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SilverStone Grandia GD07 & GD08 Media Center Cases

The new SilverStone Grandia GD07 and GD08 deliver all the trappings of a typical ATX tower in a media PC case.

March 26, 2013 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Grandia GD07
ATX Media Center Case
Grandia GD08
ATX Media Center Case
Manufacturer
Street Price
US$140
US$150

Size is a major design factor for a media center style PC case. These cases
are horizontal so that they don’t look out of place with other home theater
gear like DVD/Blu-ray players and receivers in a rack or a cabinet. A small
footprint is usually high on the priority list. The people at SilverStone behind
the latest iterations of the Grandia series don’t seem to be concerned about
this. The GD07 and GD08 are the largest Grandias yet, but they’re not big for
big sake; every inch is used efficiently, with most of the added dimensions
devoted to storage.

SilverStone Grandia GD08: Product Details
(from the
product web page
, GD07 differences in bold and italics)
Model No. SST-SG08B (Black)
SST-GD07B(Black)
Material Aluminum front panel, SECC body
Aluminum front door and plastic front panel, steel body
Motherboard SSI-EEB, SSI-CEB, Extended ATX, ATX, Micro-ATX *1
Drive Bay External 5.25″ x 2 (support optical drive only)
5.25″ x 4
Internal 3.5″ x 8, 2.5” x2
3.5″ x 5, 2.5” x2
Cooling System Rear 2 x 80mm fan slot
Side 1 x 120mm intake fans, 900rpm, 18dBA
1 x 120mm fan slot
Bottom 2 x 120mm intake fans, 900rpm, 18dBA
(backwards compatible with 1 x 120mm fan + 3 x 80mm fans, or 6 x 60mm fans)
(backwards compatible with 1 x 120mm fan + 2 x 80mm fans, or 5 x 60mm fans)
Expansion Slot 7+1
Front I/O Port USB 3.0 x 2
audio x 1
MIC x 1
Power Supply Support standard PS2(ATX) up to 220mm, recommend depth is under 180mm *2
Expansion Card Support graphic cards up to 13.6 inches, width restriction-5.25″
Limitation of CPU cooler 138mm
Limitation of PSU 220mm
Net Weight 7kg
Dimension 440mm(W) x 175mm(H) x 425mm(D), 32.7 liters
440mm(W) x 175mm(H) x 435mm(D), 33.5 liters
Extra Support Kensington lock
Remark:
* 1: Motherboard size will affect the size and amount of fans that can be
fitted in the bottom panel. Please refer to manual for details.
*2: With optical drive installed, the deepest PSU recommended is 180mm.

The GD07/GD08 are among the larger HTPC cases, at 7 inches tall and 17 inches
deep. The two models are very similar, sharing the same build but with a few
key differences. The GD08 is equipped with a typical SilverStone aluminum facia
while the GD07 has a thicker plastic bezel with an aluminum door. Both support
plenty of drives but the GD07 favors 5.25 inch drives with an extra two external
bays, sacrificing three internal 3.5 inch mounts in exchange. Fan support is
also very good with four 120 mm placements, three of which are located on the
bottom panel.


The Grandia GD07 (above) and GD08 (below)..

Of the two, we’d say the GD07’s minimalist front is more attractive, but if
you want to use the front ports, drive bays, or reset button, the entire door
has to be pulled down, not just a discrete flap. The GD08 offers more convenient
access but the color of the stealthed drive covers is slightly off and the eject
buttons protrude a bit more than we’d like. In this review, we’ll focus mostly
on the GD08, as its feature-set makes more sense to us.


GD07 Accessories.

Both cases ship with 5.25 inch to 3.5 inch drive brackets, a USB 3.0 to USB 2.0 internal cable adapter, a bag of screws and standoffs and a plain paper manual. The only difference is a set of keys is included with the GD07 to secure the door.

PHYSICAL DETAILS

The Grandia GD08 is a black steel enclosure with an aluminum front panel, measuring
44.0 x 17.5 x 42.5 cm or 17.3 x 6.9 x 16.7 inches (W x H x D) for a total volume
of 32.7 liters, weighing 7 kg or 15.4 lb. The GD07 shares the same dimensions
but for an extra 10 mm of depth due to the more elaborate front bezel/door.


Behind the GD07’s aluminum door is a plastic front with ugly hinges
and 5.25 inch drive bays on each side. It’s an odd design choice for a
desktop style media PC case.


The GD07 is slightly deeper than the GD08 due to the extra plastic at the front.


The right side of the GD07/08 is outfitted with a pair of 120 mm
fan placements (one populated). Easily removable external dust filters
are provided for all of the 120 mm intakes. The filters are relatively
open compared those we usually encounter.


Additional cooling is provided via the bottom panel in the form of
two 120 mm fans with an option for one more. The stock setup has all
three fans blowing inward to create positive pressure.


A vent is positioned on the left for the power supply. The case
is designed to push heat out the back via vents on the top of the case,
at the back via the two 80 mm fan placements and expansion slots.


The 0.8 mm thick cover comes off via two screws at the back. The
catches look fairly sturdy and some soft material has been added to
prevent drive cage handles from rattling against the cover.

INTERIOR

The interior of the Grandia GD08 is somewhat cramped as the drive cage runs
right up against the motherboard tray. Thankfully the drive cage is removable.


The layout is fairly typical for a desktop style case. A long drive cage at the front holds all the system’s 2.5/3.5/5.25 inch bays while the rear portion resembles the usual modern ATX tower layout.


The rear of the case.


The GD08 drive cage is broken into three sections. The right side
supports three 3.5 inch drives and is lined with dampening material
to keep vibration down; in the GD07 this is replaced with two side-mounted
5.25 inch bays. Four more 3.5 inch drives can be installed in the center
portion but there isn’t as much support as a good chunk of the side
has been cut out to make way for long graphics cards. A pair of 5.25
inch drives can be mounted on the left side and two 2.5 inch drives
can be secured along the top.


The metal handles are nice touch but it’s not as convenient as you
think — six screws still need to be undone to remove the cage.
A rubber strip on the rear edge of the cage helps brace the top cover.
Typically the main access panel has no support near the center; this
support reinforces it, making it less prone to vibration.


The three fans are placed in the same area, the front/right side
of the case. According to the manufacturer specifications these should
be 900 RPM variants but our sample had 1200 RPM models.


The GD08’s third bottom fan position is occupied by a plastic cable
routing box. It’s in an appropriate spot but it’s not really necessary
as the drive cage hides most of the cables here. This feature is not
in the GD07 as the space is taken up by 5.25 inch bays.


As the box is the same size as a 120 mm fan, there’s a limited amount of room inside.

ASSEMBLY

Assembling a system inside the GD08 is straightforward as the layout is similar
to that of your run-of-the-mill ATX tower. The main differences are the entire
drive cage pulls out, and you can’t tuck cables behind the motherboard tray.


We installed our test hard drive in the right side compartment of
the drive cage as it provides the best structural support. Here it is
padded fully on each side, and with the cage hanging down most of the
side-to-side vibration should be negated.


3.5 inch drives stick out a bit past the edge of the cage; drives
mounted in the center section hang over a small portion of the motherboard.


Underneath the drive, the cable routing boxes hide all of the front panel connectors.


By our measurements, the maximum CPU heatsink height is approximately
14.1 cm, leaving about an inch of clearance above our Noctua NH-C12P
cooler.
A very short tower heatsink would also be usable.


Our HD 6850 graphics card fit easily. By our measurements, models up to 39.8 cm in length can be accommodated if you don’t mind it taking up some of the drive bays.

TESTING

System Configuration:

Measurement and Analysis Tools

System temperatures and noise levels were recorded with SpeedFan and GPU-Z
at idle and on load using Prime95 (large FFTs setting) and FurMark, an OpenGL
benchmarking and stability testing utility.

Stock Fan Noise


One of the GD08’s stock fans.

The Grandia GD08 ships with three identical 120 mm, 1200 RPM 3-pin fans, two at the bottom and one at the side near the CPU area. The fans seem to belong to SilverStone’s FN series, plain black models with nine blades and curved struts.

Baseline Noise Level (dBA@1m)
Fan Voltage
Side
Bottom (side)
Bottom (center)
Combined
12V
25~26
29~30
30
34
9V
20
23
24
28
7V
15
15~16
18~19
21~22
5V
11~12
11~12
13
14~15
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle left/front/top
of case.

The two bottom fans were noticeably louder than the side fan, producing an extra 4~5 dB at full speed. The difference isn’t great enough to justify running them at difference speeds however; Their noise profiles became more similar as the speed lowers. Combined, the set generated a fairly loud 34 dBA@1m at 12V but they undervolted well, with the noise level dropping to just 14~15 dBA@1m at 5V.

The quality of the fans’ noise was more than acceptable. At one meter distance,
there was an audible humming at full speed but at 9V and below, the fans became
increasingly smooth sounding. They did have some minor tonal elements but it
was only perceptible close-up with the top cover of the case removed. The overall
sound is better than average, regardless of the speed.

TEST RESULTS:

System Measurements (ASUS EAH6850 DirectCU)
System State
Idle
CPU Load
CPU + GPU Load
System Fan Speeds
5V
7V
GPU Fan
Speed
1640 RPM
1660 RPM
2100 RPM*
1690 RPM*
CPU Temp
28°C
75°C
79°C
70°C
HD Temp
28°C
33°C
34°C
35°C
GPU Temp
39°C
45°C
90°C
90°C
GPU VRM Temp
47°C
56°C
96°C
94°C
SPL@1m
19 dBA
19~20 dBA
21~22 dBA
23 dBA
System Power
59W
158W
277W
274W
*set as low as possible to maintain a GPU temperature of ~90°C on load.
CPU fan at 9V.
Ambient temperature: 22°C.

Our test system, consisting of a Core i5-750 quad core CPU and a Radeon HD 6850 GPU, was inconspicuously quiet in its idle state, measuring 19 dBA@1m with the CPU fan at 9V and case fans at 5V. Pressing our hand directly over the hard drive area, we could feel some minor vibrations but this didn’t seem to be passed onto the rest of the case — at one meter there was no audible hard drive related noise. Internal temperatures were all very good as well.

Next we put the CPU under synthetic load, producing a slight increase in noise level, probably due to the power supply fan spinning up in reaction to higher temperatures inside the unit. The Noctua NH-C12P is a fine heatsink but the CPU got too hot for our liking, shooting up to 75°C. The extra heat spread out through the rest of the case, driving up the hard drive and GPU temperatures by a moderate amount.

Adding a GPU load to the system placed a considerable additional strain on the machine. A GPU fan speed of 2100 RPM was necessary to keep the GPU at 90°C and the CPU flirted with the 80°C mark. While it got quite toasty inside, the noise level was impressive, only 2~3 dB higher than at idle. Pumping up the system fan speeds to 7V helped tremendously, cooling down the CPU by 9°C and allowing the GPU fan to slow by 400 RPM without any appreciable difference in cooling. At the cost of an extra 1~2 dB, it was a worthwhile move.

ASUS EAH6850 DirectCU Test System: Comparison (Load)
Case
Fractal Design Define Mini
SS Grandia GD08*
SS Temjin TJ08-E
Fractal Design Node 605*
System Fans
2 x 9V
3 x 7V
low/10V
2 x 12V**
GPU Fan
1670 RPM
1690 RPM
2330 RPM
3350 RPM
CPU
65°C
70°C
59°C
88°C
HD
31°C
35°C
25°C
38°C
GPU
89°C
90°C
89°C
90°C
GPU VRM
90°C
94°C
87°C
96°C
SPL@1m
22~23 dBA
23 dBA
24~25 dBA
35 dBA
*Tested with Noctua NH-C12P heatsink rather than the NH-U12P
(due to incompatibility).
**CPU fan set to 12V rather than 9V.
Ambient temperature: 22°C.

The performance of the GD08 was so strong, it stacked up admirably against
the Fractal
Define Mini
, the best microATX tower we’ve tested, an impressive feat
for a desktop style case, which usually don’t have as good thermal performance.
Compared to the
Fractal Design Node 605
we reviewed recently, there’s simply no contest
— the GD08 absolutely crushed it. The smaller Node 605 had great difficulty
keeping our test system stable, requiring both of its fans to run at maximum
speed and the video card fan to spin almost twice as fast. Even then the CPU
temperature was 18°C higher and the noise level was through the roof.

Both cases use a positive pressure airflow scheme but the GD08 is considerably larger and has more fans positioned closer to the CPU area. The Grandia also has less restrictive dust filters and a ventilation port on the top of the case which is noticeably absent from the Node 605.

AUDIO RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording
system inside SPCR’s own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to
LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We’ve listened long and hard to ensure there is no
audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent
a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

Each recording starts with ambient noise, then 10 second segments of product
at various states. For the most realistic results,
set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then
don’t change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Though it shares the similar conservative look of previous Grandias, the GD08
is unapologetically large, attempting to offer everything you would expect from
a full tower case in a desktop style chassis. Heck, if you stood the case on
its side, the internal layout would be almost indistinguishable from that of
a standard tower. It may be too big for some, but added size has its advantages,
namely better cooling, and support for up to eight 3.5 inch drives.

In a battle of desktop cases, the GD08 humiliated the more compact Fractal
Node 605
in both thermal and acoustic performance. Against traditional
towers, it traded blows with the Fractal
Define Mini
, despite giving up 8 liters in size and having to use a
less proficient CPU heatsink due to height limitations. The drive cage is cleverly
designed to accommodate a mix of 5.25, 3.5, and 2.5 inch drives, while also
allowing the option of long graphics cards. The cage is also removable and padding
at various points keeps the cage and top cover from vibrating against each other.
The fans are fairly smooth sounding and efficient, though at this price-point,
we were expecting some kind of fan control option. Still, given the ubiquity
of motherboard-embedded fan control systems these days, this is not much of
a minus.

The GD07 should perform the same, as the chassis is almost identical. The GD07
exchanges the 3 x 3.5 inch drive section on the right side for an extra pair
of side-mounted 5.25 inch external bays, and adds a full-facia aluminum door.
Frankly, we don’t understand why anyone would need four optial drive bays at
a time when such discs are increasingly going the way of the dodo bird. You
could use it for docking bays to plug and play bare hard drives but we don’t
see this as a common usage case in a media PC. The front is also quite unattractive
when the door is open.

The SilverStone Grandia GD07 and GD08 retail for approximately US$140
and US$150 respectively, putting them in the upper echelon of the HTPC
case market. Their best in class in performance can be used to justify the high
pricing, but the size of the cases will undoubtedly put some users off. Media
hoarders and archivists certainly will welcome all that storage potential.

Our thanks to SilverStone for the Grandia GD07 & GD08 case samples.

* * *

Articles of Related Interest
Fractal Design Node 605 HTPC Style Case
HDPLEX H5.TODD Fanless HTPC Case
Nanoxia Deep Silence 1
SilverStone Sugo SG09: SFF microATX Case
SilverStone Precision PS07: Budget MicroATX Tower
Fractal Design Define Mini MicroATX Tower

* * *

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