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David Murphy Jul 11, 2013

Silverstone RL04

At A Glance

Vincent Vega

Decent cable management opportunities; USB 3.0 support; screwless (albeit annoying) 5.25-inch bay locking mechanisms.

Butch Coolidge

Only one fan; not all that screwless; cable management not easy; ill-fitting magnetic fan filter; reverse-installed drive bays.

A budget case that’s more incomplete than fun

Budget is as budget does, but the Silverstone RL04 just feels incomplete—or ill-designed—across a number of key areas. We suppose this case is worth looking into if you’re tired of running all your parts and pieces on an open-air design—as in, propped up on cardboard boxes or Styrofoam. Otherwise, it’s worth your while to explore some of the other cases in the sub-$80 category; the RL04 just isn’t all that compelling.

A few parts on the case—like the holes for water-cooling tubes—require you to punch them out in order to use them.

For starters, imagine our delight to find that our review case shipped with one of the side panel screws missing. Sure, one screw holds a door on, but two screws would give us double the confidence that the RL04’s extruded, grilled side-panel was properly attached to the rest of this mid-tower chassis.

The case’s four 5.25-inch drive bays don’t require you to pop off any kind of front panel in order to install new devices, just the smaller bay covers. We like that. We don’t like the unpleasant, screwless connectors that keep one’s devices locked into place, however. They feel a bit flimsy and we’re not crazy about the turn-and-remove locking mechanism itself.

Five drive bays use handier trays to keep your 3.5- or 2.5-inch drives in place. You still have to use screws to attach said drives to said trays and, slightly more annoying, you install the drives from the case’s right side, not the more conventional left. While you’d likely have to pop both panels anyway just to address the cable management, we still prefer to install or manipulate all of a case’s guts from one side of the chassis.

Continuing its pattern of omissions, Silverstone neglected to preinstall any screws for the case’s PCI expansion slots. It’s not a deal-breaker, given that the slot covers will stay in place without them, but, again, a bit of an annoyance—you’re hosed if you happen to misplace your little baggie of case screws.

Silverstone includes a two-fan-wide filter to install on either the case’s top or side (it attaches magnetically). However, no matter where you stick it, the rectangular design of the filter doesn’t perfectly line up with the case’s angular accents—in other words, it looks bad.

The case itself comes with a single fan: a red, 12cm fan stashed in the case’s front. There’s no way to turn the fan’s light on or off, but that’s kind of a moot point since you don’t get much of a glowing effect through the case’s front-panel design.

The motherboard tray comes with a number of holes of various sizes for routing cables, and a huge area behind the CPU cooler itself is cut away—if you’re looking for an easy aftermarket CPU-cooler upgrade, this one’s a godsend. However, the case’s angled design leaves little room for running cables on the extreme top and bottom of the chassis. This mainly affects the cable for the 4/8-pin ATX12V power connector; it’s a tight squeeze, depending on the size of the cable your power supply is sporting.

Silverstone slaps the case’s two USB 3.0 connectors on the front of its left side, a slightly odd place to store them. Your system’s small reset button is located above that; the case’s power button is actually Silverstone’s giant snowflake logo—hrmph.

In general, we’re a bit let down by the inner-workings (and deficits) of Silverstone’s RL04. Even for a budget chassis, we find it a less satisfying product than, say, a similarly inexpensive case such as Fractal Design’s Core 3000. Steer clear.

$55, www.silverstonetek.com

THE VERDICT

Silverstone RL04

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