|Model||Temjin TJ08-E Evolution|
Over the years, our tendency has been to review mid- and full-tower enclosures bursting at their riveted seams with fans and features. The occasional small-form-factor case has caught our attention, but other dimensionally challenged boxes have largely gone unnoticed. The winds of change are blowing, however, and today we have something on tap that should be of interest to the less-is-more crowd: a Micro ATX case from Silverstone.
Every night, after I’ve finished counting 01100100 sheep in binary and nodded off to sleep, the perfect enclosure that materializes in my dreams tends to be a large mid-tower that also cooks a mean slab of bacon. Even during an off night, when my dream case lacks bacony goodness, there still remains ample room for a power-thirsty CPU and a high-end graphics card or two. Imagine my surprise when the Temjin TJ08-E Evolution arrived on my doorstep one morning purporting to realize my fantasy in mini-tower form, minus the integrated skillet.
Intrigued, and inexplicably hungry, I tore into the understated packaging. Could this Micro ATX case hold its own against larger towers?
Half of the battle when building a case is creating something visually appealing to the target audience. Like other members of the Temjin series, the TJ08-E has a tasteful and conservative design. Every surface inside and out is finished in matte black. The brushed aluminum front panel adds texture, while the remainder of the case is built out of smooth steel. This all-metal construction feels structurally solid and exhibits none of the tell-tale wobbling or flimsiness common in budget cases.
The centrally located port cluster is well organized and contains two USB 3.0 ports as well as headphone and microphone jacks. The power and hard drive activity LEDs are positioned in between the reset and power buttons. These buttons are crafted from aluminum and have an excellent tactile feel when pressed.
The TJ08-E’s external drive accommodations include two 5.25″ bays up top and a single 3.5″ bay at the bottom. Sturdy, anodized aluminum covers protect the empty bays, though the gap between the 5.25″ covers is too large for my tastes. The gap disappears when an optical drive is installed.
Sandwiched between the port cluster and the external 3.5″ bay is a surprisingly large mesh grill that discreetly conceals the case’s secret weapon: a massive 180-mm intake fan. Seriously: 180 mm, in a mini-tower case. A removable dust filter lurks behind the mesh and can be easily popped out from either side of the front panel. This is perhaps the best intake filter configuration I’ve seen to date. To curb the intake fan’s appetite for air, a two-setting speed controller switch is recessed into the right edge of the front panel.
More outward appearances
The Temjin’s steel side panels are sturdy and unventilated, but otherwise unremarkable. Looking at the roof, a 120-mm dust filter breaks up an otherwise monotonous ocean of black. The filter is located toward the rear of the case and is held in place magnetically. Its designated mission: to seek out and capture airborne particles before they enter the power supply.
Casting a casual glance at the back of the TJ08-E reveals one major clue that the internal layout is somewhat unique. The I/O port hole is located in the bottom-right corner, which is a total reversal of the norm. It’s a little disorientating at first, but there is a method to this madness.
A 120-mm exhaust grill (sans fan) is located beside the I/O area, and additional ventilation holes can be found punched through any surface not serving a specific purpose. Above the main grill sit four expansion card slots. Just beyond those lies an emplacement for a standard ATX power supply. The bracket is inverted, allowing PSUs with bottom-mounted intake fans to inhale cool air through the filtered ventilation holes on top of the case.
Lurking beneath the TJ08-E is a quartet of domed rubber feet tasked with keeping desks and hardwood floors scratch-free. Toward the front of the bottom panel are four recessed holes for tightening down a single 2.5″ hard drive or SSD. Admittedly, it’s not the most graceful SSD mounting solution we’ve ever seen, but at least the option is available. These bottom-dwelling features aren’t terribly exciting, but wait, there’s more.
You may have noticed a set of horizontal slats in the Temjin’s bottom panel. They’re the adjustment mechanism for an internal heatsink stabilizing system. Inside the case, a small arm can be raised off the floor to make contact with the heatsink, giving it a small platform to rest on. This setup provides added protection from the perils of transportation, especially when the heatsink is so large that people know you’re only compensating for that small… case. What?
The inner light
I’m no stranger to SilverStone’s miniature enclosures. A few years ago, I took delivery of a Sugo SG02 Mini-ITX box that still houses my home-theater PC. The Sugo is compact and looks great on the outside, but its internal layout is fraught with unfortunate design compromises. I was understandably apprehensive about what I might find within the TJ08-E.
Peeling away the body panels gives us our first true glimpse of the TJ08-E’s topsy-turvy internals. Except for the strange feeling you’ll have that something’s wrong, the case seems rather normal on first inspection. The power supply lives up top, the drive bays face forward, and the motherboard hangs out at the bottom. It takes a second glance to realize that the motherboard and PSU are actually meant to be mounted upside-down.
Since the dawn of mini-towers, small cases have been notorious for raising the blood pressure of the poor souls tasked to work inside of them. Back in my computer repair days, I was frequently driven to rage as miniature machines sliced-n-diced my tender digits. Luckily, SilverStone recognizes the mini-builder’s plight; nearly everything in the TJ08-E is removable for easy access and installation.
With a few turns of a screwdriver, the motherboard tray breaks completely free of the chassis. This feature alone makes life immeasurably easier when installing the motherboard, CPU, and memory. When we attempted an install without removing the tray first, the TR Cuss Jar had to be upgraded to something more voluminous.
The removable theme continues with the four-bay internal hard drive cage. The cage is held in place at its bottom edge by two screws, and it pulls out toward the user. Inside the cage, the walls are lined with a thin layer of foam to reduce vibration noise and to provide a little extra shock absorption during transport. Unfortunately, these bays don’t support 2.5″ drives without an adapter.
The last removable bit is the top panel of the case itself. Once the screws on the sides and back have been removed, the panel pops off to give builders easy access to the power supply and optical drives. When installing our PSU, we discovered through trial and error that the case’s top panel needs to be removed. This handy tip is mentioned in the user manual, but who has time to read that?
Finally, the star of the show. Situated behind the removable hard drive bays is the Temjin’s 180-mm intake fan. This is a huge spinner for such a small enclosure. To give you a sense of scale and provide some gratuitous CPU porn, the fan is pictured next to the largest processor I could find in my collection—a Pentium II Xeon—as well as the more contemporary Core i7-2600K. Yeah, I was just looking for an excuse to dust off the old Xeon.
Builder and the Beast
Even though the TJ08-E’s 8.8″ x 14.7″ x 15.2″ dimensions are a tad larger than the average mini-tower’s, we still had to seek out an alternative to the ATX motherboard we typically use for case testing. Gigabyte graciously provided us with a Micro ATX 880GMA-USB3, which features AMD’s 880G chipset and supports the 140W Phenom II X4 CPU we use for case testing. The Temjin will accept smaller DTX and Mini-ITX boards, as well.
We started our build by unbolting every component that could be removed from the case. With parts sprawled out across the workbench, we picked up the new motherboard, did a little dance, and got down to business.
The Gigabyte board dropped into position without issue. The removable tray made this perhaps our easiest motherboard installation to date. The tray also features a large cutout for easy access to the underside of the socket, allowing us to shackle our Thermaltake Frio cooler to the CPU with little resistance.
After slapping the motherboard tray back into the chassis, we grabbed our Radeon HD 6870 to see how the TJ08-E would cope with a 10″-long video card. It didn’t flinch. Turns out the Temjin is capable of housing cards up to 13.3″ long.
Installing hard drives is straightforward, though it requires a screwdriver. We prefer a tool-free mounting scheme, but we had no trouble fastening our humble Seagate drive to the extracted cage. We did, however, encounter one small hiccup in the otherwise pleasant process.
While attempting to put the drive cage back in place, we discovered that one of the screw holes that anchors the cage to the chassis was stripped. The same issue afflicted my Sugo S02, which leaves me wondering if it’s just coincidence or if SilverStone’s materials and manufacturing processes warrant some additional QA scrutiny.
With the case’s top removed, the power supply and optical drive fell easily into place. Like the hard drive cage, the 5.25″ bays unfortunately lack tool-free amenities. To keep things tidy, a large cable routing hole sits between the PSU and the optical drive, allowing the data and power tendrils to be tucked into the 0.75″ gap behind the motherboard tray.
Since the TJ08-E is slightly wider than your average mini-tower, the power supply can sit off-center, providing another handy cubbyhole where unused cables can be stowed. More cable routing holes exist along the back and bottom edges of the motherboard tray, including a notch for the motherboard’s auxiliary 12V connector. Given this enclosure’s limited internal volume, the cable management considerations are both impressive and appreciated.
The front-panel connections are sheathed in black, which looks great and protects the wires at the same time. The USB ports connect to an internal USB 3.0 header, and SilverStone includes an adapter for motherboards with only USB 2.0 headers. Unfortunately, the USB cable is quite rigid. Our motherboard’s USB 3.0 header is located behind the hard drive cage, which the cable butted up against, nearly breaking the motherboard connector. A more flexible cable and a lower-profile connector would help to allay this potentially damaging issue.
That problem aside, building a system in the Temjin was easier than with any of the other diminutive cases I’ve dealt with over the years. I would recommend that users install the drive cage last, though.
We’ve covered most of these details already, but here are the rest of the TJ08-E’s particulars in a handy table.
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||8.27″ x 14.72″ x 15.15″ (210 x 374 x 385 mm)|
|Weight||11.6 lbs. (5.3 kg)|
|Supported motherboards||Micro ATX, Mini DTX, Mini-ITX|
|3.5″ drive bays||5 (1 external)|
|2.5″ drive bays||1|
|5.25″ drive bays||2|
|Fan mounts||1x 180 mm, 1x 120 mm|
|Included Ffns||1x 180 mm|
|Max. graphics card length||13.3″ (338 mm)|
|Max. CPU cooler height||6.5″ (165 mm)|
|Max. PSU length||6.3″ (160 mm)|
|Gap behind motherboard||0.75″ (19 mm)|
Our testing methods
While we attempted to retain as much of our standard testbed for this review as possible, I was informed early on that my initial plan to simply lop a couple inches off the bottom of our regular ATX board was fatally flawed. Thanks again to Gigabyte for hooking us up with a Micro ATX board.
Except for the motherboard swap, the remainder of our system’s components are unchanged. The table below outlines the specifics of the hardware we used to test the Temjin.
|Processor||AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition at 3.4GHz (140W TDP)|
|CPU heatsink||Thermaltake Frio – Single fan in a pull configuration|
|Thermal compound||Arctic Silver 5|
|Memory size||4GB (4 DIMMs)|
|Memory type||Corsair XMS3 DDR3-1333 at 1333MHz|
|Audio||Realtek ALC889 with default Windows drivers|
|Graphics||XFX Radeon HD 6870 1GB GDDR5|
|Graphics drivers||Driver Version: 8/850.0.0, Catalyst Version: 11.5|
|Hard drive||Seagate NL35.2 ST3500641NS 500GB|
|Optical drive||ASUS DRW-1814 with Lightscribe|
|Power supply||OCZ GamerXStream 700W|
|OS||Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit|
To promote consistency in our data, the chosen parts for this system should use roughly the same amount of power as those used in Cyril’s older case reviews. Below are some power utilization numbers for the complete system, sans monitor, at the wall socket. These numbers are slightly lower than those of our MSI motherboard, but not dramatically so.
|CPU load only||285W|
|GPU load only||260W|
|CPU & GPU loads||355W|
Due to the similar energy usage, you can compare the following test results to those in Cyril’s previous case reviews with the requisite salt shaker in hand. The components used may not be the newest kids on the block, but they do represent approximately the same power and thermal characteristics associated with today’s high-end hardware.
Below is a list of the relevant software versions used in this review.
Some further notes on our test methods:
- Noise levels were measured using an Extech 407727 Digital Sound Level Meter placed six inches from the side, front, and top of each case. Ambient noise levels were below the 40-dB threshold of the Extech meter.
- Each case was tested with its stock cooling fans. All side panels and doors were secured in place, and dust filters were installed in their factory positions. The ambient room temperature was measured at 22°C during testing. AMD’s Cool ‘n Quiet dynamic speed throttling technology was enabled, and the CPU fan was set to run at a constant speed of 2,100 RPM. This fan speed was settled upon after much trial and error, and it represents the best balance between cooling performance and noise.
- Idle temperature readings were taken with the system sitting at the Windows desktop with 0-1% CPU utilization. After setting this idle baseline, we moved onto a GPU load consisting of the Unigine Heaven benchmark running at 1920×1080 with stereoscopic 3D and tessellation disabled, “high” shaders, 16X anisotropic filtering, and 4X antialiasing. GPU-Z reported GPU utilization of 98% or more for the duration of the stress test. Then, we applied a full system load by adding a four-way instance of Prime95 using the “in-place FFTs (Max heat/power consumption)” setting. Temperatures were allowed to stabilize before taking readings at each load level.
The tests and methods employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have any questions about our methods, hit up our forums to talk with us about them.
To see if good things truly do come in small packages, we’re pitting the Temjin TJ08-E Evolution against our usual collection of mid- and full-tower cases. The competitors include the NZXT H2, BitFenix Shinobi Window, Fractal Define R3 and Core 3000, Corsair Carbide 400R, Antec P280, and Cooler Master Cosmos II. The cases that include factory fan controllers were tested at both their highest and lowest fan speed settings.
To make the graphs easier to decipher, the results are color-coded. The Temjin’s scores are highlighted in bright orange and should be easy to pick out from the rest.
The TJ08-E posts some impressive numbers given its cramped internal compartment. With the front fan running at full-tilt, the case comes in first or second place in each test. At the lower fan speed, the TJ08-E sits in the middle of the pack.
This test gives us our first glimpse into the effectiveness of the Temjin’s positive air pressure design. The lone intake fan constantly sucks air into the case, but there are no exhaust fans to actively push it back out. All of the other enclosures we’ve tested to date have included at least one exhaust fan.
Because we’re using a different board, the Temjin’s motherboard temperatures aren’t directly comparable. That said, the results show that the case is capable of keeping the motherboard sufficiently cool, even without the aid of an exhaust fan.
Due to a fan failure a while back, we were forced to swap graphics cards for this and several other case reviews. The replacement card is exactly the same as the original down to the clock speeds and the reference cooler, but in multiple enclosures, it seems to run 4-5°C cooler under load and maybe 1-2°C cooler at idle. This discrepancy may be due to the fact that we removed the new card’s heatsink and reapplied with a superior thermal compound some time ago.
Regardless of the compound used, this new card’s heat dissipation should match that of the original. Since the cooler design is also identical, we don’t expect the new card to alter any results beyond the GPU temperatures. The affected scores have been highlighted with an asterisk in the graphs.
The only other cases we’ve tested with the new graphics card are the Antec P280 and Cooler Master Cosmos II. Considering its internal volume handicap, the TJ08-E fares reasonably well against those much larger towers.
Here, again, the Silverstone is able to hang with its larger brothers, particularly when the intake fan is turning at high speed.
Because the Temjin’s drive cage butts up against the 180-mm intake fan, there’s plenty of cool air blowing over our system’s hard drive. This final test is a good illustration of what we’ve seen throughout our temperature data: changing the speed of the intake fan has an effect, but it typically doesn’t move the needle by more than a few degrees.
SilverStone doesn’t make any grandiose claims about the TJ08-E Evolution being a silent-running case, but the padded drive cage and single massive fan are features often found in hushed-up systems.
From the front, the TJ08-E is a little loud at idle, especially with the intake fan spinning at full speed. It’s much quieter from above, which is good news if you prefer your tower on the floor.
All the cases get louder when the system is under load, but the TJ08-E’s noise levels don’t increase as much as some of the others. That allows the case to improve its position versus the competition, particularly with the high speed setting.
Despite being one of the noisiest cases we’ve tested from the front, the TJ08-E’s hum didn’t bother me when the case sat on my desk or lurked below. If the rest of the room is quiet, I would recommend running the intake fan at its low setting, though.
In an attempt to illustrate each enclosure’s proclivity for emitting noise at high or low frequencies, we recently began analyzing recordings of system noise. Just because two sources emit the same amount of noise as measured in decibels doesn’t mean that they necessarily sound the same. Hopefully, these next results will help to paint a more complete picture of the TJ08-E’s acoustic profile.
Audio recordings of our assembled test systems were captured in a silent room. We then ran a spectrum analysis on the audio file produced and plotted the case’s sound signature across a range of frequencies from 30Hz to 15,000Hz—the limits of our microphone. We used an Audio Technica ATR-2500 USB mic placed approximately 1.5″ from the side and front of the case. The uncompressed mono audio track was recorded at CD quality with 16 bits of resolution at 44.1kHz. The spectrum data was plotted and exported using Audacity’s Plot Spectrum feature with a Blackman-Harris window, a linear frequency, and a FFT size of 4096. We cut off our charts after 4,000Hz to highlight the most relevant portion of each case’s acoustic profile. At higher frequencies, the lines really start to converge, indicating less difference between our subjects.
This is a new method for us, so we haven’t been able to test all of the cases in our stable. The Core 3000 and Carbide 400R were tested with their fans plugged directly into the motherboard, while the P280, Cosmos II, and TJ08-E used their built-in fan controllers at the “high” setting.
From the side, we see the TJ08-E’s trend line riding slightly higher than the Antec P280’s plot. The Silverstone seems to produce a little more noise at the lower end of the spectrum, thanks to its larger intake fan. Under load, we see a decent sized spike around 2400Hz, courtesy of the graphics card’s hamster wheel kicking into gear. That spike is more noticeable from the side, due to the graphics card’s close proximity to the microphone.
The substantial amount of air moved into the TJ08-E by its front intake fan was also sucked across our microphone’s diaphram, securing the Silverstone case a top spot in the noise emission olympics. Despite these lofty readings, the plot lines stay fairly consistent between load and idle because of the front spinner’s fixed speed. There aren’t many dramatic spikes, which means the hum emitted by the system is pretty consistent. That matches my subjective impressions; the system noise seems steady except for some occasional hard drive chatter.
The Temjin handled our standard test system well considering its constrained dimensions, but we wondered just how much hardware could be shoehorned into the case. So we proceeded to stuff it full of more recent parts, including a Sandy Bridge CPU, dual GeForce GTX 560 Ti graphics cards, and four 3.5″ hard drives. Thanks to Asus and Noctua for supplying the extra gear for this build. Here’s a full run-down of the parts we used:
|Processor||Intel Core i7-2600K|
|CPU heatsink||Noctua NH-U12P – Single fan in a pull configuration|
|Fans||1x 180 mm (factory), 1x 120 mm Noctua NF-P12|
|Motherboard||Asus ROG Maximus IV Gene-Z|
|Memory||4 x 4GB AData DDR3-1333 at 1333MHz|
|Audio||Integrated Realtek ALC889 with default Windows drivers|
|Graphics||2 x Asus GeForce GTX 560 Ti DirectCU II 1GB in SLI|
|Hard drive||4 x assorted 3.5″ SATA drives|
|Optical drive||2 x Lite-On iHAS124-04-OEM|
|Media Card Reader||3.5″ External bay-mounted card reader|
|Power supply||Thermaltake TR2 600W|
In the end, the only usable space left vacant was the SSD mount below the external 3.5″ cage. That spot was left unoccupied because we simply ran out of available SATA ports on the motherboard.
The fact that the case gobbled up our excessive pile of gear is impressive. However, band-aids became a hot commodity during this particular build. Even the removable motherboard tray couldn’t save the skin on my knuckles with this much hardware installed. The case’s removable parts did alleviate most of the installation pains, but the old car tuner’s adage, “there’s no replacement for displacement,” seems keenly relevant.
In spite of all the hardware, the TJ08-E still had enough displacement left over to easily conceal our excess cables. I’ve worked in cases twice the size of the Temjin that had far worse cable management systems. That’s a solid accomplishment for SilverStone.
None of these parts align with our standard testbed, so we decided to forgo a full testing session and just go for the kill. We loaded the system’s plate with four helpings of Prime95 and a heaping portion of the Unigine Heaven benchmark with all the fixins. The CPU topped out at a comfortable 55°C under full load, while the GPUs returned some slightly more interesting data.
Even though the cards were running in SLI mode with roughly equivalent GPU usage being reported by GPU-Z, there was a 22°C temperature differential between them. The GPU in the card nearest the CPU socket ran at a toasty 88°C, while its counterpart was a less balmy 66°C. As you can see in the picture above, the card closest to the socket has its cooler blocked by the second graphics card. The motherboard’s slot layout doesn’t provide any options for putting more space between the two, so this issue would affect larger cases, as well.
This system was perfectly stable, but I’m not sure I’d be comfortable running this particular pair of graphics cards flat-out for extended periods of time in a hotter ambient environment. A different cooler design or even a water-cooling kit would surely help to keep the hotter card’s GPU temperatures in check. But hats off to SilverStone for designing a mini-tower that gives users the option of playing with multi-GPU configurations.
With the Temjin TJ08-E Evolution, SilverStone has thrown down the gauntlet to other mini-tower makers. Thanks to some clever engineering, it’s proven that gargantuan boxes aren’t the only kids on the block who can play with high-end hardware. Graphics cards up to 13.3″ long can be accommodated, and an SLI or CrossFire configuration isn’t out of the question—with proper attention paid to the fact that dual-slot cards will have to sit side by side.
The case’s solitary 180-mm fan does a good job of keeping temperatures in check and noise levels within the realm of tolerability for our toasty test system. In particular, the system’s thermal properties are quite impressive considering the amount of internal volume Silverstone budgeted for this case.
Even though it lacks handles, windows, and blinding bling, the TJ08-E has lots to offer the LAN party crowd, too. The integrated heatsink support will help prevent large coolers from dislodging during transportation, and the compact dimensions will free up more space at your station for Red Bull cans.
At $98 online, the Temjin TJ08-E Evolution is well priced given everything it offers. However, there’s no shortage of similarly priced cases that can accommodate full-sized ATX motherboards and additional drives. There are also Micro ATX alternatives like the Fractal Design Define Mini, which costs a couple bucks more and offers similar specifications, minus the massive intake fan and removable motherboard tray. Micro ATX builders finally have a number of decent options that don’t sacrifice aesthetics or force hardware compromises.
When the last screw had been turned, the Temjin left me impressed. It blows away every other mini-tower case I’ve worked with in terms of features and build quality. The TJ08-E’s combination of good looks, solid performance, clever engineering, and support for high-end gear earns the case TR Recommended distinction.