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SilverStone Sugo SG09: SFF microATX Case

The SilverStone Sugo SG09 takes elements of the landmark SG07 and the Fortress FT03 to create a compact SFF gaming case for the microATX form factor.

SilverStone Sugo SG09: SFF microATX

December 11, 2012 by Lawrence Lee

Product
SilverStone Sugo SG09
microATX Case
Manufacturer
Street Price
US$100

SilverStone’s Sugo line started off as a series of stylish but compact microATX
cases, with the first two models emulating the shoebox design popularized by
Shuttle before moving onto more traditional towers with the third and fourth
variants. The SG05
and SG06
went back to the shoebox style, leveraging the growing popularity of the mini-ITX
form factor. Up to this point they were all conservatively designed, particularly
with regard to cooling.

The superb SG07/SG08
took their game to another level, high-end models that offered enthusiast class
features in a much sleeker package than clunky towers. The keys to success were
a full-sized ATX power supply embedded at the front of the case, a giant fan
blowing down from the top, enough room for a reasonably good CPU cooler, and
support for long dual slot graphics card. The SG09 follows in this mold, attempting
to recreate the same magic with the larger micro-ATX form factor.

Specifications: SilverStone Sugo SG09
(from the
product web page
)
Model No.SST-SG09B (Black)
Material Plastic front panel and steel body
MotherboardMicro-ATX, DTX, Mini-ITX
Drive Bay External12.7mm/9.5mm slim optical drive x 1
Internal3.5”x 2 * , 2.5” x 4*
Cooling System Rear 1 x 120mm 1200rpm 22dBA
SideLeft:1 x 120mm 1200rpm 22dBA (backward compatible with 92mm) 2 x 80/92mm fan slot
Right:80mm fan slot
Top180mm Air Penetrator 700/1200rpm, 18/34dBA (backward compatible with 140mm)
Expansion Slot4
Front I/O Port USB 3.0 x 2 (backwards compatible with USB 2.0)
audio x 1
MIC x 1
Power Supply Optional standard PS2(ATX) up to 180mm*
Expansion CardCompatible up to 13.3” long, width restriction-5.70"
Limitation of CPU cooler165mm
Limitation of PSU 180mm
Net Weight5.3 kg
Dimension 220 mm (W) x 295 mm (H) x 354 mm (D), 23 liters
Extrasupport two Kensington locks
* If you intend to utilize all hard
drive slots, please remove all unused power supply cables. These unused
cables may cause problem with the installation. SSDs are highly recommended
in place of hard drives.
* Maximum length for PSU is 180mm, we recommend 160mm due to varying
connector locations on PSUs and the unique structure of SG09. We do not
promise that all retail PSUs on the market can be installed in the SG09.
Please refer the guides provided in this manual to select your PSU.

A look at the specifications of reveals some interesting tidbits. A typical
SilverStone case has an easily recognizable brush aluminum front bezel that
gives it an air of sophistication and quality but the SG09’s front panel is
made of "cheap" plastic. The case shares some attributes of the smaller
SG07 — a front-mounted power supply and slim optical drive bay to reduce
the overall height, and a large 180 mm Air Penetrator fan at the top blowing
downward. Fan support in general is surprisingly generous with an additional
two 120 mm fans on the rear and side and up to three extra 80/92 mm fans can
be added. Finally, the CPU cooler clearance is almost the same as a typical
tower — all signs point to an even better SFF gaming chassis.


The box.

The case.

If not for the logo at the front, you’d be hard pressed to recognize it as
a SilverStone product. Priority has clearly been given to airflow over aesthetics,
making the SG09 quite unsightly compared to most Silverstone cases. The front
grill has an unusual shape and wide gaps that clash with the honeycomb vents
utilized almost everywhere else. The streamlined design of previous Sugo incarnations
is gone due to the external dust filters at the top and sides, and a protruding
power supply intake vent. Ona more positive note, the SG09 stands less than
a foot tall but the accommodations inside aren’t too different from a larger
case using a more traditional layout.


Accessories.

The goodie bag has quite a few fan accessories including adapters to replace the 180 mm top fan with a 140 mm model, a three-headed 3-pin to molex fan adapter, and a soft adhesive frame to create a duct between an optional 80 x 25 mm fan on the right side and the side panel. There are also spacers and a bracket to facilitate slim optical drive installation, a few cable ties, an internal USB 3.0 to 2.0 adapter, and a set of rubber case feet with adhesive which have to be attached by the user.


The Sugo Pack.

For serious gamers, SilverStone also offers a carrying bag that makes lugging your gear to LAN parties a bit easier. The Sugo Pack is designed to fit every variant of the Sugo line as well as the GD04/GD05, ML03, and FT03/FT03 Mini.


Some room to spare with the SG09 strapped in.

It retails for about US$45 and it’s well suited for its purpose. The Sugo Pack is strong, with plenty of padding and numerous compartments for storing keyboards, mice, cables, and other miscellaneous accessories.

EXTERIOR

The Sugo SG09 measures 22.0 x 29.5 x 35.4 cm or 8.7 x 11.6 x 13.9 inches (W
x H x D) for a total volume of just 23 liters, substantially less than most
microATX towers, which fall in the 30 to 35 liter range.


The front panel is made of plastic, only styled in such a way to resemble brush aluminum. The vent in the upper half is for the power supply’s intake fan. Underneath it is a band containing the reset and power buttons, a pair of USB 3.0 ports, and a headphone and microphone jack. An odd rectangular imprint juts out on the right side, above the vent for an optional 80 mm fan.


The most unusual aspect of the SG09’s exterior is its split cover design — the lower portion of the left side comes off separately. This allows for quicker access to the video card area and the side fans. It’s also easier to remove the larger portion without having to worry about multiple side fans and their cables. Both sections are secured with thumbscrews at the back but there’s also a single screw on the side that joins the two to one another.


At the back there’s a two speed fan controller for the 180 mm fan above the I/O shield and to the right is the exhaust port for the rear 120 mm fan. The expansion slots are ventilated and its screws are hidden by an access cover. The case is wider than most, evident by space to the left of the I/O shield.


The AC power connector juts out at the top of the case with the power cable plugging in from the side. An extension cable on the inside links it up with the power supply at the front of the case.


By default, the top fan is positioned as an intake which stays in line with SilverStone’s preference for positive pressure airflow systems. The dust filters on the outside are easily removed and feature a honeycomb grill with a fine mesh overlay.


The smaller section of the outside cover extends partially to the bottom of the case, creating a noticeable lip underneath. Otherwise, the bottom side is barren, even devoid of case feet; they have to be added manually by the user.

INTERIOR

Like previous Sugos, the SG09 has good overall build quality. The internal
frame feels quite sturdy and the exterior panels are 0.9 mm thick, just enough
to avoid feeling cheap.


The top portion of the exterior shell comes off easily but it’s difficult to get back on with all three sides flush with the front bezel.


The bottom section is easier to manage but it does require lifting the case up to get a good grip to pull on. A 120 mm Air Penetrator fan is pre-installed on the side. The other two mounts only support smaller 80 and 92 mm fans due to potential conflict with large CPU coolers. The corners of the placements are raised to give the fans some breathing room on the intake side.


The most notable feature is the front mounted power supply occupying
the space normally reserved for a drive cage; hard drives and SSDs are
mounted behind the motherboard tray.
The layout is cramped
with the motherboard tray pressing right up against the power supply
frame. There’s plenty of room at the bottom for a long graphics card,
though, up to 13.3 inches according to SilverStone.


In bigger cases, the power supply is stationed at the top or bottom,
which adds to the height, while smaller cases situate it above the CPU
area, limiting the size of usable heatsinks. The SG09’s front PSU placement
gets around both issues.
The PSU is a closed airflow system:
Air in from the front, out the side.


The rear 120 mm exhaust fan top 180 mm intake create a similar airflow scheme, in through the top and out the back. This design is undoubtedly good for the CPU but with cool air being blow down toward the expansion slots, it makes it difficult for heat generated by a discrete graphics card to leave the case.


To keep the chassis height down, there’s a slim rather than full-sized
5.25 inch drive bay. Slim optical drives are more expensive and require
a SATA power and data cable adapter.


Like the Fortress FT03, hard drives and SSDs are mounted behind the motherboard tray. A large bar running across the CPU cutout supports a pair of 3.5 inch drives while four 2.5 inch drives can be accommodated in the brackets below. The top fan extends past the motherboard tray providing some cooling for this area.

ASSEMBLY

With its small size, we expected assembly in the SG09 to be tedious, but as
the drives and power supply mount from the right side, we didn’t encounter much
difficulty. We do recommend you plug in front panel connectors before mounting
the board as it is hard to reach in afterwards.


The mounting bar doesn’t offer much support for full sized hard
drives. Rubber grommets dampen the mating between the bar and the chassis
but the drives are hard-mounted and only at center.


The power supply frame is attached via three mounting holes at the
back of the PSU.


Fully assembled, our system was fairly neat, partly because we used
a modular power supply. One thing we noticed is the lack of cable tie-down
points. By our measurements, the case can take a CPU cooler 16.9 cm
tall and a graphics card 34.2 cm long.


When we reviewed the FT03, the power cable interfered with the switch at the back of our power supply, preventing it from being turned on. The same issue is present in the SG09 but to a lesser degree. The switch can be turned on but if enough pressure is applied to the side panel, the switch can be flipped.


The power supply mounting isn’t very secure. It’s supported by
a pair of silicone covered rails but the frame is attached with only
two screws at the back.


The only convenient place to manage cables is on the 80 mm fan placement on the right side.

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

The Sugo SG09’s stock fan configuration includes a 180 mm top intake fan and a pair of 120 mm fans, one acting as an exhaust at the rear and other as an intake on the left side, near the front. The three have different acoustic characteristics however.

Baseline Noise Level (dBA@1m)
Fan Voltage
Top
Rear
Side
Combined
12V
36
25
29~30
37~38
9V
30
20
23~24
32
7V
24
16
20
26
Low (5V~6V)
22
5V
16
13
15
20
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle left/front
of case.

The top fan is the loudest and produces a low-pitched rumble at 9V and above but smoothes out at 7V and below. At lower speeds we also noted a ticking sound close up. It’s equipped with a two speed switch, with the low setting corresponding to somewhere between 5V and 6V. The side fan is quieter and has a very benign sound. The rear fan is quieter still but it has a dry, droney character that is more similar to the top fan than its 120 mm compatriot.

Together, the three fans generate an fairly inoffensive sound with little noticeable tonality.

TEST RESULTS: AMD Radeon HD 5450

Our first test configuration features a low power passively cooled graphics card, a Radeon HD 5450 so it’s representative of a non-gaming PC with a reasonably powerful CPU. A discrete card also gives us an extra temperature data point from an additional location within the case.

System Measurements (Radeon HD 5450)
System State
Idle
CPU + GPU Load
System Fan Speeds
off
5V
5V (top fan flipped)
CPU Temp
32°C
76°C
69°C
65°C
HD Temp
33°C
36°C
35°C
30°C
GPU Temp
41°C
69°C
71°C
54°C
SPL@1m
18 dBA
18 dBA
21 dBA
22 dBA
System Power
45W
154W
155W
151W
CPU fan set to 9V.
Ambient temperature: 22°C.

We began testing with the case fans turned off to create a baseline. The system was fairly quiet in this configuration, measuring 18 dBA@1m. We could feel the hard drive vibrations on the right side of the case but it wasn’t transmitted elsewhere and was only audible at close proximity; otherwise the machine sounded smooth. The CPU got quite toasty without any assistance, hitting 76°C while the GPU stabilized at 69°C.

Turning on the system fans with just 5V had an interesting thermal effect.
As one would expect, the noise level increased and CPU temperature lowered by
a sizable amount, but the GPU temperature actually increased by 2°C. Flipping
the top fan to act as an exhaust resulted in a dramatic improvement in overall
temperatures, verifying our intuition that using the top fan as an intake interferes
with GPU cooling. This reversed fan orientation was also slightly louder but
well worth the massive 17°C improvement in GPU cooling.

Radeon HD 5450 Configuration: Comparison (Load)
Case
Lian Li
PC-V354*
SilverStone TJ08-E
Fractal Define Mini
SilverStone PS07
SilverStone SG09
System Fans
3 x 6V
low/9V
2 x 7V
2 x 7V
3 x 5V
CPU
56°C
60°C
59°C
72°C
65°C
HD
28°C
25°C
32°C
34°C
30°C
GPU
65°C
56°C
59°C
68°C
54°C
SPL@1m
18 dBA
19 dBA
19 dBA
19~20 dBA
22 dBA
*PC-V354 tested with Noctua NH-C12P heatsink rather than the NH-U12P due to incompatibility.
CPU fan set to 9V.
Ambient temperature: 22°C.

Even with the top fan flip, the SG09 performance fell well behind larger microATX
cases. The thermal and acoustic results we generated using our HD 5450 test
configuration were poor, bettered by several previously tested microATX cases.
It was only really competitive with the SilverStone
Precision PS07
. The more popular SilverStone
Temjin TJ08-E
, Fractal
Define Mini
, and Lian
Li PC-V354
were all superior.

TEST RESULTS: ASUS EAH6850 DirectCU

To simulate a more demanding gaming system, our second test configuration uses an HD 6850 graphics card from ASUS. The 6850 uses about 100W more than the 5450, creating a hotter, more stressful environment.

System Measurements (ASUS EAH6850 DirectCU)
System State
Idle
CPU + GPU Load
System Fan
Speeds
(Top/Rear/Side)
5V
7V / 5V / 5V
5V / 9V / 5V
GPU Fan
Speed
1680 RPM (auto)
1690 RPM*
1460 RPM*
1680 RPM*
CPU Temp
27°C
72°C
70°C
69°C
HD Temp
31°C
34°C
32°C
34°C
GPU Temp
38°C
90°C
90°C
90°C
GPU VRM Temp
47°C
91°C
85°C
86°C
SPL@1m
23 dBA
23 dBA
27 dBA
24 dBA
System Power
57W
277W
276W
275W
*set as low as possible to maintain a GPU temperature of ~90°C on load.
Top fan flipped to exhaust.
CPU fan set to 9V.
Ambient temperature: 22°C.

Swapping out the HD 5450 for a HD 6850 had only a minor effect on acoustics,
increasing the noise level by 1 dB and giving it a slightly rougher sound. On
load, a stable 90°C GPU temperature was established with the system fans
at 5V and the GPU fan manually set to the same speed as the automatic setting
when idle. Increasing the speed of the top fan to 7V gave us better cooling
across the board, allowing us to slow the GPU fan to 1460 RPM; the noise level
was a steep 4 dB higher however. Speeding up the rear fan to 9V instead was
only marginally better, but it had a more bearable acoustic cost of just 1 dB.

ASUS EAH6850 DirectCU Configuration: Comparison (Load)
Case
Fractal Define Mini
Silverstone Sugo SG09
Silverstone Temjin TJ08-E
Silverstone Precision PS07
Lian Li
PC-V354*
System Fans
2 x 9V
top, side @5V, rear @9V
low/10V
2 x 9V
3 x 9V (2 x exhausts)
GPU Fan
1670 RPM
1680 RPM
2330 RPM
2300 RPM
1740 RPM
CPU
65°C
69°C
59°C
71°C
60°C
HD
31°C
34°C
25°C
30°C
26°C
GPU
89°C
90°C
89°C
90°C
89°C
GPU VRM
90°C
86°C
87°C
88°C
76°C
SPL@1m
22~23 dBA
24 dBA
24~25 dBA
25 dBA
26 dBA
*PC-V354 tested with Noctua NH-C12P heatsink rather than the NH-U12P due to incompatibility.
CPU fan set to 9V.
Ambient temperature: 22°C.

The SG09 fared much better with a HD 6850, surpassing the Precision PS07 in both CPU temperature and noise level. It still had a sizable deficit in CPU cooling compared to most of the other cases compared however.

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

With the Sugo SG09, SilverStone mixed elements of the SG07
and Fortress
FT03
in its design, resulting in one of the most interesting case we’ve
examined all year. Producing a 23 liter microATX tower while maintaining support
for most enthusiast components (tall CPU heatsinks, long graphics cards) is
an impressive feat, and in classic SilverStone fashion, they took advantage
of every square inch available to them. Performance was also fairly good considering
the size of the chassis, though there is plenty of room for improvement.

The biggest mistake was positioning the big 180 mm fan at the top as an intake
but thankfully it’s an easy fix. Having a significant amount of air blowing
down is seriously detrimental to video card cooling, preventing hot air wafting
up from the GPU from dissipating through the rear exhaust. Keeping dust out
with positive pressure is nice but we gladly traded that luxury for improved
cooling and lower fan speeds. There are other details that could use some work.
The hard drive mounting system does little to dampen vibration though it isn’t
passed onto the side panels, etc. The power supply mount could be sturdier and
cable management are needed.

On a more superficial level, the case is surprisingly ugly. The exterior is
very busy, flying in the face of the usual sleek SilverStone aesthetic. The
front grill looks cheap and the external dust filters protrude noticeably from
the rest of the case. Having three fan placements on the side also seems excessive.
The split cover design provides some convenience but adds a screw and an unattractive
long line running across the left side of the case.

Despite its deficiencies, the SG09 deserves consideration if you’re in the
market for a SFF gaming case with a bit more versatility than your typical mini-ITX
fare. This larger chassis has several advantages, including more expansions
slots (and even the possibility of dual graphics cards though we wouldn’t recommend
it in such a small case), a big CPU cooler, and more storage.

Our thanks to SilverStone for the Sugo SG09 case sample.

* * *

Articles of Related Interest
Akasa Euler Fanless Thin ITX Case
Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced Mini-ITX Case
SilverStone Precision PS07: Budget MicroATX Tower
Lian Li PC-Q18: The Perfect Mini Server Case?
Streacom FC5 OD Fanless HTPC Case
Fractal Design Define Mini MicroATX Tower

* * *

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