A marvel of craftsmanship, beautiful, plus, it performs as good as it looks – Brian Berryman
SUMMARY: A marvel of craftsmanship, beautiful, plus, it performs as good as it looks.
Usually, when I know I’m going to be reviewing something, I do a bit of reading of other reviews of the item. I was originally going to review another desktop type case
that SilverStone offers (and hope to in the future), but it got pushed back a bit, as the design is being revised to offer more cooling.
During my reading up on that other item, I came across a review of this chassis we’ll have a look at today. I was impressed enough to inquire about reviewing this item instead, while
awaiting the other product’s revisions.
I knew by the pictures I had seen and other’s comments on the TJ-03, that this was a large case. I wasn’t prepared for just how big it is though…
The case is packed not unlike a giant optical drive. Very well packed.
The case itself is inside a heavy plastic bag, and the doors on the front of the case are taped closed to prevent them from moving during shipping.
This case isn’t taller or wider than most other cases, but front to back, it’s extremely deep. This is designed to hold even huge server size boards easily.
Let’s have a look at the specs, and then a good look at the case itself after that.
- All aluminum construction
- 1.5 mm aluminum chassis
- Removable motherboard tray/rear panel assembly
- Cooling, 4 fans, all included;
- 120 x 120 x 25 mm front intake fan
- Two 80 x 80 x 25 mm rear exhaust fans
- 80 x 80 x 25 mm top exhaust fan
- All fans rated 2000 RPM, 21 dBA
- 6x 5.25″ exposed drive bays
- 6x 3.25″ internal drive bays
- Front ports;
- 4x USB 2.0, IEEE 1394 (Firewire), headphones and mic jacks
- Motherboards compatible;
- Micro ATX, Standard ATX, Extended ATX
- 7 expansion slots available
- Brackets for standard ATX PSU or redundant PSU’s included
- Weight 8.1 kg
- Dimension 200 mm(W) x 502 mm(H) x 590 mm(D)
Looking at the specs, we see they used a heavy gauge aluminum (1.5 mm) for the main chassis and the front bezel is all aluminum. This makes for a very sturdy, yet
light case (only 8.1 kg).
The interesting number above is 590 mm. This is how deep the case is, front to back. Some quick translation makes that 23.25 inches. This is considerably more than the average
of 16 to 18 inches of the usual ATX case. This allows mounting of even the largest server class motherboards in this chassis, if desired.
Installed on the chassis is the standard ATX power supply bracket. Included in a bag is the alternate bracket (mentioned above), a manual for installing components and a bag full of
various screws and motherboard standoffs.
Let’s take a closer look at the construction and features of this case next.
In researching this case, I found that the design team now working for SilverStone formerly worked for CoolerMaster, designing their cases. This explains the high level of quality
and attention to detail throughout SilverStone’s product line.
This product is a showcase of their talent.
The front bezel is a all aluminum and the machine work is excellent. It features two doors covering the entire front of the case:
Behind the upper door is the external drive bays, and the lower door covers the front intake fan, which features a removable filter.
Holes are machined into the lower door for the two switches (power and reset). The buttons on these are also aluminum, machined to match the bezel. Mounted between them are
a pair of very bright blue LEDs.
The filter on the front 120 mm fan is a three piece unit and is easily removed for cleaning. It doesn’t seem to restrict flow very much and should keep most of the dust bunnies at bay,
out of the case itself.
The doors are hung on a pair of metal pins. They are also machined in a way that if desired, you can disassemble the entire front bezel and reverse the door’s position,
allowing them to swing open from either side.
The doors are held in place by four magnets (two per door). These are aligned with the steel screws used to mount the front bezel to the chassis.
The doors swing open very easily. I’m not certain which should be bigger, the magnet or the head of the screws they attach to, but the slightest bump will get them swinging open.
The front access ports are hidden behind a smaller door in the lower door, and look to be the same assembly used in some of their other cases.
Looking inside the case;
Here we see that depth front to back clearly. Sitting on the floor of the case are the leads for the front ports and fan. The port leads are 24 inches long
and should reach anywhere needed, regardless of what size board is installed.
This view also shows the drive rack used. It’s comprised of six external 5.25″ bays and the same number of 3.5″ internal bays.
Noted (and criticized) in other reviews is the lack of any 3.5″ external bays for a floppy drive. I’m on the fence with this one.
With the advent and rise in popularity of USB “thumb drives” and the ability to boot from USB becoming a standard feature in modern motherboards, is a floppy drive really needed
However, there are a number of after market devices available that would fit into a 3.5″ external bay (fan controllers, USB hubs, even SilverStone’s own
SST-SDP01 card reader); it’s possible to use an adapter to mount these into a 5.25″ bay.
SilverStone offers such an adapter, their SST-FP51 model. Given the price of this case, it might have
been a nice addition to include one with the TJ-03, for those who need provision for an external 3.5″ device.
As mentioned, up front there is a 120 mm intake fan. This is positioned in front of the drive rack. It, like the fan in the top, uses a 4 pin Molex pass through connector
Also seen here is how the front wiring is routed:
Up top is a single 80 mm fan. The opening in the top panel for this should allow a good amount of air to flow freely.
Looking at the back panel, we see the twin 80 mm exhaust fans installed. These two use 3 pin power connectors – something to bear in mind if your motherboard doesn’t have an
abundance of fan headers included.
While looking at the back panel, we also see that things are secured using thumbscrews. Nice touch!
The two side panels are interchangeable and held in place by a trio of thumbscrews each. Despite their size (they could double as the hood of a Toyota Echo) they are very lightweight.
Removing six more thumbscrews allows the entire back panel and motherboard tray assembly to be removed.
While removing the motherboard tray is extremely easy, being able to swap out expansion cards while installed in the case is easier. The chassis design used blocked access
to the screws hold the cards in place, so holes were incorporated into the chassis to allow a screwdriver access at them.
With the tray out of the case, we can see just how sturdy it is. It’s made using the same 1.5 mm thick aluminum as the chassis, with braces on each side holding the attached backplate
from flexing – a very rugged, durable design.
Like most cases built today, the I/O plate is easily removed by simply pushing it out and popping the replacement in. It ships with a standard configuration ATX plate installed.
If your motherboard uses a different configuration for the I/O ports (and came with the specific plate), it’ll work just fine with the TJ-03.
As one might expect, having a removable motherboard tray makes system assembly a breeze. Depending on what type of board you’re using, you might have to add or rearrange the board
standoffs as shipped, but they all the nice threaded type and easy to move about.
As I’ve mentioned a few times, this will handle the big boards, so I decided to put my MSI K7D Master-L based dual AMD CPU machine into the TJ03.
Here we can really see how large this case is! If it can make a system like this look small and lost inside the case, you know it’s big!
Bear in mind you’ll likely need some very long IDE cables (and floppy cable, if you do use one) to reach the drive bays, especially the optical drives.
With everything installed, it’s time to fire it up and see how the temperatures seem to be. With the removable tray, I was able to mount the board outside of the case and also leave
the two Vantec AeroFlow heatsinks alone, so I don’t need to wait for new thermal compound to settle in. I used Arctic Silver 5 when I installed these a few months ago.
Here we see a bit of how bright the two LEDs on the front of the case are. They light up the lower door well.
- MSI K7D Master-L motherboard
- 2x AMD XP 1600+ (Palomino core) CPU’s, modded to allow SMP and multipler adjustments
- 2x Vantec AeroFlow HSFs
- 512MB Crucial ECC Reg. PC2100
- ATi Rage Pro 128
- 2x Maxtor 30GB HDDs
- 2x Optical drives (52X CD-ROM, 40x12x40 CDRW)
- 420W PSU
- SilverStone SST-TJ-03 case, using all the original fans included
At default, these CPU’s run at 10.5 x 133. All I’ve done is boost the multiplier to 12.5x, leaving the voltage and bus speed at defaults. This gives a nice
performance boost, yet still keeps the temperatures down and the busses in spec.
As seen below, the temperatures I get using this setup are very reasonable. I’ve run this exact combo in other cases and had these temperatures spike much higher
(upwards of 50ºC), which tells me that the TJ-03 is capable of flowing a good amount of cool air through.
I let the system run at idle for a bit over five minutes to let temps stabilize, and then started two instances of the Folding @ Home client to bring both CPUs to
full load. I took the “Load” screenshot after 30 minutes of Folding.
Ambiant temperature in my computer room at the time of testing was 20ºC.
The SilverStone SST-TJ-03 Nimitz case is a marvel of craftsmanship. The machine work on the front bezel is beautiful, and continues throuought. Plus,
it performs as good as it looks.
The removable motherboard tray is the best I’ve seen. Very sturdy, requiring minimal effort to remove and install.
In fact the entire chassis is extremely sturdy. Despite it’s great size, use of aluminum throughout keeps the weight down. Using 1.5 mm aluminum for the main structure
and motherboard tray keeps everything from flexing.
Some might hem and haw about the lack of an included power supply or adapter to mount a floppy drive. I don’t see that as a major issue. Less than half of my machines currently have
a floppy drive mounted and fewer still have the original power supply in place. It would be nice for the price tag to have the option available for mounting a floppy or other device
requiring a 3.5″ external bay.
Yes, it does have a high price tag… but you do get what you pay for. Quality! Enough so that Falcon Northwest used them in their “Icon” line of systems.
SUMMARY: Bling bling for the TJ-03
Perhaps you thought the TJ-03 Nimiz you just looked at was a little boring. “It needs a window” you say.
Silverstone thought so too. Enter the SST-SP03S.
Not yet listed on SilverStone’s website (but due soon), this adds the finishing touch to this very impressive case.
As with the TJ-03 case, the replacement windowed side panel is packed extremely well to ensure it arrives in perfect condition.
The opening in the panel is 14.5″ (36.8 cm) square. The window itself is 16″ (40.6 mm) square. It’s held in place by eight chromed allen head screws and features a nicely beveled edge
on all sides.
Window aside, the panel is identical to the original in fit and finish.
While you could install your own window, you’d be hard pressed to have it come out looking as nice as this one. The hole is a perfect square with the corners nicely rounded.
A case this beautiful deserves to house an impressive system. What better way to show off that system than to have a nice large window to see it though.
I’d like to thank SilverStone for letting us look at this item today.