Summary: Sporting a unique cooling design and looks straight from a Lamborghini Reventon or F-117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighter, Silverstone's Raven case is designed to appeal to enthusiasts looking for excellent cooling performance as well as looks. But does it perform? Find out in our review!
Since the demise of COMDEX, CES has become the place where hardware manufacturers have announced new products and features. From Nvidia to Lian Li, CES is one of the first real showcases of PCís and gaming hardware, before CeBIT in March and Computex in June. When we visited Vegas earlier this year, we stopped by Silverstone to see what new products they were showing off. Knowing their tradition of high quality aluminum cases, we were not prepared for their major attraction: the behemoth that is known as the Raven RV01. After seeing a demonstration of its features, we couldnít wait to get our hands on one and see just how this massive black beast works. Well, weíve put it through its paces and are happy to report that it easily lives up to Silverstoneís reputation of excellent quality and cooling. First, letís take a look at some of the Ravenís features.
The most noticeable feature readers are going to pick-up on right away is the vastly different motherboard orientation. Silverstone has turned the motherboard tray 90 degrees, so that the back panel now faces upwards. The Raven features two 180mm fans on the bottom of the case that pull air upwards. Silverstone told us the purpose behind this change was to make use of the heat stack effect, where hot air naturally rises due to its lower density. The belief is that this will allow for more efficient air cooling, while also reducing system noise with its slower moving fans. The Raven also makes use of positive air pressure, which allows it to keep dust from being pulled into small crevices in the chassis.
The following is a video sent to us from Silverstone that helps demonstrate how the Ravenís unconventional design works.
The top of the case sports a hidden door that provides access to two USB 2.0 ports, Intel HD Audio Ports, and a single eSATA port. Just in front of the door are the power and reset buttons. The case itself is pretty big and heavy, due to its steel and plastic construction. This makes the Raven pretty unfriendly for toting around to LAN parties, as fully loaded it weighs in at about 40lbs.
Opening the case is tool-less, but does require the removal of the top fan grate. Two releases are turned to unlock the top portion of the case, which then slides backwards. This grants the user access to the side panel release buttons. Once depressed, the side panels are removed with relative ease. Once inside, you can see the six 3.5Ē hard drive cages that are easy to pull in and out. The first cage actually uses a built-in SATA and power connecter, making extra cables unnecessary. Silverstone sells additional all-in-one units that install easily into the case on their website. Our hard drives plugged right into this unit with ease and it really helped make installation a snap.
The crossbar needs to be removed in order to install the motherboard and features extendable arms that hold your add-in cards in place. The 5.25Ē drive bays use a tool-less design that works great for holding all drives firmly. One issue we ran into however was the wiring from the top panel, which unfortunately prevented us from installing a DVD drive in the topmost slot. The wiring exits the top panel exactly where a CD drive would sit and there really isnít enough room to rest the wiring above an installed drive.
The motherboard tray is not removable; however there is plenty of room inside the Raven, so it really wasnít an issue. The back panel features plenty of routing holes for cabling and Silverstone has designed the Raven to have just about every wire run behind the tray. Unfortunately, the holes are a bit on the small side, which makes routing large connectors, like the ATX power plug, somewhat difficult. There are even 4 bendable wire holders that work great to keep everything nice and neat, making re-installation of the side panel easy. The power supply sits at the bottom of the case, just above a removable fan filter that is accessible from the rear of the case. While we are thankful for the fan filter, requiring it to be removed from the rear actually puts it somewhat out of the way. With all the fans pulling air upwards, we can imagine the Raven will function about as well as a vacuum cleaner, so it would be nice if we could pull the fan filter from the front of the case instead.
Once everything is all installed, it can thankfully be kept nice and tidy thanks to Silverstoneís good cable management system. Since the fans are mounted above the empty space of the bottom chamber, you donít have to worry about airflow disruption from excess power supply cables. The cable clamps worked pretty good to hold even the thickest of cabling. From the front, you can see the Raven allows for a pretty clean installation, which is nice not only for aesthetics, but also for airflow. So how does the Raven cool? Keep reading to find out!
AMD Phenom II 810 AM3
Unique Cooling Design: The unique way in which Silverstone has oriented the motherboard makes it perfect for tower air coolers. Utilizing the stack effect actually works pretty well to keep all our components nice and cool. Silverstone has a taken a risk with changing the way they mount the motherboard, but it appears to have paid off.
Big and Heavy: Although full tower cases are hardly known for portability, the Raven goes just a little bit too far. Weighing at 40lbs fully loaded, this is not a case you will be inclined to take to your next LAN party. Heck, you probably wonít even want to move the thing once you have it up and running. Itís also somewhat larger, sticking out from beneath my desk about 6 inches. This made me prone to almost swiveling my chair into the case on more than one occasion during testing.