Today we have the Silverstone PS05 mid tower ATX case up for review. A quick check of the Silverstone website reveals that they’ve been around since 2003 and have broadened their product base as time has gone by. Cases have been something they have made right from the beginning, so while they may be one of the newer kids on the block compared to some of the other big names they’ve had more than a few laps around the track to iron out any kinks in their products. Let’s see how this particular model performs.
First, let’s talk shipping. I’m not reviewing FedEx so this will be brief. The package took exactly one week to get to me. Since I was provided tracking information almost immediately upon agreeing to do the review I know that Silverstone sent it out without delay, the week was consumed simply by the miles traversed and crossing the US/Canada border. The packaging was solid. There were two very small nicks in the cardboard, trivial at most and I only point them out so as to be completely thorough in my review.
The box exterior is a plain cardboard brown with black lettering (and a bit of red) denoting the basics: brand, model, basic specs, image of the case, etc. I like this. For me, if I had to choose between paying extra to have a bunch of glossy graphics showing how cool I should think my case can be or have the company put those extra few dollars into a better quality product, I’ll take the better product with a plain packaging every time. Either that or just take the extra money not spent and lower the price of the case. I don’t need shiny cardboard telling me what to like. So I pick the case up, it is fairly light, and roll it around in my hands. The main mass is stable with no shifting, implying a properly packed case, but I do hear some rattling inside. Nothing to worry about, I know the sound well, it’s not broken bits of fan blade or drive face plates come undone, but the sound of the plastic ends from the front USB, audio, power/reset and LED connectors hitting the insides of the case. So I pop open the top and see the usual molded foam ends suspending the plastic-wrapped case in the middle of the cardboard box.
Last time I reviewed a case I was surprised by a bit of an “industrial” smell when I first opened it, which then quickly dissipated. Well this time I went looking (sniffing?) for it. Nothing.
Once removed from its packaging we see a fairly plain, black, mid-tower and the manual. Let’s look at the manual. It’s a standard booklet with 16 pages if you don’t count the covers. The first little bit gives you the basic specs and a very sparse list of what comes with the case (screws, different screws, even more screws and something called “holder”) and a pinout for the front USB and audio connectors. The very back page has warranty information. These pages are in English only but if you live in a non-English country I would expect the info would be in that country’s language of prominence.
The pages in between are multi-linguistic with: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Cantonese (my guesstimate), Mandarin (again, guesstimate), Japanese and Korean with fully detailed instructions, including graphics, on how to install everything. Did I say fully detailed? I meant sparsely detailed. Thankfully the graphics do a good job of getting the point across or else a novice building his/her first computer could easily get lost. Wait a minute, didn’t I also say “install everything”? I meant install most things. Where’s the sparse instructions for installing the Mobo and the PSU? I know my copy of the manual wasn’t missing a few pages as the page numbers are sequential and the PDF version I downloaded from the website is identical to my physical copy and it lacks motherboard and PSU installation instructions as well. Do we really need these instructions? If you’ve been in the game as long as I have the answer is no, you can dope it out without much effort. But following that train of thought I also don’t need instructions for installing the drives, fans and peripheral cards, I can dope those things out myself too. So why put those instructions in? For people with less experience. Those people with less experience would benefit from motherboard and PSU instructions just as much as they would benefit from DVD and video card installation instructions. Maybe the PSU and motherboard specifics are so generic that they don’t need any special instructions? Read on and you’ll see that’s not quite true.
A closer look, inside and out
So let’s look at the outside of the case. I’m not going tell you if you like it or not, that’s up to you, but I can tell you what I see and maybe that will help you form your opinion. It’s all black with the exception of the logo on the front. It’s very linear, with no real curves to it and a majority of the corners are at 90o. It’s rather boxy but not in a bad way.
It reminds me of a lot of Lian-Li offerings, and given the reputation Lian-Li has been able to cultivate based on their products that is most definitely a compliment. Looking around the case we can easily see the 120 mm fan mounts on every side… except for the doors, BOTH of the doors. I’ll buy not putting a fan on the motherboard side door given that in a conventional design the motherboard itself would block a lot of the airflow in most places and the drive cages would block most of what little room is left, but why no fan mount on the component side door?
There isn’t even passive venting air holes in either door. They are just plain, flat doors. No fan mounts, no air holes, no company logos or other artistic design stamped into the sides, nothing. When I saw that I got a bad feeling in the back of my mind. Without any added structure or even embossing in the door it’s going to need some pretty strong framing around the edges to reinforce it to make sure it won’t buckle too easily. A gentle wrap of the fingers on the doors did nothing to alleviate my concerns. It sounded too tinny, felt too weak. Upon removal of the doors the hook-tabs that I hoped to find surrounding the edges were not there. There was nothing more than some very basic bends to lock the doors in place. I’ve seen other doors like that before, and I generally prefer such setups as that way I don’t have to fight with the case to make sure ever single little tab along every single side locks in place. But all of the cases I’ve worked with before that didn’t have those little hooks along the edges were made of a much more durable material. Many of them had thick Lexan windows or 3D reliefs pressed into them but even the ones that didn’t at least had metal that was noticeably stronger than what I found in the PS05.
This stuff was really soft and a very gentle diagonal torquing of the doors had the metal yielding to me far too easily for my tastes. I immediately put it into my mind to be extremely careful with the doors as I didn’t want to warp or buckle one before I finished my review. Fortunately the lack of distinguishing marks on both doors (and their universal thumbscrew hole placement) makes them interchangeable. So, if you do bend one and can’t get it bent back perfectly you can always put that door on whichever side will be seen/used the least. This is also a plus if you happen to scratch the finish. The thumbscrews used to hold the doors on are generic in size and shape. Maybe it’s because I’m a big guy with big hands, but like my thumbscrews to be a bit meatier, easier to grip and twist. There are a full set of 4 so you can use them on BOTH doors. Sometimes manufacturers cheap out and only give you thumbscrews on the component side door figuring you won’t be accessing the back side of the motherboard very often. Generally they are right in that assessment, but it is nice that Silverstone gives you thumbscrews for the second door as a bonus. The thumbscrews are black and match the finish on the case without issue. The “action” for them was fluid. I didn’t have to dig in and really torque at them hard but they also didn’t rattle around loosely either. Every once in a while I get a case that wants to give me grief when I tighten a screw. While that never should happen occasionally it does. Well it didn’t happen here and although that’s a good thing, to me that’s like showing up for your driver’s test wearing pants. Sure you’re not going to get a deduction for screwing things up but do you think you’re entitled to bonus points for that? I will say on the plus side that the door’s edges did seam up with the body of the case very well. No uneven lines or gaps to be found. Now lets look at the front, specifically the USB and audio ports. They’re not there. They should be, I mean they usually are, right? After all that’s why we collectively refer to them as the “front” ports. But they’re not on the front, they are on the top. (Refer back to the first two images in the review.) This will cause an issue if you are placing the case into a desk setup with a pre-determined placement for the computer tower. What if that space is taller than the computer by just an half an inch? You’ll need to get USB and audio adapters with 90o plugs to use those ports, but what are you going to do about the power and reset buttons? Leave the front 2½” sticking out of the desk? In some situations that might not be a reasonable accommodation.
The case would be better served in terms of day to day use if the forward I/O connectors are on the front. You’ve got to be able to get to the front to use the optical and floppy bay drives anyhow, right? So you’re going to have access to the front already taken care of. So we’ve got the front ports on the top of the case. Know what else is on top of the case? Two 120 mm fan placements. There’s also two 120 mm fan placements on the bottom although one is dedicated to the PSU. So what happens when you have no airflow of any kind on the doors but plenty on the top and bottom? You become heavily dependent on upper and lower airspace for overall ventilation. So that half an inch space above becomes even more of a problem. If they had just put the mounting in for a single 120 mm fan on the component side door this would alleviate the potential problem. Even an 80 mm or 92 mm fan would help somewhat. As for the fan placements on the top, they are covered with a metal mesh with small holes. Good meshing for fans on top of a case is always important. The top has to deal with not just dust blown by the fans but any small little bits that may fall off your desk onto the top of your computer. Paper clip in the fan blades anyone? Well this mesh will do a pretty good job of keeping things out but for extra insurance there is a second layer with even finer holes beneath the outer metal one. Squinting at it through the outer mesh I thought it would be something like screen door meshing, probably with some kind of snap-in framework to allow it to be easily removed for cleaning. I was wrong on both counts. When I popped the cover off for the fan compartment, which is a separate section from the rest of the case, I found that the inner grill was a 2 mm thick foam similar to the generic air conditioner replacement filter you can buy at any good hardware store.
I also found that I was going to have to bend the metal mesh and remove it completely just to be able to get to the foam filter underneath. This is not going to be easy to clean, not if you want to do a good job. When we look into the bottom of the fan section we see a fairly common large metal grill work separating it from the rest of the case. It’s a good idea in that it will help prevent someone jabbing their fingers into the fan blades from below if they are tinkering on the system’s guts with the power on (rarely recommended). The down side of this is the grill work frame is stamped so that the middle of the grill rises up into the fan cage section. It’s a good way to prevent the blades from grounding out against the case if you mount them from underneath, but why make a separate fan housing section above the grill stamped into the top of the case if you’re only going to mount the fans below the grill? With the metal pressed up this way I had concerns that a thick fan might not have the clearance and would scrape and grind against the grill work. We’ll find out if that’s true when we get to installing the components. So the front ports and power buttons are on top, which distracted me from my critique of the front. Lets get back to the front of the case. It may not have the power buttons and ports but it does have activity lights. These are recessed up at the top of the metal mesh cover for the front side fan. The LEDs illuminate a plastic bar which then bathes the fan grill with a subdued blue. It’s easy on the eyes, not overpowering. If you want a mild, sedate look this is up your alley.
The front fan grill that gets bathed in said light is a 120 mm mount with the same kind of small, black, metal mesh on the outside that covers a 2 mm thick foam beneath which will be equally as difficult to properly clean. The Silverstone “Snowflake” logo is in the middle of the grill (see previous image near beginning of review). It’s a silver design on a black background and again if you aren’t into glitzy flash this might be for you. Above the fan and hidden LEDs we find two 3½” external drive bays with plain, black face plates which are centrally located as opposed to offset to one side like some cases have them. The finish of the drive face plates matches the rest of the plastic in the front and top bezels which in turn do a good job of matching the metal components of the case. Visually it all ties in well. There really isn’t much else to say about the 3½“ drive mounts. They’re just plain face plates. The same can be said for the four 5¼“ drive mounts above the 3½“ ones. Just plain face plates. So that’s what you see when you take a look at the front of the bezel.
Now let’s take it off and see what it looks like underneath. Surprise, surprise it must be my birthday! One of the things I dislike the strongest about most cases is when you pop the front bezel off you wind up with that trail of wires going from the various buttons and LEDs on the bezel to the various motherboard pin headers. It’s like an anchor that drags you down, always getting the door in your way as you try to clean the front fan or replace a dying optical drive. Well no such problem here. The buttons and ports are on the top of the case and the LEDs are mounted to the metal frame of the case, not the plastic bezel. Sure I could just disconnect them from the front panel header on the motherboard, but then I’ve got to put all of those small connectors back in the right spot. I hate doing that, especially if everything is already installed in the case with power and data cables running everywhere, peripheral cards crowding your hand as you try to get every last connector on the right set of pins and with the right polarity…
Sorry for the rant. So now that the plastic bezel has been removed, I can look at the face plates to see if there is anything special about them that would make just popping them out with a bit of force a bad idea. Nope, press away. The face plates come out easily with the application of a bit of force but are not loose in any sense of the word. So you’ve no fear of pushing one in accidentally with the slightest touch. Looking at the mounts that hold the bezel in place we see the very common “snap-in, press fit one in each corner and one more along each long (vertical) side near the middle for a total of 6 connectors laid out like the pockets in a pool table” arrangement. One thing that does stand out about this particular arrangement is that the two in the bottom corners and the two middle ones are not plastic, they’re metal, so they’re less likely to break off. Worst case scenario they bend out of shape and you just bend them back. It’s not the first case I’ve seen with metal fittings like this but every time I do see it, I appreciate it. Plastic is good enough but metal does it one better.
The top two fittings are plastic, but they aren’t molded into the bezel itself but instead are screwed in. So, I suppose it would be possible to screw in some kind of replacement if one of them snapped, although from the feel of the plastic it seems unlikely they’d break, not unless you were really negligent with your handling of the bezel. When snapped in, the front bezel has no play to it. It is in place, solidly. Which brings me to my second detour from the front of the case to the top. The top bezel does have play in it. Too much play. The front part of it is locked down solid but the back end lifts up a good 1-2 mm without disconnecting it from the metal frame of the case. One to two millimeters is not a lot of distance, it’s not flapping in the wind or anything, but it is enough to undermine my confidence in the build quality, just a little. While I’m here, talking about the top again, my arch nemesis the chain of wires that tethers the plastic bezel to the rest of the case may be missing from the front bezel, but he is here on the top bezel.
I haven’t put in years of experience with this case to know for fact but I do think that this will be less of a nuisance over time than if it were on the front of the case. We computer enthusiasts pop off the front of our cases for fan maintenance semi-frequently (or we should at least) and we’re always putting in newer optical drives that have faster speeds or are based in newer technology. But what are you going to frequently do on the top of the case? Clean out those two fans? Remember this case already has a door to the fan chamber, no need to remove the whole bezel. And there are no drive bays for upgrade or replacement purposes on the top. So is that chain of wires to the top plastic bezel there? Yes. But it’s going to be much less of an issue than if it were on the front bezel. Speaking of the front bezel lets head back there again. Behind the front bezel, on the metal face of the case itself, we see some things common and some not so common. Common are the metal plates that cover the empty drive bays. They are stamped so that a small bit of metal on each side still connects them with the case BUT, and here’s the uncommon part, if you break one free and remove it, only to change you mind later, you can put it back in place with just a couple of common case screws. Now I don’t know how important it is to you to have all of your empty drive bays covered with the protective plates, but if it is important you do have the option to do so.
The very bottom of the front, behind the plastic bezel, is the fan mount area. It is a cage for a single 120 mm fan with the door for access on the outside. The door has two tabs on one side that hook into the case. These tabs are angled to hold the door slightly ajar, acting like a hinge, when the door is not secured on the other side. Holding the door in on the other side is a single thumbscrew. It seems like a fair concept. The screw on the one side holds the door in place while the shape of the door and it’s frame are angled to try to keep the door open a bit, thereby providing a bit of pressure against the screw like a spring. Now we take the thumbscrew off. Just looking at it mounted in the case we can see that the thumb grip is noticeably shorter than a regular computer case thumbscrew. Maybe it had to be to make sure there was room for the bezel to close properly on the front of the case. I had a hard time gripping this thumbscrew. So much so that I had no choice but to resort to a screwdriver to remove it. And I had to keep using that screwdriver several more times before the threading had loosened up enough for me to be able to use my thumbs. Kind of defeats the purpose of being a thumbscrew doesn’t it? Why not just go with a case screw with a regular head and be done with it. Regular screw heads would give more than enough clearance for the front bezel. Well now that it is off we can see the spring attached to it and also the bizarre half-threaded shaft.
This thing has to be threaded through the door, then it passes through empty space for a millimetre or two with the unthreaded part of the shaft not being able to grip anything, then it has to be threaded into the metal of the case. All the while keeping it centered and pressured against the spring. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t like suddenly having to perform open heart surgery on myself without training or mirrors, but it required far more effort than a simple tightening of a screw to hold a fan cage door in place should have required. Now we see why I mentioned the ease of use of the thumbscrews that hold the main doors on the sides. And what happens if/when this oddball screw gets lost? Then what? Again, this could have been so much better with just a bit of a redesign to allow for a standard case screw to be used. Let me add that aside from the bizarre door locking mechanism the front fan cage does NOT have any kind of vibration dampening system. The fan screws directly into the hinged door and the hinged door screws directly into the case.
Next, we have the bottom. The bottom of the case has two 120 mm fan mounts with grills on them. I shouldn’t really call them both fan “mounts” because the one closest to the back is clearly meant for a PSU with a topside 120 mm fan. When the PSU is installed there is no room for a fan in that spot and it also lacks the appropriately placed fan screw holes. Both spots have a dual layer grill on them. The outer one is a grid of air holes cut into the body of the case metal for structure and protection. The inner grill is a fine, screen door-like mesh braced with a protective framework of a sturdy and flexible plastic. Both inner meshes pop out easily with a bit of pressure for fast, simple cleaning. I really wish the upper and front fan mounts were the same.
The rubber feet on the bottom are a little taller than most case feet I’ve seen. Not a lot taller but going back to the absence of door ventilation those few extra mm of floor space will come in handy. I don’t recommend placing this case on any kind of carpet. Since there is next to no space between the two fan vents on the bottom you’ll wind up blocking the forward mount partially if you use any of the extended-lenght PSUs rated for a high-end wattage. But there are plenty of good quality power supplies in the 500 W range that won’t block this and I couldn’t honestly see myself putting an extended-length, high-power PSU into such a low end case, so I don’t know how many people would find themselves in that situation. Also note the set of 6 holes, staggered in two rows of three, beside the grills on both sides. This will come up later. So now we transition from the bottom of the case to the back. Lets start with the lower section and the PSU placement. The PSU can be mounted two different ways, alternating which is the “top” side by 180o and still have all four mounting holes on the PSU line up with the case. Note the orientation of the power cord socket and the full set of mount screws in the pics below during the system assembly.
This really isn’t a breakthrough innovation, but every once in a while I see a case that doesn’t have this capacity. It’s good to see that Silverstone didn’t miss it here. Above the PSU mount are the peripheral card slots. Most of them are stamped out of the case with just a few spots holding them in place but two of them are separate pieces added in. All of them have small vent holes to help with air flow and the finish on all of them, including the separate covers that are held in with screws, match the rest of the case. The only part of the back side of the case that doesn’t match the rest of the finish perfectly is the covering for the screw mounts for the PCI slots, and that’s just because it’s plastic instead of metal. Even thought the materials are different Silverstone did a good job of getting the two as close as reasonably possible. I don’t look at it and think “Man, that one piece just looks so out of place!” Instead I think “That’s a pretty good match up for metal and plastic!”
The hinged cover has a pressure tab to hold it closed, but the whole thing feels a bit on the loose side to the touch. I’ll find out if that’s going to be a problem during the system installation. Above the plastic covering we can see a few breakaway covers stamped into the frame. One in in the shape of a 9 pin “D shell” connector (COM port #2 anyone?) and the other two are perfectly circular. Its pretty clear to me that the implication for these openings are for water cooling tubes but I suppose you could run any kind of cabling through there assuming it would fit. I don’t water cool anymore, but still have tubing and fittings and such so why don’t we take a look at how productive these holes could be for water cooling. The ID of the clear tubing in the images is ½”.
Not a perfect fit with the smaller holes but I can think of a few ways to run your tubing without punching out the slugs from the larger holes. If you do punch out the slugs you’ll have more room to run your tubing than you’ll ever need. Much more room. Too much room. If I’m going to have ¾” OD tubing running through a 1¼” hole I’m going to want have some kind of a rubber seal lining the inside of that hole to help prevent the tubing from getting punctured over time from the rough edge where I had to twist the slug to break it free.Rubber grommets around the holes would add a bit of support for the tubing and have it look cleaner all around too. Having said all that you can run tubing though those holes, even if it doesn’t look picture perfect. Well is there room for a pump in the case? Sure. I don’t water cool anymore, but here’s what my Eheim 1250 would look like mounted in the bottom of the case near the drive cage.
The Eheim 1250 is one of the biggest pumps commonly used today. This is because it comes from the days of old when people used aquarium pumps for their computer water cooling, aquarium pumps that were made by companies that were not concerned about squeezing their product into a small computer case. Today’s pumps, built specifically for computer use, are generally much smaller. If there’s room for the 1250 in this case there should be room for most brands and models of actual computer water cooling pumps.
Above the breakaway covers there is a mount for a single fan. It comes with a 120 mm fan, but also has mounting points for an 80 mm or 92 mm fan as well. Always nice to have options.
The grill work is large and stamped into the frame and does not have a secondary inner mesh to catch fine particulate. Given that this location is almost always (if not always) used for output the finer mesh would only impede hot air exhaust and trap dust in the case. As such it is not needed. If you were inclined to orient the fan to intake for whatever reason you could always use the filter from the vent at the bottom of the case. Last, but not least, we have the space for the rear I/O panel. There isn’t much to be said about this rectangular opening other than it is rectangular and it is an opening. So now we’ve looked at the top, the front, the bottom and the back. We’ve also removed the top fan cage cover and seen behind the top and front bezels. Now lets get to the insides. The finish throughout the inside of the case is just a flawless as the outside except… along the framing where the doors attach I could see little notches where the paint was chipped off.
I was very cautious to make sure I removed the doors without undue force. This had me wondering if the finish would easily flake off if gently impacted with something hard and edged. So I put that to the test. Last time I reviewed a case I (honestly) accidentally scratched the bottom of the case. This time I decided to accidentally do it on purpose. I picked a location where the damage (if any) wouldn’t show up horrendously and took a slotted screwdriver to it. The place I tested was along the frame where the doors connect to the rest of the case, near the chipped spots. Well I gave it a couple of good gouges and as you can see I did not shovel off large flakes of the finish.
All I did was put some scratch lines in it. The kind of scratch lines you can expect to get if you don’t take care of your case. The finish is durable and scratches won’t stand out more than they would in any other case. So what caused the little chipped out bits where the doors fit? Not sure. The fan mounts have been covered already when discussing the top, bottom, front and back sides. So lets look at the motherboard tray. It has a decent sized hole to allow access to a heat sink back plate that should be effective for most (if not all) motherboards depending on the motherboard’s component layout. Other than that there really isn’t much in the way of hole to route cables through in order to hide them. To this we add a lack of depth between the motherboard back plate and its side door that covers it and we really don’t have much room to work with.
We can run cables behind the drive bays, but the forward most edge of the motherboard tray has its edge rolled over at the end. This gives the structure strength but it also creates a barrier that runs all the way from top to bottom which limits the depth of cables that you can hide. I’ve outlined it in the image below. I’ve run into this with cases before and it’s one of the things that always irks me. My last case had a lack of motherboard tray holes too. In that case, unfortunately, the back side of the drive cages was a solid wall of aluminum, so I really had to work my you-know-what off to bury my cables out of view on the component side. At least this Silverstone case has an open back behind the drive cages so I can huddle my excess cabling towards the front of the case. It’s not a lot of room to squeeze everything in but at least it is much easier to access than my last case.
Now lets deal with the drive cages. The drive cages can be broken down into three sections. At the top there are four forward-facing, external 5¼“ drive bays. Below that the second section has room for two forward-facing, external 3½“ drive bays. Below that the final section has four side-facing internal 3½” drive bays.
I like side facing drive bays. It makes inserting and removing them, changing cables or moving jumpers easier than if the bays were forward facing. Sliding rails that must be affixed to the drives before inserting them into the case are the common way of doing things these days, but this case does away with the need for rails.
The top most bays (5¼“) have plastic tabs to lock the drives in place once installed. Each bay is designed to allow the drives to be easily slid into place without using any rails. Once the drive is positioned, the handle on the tab is pulled out which in turn locks a set of pins into the drive’s mounting holes to hold it in place. For peace of mind there are also screw holes on both sides of the drive cage to allow screws to hold the drives in place.
The 3½“ external bays use a different kind of mechanism to lock the drives in place. Once again, the drive can be slid into place without the need for rails. Once properly positioned the handle for the lock is slid forward towards the front of the case (instead of pulled out and away) which locks a set of plastic pins into the mount holes on the drive. Again, there are screw holes on both sides to help guarantee the drives stay locked in place.
Both styles of locking tabs have markings on them that clearly explain how each style is used. It should be noted that neither design of locking mechanisms need the screws to keep the drives in place. I’ve installed drives into both style of bays without screws and then yanked on them the try to get them out but they stayed put. But it’s nice to have that extra measure of safety if you want it. Also note that neither design has any form of vibration dampeners, but then it’s really not a big deal for removable drives that only spin up when there is a disk in them that is being used. Hard drives are the ones that really need the vibration dampeners, and in this case they have them. These internal drive bays do not rely on rails either. They have a one piece plastic frame that fits around the drive which is then used to slide the drive into place. Think of it like the old drive bay step-down adapters for putting a 3½“ floppy drive in a case that only has 5¼“ bays. It’s a bit of a snug fit getting the drive into the frame because of the white vibe dampening grommets but you don’t actually have to fight with it. Once it’s there you simply press fit the tab pins that hold the drive into place. The tabs help make sure the drive doesn’t work it’s way loose. If you have a 2½“ drive there are screw holes in the bottom of the plastic frames to lock them in place there.
Once the drive is in the frame it can be slid into one of the drive slots. Just pinch the tabs at the end when you insert the drive and it will lock into place. The plastic that is used for the framework that goes around the hard drives is flexible, you’d really have to try to snap it to get it to break. But wait a minute, didn’t I say this cage did away with the need for drive side rails? Isn’t a one-piece drive frame work basically the same thing? In some ways yes, but one benefit the frame work has over screw in rails is that even without a drive in place the frame can still be locked in place in the drive bay. So as long as you keep them there you’ll never lose them. Try keeping your individual drive rails in the case. Either you’ve got to tape them down (ugly) or they’ll be free floating (jammed fan blade potential). You could always just keep them out of the case (WOW! A 500 petabyte drive for my birthday! Now where did I put those drive mounting rails…). Given the choice I’ll take the one-piece framework.
Now onto the installation. Here’s a list of what’s going inside:
- Asrock 4CoreDual-SATA2
- 2×1 GB Kingston DDR2
- Intel Celeron E3300 2.5GHz Wolfdale
- OCZ Vendetta 2 120 mm HSF with OCZ back plate mounting bracket*
- 1x 160 GB SATA Drive
- 1x 250 GB ATA133 Drive
- 1x 20 GB ATA100 Drive (I like to have a lot of different operating systems so I can tinker)
- 1x DVD-RW ATA133
- eVGA GeForce 8600 GT with custom vRAM sinks and a modified Thermaltake VolcanoII Socket A heat sink and 60 mm fan (25 mm thick) on the core
- 2x 38 mm thick 120 mm case fans
- 2x 25 mm thick 120 mm case fans*
- Coolermaster 500 W PSU
- 2x PATA ables
- 1x SATA Cable
- Custom made fan speed regulator circuity
*In the old case a 38 mm thick fan was mounted on the Vendetta while the default Vendetta fan was mounted on the case door. Also, a custom made back plate was being used instead of the official OCZ mounting plate. Finally, one of the two 25 mm thick 120 mm case fans to be used in the SilverStone case is the fan that came with the PS-05 case itself.
Those with a good eye for detail will notice a floppy drive in some of the images but not in others. This was done just to show how easily a floppy could be put into the system. There was no floppy in this actual setup.
Before I put the pieces into the new case, lets look at how things were situated in the old one. Note the holes I had to cut (gouge really) into the motherboard tray to have access to the HSF mounting plate.
Now to install in the new case. First I put in the PSU, set it up so that the intake fan for the power supply was drawing air up through the bottom vent from below the case. All of the back screws tightened down properly and held the PSU securely in place. Nonetheless, I decided to see just what the “holder” to “Secure power supply” would do for me. Remember the series of staggered holes I mentioned that are on either side of the mesh grills on the bottom of the case? Well look what happens when you screw the “holder” into the case using those holes.
One more point to anchor the power supply with. I don’t think it’s needed but it was nice of them to add it and by putting a series of mount holes you don’t have to limit yourself to one size power supply. If you want to add a longer PSU to this case, then you can. The framework around the PSU and its placement is nice. It snugs up in place well and I don’t find myself thinking “I wish they designed it so that the PSU could be mounted just a little bit to the (insert direction here)”. Putting the drives, all of them: optical, floppy and hard, was just as easy as installing the power supply. As I said above, screws are not required to keep the external drives in place but I added screws just to be safe. You can see that compared to the old case I have a lot more room to hide the cabling for the drives (and everything else) on the far side of the drive bays and yet still have access to the cables. One of the things that I would have liked with this case but didn’t get was the ability to install the hard drives with their connectors on the far side of the bays. It would mean taking both doors off to access the drives fully, but it would look much cleaner once everything is installed. I could do it by having the hard drive simply snugged into place in the removable drive frame without using the tab pins, but I’d be worried that it would eventually work it’s way free. Now lets put the two fans in the top.
Ooooops…. How about lets not and say we did. I was worried that the raised center in the middle of the fan mounts might grind against the spinning fan if 38 mm fans were used but I certainly didn’t expect 38 mm fans to not fit at all. Well that changes my plans. I took the two 25 mm blue LED fans out of the old case and use them instead.
The fans fit, although it was very difficult getting the door to close properly. I’ve opened and closed the fan housing door a few dozen times and it is always difficult. You really have to fight with it. I checked: it’s not pinching down on any wires or anything. Just a real bear to work with. I put a fan in the bottom in the mount that is in front of the power supply. I took the 38 mm thick 120 mm fan that was previously mounted to the Vendetta and put it there. I added my own wire grill to the top to help keep dangling cables from getting snagged. It fit just fine although there were no grommets to reduce vibration. The same can be said for the 25 mm thick fan I put in the front of the case. That fan went in easily (except for that proprietary screw to hold the door shut) and there were no anti-vibration grommets. Now the rear I/O plate. This was impossible to get properly in place until I removed the 120 mm fan that came with the case. Once I did that I easily snugged the plate in on all four sides. Once that was in I put the fan back in, again with no grommets. In the old case, I was using a home made back plate for the HSF, with a new case I wanted to do it right so I bought OCZ’s mounting plate designed specifically designed for the Vendetta series. I cleaned up the heatsink and chip and re-applied the paste. Then I mounted the heatsink while the motherboard was outside the case. This was a good choice: there would be no way whatsoever that I could tighten down one of the four mounting screws after the motherboard was installed. Look how little room I have in the upper-rear corner of the case. This is with the case fan removed. Put that fan back in and you lose almost half that space you see below.
To add insult to injury, I not only have to find some way to tighten down the mounting screw in that corner but I also have to connect the 4 pin P4 plug there. This is not going to be easy. To have any shot at getting it done I had to uninstall the fan that came with the case. That gave me a bit more room, but not much. Supporters of Silverstone (or even just this case model) might blame AsRock (or even just this motherboard model) for putting its components there. I can hear the choruses of “My board isn’t laid out like that. Maybe if you bought a decent brand like…” already. Think about this: regardless of who makes the board, or if it is ATX or mATX that one motherboard mount point is always going to be in that upper corner. That is a guarantee unless/until they change the form factor standard. So what about the 4 pin P4 connector and the heat sink mount placements? Well the 4CoreDual-SATA2 having the P4 connector, the motherboard screw hole and the heat sink jammed up in that corner is something of a perfect storm. But any motherboard will have its CPU socket located closer to that corner than the other three corners. Maybe not as close as the 4CoreDual-SATA2, but it will be somewhat close. And even though the P4 connector is not up in that corner for a lot of motherboards many of the boards out today have tall sinks/heat pipes attached to the high-heat voltage regulators around the CPU socket and working around them could prove difficult too. The 4CoreDual-SATA2 has it worse off than most other boards, but I can still see this being a problem for a lot of potential users. Below is a collage of motherboard shots involving the following manufacturers: eVGA, Foxconn, DFI, Gigabyte and MSI. The processor sockets for these boards include Intel 775, Intel 1366 and AMD AM3. All images were taken directly from the respective manufacturer’s websites.
All of them have some degree of “component clutter” in that corner. If Silverstone would just add another ½” of height to the top of the case before you reach the bottom of the external fan cage, or better yet extended the metal top of the case out as far as the plastic bezel currently is and lose the separate dual 120 mm fan cage compartment altogether, have the fans mount to the top of the cage from the inside, then this would not be the issue it is. That way if you’re having trouble getting everything connected you could just uninstall the top fans as well as the rear fan to get enough room to connect everything. Then just slide the fans back in, tighten the screws down into them and you’re good to go. Faced with what I had, I eventually got the motherboard installed, with all the mounting screws tightened down, the HSF installed and the P4 plug connected. It wasn’t easy: I had to have the case upside down at one point and used a series of screwdriver extension bits to reach the screw for the motherboard, but I eventually got it done. Man this thing really pushed my buttons! Next comes the peripheral cards. In this instance there is only one being put in: a PCI-e GeForce 8600 GT with over sized cooling system. I undid the plastic cover plate at the top of the PCI slots. Its a straight forward pressure fit. To release it, just squeeze and it will unhinge easily. From there just pull it right out because it’s not actually fixed to the rest of the case. Just like the grill cover on the front 120 mm fan it is held in place by pressure. I like that better than an actual hinge because if the cover is mounted to the case by a hinge you run the risk of snapping it off, bending the hinge or otherwise jamming it up if you are inelegant in your installation of components. By not being attached you can just take the whole thing right off the case and set it to the side until you are ready to put it back on. So I remove the cover, put the card in the PCI-e slot, screw it down for good measure and then put the plastic cover back on. The cover snugged back in place without issue even with the screw holding the card in.
Sometimes cases are made with an “across the top cover” plate that is supposed to make PCI card screws unnecessary, but then you find the card rattles around loosely because the cover plate just can’t quite grip as well as tightening each card down with its own screw. So you put a screw in to hold it down anyway only to find out that now you can’t properly close the cover plate. No such issue here. After tightening down the video card with the case screw the cover plate fit back in perfectly. So what’s next? Connect all the cables. PATA, SATA, front panel and my own home-made fan voltage regulator system. I do have some pretty clear pictures of my home-made fan controller, but we’re not here to rate my circuit. I’ll post them later if there is demand. Let’s get back to the case.
So I fired it up and… nothing. No lights, no beeps, nothing. Turns out the “official OCZ brand mounting plate”, the one designed specifically for my heat sink, a heat sink that they also built, was the culprit. I don’t know if it was grounding out the back of the board or what but when I took it off and put the home made plate back on the system fired up just fine. Of course, that meant I had to remove the mother board and then fight to get it back into the case again with everything reconnected in that one difficult corner. So now that everything was installed, we were good to go. I hit the power button, and heard lots of scraping/grinding. I killed the power before I killed the computer. I thought I know what the problem is: I checked, I was right. Even 25 mm thick fans can’t fit properly into the upper fan cage without grinding against the raised metal grillwork. Why did they have to have it raised out into the external cage instead of lowered down into main compartment of the case? I could mount the fans facing in the other direction, but then they’d be intake fans. Hot air rises. It may not make a huge difference but I’d rather work with mother nature than against her. And besides shouldn’t that be my choice to make? If you have a top mount fan, do you have it set to exhaust or intake? I’m betting it’s exhaust. Can’t I just mount the fans by screwing them in from the inside of the cage, below the metal grill? Sure, but why have the separate fan compartment then? Plus I could only get one of the two fans in place that way. The CPU heatsink makes putting a fan inside the case in the rear of the two mounts absolutely impossible. I barely have 2 mm to spare there, forget about 25 mm! So I unhinged the back of the top mount fan cage and just let it sit on top but not locked in: it at least stopped grinding. While writing up this review and running with the top fan cage door slightly ajar for a few days I reversed the direction of the top case fans and was able to run them with the door completely shut without any grinding
I’ve finally got the system up and running again with no issues. Here’s what the whole thing looks like assembled (doors off).
Let’s just put the side door back on and slide it under my desk. Where did I put that door? Behind me….
I told myself to be careful. I told myself this was a possibility and that I didn’t want this to happen. I told myself to be vigilant to make sure it wouldn’t happen, but it wasn’t enough. I caught myself as I just started to lean back against the case door that was behind me, and I did not put anywhere near the bulk of my weight into it. Heck, I know I’ve accidentally put more force on the doors for any number of cases I’ve had in the past and they all turned out fine. Maybe not 100 times as much force but easily two or three times as much and they held up. But this door folded faster than a cheap card table with a wonky leg. Mind you if it is easy to bend it is easy to bend back. But what if I bent it so much that the metal kinked? And can you ever truly get it back to exactly how it was before you bent it? Should you have to walk around on eggshells every time you’re within 5 feet of your computer case? My answer to that last one is no, you shouldn’t. So I bent it back as best I could. It’s not perfect but a close approximation. I could work on it some more but I’m honestly a little afraid to touch it. I don’t want to make the problem worse.
Price: Pricebat.ca shows 4 stores in Canada listing it with prices between $39.99CAD and $63.36CAD, with Newegg.ca being the cheapest. In the States, Resellerratings.com has only one listing for it at Amazon for $42.00 after MIR. Newegg.com has it at $39.99 after MIR. This puts it in the budget price range and given my experiences, this is where it should stay.
So what is my final assessment? Well, if I were to give it a numerical rating it would be a failure. So 4 points at most. But I’m giving it a 3. Why?
- Bizarre thumbscrew setup to hold the front fan in place.
- The inability to easily remove the foam fan filter material for proper cleaning.
- The weakest case doors I’ve ever held.
- The lack of rubber grommets in both the fan mounts and the water cooling ports.
- The under abundance of fans included, the top fan cage layout is a total failure (my biggest issue).
- The absence of any side ventilation whatsoever.
What keeps it from going lower are the good points:
- I think the PSU “holder” bracket was unnecessary, but by putting it in and making it adjustable they showed they were trying.
- The removable filter mesh along the bottom was good, they should have used that along the top and the front too but at least it was in there for some of the fans.
- I like the drive installation mechanisms, they really don’t need the optional screw holes to keep the drives locked in place, but it was good that they took the time to put them in just for peace of mind.
- The finish held up better to the scratch test than I expected it would.
- Freedom from that irritating chain of power & LED wires between the case and front bezel is divine!
- Plus, technically, at the very core of it all, it is actually a computer case. I mean it’s not like I was told I’d be getting a case to review, but then when I opened the box I found a toaster oven or a set of autographed pictures of Roy Scheider from the set of Jaws instead.
- There were no jagged edges to cut myself on either.
I can’t really give out praise for those last two though. Remember what I said before about showing up for your driver’s test wearing pants? The rest of these things do give it points in the plus column, but unfortunately there just wasn’t enough good things to outweigh the bad.
That’s my rating if I were to give it a number. But Overclockers.com doesn’t use a numerical rating system. We have three ratings choices: FAIL, Meh, and Approved. Under most circumstances I’ve got to give this thing a FAIL. I can go as high as a Meh, if the circumstances are just right, e.g.: you’ve got to get a case now, it doesn’t really matter what kind, you just need something to hold you over till your paycheck next Friday when you can get the $200 one you really want and Newegg has this one on sale for $24.99 with free overnight shipping. Or you’re going to put together a system for grandma so she can email her friends in Florida and you know she’s not going to need extra fans installed up top to keep the system cool, plus the small OEM heat sink is more than capable of doing the job for her limited use so installation will be simpler and you know she’s never going to pop the doors off to tinker with whats inside. Basically, if you can look at all the things I didn’t like about it and know that for whatever reason they won’t affect your usage of it and the price is low then this case might be acceptable. Generally speaking though, I give it a FAIL.
Marge Simpson once said “It’s easy to criticize” (To which Homer added “And it’s fun too!”). So before the hate mail against me begins, let me do something that is not as easy and say what it would take to move this into my approved column that shouldn’t cost Silverstone a lot in terms of re-tooling their production line. Skip the step where the top side grills are pressed up out of the case, stamp the grill holes into it but don’t raise the whole thing up into the fan cage. Also replace that proprietary thumbscrew down front with a more regular case screw and add grommets to the fan mounts. This won’t fix all my concerns but would address enough to let me give it an “Approved” as an economy/ budget line case and “Meh” everywhere else.
Alright let the hate mail begin!