Silverstone’s Raven RV03 case

Manufacturer Silverstone
Model Raven RV03
Price (Street) $139.99
Availability Now

For a great many years, ATX computer cases have stuck to a few key guiding principles. The motherboard sits upright with the CPU socket at the top. Drive bays are located at the front of the case, and the power supply sits at the back, either below the motherboard or above it. Most seem to favor a bottom-mounted power supply emplacement these days. That, coupled with the appearance of cut-outs in the motherboard tray for cable routing and CPU socket access, about sums up the adventurousness of today’s crop of enclosures.

Silverstone’s Raven RV03 is different. If it were in high school, it might be the goth kid sitting behind the bleachers at lunchtime, listening to Marilyn Manson on his iPod. While the Raven looks almost normal from the outside, its insides are all weird—and, frankly, a little scary at first glance.

Silverstone has seen fit to rotate the motherboard 90 degrees clockwise, so the CPU socket faces the front of the case and the expansion slots point upward. Some of the hard-drive bays are located behind the motherboard tray. The PSU compartment is at the bottom, but not exactly the way you’d expect: it’s rotated 90 degrees and tucked under the front drive bays, so the on-off switch faces the Raven’s left panel.

Wearing black eyeshadow and listening to Marilyn Manson is a little out there, but there’s some sound thinking behind the Raven RV03’s odd internal configuration. Hot air rises, so placing the CPU and GPU toward the top with a pair of humongous 180-mm fans at the bottom would seem to encourage lower internal temps. The power supply placement also saves the trouble of pushing cables under the motherboard tray only to route them back out—instead, power cables start off behind all the key components (and away from airflow), ready to be routed.

The Raven’s design means external I/O connectors plug in at the top, with all external device cables routed through a small gap between the roof of the case and its top shroud. That shroud pops on and off with ease—a concession for which you’ll be thankful, because you’ll have to pry the shroud off and snap it back on any time you need to plug in a display, a set of surround speakers, an Ethernet cable, or any device that can’t be served by the Raven’s front-panel USB 3.0 and audio ports.

The upside is that the Raven RV03 looks rather tidy from any angle. (Yeah, I guess this is where the goth-kid analogy breaks down.) The two gold strips that line the front and top shrouds ruin the cleanliness of the look somewhat, though. Silverstone’s website provides instructions for ditching the gold trim, but that apparently involves a fair amount of work.

We’ll go in for a closer look and compare the Raven’s cooling performance to that of a more conventional enthusiast case in a moment. First, though, we’d be remiss not to examine this oddball enclosure’s feature loadout in greater detail. Note that this is the third enclosure of its name—Silverstone also produced Raven RV01 and RV02 enclosures with slightly different designs.

The Raven RV03 accommodates microATX and ATX motherboards, of course, but it also supports Extended ATX workstation mobos. With a cavernous interior, the RV03 even has sufficient space for graphics cards as long as 13.58″. There’s a total of seven drive bays at the front; all can accommodate 5.25″ optical drives, but six of them are fitted with removable 3.5″ hard-drive trays. Five additional hard-drive trays are located on the right side behind the motherboard tray; three of those auxiliary trays are of the 3.5″ variety, while one of them is designed to hold a couple of 2.5″ drives.

On the cooling front, the Raven RV03 comes out of the box with two 180-mm intake fans at the bottom and one 120-mm exhaust fan located at the top (just above the CPU socket). Tucked away behind the front-panel connectors, a pair of switches lets users choose between low and high speeds for bottom fans. Silverstone provides room for an extra six 120-mm fans: four at the front, one at the rear, and one on the side. That’s probably overkill, unless you really pack the Raven to the gills with high-end gear and fast hard drives.

All told, the Raven measures 9.3″ x 20.6″ x 22.4″ and weighs in at 25 lbs. Despite such capacious innards, it’s not an intimidating heavyweight like Corsair’s Obsidian Series 800D or Thermaltake’s Level 10 GT. The Raven is also fairly affordable at $139.99, although some e-tailers like Newegg charge a little more for it. How does it compare in ease of use, cooling capabilities, and noise levels?

Under the hood

To crack open the Raven RV03, one must first pop off the top shroud, which grants access to the expansion slots, I/O cluster, rubber-lined liquid-cooling holes, and the all-important pairs of thumbscrews holding each side panel in place.

Those blue USB 3.0 ports in the top panel connect to the motherboard using standard type-A plugs. Their destination is only a few inches away in the I/O cluster. Silverstone didn’t deem it necessary to include plain USB 2.0 ports with regular headers, but the blue ports are backward-compatible and will happily accommodate USB 2.0 devices—as they should be.

We’ve already shown you the left side of the case with the panel removed. Here’s another angle that reveals the underside and the two removable fan filters.

The filters stick to the bottom of the Raven using small magnets affixed to their plastic frames, so they’re surprisingly easy to remove and put back into place. The process is almost too easy—more than once, while picking up the case, I inadvertently laid my fingers on one of the filters and was surprised to feel it move. The filters should help ensure that neither of those huge 180-mm fans nor the PSU fan suck too much dust into the case.

What does the right side of the Raven RV03 look like without its access panel in place?

At the bottom left, you can see the small nook for the power supply. The PSU is supposed to slide in head-first with the on-off switch facing the left panel and the cables poking out the other side. Because the PSU fits in sideways, there’s only so much room for unusually long units. Silverstone specifies a 180-mm (7.1″) length limit—anything beyond that, and you probably risk not being able to shut the right side panel.

This side of the Raven plays host to five extra drive bays: two mounted on each side of the CPU socket cut-out and one, the 2.5″ bay, sitting under it. The manual actually instructs the user to mount his primary hard drive back here. Silverstone’s justification, detailed in the FAQ portion of the manual, is interesting:

Q: Why put hard drives behind the motherboard tray?

A: There are two reasons

1. Maximum use of space — for novice users, RV03’s spacious 5cm gap behind the motherboard tray allows for generous room to easily route extra cables. For more advanced builders good at routing cables, the extra room provides spaces [sic] to mount hard drives for more flexibility in storage.

2. Better cable management — placing hard drives behind the motherboard tray also helps to hide cables connected to the hard drives.

Fair enough. There’s nothing wrong with giving users options. That said, a couple of potential problems come to mind. First, there isn’t exactly a lot of airflow behind the motherboard tray, so heat from hard drives seems likely to stay trapped (and perhaps mix in with heat from the back of the motherboard). On top of that, four screws hold each tray in place, and users must remove the trays to install hard drives. Sounds like a lot of trouble.

Surely, the front-mounted bays are easier to operate, so long as as you’re not afraid to spend a little extra time routing cables. Right?

Those front drive bays

Sadly, the answer to the question on the previous page is a resounding, earth-shaking “no.” Allow us to demonstrate.

The Raven organizes its six front 3.5″ bays into two groups of three. A pair of 120-mm fan brackets holds each group together. To free one of those groups, one must first remove three drive bay covers at the front.

One must then, on the left side, undo two screws that hold the rear fan bracket in place and another two screws that steady the top and bottom drive trays. (I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting the screws that must be removed in red.) After that, one needs to pull three of those plastic clips into their unlocked positions.

There’s more. On the right side of the case, one must first remove one of the drive trays by unfastening four screws…

…then remove an additional four screws. Just like on the other side, two screws hold up the rear fan bracket, and another two screws keep the top and bottom drive trays in place.

The drive trays are finally free. Now, time to pry off the two fan brackets, attach hard drive(s) using four screws each, and then repeat the aforementioned procedure in reverse to put everything back together. No, I’m not making this up. This procedure is straight out of the manual, and I see no simpler way to go about it.

As if accessing the front bays weren’t a big enough problem, airflow to them seems like it might be in short supply. While the Raven’s main compartment is very well ventilated, none of the stock fans blow air in the direction of the front bays. Silverstone admittedly lets users sandwich each group of three drive trays between 120-mm fans, and it even allows users to remove the solid plastic bezels from the bay covers, like so:

However, out of the box, the Raven RV03 seems to provide next to no direct ventilation to any of its drive bays. Users are expected to supply their own fans and take care of that themselves. We’ll see in our testing whether this design has a material impact on temperatures, but it certainly doesn’t bode well.

Evidently, the Raven RV03’s drive bay design is either a complete afterthought or the product of a puritanical mind terrified at the prospect of users loading up hard drives full of rock music and ripped Harry Potter movies. In either case, the Raven RV03 comes out looking exceedingly old-fashioned when most other enthusiast enclosures have tool-less drive bays with easily removable trays and plentiful ventilation.

Assembly time

Now confident we knew what we were dealing with, we got our hands dirty (or dirtier), reached for our case-warmer components, and fashioned the Raven RV03 into a full-blown PC. Here’s what the finished product looked like:

The rotated internal layout made things a tad confusing at first, but getting the motherboard and graphics card in was a straightforward affair. Well, we did have to install three of the motherboard standoffs ourselves.

The PSU took a bit of coaxing to get situated, although it fit snugly with cables ready to be routed to their destinations. Because of the rotated layout, hooking up power to the motherboard and CPU was actually easier than in enthusiast cases with traditional or upside-down PSU positioning. Routing power cables to storage devices was simple enough. However, there wasn’t much clearance between the edge of the motherboard and the front drive bays.

Speaking of storage devices, getting the hard drive mounted in one of the right-side trays was, predictably, a frustrating affair. Unscrewing the tray and bolting the hard drive into it didn’t involve much effort, but attaching the tray required laying the case on its side and carefully inserting screws into narrow grooves between the hard drive and the lips of the tray. As we showed on the previous page, that’s nothing compared to the amount of work needed to install a hard drive in one of the front bays.

Mercifully, the optical drive installation was much less punishing. We needed only to lift the plastic clip on the left side of the bay, slide the drive in, and push the clip back into place once it lined up correctly with the drive’s screw holes. Plugging in the power and data cables required some finger contortion, though. If your motherboard’s SATA ports are arranged like ours, you can probably forget about neatly routing your DVD drive’s data cable behind the motherboard tray. The distance is too great, and the SATA cables bundled with motherboards are usually too short.

While juggling cables, we made sure to connect power to the enclosure’s fan-speed controller. Doing so involved grabbing the adapter (a four-pin Molex plug that branches out into a trio of three-pin fan connectors) and hooking it up to the spinners. Want to connect more fans to the controller? Too bad—you can’t.

The final step involved plugging in the requisite AC cable into our power supply. How does one do that when the PSU is sitting sideways with a side panel blocking access? Simple: the Raven RV03 comes pre-installed with a short AC extension cord that connects to an AC port under the front face plate. You’ll see it if you look carefully at the left side of the image above. Just sneak your AC cord under there, and hit the power button to get going.

(As a side note, hitting the power button on our sample Raven RV03 didn’t get us going. There was apparently something wrong with the power switch wiring, because plugging in the header caused the system to start up immediately and then shut down after a couple of seconds. Manually shorting the power switch pins to start up the machine worked fine, though. We haven’t seen any complaints about this problem in Newegg user reviews for the RV03, so this was probably a fluke manufacturing defect.)

Our testing methods

You’ve already seen our test components on the preceding pages, but here’s an exhaustive list with all of the nitty-gritty details. Because of an unforeseen problem with the mounting mechanism of our last CPU heatsink, we tested using a new one: Corsair’s A50.

Processor AMD Phenom II X4 975 Black Edition
Motherboard Gigabyte MA790FX-DQ6
Chipset AMD 790FX
Memory size 2GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type Corsair Dominator DDR2-1142 at 800MHz
Memory timings 5-5-5-18-2T
Audio Realtek ALC889A with default Windows drivers
Graphics EVGA GeForce GTX 280 with GeForce 257.21 drivers
Hard drive Western Digital RE3 1TB
Optical drive Samsung SH-W163A DVD burner
Power supply BFG Tech 800W Power Supply
OS Windows 7 Home Premium x86

A number of these parts have already been supplanted by newer, faster components, but their energy consumption is what matters here—and they don’t sip power. Using a Watts Up meter, I recorded power utilization at 385W with our CPU and GPU loads running simultaneously. That’s not all that surprising, since we’re talking about a 125W processor and a graphics card with 236W peak power consumption. Keep in mind that today’s fastest components are designed to fit within similar thermal envelopes.

Most of the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.

The numbers

Here are individual component temperatures inside a fully built Raven system. We ran our tests once with case fans running at their lowest speed and a second time with them cranked up to their highest speed. The motherboard was entrusted with controlling the speed of the CPU fan. Ambient temperatures were around 26°C.

Note that we included numbers for the Corsair Obsidian Series 650D to provide a frame of reference. At $189.99, the 650D is more expensive than the Raven RV03 but is an otherwise comparable product.

For our first test, we booted up the machine and waited 10 minutes for temperatures to stabilize before taking readings using Speedfan and GPU-Z:

Then, we loaded up the Unigine Heaven benchmark and waited another 10 minutes for temperatures to stabilize. We looped that benchmark with stereoscopic 3D and tessellation disabled, “high” shaders, 16X anisotropic filtering, and 4X antialiasing in a 1920×1080 window. Frame rates were a little choppy, so we expect our GeForce GTX 280 broke a sweat.

After logging temperatures with our GPU load, we began looping the Heaven benchmark and a Prime95 torture test simultaneously. We then waited 10 minutes for temperatures to peak before taking the following readings:

Our suspicions are confirmed: the Raven did a pretty awful job of keeping our hard drive cool, at least when it was installed in the recommended emplacement.

We really wanted to give the Raven’s storage accommodation capabilities a fair shake, so we painstakingly removed the hard drive from the back of the motherboard tray and positioned it in the sixth bay up front. This bay is located near the bottom of the case, a reasonable distance from heat-generating components. We then popped the plastic guards from the three surrounding bay covers, leaving air free to flow through the mesh. The result? With fans at their low setting and the system running Heaven and Prime95, our hard drive’s temperature only fell to 43°C. That’s a little embarrassing, considering how much cooler the same drive runs after a much easier installation in the Corsair 650D. We didn’t test this config with the high-speed fan setting because none of the case’s included fans blows air toward the drive bays.

Looking at the other temps, it appears the Raven’s rotated layout leads to lower motherboard temperatures. The system’s CPU and graphics card stuck to similar temperatures in the Raven and the 650D, so the funky layout doesn’t seem to help much there. We should, however, point out that our Corsair A50 CPU cooler could only be mounted perpendicular to the Raven RV03’s fans. Silverstone says we would have seen lower temperatures with a cooler sitting parallel to airflow. Prospective Raven users hoping for optimal temps will probably want to make sure their cooler can be mounted the right way—as for us, the A50 was the only working Socket AM3 heatsink we could procure in time for this review. The orientation didn’t pose a problem with the 650D, which has both top and rear exhaust fans around the CPU socket.

While we were running our temperature tests, we probed noise levels using an Extech 407727 Digital Sound Level Meter. (The missing bars in the graphs correspond to noise levels below our meter’s 40-dB threshold.)

To Silverstone’s credit, the Raven RV03 is blissfully quiet at idle with the fans at their low setting. If you want to crank up those fans, well, you’d better reach for some earplugs. Judging by our temperature readings, you’re probably fine keeping the fans at their minimum speed. The temperature differences between the two settings is minimal at best.

Conclusions

Much like that goth kid sitting alone behind the bleachers, the Silverstone Raven RV03 seems to go out of its way to attract attention. The case is obviously different, and it deserves praise for daring to stray from the flock. However, the RV03 feels like it’s trying to be different simply for the sake of being different—not because there’s a good, justifiable reason.

Being different for the sake of being different often leads to choices that run counter to common sense or good taste. The Raven’s abysmally poor drive-bay design is one such affront, as is the fact that you can’t access the motherboard’s external I/O cluster without physically removing a large plastic shroud from the top of the case. There are numerous smaller side-effects to this struggle to be unique, like the rotated motherboard tray putting Serial ATA ports a long way from the front drive bays. The lack of support for king-sized PSUs is also puzzling, since Silverstone designed this enclosure to accommodate Extended ATX motherboards and up to 10 hard drives.

Yes, the Raven RV03 exhibits some impressive traits. It’s extremely capacious for its size. The overall build quality is solid, and at $140, the asking price is definitely reasonable. This is also one of the quieter enclosures we’ve tested—with the fans at their low setting, we could barely hear the system idle… and neither could our noise level meter.

For my money, though, I’d have a hard time justifying the purchase of a Raven RV03 over, say, a similarly priced Corsair case like the 600T or 650D. The Raven’s quirky design has some positive attributes, but none that make up for the frustrating drive bay design and other aforementioned eccentricities. I’d be more forgiving if the rotated layout led to lower temperatures across the board, but it didn’t with our components. Only our motherboard sensor registered a drop, and our hard drive ran considerably hotter—worryingly so.

In the end, the Raven RV03 feels like more of a curiosity than a serious option for enthusiasts. Silverstone should definitely be commended for trying something new, and it could take this concept to a better place with a future revision, but the Raven RV03 just isn’t there.

Comments closed
    • Anomymous Gerbil
    • 8 years ago

    This review totally missed the point of this case, i.e. keeping a high end system cool and quiet. [b<]And[/b<] you used a CPU cooler that was mounted facing the wrong way! For the build you have here, a smaller/cheaper/more conventional case would be better suited. I think you need to re-do this review for the use-case it was intended for, e.g. a fast/hot (maybe overclocked) CPU, a few HDDs, and a couple of high-end GPUs in SLI/Crossfire.

    • timbits
    • 8 years ago

    For such an odd layout, it would be nice to see pics of the system in use, with all the peripheral cabling connected.

    • Arclight
    • 8 years ago

    Looks like a great idea, they just failed on execution. How hard would have been to copy a CM HDD sled design with a intake fan in front of it and the bezel with a removable dust filter?

    • Chrispy_
    • 8 years ago

    “The overall build quality is solid”

    Really? I saw this in the flesh a week back. The stamped-and-rivetted metal feels and looks cheaper than Antec’s budget NSK series cases, and I cannot believe how brittle and flimsy that plastic was.

    Even from the small thumbnail photos, the uneven panel gabs are apparent. Also, their manufacturing engineers clearly didn’t pay attention in their injection moulding classes – the shrinkage caused by flow deformation is terrible!

    I’d be amazed if anyone could actually use this case for 3 months without snapping anything off, and that’s assuming it survived shipping. Newegg reviews seems to indicate that shipping mortality rates are high with this one.

    • PainIs4ThaWeak1
    • 8 years ago

    Not sure what to think about Cyril’s reviews and everyone’s comments. I’ve been eyeballing this case for the better part of a year now.

    Guess it all just boils down to me being disappointed that it didn’t fair better in Cyril’s tests, and my hope that theres still some fight left in the RV03 to edge out competitors (given slightly different testing methods).

    Really wanted this sitting on my office floor :\

    • footman
    • 8 years ago

    I just dumped this case. i have given these Silverstone cases a decent amount of time over the last 2 years starting with the RV02 and more recently with the RV03 which I gave away recently, having used it for 4 weeks.

    It is a terrible case with major issues. Drive cage design is one for example. By far the biggest issue is simple physics, although heat rises, gravity will create issues for certain heatpipe coolers….

    Using two reference 560Ti’s in sli is a prime example, in my HAF-X they run at around 68C full load with fan speed at 40-46%. In the RV03 hanging vertically they hit 94C before shutting down the computer and this after only 10 minutes of BF2…..

    My older RV02 case had dead spots around the IO ports and indeed killed an X58 motherboard of mine due to overheating VRM’s….

    While I truly like innovation, look elsewhere.

    My father in law now owns my RV03 case, however the videocard I am using is a 5670 with a solid artic cooling HSF and the standard solid reference Intel cooler with i920 at stock and a single hard drive positioned on the back side of the motherboard.

    For him this case works, he finds it difficult to get at the back of regular computers to plug in peripherals, so the top ports brought a smile to his face, the design too. he is busy showing off to his friends. For enthusiasts with sophisticated hardware….Avoid like a plague…… Epic Fail, trust me I speak from experience…..

      • CaptTomato
      • 8 years ago

      HAF-X ….gotta be one of the best and affordable cases ever made….I have the HAF sans the dust filters, but only had to clean it for dust once in 18months.
      The positioning of the HDD bays similar to the HAF’s should be mandatory on all cases.

        • footman
        • 8 years ago

        The HAF-X is indeed a pretty good case. Recently I also had a Thermaltake Level 10GT as well and I believe that this was just as impressive functionally, just a bit on the ugly side….

        A must for me these days is a side fan that can throw air on to my GPU’s, I was thinking about the new white 600D from Corsair with the side mesh (room for 4 x 120mm fans)… But I believe would have been noisy compared to the HAF-X….

          • CaptTomato
          • 8 years ago

          These days, other than a HAF-X, I’d only buy a handful of the Lian Li full tower cases cause GFX cards are getting{are} silly for size and heat.
          Lian Li PC-A77F Full Tower is what I’d get from Lian Li, thing is though, it’d be a luxury upgrade as I could use my HAF for years and years.

            • Airmantharp
            • 8 years ago

            I cannot stand most Cooler Master cases- they can’t seem to make a decent case without the unnecessary bling. I’m not a teenager, and I don’t want my room to light up like a space ship in a ’70s era Sci-Fi.

            I purchased Fractal Design’s Define R3 and added four inexpensive 140mm fans to it for a total cost less than this case, and it looks worlds better- and it’s quieter than any comparable Lian-Li case will ever be.

            With unlimited funds, though, I would have purchased Silverstone’s Fortress FT-02, which has the same motherboard layout as the Raven RV-03 above.

            If you’re talking about cooling graphics cards and you’re not concerned with how much intake airflow your case is taking in, you’re wrong- keeping graphics cards quiet is a matter of increasing the airflow through them without them having to spin up their loud squirrel cages. This is something that the case above along with a few other Silverstone cases do right out of the box, but NO Lian-Li, Coolermaster, or other case does without significant additional cooling.

            • CaptTomato
            • 8 years ago

            My HAF is one of the greatest products PC products I’ve ever owned, and here’s why…

            1..It isn’t overwhelmed by bling and IMO looks awesome in the flesh
            2…comes standard with 4 fans, two of which are 200mm
            3…has the HDD’s mounted E/W instead of N/South so even the longest GFX car will fit
            4…it’s a tower so has plenty of room
            5…it’s a piece of cake to assemble or to remove the side doors
            6…wasn’t Lian Li expensive

            The only thing my HAF didn’t have was dust filters, but this was added to the HAF X.

            I’m actually not an overclocker, but both my CPU and GPU are well under control even in 35c days of gaming.

            I can’t speak on behalf of other CM products, but for me at least, the HAF kicksass.

    • FuturePastNow
    • 8 years ago

    That’s different. I like that they moved the motherboard tray slightly inward to make room for drives behind it. And I like the fans on the bottom, though on my floor, those dust filters would need to be cleaned often. Is it available without a silly window on the side?

    Cyril, why don’t you use a heatsink that is oriented correctly on your test system?

      • Cyril
      • 8 years ago

      [url<]https://techreport.com/discussions.x/21245?post=565640[/url<]

        • FuturePastNow
        • 8 years ago

        That’s what I get for not reading all the posts.

    • ET3D
    • 8 years ago

    It would be nice if you could include metric measurements alongside the imperial ones, for us overseas readers.

    As for the case, it’s crazy enough that I find it appealing. (Not that I’d buy one, but if I were looking for a case in this price range, I would have considered it.)

    • flip-mode
    • 8 years ago

    Wow.

    I have to start by disagreeing with you on a few points, Cyril.

    First, I find accessing the I/O ports at the top of the case to be decidedly convenient, even if it involves popping off an easy to remove cover. The reason is that my computer – and most computers I’ve ever seen in situ, have their ass-ends backed up to a wall. To get to the I/O involves moving the computer – either rotating it or pulling it way out – enough to get to all that I/O. Often, moving the computer like this means moving something else, or it mean unplugging something from the back of the computer first – such as the power cable – because the cables may be to short to accommodate moving the computer the required distance. Bottom line: putting the I/O at the top seems like a wonderful convenience to me.

    Second, I disagree with the amount of emphasis you place on keeping hard drives cool. I have taken the results of Googles hard drive failure study to heart, and that study found that heat was not a factor in hard drive failure. I’m sure if a hard drive reaches boiling temperatures that it might not be a good thing, but 130-150 degrees is not a problem. I’ve had a couple of drives here at the office that have been spinning for years non-stop, and doing so at temperatures that induce discomfort to a resting finger. Bottom line: I don’t see any problem with heat build-up for any hard drives in this case.

    The third issue is one I take with a broader audience, and it is this notion of heat rising in a PC case. Heat rises in the absence of any air current. Heat will get trapped in nooks and crannies where air does not flow. But, as long as air is flowing, heat is not rising, it is flowing with the air. In fact, it is possible that this case may have its own dead spots that do not get adequate circulation and where heat will build – I’m not saying that is a certainty, just a possibility.

    Right, so, as for the RV03 case in particular, it looks like an RV04 is needed in a hurry.

    I think the issues you have highlighted regarding the difficulty of getting drives in and out of the case are pretty serious and need to be dealt with immediately. To be blunt, they are deal-breakers. Everything else about the case could be perfect but the difficulty of installing drives is a deal-breaker.

    Thanks for the review, Cyril! I don’t envy you having to go through the process of installing those drives!

      • d0g_p00p
      • 8 years ago

      I still wish I would remember what the model was of the Lian Li case shown off at Computex where the case was reversed so the rear port cluster faced the front of the case. It made a lot of sense since almost all the ports are usually located in the back of the case. The cable management for video,audio, kb&m was done nice so it was not in the way and gave a nice open area to the back of the motherboard. The other thing I remember about it was the HDD mounts were almost the same as this case and all the drives were attached to the side panels of the case but sandwiched between fans. Very interesting design.

      Still; not listed on their site so I guess it’s still in development.

      • thermistor
      • 8 years ago

      Love your post. I would sure like to know ‘root cause’ in early hard drive failure. What does failure analysis show? I’ve always assumed that heat kills mechanical HDD’s – laptop HDD’s fail just cuz the HDD is hotter than towers, blah,blah.

      Not to put a fine point on it, but you describe the difference between free convection and forced convection quite aptly.

      Why I come to TR: I’ve just got a cheap Coolermaster 590, but for the folks who seriously mod, use aftermarket coolers, multiple GPU’s etc., they’ve formed some pretty solid views on these expensive cases, and have really good real world experience. And I value that kind of learning.

        • webs0r
        • 8 years ago

        On the HD issue: I’m not sure how ‘confirmed’ this is but I’ve read the hypothesis that it is the temperature delta that may affect reliability more than just the absolute temperature. Perhaps it is the slight expansion/contraction that affects the components – in which case you would have the number of times it experiences the delta and the magnitude of the delta itself.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 8 years ago

    Looks to me like you should have installed a CPU cooler that allowed you to rotate the fan up toward the upper exhaust instead of installing a cooler that had the fan going side to side in this orientation. That almost certainly resulted in a sharp increase in temperatures. Seems like the best bet here would be one of those all-in-one, pre-connected water cooling affairs that connects to an exhaust. I do appreciate your testing it the same as you would any other case, but I’m just saying that someone who was actually building a system with this case would probably need to tailor his cooler to the case. This is not unexpected given its unconventional layout.

    Also, I imagine the lack of tool-less is due to their desire for the system to be silent. You said it was one of the quietest systems you experienced and it’s pretty cheap-ISH for a silent-ISH system. Many tool-less entry systems have rattles and such that ruin all attempts to maintain silence. Not all, just many. Easiest way to guarantee there aren’t rattles is secure those hard drives but good.

    I think the case has personality. I certainly like the look better than “the stormtrooper.” If I were looking for a case, I think there are some interesting ideas at play here that would definitely catch my eye. Moving the ports to the top is interesting in that a case this big usually IS on the floor where the cables have to be routed down and then behind the system. This skips that and puts them only down, putting less tension on the cables and potentially the ports of your equipment that is on the other side of the cables, depending on THEIR orientation. Having worked with enough cables and enough devices, I’ve found cable tension can be annoying, especially when dealing with screw-less HDMI cables. (F&*! HDMI!)

    The top exhaust with a back vent is nice. It’s quiet, which is always an obsession of mine now (how far I’ve fallen from the days of black delta’s). The price ain’t bad. And there’s that personality argument again.

    Your other complaint that caught my eye was the need for a longer optical drive cable and that one is very true. But I think that when you’re building a system like this in a new case, you probably intend to keep the case (since it cost $150+) for a few builds (let’s say more than one) and so you can probably afford to toss a $5-10 extra long optical drive cable if the other advantages of this case appeal to you. Divide that cable cost by the number of builds and it’s not that expensive per build. Assuming you don’t pull a Travolta and say you want to wear new clothes EVERY DAAAAAY!

    Many cases require you to tailor SOMETHING to its peculiarities. If it’s not that it won’t take extra long PSU’s or needs one cable or another to be super-long, it’s some kind of limit on your video card size, etc. Thanks for the review of an interesting case that requires some planning to be sure your parts work well with its specific design.

      • StuG
      • 8 years ago

      I’d really like to see some of the temps re-done with the CPU cooler mounted properly. I don’t know why you didn’t turn this the right way, I mean it naturally sits blowing over and out the back IO port. So why would you turn it away from that? 0.o

        • Cyril
        • 8 years ago

        Because the A50 can’t be rotated, unfortunately. The previous cooler we used pointed toward the I/O cluster, but there was a mechanical problem with the mounting clip and I had to switch coolers at the last minute. The fact that there was practically no difference in CPU and GPU temps between the 650D and the Raven RV03 suggests the cooler’s orientation wasn’t a handicap on the Raven, though.

          • cegras
          • 8 years ago

          But it could have been an advantage and your testing did not clarify whether or not that is the case. I have never seen any self respecting “top tier” heat pipe cooler that is not oriented towards the IO cluster and exhaust fan. That orientation with the intake facing the back of the GPU is folly.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    I personally love the mobo orientation. But the rest of the case looks like a mess and visually I can’t stand looking at it.

      • riviera74
      • 8 years ago

      Check out the Fortress FT-02. Same mobo orientation, looks are classic and clean, fewer hassles. Expect to pay a premium though.

    • puppetworx
    • 8 years ago

    The motherboard orientation concept is great but the execution is sloppy. Too bad.

    • Airmantharp
    • 8 years ago

    I think the article missed the point of this case, and two of it’s prime positive points, which it shares with the preceding RV-02 and the Fortress FT-02.

    Both of these come from the case’s positive airflow design, something I implemented (by way of adding a stack of fans) to my Fractal Define R3. With positive airflow (with the stock fans!), you get something that Corsair doesn’t do on any of their cases- otherwise I’d own one.

    First, when running multiple GPUs with stock or other exhausting coolers, you have a situation where they need to be fed with air under load- the higher the pressure difference between the card’s fan and it’s exhaust, the better. Using a Raven RV-02, Kyle Bennett of [H] fame was able to quiet down a pair of GTX480’s in SLi- and they stayed quiet when he shoved a GTX260 in between them for PhysX.

    Second, having positive airflow means that you can use an integrated watercooler, like the Corsair H60 I’m using, backwards- and effectively so. Like Silverstone’s Raven RV-03 they’re a little more expensive, but also quite effective in this configuration.

    I will have to say that in most situations a case like this isn’t needed; indeed, it’s best asset is that it is designed out of the box to cool two or more higher end GPUs and a decently overclocked CPU, under heavy load, and keep them [i<][b<]quiet.[/i<][/b<] And that's the point- by using the large fans in this case, you can keep a very powerful system very quiet, even under load. And if you really want to put the screws to such a system through overclocking, overvolting, BIOS flashing and what have you, you can do it and still have a system that's relatively quiet, without making extensive changes or additions to the case!

    • FubbHead
    • 8 years ago

    Ugly. 🙂

      • Airmantharp
      • 8 years ago

      The Raven series appeals to a different crowd- in my opinion, the same crowd that most Cooler Master cases appeal to. For something closer to Corsair’s better looking cases, Lian Li’s, and Fractal Design’s, I’ll point you to Silverstone’s Fortress FT-02. Aside from USB3 connectivity, it’s a damn near perfect case- if you can afford it :).

        • riviera74
        • 8 years ago

        QFT on the Fortress FT-02. All the benefits of the Raven and none of the hassles. Too bad it is still $249 at Newegg.com and elsewhere.

    • Krogoth
    • 8 years ago

    Top of the front panel in the first picture looks like it is going “Son, I am disappoint”.

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