to use as internal 3.5” bays for hard disk drives.
The bay covers look solid, but you can remove their front to make them meshed. This is the first time we’ve seen a case where you can choose between using solid or meshed 5.25” bay covers. Removing these bay covers is somewhat tricky; you need to push their latches from inside the case.
The bottom six 5.25” bays come with two fan holders attached, allowing you to install two 120 mm fans on the front panel. If you decide to install a fan on the front panel, you will need to remove the front of the corresponding bay covers, so air can flow inside the case.
Since the motherboard is installed rotated 90°, its connectors are located at the top panel. The rear panel, therefore, has only a mesh for installing an optional 120 mm fan. If this fan is installed, you “kill” the eighth expansion slot.
The bottom panel comes with two huge air filters for the two 180 mm bottom fans that are located inside the case and for the power supply fan. This is a major change, since with the first and second versions of the Raven the air filters for the bottom fans were located inside the case. Therefore, you don’t need to open your case to clean these filters. These filters don’t use a very good retention mechanism, because during our review they fell several times.
The top panel of the Raven RV03 can be seen in Figure 10. The top lid is made of plastic, and you have to remove it to access the motherboard rear panel. Here lies the major problem we found with the Raven RV03. SilverStone used a sub-standard plastic on this lid; the plastic is too thin and looks cheap. The pegs that hold this lid to the top panel broke the first time we removed the lid. SilverStone explained to us that they sent us a pre-production sample that, in fact, had this problem (of which they were aware), and that they fixed this problem on the models that are currently being sold.
The top panel comes with one 120 mm fan (SilverStone S1202512SLN-3M, actually manufactured by Globe Fan, 900 rpm, 18 dBA), which uses a three-pin fan connector (the case comes with an adapter if you prefer to install this fan directly on the power supply), eight expansion slots with vented covers, two holes with rubber covers for external liquid cooling solutions, and two two-step fan controllers for the bottom fans. These controllers can be accessed without the need to remove the top lid, which is an improvement over the Raven RV02. See Figure 12. There is also a place for installing SilverStone’s SST-CLEARCMOS switch between the two fan controllers.
The Raven RV03 comes with only two USB 3.0 ports and the traditional audio jacks, which are available in a small compartment of the top panel, protected by a small lid.
In Figures 14 and 15 you can see the top panel with the computer assembled.
Let’s now take a look inside the SilverStone Raven RV03.
Both panels of the Raven RV03 are fastened to the case using black thumbscrews, and since the motherboard is rotated 90°, these screws are located on the top panel, and not on the rear panel.
The motherboard tray has a hole for you to access the backplate of the CPU cooler without having to remove the motherboard from the case and, as already shown, a place for installing a 120 mm fan on the right-side panel to cool down the area behind the CPU. There are four holes for you to route cables behind the motherboard tray, and the motherboard tray has several metallic clips for you to fasten cables using cable ties. Due to the unique position of the power supply, about which we will talk more later, all cables from the power supply are located behind the motherboard tray, helping a great deal to hide and organize them.
This case comes with several drive bays attached to its motherboard tray. We will talk about them later.
Expansion cards are fastened to the case using regular screws, but at least they are black.
The Raven RV03 supports video cards up to 13.6” (345 mm) long, CPU coolers up to 6.4” (163 mm) tall, and EEB motherboards (12 x 13 inches, 305 x 330 mm), while the RV02 supports motherboards up to CEB (12 x 10.5 inches, 305 x 267 mm). Of course, the RV03 also supports E-ATX and standard ATX motherboards.
One major difference between the Raven RV03 and the two previous models is the number of fans available at the bottom of the case. While the RV01 and RV02 have three 180 mm fans, the RV03 has two. According to SilverStone, this doesn’t mean that the RV03 has a lower airflow compared to the previous models, because they changed the fans to models with higher airflow (80 cfm at “low” setting and 130 cfm at “high” setting, each, against 100 cfm at “low” setting and 122 cfm at “high” setting for the fans used in the RV01, RV02, and FT02), plus the number of places you can install additional fans is higher, meaning that you can end up having a higher airflow with the RV03. The fans used at the bottom panel of the Raven RV03 are SilverStone SST-AP181 models (700 rpm/18 dBA at “low” setting and 1,200 rpm/34 dBA at “high” setting). As explained before, these fans are connected to two two-step fan controllers and their air filters are located outside the case and not inside anymore.
The reviewed case also has two supports for you to install two 120 mm fans on the 5.25”/3.5” bays.
Another important difference between the RV03 and its precursors is the position of the power supply. While on the RV01, RV02, and FT02 the power supply is installed on the top panel of the case, in the RV03 the power supply is installed at the bottom, rotated 90°. This means that the power cord connector faces the case left panel and all the output wires face the case right panel. Because of this change, you can only install power supplies up to 7.1” (180 mm) deep.
The Raven RV03 has a power cord extension to be used by the power supply. You must install this extension to the power supply receptacle, and the original power cord must be installed in the receptacle available at the bottom panel.
In Figure 24, you can see a computer built using the Raven RV03.
The SilverStone Raven RV03 comes with seven external 5.25” bays, and six of them are also used as internal 3.5” bays. It also has four internal 3.5” bays behind the motherboard tray, making the RV03 support up to 10 3.5” hard drives, which is really impressive. It also has two 2.5” bays behind the motherboard tray.
Installing drives on the Raven RV03 can be a painful process. There are only two bays that you can use without having to disassemble parts: the top-most 5.25” bay, since this one doesn’t have a 3.5” bay inside, and one of the 3.5” bays available behind the motherboard tray (the one on the upper right corner). For installing devices in the 5.25”/3.5” bays you have to remove the front panel and remove a bunch of screws in order to remove the hard drive cage (there are two hard drive cages, each one taking up three 5.25” bays), while for installing devices in the 3.5” or 2.5” bays behind the motherboard tray you must remove the bay from the case, which involves unscrewing regular screws.
The main specifications for the SilverStone Raven RV03 case include:
The Raven RV03 comes with a terrific price for its category and, at least on paper, it would be an excellent option for high-end users who want a fully-loaded mid-tower case at a very affordable price. However, this case has too many serious flaws for us to recommend it.