Today I will be reviewing the Silverstone GD05B HTPC case for MicroATX, Mini DTX and Mini ITX based systems.
(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
|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)|
|Dimension||440 mm (W) x 150 mm (H) x 325 mm (D)|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
– Big Mike