In and Around the SilverStone Raven RV04

What I'm about to say is likely going to surprise readers familiar with SilverStone products: the Raven RV04 is actually a little flimsy. Build quality is usually top shelf from SilverStone, and the chassis proper is mostly okay, but the outer shell is entirely "reinforced plastic." This is a company that does aluminum better than Lian Li, so to see chintzy plastic used for the fascia and top of the case is almost mirror-universe-level bizarre.

75% of my disappointment with the RV04's shell comes from the front door design, and this photo doesn't even tell the whole story:

The hinges for the door are cheap plastic, and not just that, but the door doesn't close securely at all. Even a whiff of carpeting makes the door unusually difficult to shut correctly, and there isn't so much as a magnet to hold the door in place. There's just no way around it: the design is terrible, and I sincerely hope the higher end Fortress FT04 version of this chassis fixes it. I'm actually mystified as to why SilverStone included a door on the Raven RV04 at all; a flat front fascia with venting on the sides for the intake fans would've gotten the job done just as well.

There's also a removable plastic shroud on the top of the RV04, but since it doesn't have to move like the door does, there's less of an issue with the design. This plastic feels at least a hair sturdier than the door, but the lined gamer-styling feels out of place for a SilverStone product. The Raven cases have always looked at least a little daring compared to the rest of SilverStone's lineup, but I'm skeptical as to how much of that was responsible for the success of the line. Aesthetics are not a universal science, though, and your mileage may vary.

What should really clue you in to the RV04's unconventional design is the fact that the windowed side panel is on the right side instead of the left; SilverStone flipped the motherboard layout just like they did with the TJ08-E. It makes a lot of sense once you take the side panel off and see just how they've arranged the interior, too.

SilverStone is using just two 180mm intake fans to cool your entire system in the RV04, and the fans are evenly split into zones. The top fan blows directly on the expansion slots, while the bottom fan blows through the hard drive cage and the CPU cooler. Spacing of hard drive mounts allows a decent amount of air from SilverStone's bottom Air Penetrator fan to go through and cool the processor, and the top fan's airflow is almost totally unobstructed. The specificity of this airflow design is key to understanding the RV04.

That top cage is where the two 5.25" drive bays live along with the power supply. The RV04 is designed to have the power supply installed flipped, with the bottom intake facing the top of the enclosure. Meanwhile, the center hard drive cage along with the two drive cages on the bottom of the RV04 are removable, but here we run into another issue.

2.5" drives screw directly into the bottom of the RV04, but that's not the problem. The problem is that you have to somehow guide the screws into the recesses in that front plastic piece to use two of the four 2.5" drive mounts, and that's incredibly difficult.

The TJ08-E's internal design wasn't especially clean, but it was functional and delivered results given the relatively small stature of the enclosure. With the RV04, SilverStone has more space to get the design right, yet the interior still feels curiously slapdash. There's a place for everything and everything in its place, but I can't help but feel like this could've been a much cleaner design. The two bottom cages are just silly; do we really need seven 3.5" bays? Why not simplify the bottom cages into at least a single one that supports easier mounting of 2.5" drives? There's a lot of refinement that could've been done with the RV04, and I'm still shocked the door design shipped in this state.

Introducing the SilverStone Raven RV04 Assembling the SilverStone Raven RV04
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  • genghisquan - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    The graph really should have RV02 and/or RV03 comparisons. I was already iffy about this case when I first saw pictures of it. Rather than keeping what was great about the RV02 and trying to improve the few errors that it had, it seemed like the RV04 wanted to do something completely new. Why change what was already good about the RV02? Reply
  • JeBarr - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    I too would have liked to see a comparison with the previous Raven chassis but the designs were so good they lasted far longer than most reviewer test beds.

    This new Raven, though showing great performance numbers is just so dang ugly. Heck, I'd take the RV03 with champagne trim before getting anywhere near this new pile.
    Reply
  • losttsol - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    Silverstone sure has put out some strange cases lately. Are they under new management or something? Maybe there's just so much you can do with a rectangle? I used to love their designs, but I wouldn't even put them in my top 5 anymore. Reply
  • landerf - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    What the hell is that? Fucking gross looking. They've fallen far from the FT02 days. All they needed to do was update that and they'd have a real winner instead of this plastic clown. Reply
  • smellykaka - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    It looks to me like you could make a massive improvement in the look of this case just by removing the front door entirely? Reply
  • smellykaka - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    Bitterly disappointing, the terrible look and terrible drive layout, because a case with minimal 5 1/4 bays and multiple big fat front fans has been on my wishlist for a long time. Reply
  • JDG1980 - Friday, June 21, 2013 - link

    Antec's P280 has a soundproofed front door. Reply
  • Shinobisan - Friday, June 21, 2013 - link

    I'm being a bit 'counter culture' and thought I would write out my experience.
    I was using a Corsair H80 closed loop cooler, and it died. Critical Failure. The pump went bad, and before I noticed the extra noise... my PC was shutting down due to CPU over-temp.
    I'm so glad my motherboard saved me there.!
    So... my conclusion can be a quote from good ol' Scotty, "The fancier they make them, the easier it is to plug them up".
    For me, the closed loop cooler is just too much of a risk. There are too many critical components that can fail and cause bad things to happen.
    I went with one of the latest fan coolers now, the Noctua NH-D14. Super cool, less risk of failure.

    Oh... also a bit of a note on the closed loop type coolers - specifically radiator installation.
    They recommend setting up the radiator to pull in fresh air from the back of the chassis. This is the best cooling method. But only for the first week.
    My PC chassis is great, with air filters on all intakes. This keeps everything running nice and cool because there isn't any internal dust buildup.
    BUT... the H80 doesn't have an air filter. When I went to remove it, there was dust blocking about half the radiator. So, the radiator was working at half efficiency.
    If I would have installed it the other way around, it would pull warmer air from inside the chassis and exhaust out the back. This would have been slightly less effective, but the performance would not have dipped over time. In the long run it would have been better to keep it clean.

    Not many reviews cover the dust issue. Short term it doesn't matter (like on these test beds)... but long term... dust will kill your cooling.
    Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Friday, June 21, 2013 - link

    Ehhhh... I don't know. I mean, it just seems like to me you're going on and on about how well designed this case is and how it's cutting edge this and what not.

    It's like they took one of those ancient Lian Li cases I had a long time ago that inverted the motherboard upside down where, yes, you had to go in from the other side. Then they tossed the biggest, most awesome fans they could put in the front.

    Is that cutting edge design? Is that amazing? I think I was more impressed by earlier Raven designs and I fail to see the advantage of this one over those designs. At least they had the advantage of pushing air upwards and out of the case. You talk about air moving straight through the case being important, but I don't see how having hot air exhaust in the natural way up isn't the superior way of handling a scenario where a case doesn't have an exhaust fan.

    And I also don't see why having an exhaust fan is preferable to having one unless it's the loudest, most annoying exhaust fan in the history of the world. Even a really, really, REALLY slow one would be better than not having one.
    Reply
  • JDG1980 - Friday, June 21, 2013 - link

    The inverted motherboard tray is actually a pretty big deal. As the review notes, for optimal cooling, you want the intake fans blowing straight at the CPU and GPU heatsinks. But a standard ATX case doesn't do that; instead, one intake fan covers maybe the lower half of the motherboard (including the GPU, if you're lucky), and the other one blows at the back of the power supply, which is usually a waste. The CPU heatsink sits behind the 5.25" drive bays, getting little airflow except from its own fan and maybe a small assist from the exhaust unit. This design has little more than tradition to recommend it. Flipping the motherboard upside down may sound simple, but it makes a big difference because the whole motherboard now gets covered by the airflow from the intake fans. (You could, I suppose, leave the motherboard as-is and put the external drive bays and PSU on the bottom, but no one wants their drive bays down there.)

    I do prefer the rotated motherboard design, but it is clearly more complex; because of the orientation of the motherboard and card ports, you need a "fake roof" to route the external wiring out the back, unless you want it to look really, really ugly.

    The photos indicate that the RV04 has a mount for a rear exhaust fan, even though the fan itself is not included. So it shouldn't be at all difficult to add one if you were so inclined. I wonder if this mount will be populated by default on the FT04.

    But I do think you're right about one thing: SilverStone gets a lot of cooling design wins because they have "the biggest, most awesome fans". Nothing else out there really equals the AP181 and AP182. Even cases with 200mm or bigger fans seem to fall behind compared to the SilverStones. And the fans aren't that loud, either. What I don't understand is why, given clear design wins like the FT02 and TJ08-E, other companies haven't specced out high-quality 180mm fans and given SilverStone a run for their money on this turf. I wonder if Nidec could be convinced to design a line of 180mm Gentle Typhoons?
    Reply

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