SilverStone Raven RV05

The 5th edition takes the Raven back to its roots by reviving the original floor-mounted fans. Though based primarily on the superb RV02/FT02 design, the RV05 is less bulky, slimming down its dimensions and shedding weight by reducing the number of 18cm fans and limiting the number of drives it will hold.

July 18, 2014 by Lawrence Lee

Product
SilverStone Raven RV05
ATX Tower Case
Manufacturer
Street Price
US$115~$120

When the original Raven case was launched in 2008, it seemed like a crazy experiment. SilverStone was known for their classy aluminum cases, but the RV01 represented a complete 180 degree turn in more ways than one: A behemoth with a heavily angled molded plastic exterior featuring a rotated motherboard layout and enormous bottom-mounted intake fans. Fortunately, the core design principles were sound enough to form the foundation of a successful line of towers that continues to this day.

Since that first iteration, they’ve complemented the Raven series with the more conventional-looking aluminum-clad Fortress FT02 and FT04 which adhere closer to their original design. They’ve also dialed back the aesthetics, with each subsequent Raven appearing less angular and birdlike, as well as trimming the overall size. Drive bay and power supply locations were experimented with, and the number of bottom fans reduced to a two. The RV04 was the biggest departure, though rather than a true Raven, it really was larger version of the Temjin TJ08-E, utilized front-facing fans and a completely upside-down motherboard orientation.


The Raven RV05.

The RV05 turns back the clock in its interior layout, which closely matches that of the RV02/FT02. It’s an apt choice considering the FT02 is the best performing case we’ve tested. The exterior has been toned down further, still retaining that Ravenesque quality but not the jagged aggression of earlier models. More importantly, the RV05 is less bulky, shedding a lot of depth, resulting in a sleeker appearance and a substantial reduction in weight. It’s still a big case measuring almost 53 cm (21 inches) tall and occupying just under 64 Liters, but it’s svelte compared to some of its predecessors.

So how did SilverStone achieve this more slender form? Simply put, they ditched almost all the drive bays. 2.5 and 3.5 inch drive support is limited to two apiece and full-sized 5.25″ mounts are absent altogether. There is space for a single optical drive, but only a slim slot-loader. These changes are drastic but the Raven really doesn’t need such varied support. Enthusiast cases focus on cooling which makes them a perfect fit for rigs with high performance CPUs and GPUs. There’s rarely a need in gaming PCs for multiple hard drives, but case maker seem to load up any empty space in these cases with drive bays… hoping they look more efficient? These cases are generally quite inappropriate for use as a 24-7 server. In the RV05, Silverstone becomes the first case maker to accept that gaming cases don’t need umpteen drive bays. We applaud the decision. The few users who double up their gaming rigs as home servers will have to look elsewhere.

Specifications: SilverStone Raven RV05
(from the
product web page
)
Model No. SST-RV05B (black)
SST-RV05B-W (black + window)
Material Plastic outer shell, steel body
Motherboard SSI-EEB, ATX, Micro-ATX
Drive Bay External Slim slot-loading optical x 1
Internal 3.5″ x 2, 2.5″ x 2
Cooling System Top 120mm fan slot x 1
Bottom 180mm AP fan x 2, 600/900/1200rpm, 17/25/34dBA
Downward compatible with 120mm fan x 3, or 140mm fan x 2
Expansion Slot 7
Front I/O Port USB 3.0 x 2
Audio x 1
MIC x 1
Power Supply Optional PS2(AT)
Expansion Card Compatible up to 12.3” long, width restriction – 6.57″
Limitation of CPU cooler 162mm
Net Weight 7.6kg
Dimension 242mm (W) x 529mm (H) x 498mm (D), 63.8L

Like previous iterations, the RV05 ships in only one color (black) with two variants (with and without a side window). Cooling, in the form of a pair of 18 cm fans, is essentially the same as the last couple of generations, minor changes in fan speed notwithstanding. Heatsink and expansion card size limits are reasonable but a bit more restrictive than in previous versions, due to the more compact design.


The box.


Accessories.

The RV05 ships in a large box protected by thick styrofoam inserts but despite this, our sample seemed to exhibit a bit of shipping damage in a slightly crumpled corner. Aside from an assembly guide, the accessories include a fine mesh magnetic filter for the power supply vent and a white box containing just a single small plastic bag of screws and zip-ties.

EXTERIOR & PANELS

Like all Ravens, the RV05’s frame is constructed out of steel but aside from the side panels, everything on the outside is plastic. The case measures 24.2 x 52.9 x 49.8 cm or 9.5 x 20.8 x 19.6 inches (W x H x D), giving it a total volume of 63.8 L.


The current design is demure compared to the original Raven. The front panel presents like an angled tower shield with a beak at the top. There is no door as there are no full-sized 5.25 inch bays, just a slim slot-loading optical drive mount positioned vertically on the right side of the top panel.

The plastic portion around the bottom of the case is raised and slanted to give it some extra style points. The space between bottom fans and the floor is greater than in previous models, which should help with air intake at high flow.

The only features at the back are the power supply intake vent and a large gap at the top for routing external cables.

The intake grills are fairly wide open though they are covered with a removable dust filter lined with very fine mesh.

Two USB 3.0 (no USB 2.0 option) and audio ports are located at the top of the case, protected by a rubber cover, while the power and reset buttons bookend the arrangement. Thin plastic portions on either side of the removable top cover were cracked right out of the box, probably damaged during shipping.

The top cover is angular and has thin ridges of plastic on either side that are vulnerable to the type of damage observed on our sample. It doesn’t snap on as tightly as older models either.

The panels drop down at the sides, hugging the handles at the top of the case. A locking mechanism latches onto a flap, keeping it in place without any screws. The bottom of the panels seems to fit rather snugly but the arrangement feels a bit loose, even with the top cover holding them in place.

The steel panels are a modest 0.8~0.9 mm thick and exhibit a minor amount of flex when stressed.

INTERIOR

The interior of the RV05 is reasonably well built but for the most part it’s hollow; that is to say there’s plenty of empty space inside compared to previous versions. The motherboard tray is quite small, as is the hard drive cage, and slim optical drive mount is plastic.


Removing the top cover reveals the space for routing cables, a pair of convenient handles, and the three speed fan controllers located underneath the front ports on the inside. Each of the two 18 cm fans has its own controller.

The motherboard tray is half the usual size with a big gap reserved to facilitate mounting the backplate of an aftermarket cooler, and the portion next to it is reserved for the removable optical drive frame. All the cables terminate right next o the CPU which isn’t ideal depending on the size of the heatsink utilized.

The vertical airflow scheme is one key component to the RV05’s design but the other linchpin is its twin 18 cm Air Penetrator fans. The big fans suck cool air in from below the bottom panel and blow it upward over the entire system including a portion of the hard drive cage. The airflow path follows natural thermal convection.

The hard drive cage fits only two 3.5 inch drives and is secured tightly with screws at multiple points to the chassis. The power supply resides just above it, pulling air through the side and venting it out the top.

The entire top is heavily ventilated and if the two big fans at the bottom are insufficient, you can mount an additional 120 mm fan at the top. Some earlier models included a fan here, but in the RV05, this is optional.

Given the size of the motherboard tray, holes for inserting twist/zip-ties are at a minimum. Cable management is supplemented by cavities at both the front and back that can be used for stuffing away any unsightly excess.

Dual hard-mounted 2.5 inch bays are offered behind the motherboard tray where they can’t impede the airflow dynamic on the other side.

ASSEMBLY

Assembling a system in the Raven RV05 is fairly straightforward. Our usual ATX case test system was used: An Asus 790GX motherboard with Phenom II X4 955 CPU cooled by a ZEROtherm FZ120 heatsink with a Nexus 120 mm fan, a WD SE16 hard drive, a Cooler Master 700W modular power supply, and two Radeon HD 4870 graphics cards (see full system details on the next page).


Assembly was a snap but it was a tighter fit than in previous incarnations of the Raven. According to our measurements, the graphics card length is limited to 31.2 cm and heatsink height to 16.4 cm.

Rather than using rails or caddies, 3.5 inch drives simply slide into form-fitted bays and are secured with a single thumbscrew each.

Tidying up the cables was an easy job though there is less room than we’d like at the back. If it’s not being used, the optical drive bracket should be removed as cables running over it are pushed outward by its edges.

Clearance behind the motherboard tray varied between 1.4 and 2.7 cm, making for a close fit when the right side panel is put back on.

After assembly we weren’t able to get the left side panel aligned properly. The panel’s hooks all appeared to be oriented properly and cabling wasn’t an issue. We must have remounted this panel a dozen of times but never got it flush with the front bezel.

Located under the “beak” of the front face, the white power LEDs shine downward and are diffused by a thin translucent window. The effect is pleasant and easy on the eyes. There is also a red LED at the center indicating hard drive activity with barely noticeable pink flashes.

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 CPUBurn (K7 setting) and FurMark, an OpenGL benchmarking
and stability testing utility.

Baseline Noise


One of the RV05’s two stock 18 cm fans.

The Air Penetrator fan features a large hub and a plethora of thin, curved struts on the exhaust side of the frame which channels the airflow into a more controlled cylindrical pattern than traditional designs, and are featured in many of SilverStone’s cases. A performance case typically ships with three fans or more but when they measure 18 cm across, just two is more than sufficient. These particular fans are wired with short input headers that connect to the case’s fan controllers via 3-pin cables.

Stock Fan Measurements
Setting
Avg. Speed
SPL @1m
High
1230 RPM
39~40 dBA
Medium
980 RPM
34 dBA
Custom*
830 RPM
28 dBA
Low
680 RPM
23 dBA
*Integrated fan controller incapable of this speed.
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle left/front
of case.

Using the case’s fan controllers, the stock fans ran at average speeds of 680, 980, and 1230 RPM at the three speed settings. Noise levels varied from a modest 23 dBA@1m on low, a loud 34 dBA@1m on medium, and a ridiculous 39~40 dBA@1m on high. As the noise gap between low and medium was sizable, we also tested them at the halfway point using an external fan controller. At 830 RPM, a noise level of 28 dBA@1m was produced.

Fan acoustics were identical to previous samples used in the RV03. The fans have a generally smooth and pleasant character except for some noticeable clicking. This defect has been around since the original Raven, but it’s difficult to hear under normal circumstances. Assuming the case is placed on the floor, the fans are far away from the user, the side panels do a decent job of masking the sound, and of course there are other noise-making components in the PC that help drown it out as well.

TEST RESULTS: DUAL RADEON HD 4870 CONFIGURATION

Given the Raven RV05’s size, it didn’t seem likely that anyone would use it with a single video card, so we jumped straight into our CrossFireX test configuration.

System Measurements
System State
Idle
CPU + GPU Load
System Fan Speeds
Low / 680 RPM
Custom /
830 RPM
Medium /
980 RPM
CPU Temp
30°C
45°C
43°C
42°C
SB Temp
51°C
64°C
60°C
58°C
HD Temp
33°C
33°C
33°C
33°C
GPU #1 Temp
72°C
87°C
85°C
84°C
GPU #1 Fan
Speed (auto)
900 RPM
1870 RPM
1830 RPM
1770 RPM
GPU #2 Temp
61°C
84°C
83°C
82°C
GPU #2 Fan
Speed (auto)
1020 RPM
1730 RPM
1680 RPM
1670 RPM
SPL@1m
25 dBA
29 dBA
31 dBA
34~35 dBA
System Power (AC)
190W
512W
510W
510W
CPU fan set to 100% speed.
Ambient temperature: 24°C.

With the machine idle and stock fans set to low, our system produced a reasonable 25 dBA@1m. The GPU fans spun at 900/1020 RPM and below, keeping the GPU core temperatures at 72/61°C. On load, the CPU, Southbridge, and GPUs all reached double-digit temperature increases and the top video card’s fan doubled in speed to compensate for the additional thermal output. In this state, the system’s noise level was 29 dBA@1m, which is phenomenally low for this system configuration (30 dBA@1m and below is rare).

High system fan speeds resulted in minor temperature decreases but the extra cooling didn’t do much to dissipate the heat of the graphics cards. The GPUs did run cooler but the corresponding GPU fan speed reductions weren’t enough to offset the added noise generated by the system fans.

We’re fortunate that the HD 4870’s used in our test configuration have a mostly broadband acoustic profile, sounding a lot like static at high speeds. As the stock fans have a decent sound as well, the combined noise was quite audible but not entirely unpleasant on load. When the GPU fans sped up, the pitch of the overall noise increased, which made it sound less dry and hummy.

The sonic effect of the 7200 RPM hard drive was interesting. Much of the vibration produced by hard drives is horizontal, so mounting them vertically usually takes care of the issue entirely. However, the RV05’s drive mounting system has the drive physically touching a significant portion of the surrounding cage without any damping/isolation features, and the adjacent side panel is not particularly secure. As a result, when the system was idling, there was some audible vibration effects observed at close proximity and the corresponding 120 Hz tone pulsed between the 5 and 10 dB levels. In our case, it wasn’t noticeable at a reasonable distance, but it could be an issue if quieter components were used.

CrossFireX Configuration Comparison (Load)
Case
SilverStone Fortress FT02
SilverStone Raven RV05
SilverStone Fortress FT04
SilverStone Raven RV03
Fans Speeds
top at 9V, bottoms @11V/low
bottoms at low
fronts at 500 RPM
top at 12V, bottoms at 9V/low
CPU Temp
41°C
43°C
42°C
41°C
SB Temp
64°C
62°C
69°C
66°C
HD Temp
29°C
31°C
30°C
34°C
GPU #1 Temp
86°C
85°C
88°C
87°C
GPU #1 Fan
Speed (auto)
1830 RPM
1870 RPM
2150 RPM
2140 RPM
GPU #2 Temp
84°C
84°C
84°C
81°C
GPU #2 Fan
Speed (auto)
1650 RPM
1730 RPM
1930 RPM
1820 RPM
SPL@1m
[right side]
28 dBA
[28~29 dBA]
29 dBA
30 dBA
[30~31 dBA]
31~32 dBA
CPU fan set to 100% speed.
All temperature results adjusted to 22°C ambient.

Among the various Fortress/Raven cases we’ve tested, the RV05 finished behind only the FT02 in overall thermal/acoustic performance. It makes sense as the RV05’s design is the most similar to the FT02, despite the smaller size. The third and fourth generation Ravens never managed to recreate the FT02’s success but the RV05 comes very close.

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

SilverStone has tried several different designs for the Raven/Fortress series but the second generation has been the performance pinnacle, so using it as the inspiration for the RV05 wise. The biggest issue with the RV02 was size — the three 18 cm fan and numerous 5.25/3.5 inch drive bays made it a very deep, large case. The RV05 addresses the problem by shedding one fan and reducing drive support to a bare minimum. Shrinking the motherboard tray to exclude the larger EATX form factor also made it shorter.

The RV05 isn’t small by any metric, but slimming down by 5~6 Liters makes it feel almost compact compared to the second and third Raven iterations (we won’t compare the smaller fourth edition as it featured a very different front to back airflow scheme). With everything they’ve taken out, the RV05 is also much lighter at 7.6 kg (16.7 lb). If you consider the differences in weight and volume, the RV05 is about two thirds as dense as its predecessors. The more efficient physical design didn’t compromise performance though, with the RV05 achieving very similar thermal/acoustic results to the FT02, our current big case champion.

When SilverStone launched the Raven line, it brought up a debate about construction materials, especially after they started to release aluminum-clad Fortress counterparts. Plastic is widely regarded as inferior, and while this may be true, it’s not that big an issue for a desktop case that isn’t subjected to physical stress. That being said, we’ve never had any significant complaints about the series’ build quality, at least not until now. Part of it is illusion for sure, the lack of heft and the hollowness of the interior contribute to the feeling but there are tangible issues like our problems with the side panel fit and the apparent shipping damage to the top cover. We couldn’t describe the exterior as cheap, but it’s not as well designed/finished as earlier models.

SilverStone is set to release a corresponding Fortress, the FT05 and the extra cost may be warranted, not just for aesthetic reasons. Others may well forgive the RV05’s shortcomings, considering its street price is just US$115~$120 — the lowest ever for a debuting Raven (aside from the mini Raven RVZ01). The Raven has always been cheaper than the Fortress but this time, it pushes into a lower price bracket, making it a feasible option for a much larger demographic. The bottom line is that the RV05 is a high performance case with a mid-range price, making it an excellent value.

Our thanks to SilverStone for the Raven RV05 case sample.


SilverStone Raven RV05 is Recommended by SPCR

* * *

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SilverStone Raven RV04 Overview
SilverStone Fortress FT04 Tower

* * *

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