Bottom view showing PSU air inlet

Silverstone GD05B HTPC Case

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Today I will be reviewing the Silverstone GD05B HTPC case for MicroATX, Mini DTX and Mini ITX based systems.

Specifications

(Courtesy of Silverstone)

Material Aluminum skin over plastic front panel, 0.8mm SECC body
Motherboard Micro ATX, Mini-DTX, Mini-ITX
Drive Bay External 5.25″ x 1
Internal 3.5″ x 2 , 2.5” x 1 or 3.5″ x 1 , 2.5” x 2
Cooling System Rear 2 x 80mm fan slots (optional mounting)
Side Right: 2 x 120mm intake fans, 1200rpm, 20dBA
Left: 1 x 120mm intake fan, 1200rpm, 20dBA 

Also compatible with 80mm fan
Expansion Slot 5
Front I/O Port USB 2.0 x 2
audio x 1
MIC x 1
Power Supply Support standard PS2 (ATX)
Expansion Card Support graphic cards up to 11 inches.
Limitation of CPU cooler 70mm (remove ODD if you want install up to 120mm)
Limitation of PSU 180mm (remove Left fan replacement as 80mm if you want install up to 220mm)
Net Weight 4.7kg
Dimension 440 mm (W) x 150 mm (H) x 325 mm (D)

Appearance

The case comes finished in brushed black aluminum and plastic. The front face plate on this model, unlike its brother the GD04, is plastic and has a block plate that can be removed to install a 5.25″ device. The GD04 has an aluminum face plate and has a “stealth” DVD drawer cover and button built into the panel for a more consistent look. Personally, I found even with a matte black DVD device installed this case is still classy looking, and costs 20 dollars less at most places for this version, the plastic on the front panel is virtually indistinguishable from an aluminum piece.

The case’s size is very comparable to most high end home theater receivers; it is very close in size to my Denon receiver. Its width and short depth make it fit in a variety of component racks and cases with ease and allow it to look right at home. It also features aluminum finished support feet at the front which are reminiscent of most high end audio equipment.

The front panel has distinct power and reset buttons, headphone and microphone jacks, and 2 USB inputs. One thing to note is that the drive activity and power are combined into a single LED. When the power is on, it glows blue and during drive access it lights up a brighter blue with a second LED. I found this aesthetic to be pleasing and non distracting, but if you’re used to distinct lights, then you may not like this feature as much as I did.

Front view of the GD05B case

Front view of the GD05B case

Cooling

This case is well thought out with lots of features for optimal cooling. On the right side (looking from the front) you find two 120 mm fans blowing across the motherboard toward a single 120 mm fan and a small vent on the left. Additionally, there are spots for two 80 mm exhaust fans over the I/O shield area. Another well thought out feature that I appreciated is the 120 mm vent on the bottom of the case which includes a nice mesh filter for PSU cooling.

One potential issue is the limitations this case places on a CPU cooler. If you plan to use a 5.25″ optical drive or other long device, then you are limited to an overall CPU cooler height of 70 mm.  With the optical drive tray removed you are able to install a cooler up to 120 mm high. There are some great coolers available now that still come in under 70 mm including Silverstone’s NT01 and NT07 coolers, Prolimatech’s Samuel 17, and the Scythe Big Shuriken.

Bottom view showing PSU air inlet and support feet

Bottom view showing PSU air inlet and support feet

Internal Construction

The interior of this case is small, as expected, and I was left feeling that, at least for my purposes, I could have lived with another inch or so of depth and wish they had provided it. That aside, this case has a number of cable mounting points to help arrange all your wiring. I did not use a modular power supply with removable connections, and this was probably a mistake since the excess wiring was definitely difficult to fit in under the hard drive trays.

The drive trays are easy to remove to accommodate installation, and they include vibration isolating grommets and thick shank screws. In addition to two 3.5″ hard disk mounting points Silverstone provides a 2.5″ mounting point above the front 3.5″ drive. While this location is not vibration isolated, it was designed with SSDs in mind, and with the rapid rise in popularity of these devices in HTPCs in particular, I thought this was a nice feature. One thing I failed to notice, that you’ll want to take note of, is that the mounting point closest to the front left corner of the case for a MicroATX board does not have a standoff installed, I didn’t notice this until after I had assembled the case and couldn’t screw that corner of the board down.

The actual construction of the case is top notch, the case has a solid feel with little flex. All corners seemed well rounded and finished, unlike cheaper case builds this one definitely will leave your hands without scrapes and scratches.

The interior includes multiple tie down points to mount cabling.

The interior includes multiple tie down points to mount cabling.

The interior with motherboard and PSU mounted

The interior with motherboard and PSU mounted

Interior showing the drive trays mounted

Interior showing the drive trays mounted

Expansion Ports & Back Panel

The case comes with the expected 4 slots for PCI, PCI-E, etc. devices, and these slots are covered with nice slot covers that are slotted for air flow.  The case also has a 5th slot located just above the PSU for expansion brackets such as Firewire, audio, or USB.  On the rear, you will also find the PSU mounting location. This case is designed to accommodate a full sized ATX PSU and will easily work with virtually any common PSU.

View of the back panel expansion ports

View of the back panel expansion ports

Problems

Two major problems present themselves with this case.  The first of those being that the mostly plastic face creates ground paths through the motherboard and other components because it is isolated from the chassis.  I’ve had several freeze ups or video drop outs due to touching the buttons and ports on the front of the case when a static charge is present.  Normally, this static would dissipate through the case to the power supply, but not with the plastic construction of this case.  The other problem is fan noise, for an HTPC the included fans are noisier than you would expect.  Unless your motherboard has fan speed controlling headers or you have a 7v adapter or the like this could be a problem.

Conclusion

As I expected with a Silverstone product, this case was well made and functional.  Ideally, I would have liked to see a little more depth on the case, and perhaps an aluminum face plate instead of the plastic. I was able to purchase this case for $90 while its higher end cousin, the GD04B, is available for $110 or less at many retailers.  For a major name brand case designed specifically for HTPC use this case is a good value.  The static issue bothered me, but hasn’t caused any lasting damage that I can find so far, I would caution people who note a lot of static in their environment against this case unless they take extra steps to dissipate that static.  Several users have reported that grounding the metal parts of the face plate directly to the case solved the issue for them.

The GD05B shown in my audio rack

The GD05B shown in my audio rack

Big Mike

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Discussion
  1. Big Mike


    Maybe the design has changed, because there appears to be no aluminum in the face of mine, and even if there is it isn't grounded to the rest of the case, and static is definitely an issue. It's not a deal breaker since the case doesn't get touched that often, but it is a little concerning.


    Yeah, I'm still concerned too; I'll end up using the front USB sockets a lot.

    No aluminium here either though, I've tried pushing meter probes into inconspicuous areas.

    The GD04 and GD05 seem very similar, including a cutout in the chassis of the GD05 that would line up perfectly with the power/reset switches on a GD04. I've had a conversation with the people at Altech (distributors for Silverstone here in Aus) about getting a GD04 panel and putting it on the 05. They were SUPER helpful, really great, but ended up deciding it wouldn't work.

    When does the static 'zap' you? I've already found that the switches' bodies aren't grounded, perhaps they should be? I've grounded the USB sockets - easy, unscrew the panel, solder wire to ground point, replace - even though that shouldn't be needed.
    JaY_III
    Once again, yet another HTPC case without an IR receiver.

    I don't get how case manufactures can call this a HTPC case without one.

    At this point in time, its simple a standard Desktop style case.


    IR built in is dandy until you place the unit in an enclosed audio rack, then you either need a IR repeater or an expensive RF to IR system. I always use a standard MS eHome IR reciever and they always work great and I can put it wherever I need to. This case is designed to match the standard width of audio components, and is styled to match them (the round feet etc). This would be an awful design for a desktop case and I wouldn't even consider using it for one, but to fit in a space limited audio rack and mesh with my other components it was pretty good.

    nd4spdbh2
    never liked IR receivers. i hate the whole line of sight thing. and tbh... harmony remotes on the HTPC suck BALLS... their lag in sending ir communications is so nerve racking. my ati remote wonder pluss is instant and RF... so i can be at the other end of the upstairs in my room hit next and it will change a song etc etc etc.

    and really... complaining about the fans when you didnt even try undervolting them.... i have the same case. the two right side case fans at 5v cool my ENTIRE system, and are silent, got rid of the left side intake, and flipped the right side to be exhaust.... getting rid of the fan filters gets rid of alot of fan noise too. alright review, but it doesnt do the case justice.


    This is a review of a case as shipped, certainly you could undervolt the fans and remove the fan grills etc, but I reviewed the case as delivered and based on it's intended use.

    nd4spdbh2
    ... like stated... i have had this case for quite some time... and have NEVER had any issues with static and the possible lack of grounding. the front SHOULD have an aluminum skin on it.


    Maybe the design has changed, because there appears to be no aluminum in the face of mine, and even if there is it isn't grounded to the rest of the case, and static is definitely an issue. It's not a deal breaker since the case doesn't get touched that often, but it is a little concerning.
    ... like stated... i have had this case for quite some time... and have NEVER had any issues with static and the possible lack of grounding. the front SHOULD have an aluminum skin on it.
    I just bought a GD05, but only now have I heard about the plastic front panel causing static issues. A quick tour with a DMM shows the USB and audio 'shield' shells aren't connected to the chassis ground, nor are the switches.

    The impression I had when i bought it was that there was an aluminium skin over plastic, now it seems the whole front panel is plastic? (yes, that's how aluminium is spelled in Australia...)

    The USB/audio ports seem easy enough to ground out, the switches not so much.

    Anyone like to share experiences or point me in the right direction toward fixing this? I'm just googling around looking for clues atm.

    And yes, had I have know all this, I would have bought a GD04 instead... Seems like a nice enough case apart from this issue.

    Rob
    JaY_III
    All i am saying is this is not a HTPC case

    But is a standard desktop case.

    Yes you can use it for a HTPC, but you could also use a tower for that matter.

    I just get annoyed at the manufactures for calling something the latest buzz word of the day in an attempt to get some more PR.


    i totally agree man.
    All i am saying is this is not a HTPC case

    But is a standard desktop case.

    Yes you can use it for a HTPC, but you could also use a tower for that matter.

    I just get annoyed at the manufactures for calling something the latest buzz word of the day in an attempt to get some more PR.
    All I look for in a HTPC case is something of a size and look that will fit into my audio rack, so for me this is an HTPC case.

    Additionally the low intensity power/activity LED, the ample cooling to allow for quiet running (though I hear the silent fans aren't silent - I'm going to replace and undervolt those anyway).

    I think we'll have to agree that different people have different requirements from their HTPC case, this fits all my needs but clearly not JaY_III's. That's cool though. Everyone's different :)
    nd4spdbh2
    and what are "htpc specific features"

    IMO a case that goes along with the look of other home theater equipment like a reciever, that doesnt stand out like a sore thumb, is a perfect canidate for a htpc case... and as such the GD05B is.

    if an IR reciever makes or breaks the "HTPC" case designation then call me dumb cus thats a horid way to classify a case.


    What are HTPC specific features, well anything extra that is fo a HTPC case that a standard desktop case doesnt have.

    Other than support for USB 2.0, these current cases are not much different than 10+ year old ATX desktop cases other than the you cant find them in "Almond" colour
    JaY_III
    Already have a Logitech dinovo mini.

    And I use a remote.

    The mini is a good wireless keyboard, but a remote is the best interface for a TV.

    Its Simple, and you dont need to teach a guest that comes over how to use it.

    It so much nicer being able to lay down and use a remote with one hand.

    Something you cant do with a keyboard.

    If you guys dont like IR, fine, you should demand a Bluetooth or RF reviver built into the case so you dont have anything extra pluged into the back of the case in a usb port.

    Like i said before, its just another desktop case unless is actually has HTPC specific features.


    and what are "htpc specific features"

    IMO a case that goes along with the look of other home theater equipment like a reciever, that doesnt stand out like a sore thumb, is a perfect canidate for a htpc case... and as such the GD05B is.

    if an IR reciever makes or breaks the "HTPC" case designation then call me dumb cus thats a horid way to classify a case.
    Already have a Logitech dinovo mini.

    And I use a remote.

    The mini is a good wireless keyboard, but a remote is the best interface for a TV.

    Its Simple, and you dont need to teach a guest that comes over how to use it.

    It so much nicer being able to lay down and use a remote with one hand.

    Something you cant do with a keyboard.

    If you guys dont like IR, fine, you should demand a Bluetooth or RF reviver built into the case so you dont have anything extra pluged into the back of the case in a usb port.

    Like i said before, its just another desktop case unless is actually has HTPC specific features.
    nd4spdbh2
    never liked IR receivers. i hate the whole line of sight thing. and tbh... harmony remotes on the HTPC suck BALLS... their lag in sending ir communications is so nerve racking. my ati remote wonder pluss is instant and RF... so i can be at the other end of the upstairs in my room hit next and it will change a song etc etc etc.

    and really... complaining about the fans when you didnt even try undervolting them.... i have the same case. the two right side case fans at 5v cool my ENTIRE system, and are silent, got rid of the left side intake, and flipped the right side to be exhaust.... getting rid of the fan filters gets rid of alot of fan noise too. alright review, but it doesnt do the case justice.


    I have very little noticeable lag on my Harmony 700 controlling my XBMC setup, so it doesn't suck for everyone.
    I.M.O.G.
    This is a pretty popular HTPC remote that uses bluetooth:

    http://www.overclockers.com/dinovomini

    I also have an nmedia remote and a lenovo remote which both use proprietary USB dongles that don't require line of sight. My htpc is in a cabinet in my entertainment center, behind a marbled glass door... Not sure if IR would work through it.

    I looked around, but didn't have an easy time finding many other bluetooth HTPC remotes - I thought higher end htpc remotes used them, but maybe the fancy universal remotes do? Or maybe I'm in left field...


    even the most expensive harmony remote uses lame IR.
    This is a pretty popular HTPC remote that uses bluetooth:

    http://www.overclockers.com/dinovomini

    I also have an nmedia remote and a lenovo remote which both use proprietary USB dongles that don't require line of sight. My htpc is in a cabinet in my entertainment center, behind a marbled glass door... Not sure if IR would work through it.

    I looked around, but didn't have an easy time finding many other bluetooth HTPC remotes - I thought higher end htpc remotes used them, but maybe the fancy universal remotes do? Or maybe I'm in left field...
    never liked IR receivers. i hate the whole line of sight thing. and tbh... harmony remotes on the HTPC suck BALLS... their lag in sending ir communications is so nerve racking. my ati remote wonder pluss is instant and RF... so i can be at the other end of the upstairs in my room hit next and it will change a song etc etc etc.

    and really... complaining about the fans when you didnt even try undervolting them.... i have the same case. the two right side case fans at 5v cool my ENTIRE system, and are silent, got rid of the left side intake, and flipped the right side to be exhaust.... getting rid of the fan filters gets rid of alot of fan noise too. alright review, but it doesnt do the case justice.
    I.M.O.G.
    Jay, I'm not a big HTPC follower, but aren't a lot of matx boards coming with bluetooth? It also seems most IR remotes come with their own USB receivers. I suppose it would be a nice HTPC case feature, but honestly I hadn't thought about the need for for IR in the case... It's also the lower budget option for remote controls though, so from that perspective, it would be especially nice to be included on a cheap $90 HTPC case.


    I just dont like how they call this a HTPC case.

    HTPC is a trendy thing now, and IMHO, manufactures are simply calling desktop cases HTPC cases.

    So we essentially now have towers and HTPC cases.

    Sure you can run bluetooth (via USB), but what remote control is actually bluetooth?

    Remotes are almost always IR, along with your TV. So it might just be me, but i think IR is a must have feature.

    I will use my case for example

    http://www.antec.com/Believe_it/product.php?id=NzE4

    That is an Antec Fusion Remote (i got the one without the remote as I already have one)

    If your running a HTPC the remote is a must.

    If your running Windows, and Media Center, the user experience is so much better with a remote.

    Same goes with the Linux guys and Myth TV

    Or Media Portal, Beyond TV, MediOS, ect.

    But like I said, maybe its me.

    The way I see it is, its just another desktop case unless it has specific HTPC features, and the IR receiver is a BIG ONE.
    Jay, I'm not a big HTPC follower, but aren't a lot of matx boards coming with bluetooth? It also seems most IR remotes come with their own USB receivers. I suppose it would be a nice HTPC case feature, but honestly I hadn't thought about the need for for IR in the case... It's also the lower budget option for remote controls though, so from that perspective, it would be especially nice to be included on a cheap $90 HTPC case.
    Once again, yet another HTPC case without an IR receiver.

    I don't get how case manufactures can call this a HTPC case without one.

    At this point in time, its simple a standard Desktop style case.