SilverStone Raven RV03 Enthusiast Tower

Posted by on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 - 12:00am

Silverstone RV03Now SilverStone has released a new case to the market, the Raven RV03, which sticks with its predecessors 90° motherboard mounting and advancements in design. With the RV03 SilverStone retained much of the styling from the RV02, but made it to be not as long,  which eliminates some problems of its older brethren. Most notably would be the issue of where to stick it, since the length of the -01 and -02 models made it stick out from under your desk if on the floor, or hang over the edge if put on top of the desk. So with out further adieu, lets get this show started!

Introduction to the SilverStone Raven RV03 Enthusiast Tower

About two years ago I got a chance to see the SilverStone RV02 for the first time, at CES in Las Vegas. After Tony Ou from SilverStone gave us a detailed tour of the case, I knew right then: "I have to review it!" The original Raven (RV01) was the first case we ever saw that turned the motherboard 90° from normal. Many upon first seeing it thought it was just a gimmick, but after reviews started to surface everyone realized the gimmick turned out to be one of the best cases for air circulation and ventilation. The RV02 and RV02-E took it a step further by now mounting the motherboard on the opposite side of the case, as well as changing the over all look.The 'E' model added SilverStone's own custom designed 180mm "Air Penetrator" fans to further enhance cooling.

Yes, versions 1 and 2 of the Raven had very unique external styling, which for me took some getting used to, but if you were not one who cared for its looks then SilverStone had an answer to that. The first Fortress did not have the rotated motherboard tray but version 2 did, baring that classic look that SilverStone was known for. It was what many of us were waiting on.

Now SilverStone has released a new case to the market, the Raven RV03, which sticks with its predecessors 90° motherboard mounting and advancements in design. With the RV03 SilverStone retained much of the styling from the RV02, but made it to be not as long,  which eliminates some problems of its older brethren. Most notably would be the issue of where to stick it, since the length of the -01 and -02 models made it stick out from under your desk if on the floor, or hang over the edge if put on top of the desk. So with out further adieu, lets get this show started!

SilverStone’s take on the Raven

The RAVEN team’s continued push to redefine and perfect the enthusiast tower chassis has resulted in yet another benchmark in the RAVEN RV03. With world-class cooling performance from the previous RAVEN chassis models retained by the included 180mm Air Penetrator fans, a rethinking of the interior layout enabled dramatic reduction in overall depth of the chassis compared to RAVEN RV02 while still matching RAVEN RV01’s ability to accommodate Extended ATX motherboard and graphics cards longer than 13 inches. Cable management was also improved with a new 5cm thick hard drive compartment to allow nearly all cables to be connected behind the motherboard tray with ease. An unconventional power supply compartment located in the lower front part of the chassis further add to facilitate cable routing so anyone can assemble a pristine looking system with maximum airflow efficiency.

Complementing the finely tuned and engineered interior, the RV03 has Champaign colored trimmings adorning an exterior with aggressive lines yet reserved profile. The stand out styling also fully utilizes the chassis’s powerful cooling ability to full effect by a set of smartly designed, dual-purpose front bezels that helps to keep the RV03 looking sharp and uniform whether the user is setting up for maximum air cooling or for a silencing build.

As a trend-setter and a computer chassis engineering showcase, the RAVEN RV03 has few equals. However, its advanced features are equally accessible that anyone from experienced enthusiasts to novice users will find easy to appreciate and utilize, making RV03 the most appealing RAVEN chassis yet!


Specifications

Model No.

 

SST-RV03B (black)

SST-RV03B-W (black + window)

 

Material

Reinforced plastic outer shell, 0.8mm Steel body

Color

Matte black

Motherboard

SSI EEB, SSI CEB, Extended ATX, ATX, Micro ATX,

Multimedia

 

Drive Bay

External

5.25" x 7

--

Internal

3.5" x 10 (6 from 5.25” adapters), 2.5” x 2 for SSD

Cooling System

Front

4 x 120mm fan slot*

Rear

1 x 120mm fan slot**

Side

1 x 120mm fan slot

Top

1 x 120mm exhaust fan, 900rpm, 18dBA

Bottom

2 x 180mm AP181 fan 700/1200rpm, 18/34dBA (compatible with 3 x 120mm fan)

Internal

--

Expansion Slot

8

Front I/O Port

USB 3.0 x 2 (backwards compatible with USB 2.0)
audio x 1
MIC x 1

Power Supply

1 x optional standard PS2 (ATX), depth limit 180mm

Expansion Card

Compatible with expansion cards up to 13.58 inches

Limitation of CPU cooler

163mm

Limitation of PSU

180mm

Net Weight

11.4kg

Dimension

235mm (W) x 522mm (H) x 570mm (D)

Extra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Features

  • Revolutionary 90 degree motherboard mounting from RAVEN RV01
  • Includes two Air Penetrator 180mm fans for superb performance and quietness
  • Support up to seven 120mm fans for exceptional cooling flexibility
  • Motherboard back plate opening behind CPU area for quick cooler assembly
  • Supports Extended ATX motherboard
  • Supports eight expansion slots and graphics cards of any length
  • Mandatory cable management design for clean looking system on every build
  • Hard drive compartment with independent cooling zone
  • Upscale and aggressive styling with dual-purpose front panel bezels

Closer look at the outside

As stated on the first page, the new Raven looks much like the RV02 version from the front. There are subtle design changes that differentiate them from one another though. The first would be the parallel gold stripes that tower down both side's of the front panel. SilverStone also played into the name a bit as well. Above the first bay you can see the power and reset buttons, with each bay cover having a chevron shape on it, to reference the eyes and beak of a Raven. They don't a great job blending this in, to not stand out and take away from the rest of it's amazing looks. 

When we got the delivery of the case I knew I was going to like the RV03, as the box was much smaller than when we got the RV02. That was more than enough to know the new model was going to be shorter. During my time with the RV02, I was hard pressed to find a suitable place for the case as it stuck out everywhere I placed it. Unfortunately not due to it's good looks either. Not the case with the RV03 as it is 22.4” deep, while the RV02 was 25.3”. The three inch difference may not seem like much on paper but it makes a big difference when the depth of your desk isn't that far.

Sitting at the top of the case are the power and reset switches, as we mentioned above. Between them is the power LED, which is about two inches long and glows red when power is given to the case. There are a total of seven 5.25” optical bays, but no native 3.5” external bays. Up to six of the 5.25" can be adapted to fit 3.5" if needed, if that ends up being the case then you've got some serious storage going on, as you'll see in a bit. And again there are the two gold stripes that tower each side of the front,l and at the bottom we have the Raven name with inset logo.

Once the left side panel is removed from the tower the drive bay panels can be removed with ease. The nice thing about these panels is they separate in two pieces for easier cleaning: the portion you see from the front of case, and a filter behind it. And from this angle you can see that fans can be attached from the front, as well as the back, of the bays.

If you remember correctly the second Raven has the windowed side panel on the right but the newer version has it on the more traditional left side. The window is a smaller trapezoid shape, more than enough to give you a good inside look at the motherboard area. In the lower corner is a small ventilation port, which we will show you more about shortly.

The right panel is simple and plain except for the two ventilation areas. The middle port can fit a 120mm cooling fan can will blow behind the motherboard near the CPU socket.

The rear of the case only consist of a small ventilation area where another 120mm cooling can fan be fitted. The case does not come with this fan and SilverStone warns that if one is installed then it will eliminate the usage of the number eight expansion slot (which is only for better support of 4-way graphics cards, or the rare motherboard with eight PCIe).

The top of the case is where things get interesting, and bears a slight resemblance to the Australia Opera House. Due to the rotation of the motherboard all cables are connected at the top of the case, but to prevent that from being an eye sore, SilverStone has fitted a cover panel to route them all out the back. There are also vents for the exhaust of air, and each sticks out a bit to help port the air to the rear  To remove the top panel you just pull up from the back opening and it pops off. A bit of warning: it takes a little muscle to get the panel oiff, and the amount of force needed made us feel like we were about to break it.

Under a small flip-top panel is where we find the usual front I/O ports, though they are not nearly as far away from those on the motherboard now. SilverStone decided to go with just two USB3 ports instead of USB2, which we like seeing as they are backwards compatible. Between them we find the mic and headphone audio jacks. We once asked Tony from SilverStone what was the reasoning for the lack of eSATA and FireWire ports from their cases. He response is that it was due to the fact that most devices which use these ports also use a separate power source, so it is not as simple as just plugging in the device; fair enough.

With the top panel removed we see there are indeed eight PCI expansion slots. The smallest fan in clued with this case is the 120mm unit sitting in the top panel. SilverStone stated the fan spins at 900 RPM at 18 dBA. There are also two water-cooling inlets. There is a small high/low speed two channel fan controller as well, which the bottom 180mm fans are connect to.

Here we have the bottom of the case, which sports two dust filters covers for those 180mm fans. A nice feature here is the filters are magnetically attached to the case, so they'll stay put when needed but come free with out putting up a fight.


Closer look at the inside

Looking at the inside of the new Raven we see that it is pretty clean. SilverStone managed to keep the inside tidy and free of any major obstructions, for even better airflow. Painted solid black throughout, SilverStone is giving the consumer just what they want. The case will support motherboards as big as EATX, and most other dual CPU motherboards. Starting with the motherboard tray the cut-our is aligned to the upper right, to account for the 90° rotation.F or cable management there are openings for routing cable on three sides of the tray.

On the bottom of the case blowing cool air upwards are two of SilverStones own "Air Penetrator" AP181 180mm cooling fans, and are rate at 1200 RPM at 34 dBA. According to SilverStone the AP180 can be replaced with 120mm cooling fans if needed.

The 5.25" bays use a single plastic mechanism to secure whatever you mount in them. These mechanisms come secured using a single screw that will need to be removed before installing anything. There are a total of two HDD cages and each can be cooled by a 120mm cooling fan if the user decide to do so, but they are not included.

Underneath the bottom HDD cage is the power supply housing. Yes, that is right the power supply is mounted in the front of the case. The case comes with a short jumper power cable that is connected to the power. More on this in the installation section of the review.

Just behind the motherboard tray where the CPU cut-out is located and the rear panel has housing for two more 120mm cooling fans that are not included. The side panel fan if installed would blow right on the back of the CPU socket while the rear panel fan would blow just underneath the GPU.

Looking at the back of the motherboard tray we see the drive trays for 3.5” and 2.5” drives. The user can install a total of ten 3.5” hard drives. There is only space for four on the backside of the motherboard tray, but as we mentioned before up to six 5.25" bays can be adapted to fir hard drives also. The fifth, center tray can house dual 2.5” drives, one on top of the other. Having the drives on the back will really help clean up the case of cables

All the space for excessive cabling is in the middle of the motherboard tray. The left and right are pretty unusable if you retain the HDD racks.


Installation images

The power supply is installed in the front of the case, with the right-angle extension cable installed.This is where the
ventilation port on the front and back of the case come in to play, they are used to exhaust the PSU heat.


Here we see there is plenty of room for the larger coolers on the market.


Plenty of room after the Radeon HD 5870 was installed.


Hard drive installation. Each tray has to be removed in order to mount them since they screw into the drive's bottom four holes.


Optical drive mounted.


Installation complete (minus cable management).


Conclusion

SilverStone took what most people called a "radical move" and turned it into some of, if not the, best air-cooled cases on the market. Turning the motherboard 90 degrees and having cooling fans across the surface from the bottom up was a bold step, but it paid off. It started with the original Raven RV01 and continues with the latest Raven RV03. With the fans blowing across the motherboard in this aspect, every inch of it's surface gets cooled, without components like long graphics cards interrupting the airflow.

To us the advantages of the new Raven are plentiful. First, it starts with the reduction in size. This was done by placing the power supply just under the hard drive cages, where by eliminating about three inches from the end of the case. No longer do you have to look for a place to set the Raven, as it will now easily slide underneath the desk or sit nicely on top of it.

A second unique feature about the Raven is the placement of the mechanical and solid state hard drives. No longer do you have to enter the case, fight with coolers, wiring and etc to replace a failing drive. Just removing the right side panel gives you full access to your storage drives. To help keep from having drive failure, the offset mounting of the two bottom 180mm Air Penetrator fans, air is forced up the back side of the case to help cool the drives. Other features like the two channel fan controller, USB 3.0 connectors and several fans mounting location are all just big pluses that adds to the value of the case.

I decided to use this case for my everyday rig and the reason being is the cooling factor. After about a week of using the Raven RV03, the average temperature was down about 4 degrees on the CPU, and even more on the video.

The only knock we found with the Raven is that it may prove to be challenging if you decide to water-cooling as there are no clean locations to lay a radiator internally, unless you mod the rear panel.

Note: With the included 180mm case returned from the bottom of the chassis there is enough room as well mounting holes for three 120mm cooling. And with this being said a triple rad can be mounted in the bottom of the case for a complete internal water-cooling system. We apologize to SilverStone and our readers for the error.

At $139.99 MSRP the Raven RV03 is an outstanding value. The features and cooling aspects are far and away from that of any other case in that price range. That is even before you factor in the SilverStone quality, something they are known for.

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