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Maximum PC Staff

Feb 11, 2010

Silverstone Raven 2

At A Glance

Raven

Great airflow; filtered fans; innovative motherboard placement; somewhat compact.

Writing Desk

Hard drive cage seems lazy.

The chassis world turned topsy-turvy (again!)

Like its older and larger sibling, the Raven RV01 (reviewed April 2009 as part of our full-tower roundup ), Silverstone’s Raven RV02 is an all-black steel and plastic chassis with a defining feature: The motherboard orientation is rotated 90 degrees from the standard layout. But the Raven RV02 is even less orthodox than the RV01, which seems positively pedestrian by comparison. Unlike its full-tower predecessor, the RV02 is deeper than it is tall—25 inches deep by 20 inches tall by 8.3 inches wide, so it sits low to the ground. The front of the case is chunky stealth-inspired plastic, but is much more restrained on the RV02 than on the RV01, with a garage door–style front bezel. The side panels and frame are steel, and the case is black inside and out.

Building a system in the RV02 is a vertiginous experience. At first glance, nothing seems to be in the right place—the right-side panel has an optional plastic window, while the left-side panel is the one behind the motherboard tray. Furthermore, not only do the PCI expansion slots and I/O shield mount to the top of the case, but so does the power supply, which sits to the right of the motherboard at the back of the case, and is held in place by four screws, a Velcro strap, and a plastic bracket. The case’s five 5.25-inch bays and 3-inch-bay hard drive cage sit at the front of the case. The hard drive cage isn’t as user-friendly as we’re used to seeing—to install a drive, you must first remove eight thumbscrews, take out the cage, and use four long screws to attach the drive to the rubber shock-absorbing mounts in the cage. Thankfully, four of the optical-drive slots use Silverstone’s familiar toolless retention mechanism.


The Raven RV02's motherboard placement simplifies everything, from cable routing to airflow.

The coolest drive-related feature in the Raven RV02, however, is the SSD mounting bracket. It’s just a plastic bracket you can install your SSD on, but it mounts between the optical bays and the left side panel, within a few inches of a hole in the motherboard tray that’s perfect for routing SATA cables.

The odd layout of the Raven RV02 has two clear advantages: First, cable routing is much easier. The power supply is right next to the top of the motherboard, so routing the motherboard power connectors is easy. The front-panel connectors enter the chassis right next to the bottom of the motherboard where they need to be plugged in, and the hard drive cage is right next to the motherboard’s SATA ports. The case isn’t particularly roomy, but with a little bit of effort, you can wire up a very nice-looking case.


It still takes its design cues from a stealth bomber, but the RV01's little brother is considerably less chunky-looking.

The second advantage to the layout is in cooling. Three 18cm dual-speed fans draw in air at the base of the case, and hot air exits from the top of the case, aided by a 12cm fan. All air in the case flows from the bottom to the top. The hard drives are mounted vertically to aid airflow, the fans have easily removable dust filters, and the PCI expansion slot covers are vented. The fans are individually controlled by switches at the top of the case, and even on high speed (1,000rpm), they’re quiet. Even with the side panel removed, we could barely tell they were running.

The second iteration of the Raven proves that the rotated motherboard design is more than a gimmick—it makes airflow and cable routing better, and takes weight off of motherboard’s PCI-E slots. The RV02 isn’t perfect; the hard drive cage in particular is unnecessarily unfriendly, and you’ll have to remove the center fan to mount extra-long graphics cards. But it’s a great mid-tower that doesn’t take up a lot of vertical room, has great airflow, and shows plenty of attention to detail.
THE VERDICT

Silverstone Raven 2

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