Introducing the SilverStone Raven RV04

The SilverStone Raven RV04 is, to put it mildly, long overdue. While announcements about its existence date back to just over a year, I can tell you this case has been in development since not long after SilverStone released their remarkably strong Temjin TJ08-E. That case's stellar performance surprised even SilverStone; I'm reasonably certain they thought the Fortress FT03 was going to be their strongest Micro-ATX enclosure for some time to come, but the TJ08-E changed the game. After I reviewed it, I asked them directly for an ATX version and received the kind of cagey answer I ultimately wanted to hear.

Unfortunately, the journey of the full-sized TJ08-E descendant has been more than a little fraught. It's my understanding that tooling problems, among other things, have led to lengthy delays. In fact even the Raven RV04 will be showing up late on American shores; we'll likely actually get the high end version of this chassis, the Fortress FT04, first.

The design has a lot to live up to. SilverStone's Fortress FT02 has practically been the gold standard for air cooling for some time now, and they posit that the FT04 is actually capable of producing even better performance. Part of the reason they have this confidence is because they seem to understand a vital truth about cases and cooling that many of their contemporaries still grapple with: nothing cools better than a direct line of airflow through the CPU cooler. The rotated motherboard and convection cooling was never the magic that made the FT02 and previous Ravens work; it was good marketing and seemed sound, but the reason those cases were so good at their jobs was the fact that they had giant fans blowing directly through the CPU tower coolers. Air wasn't moving at an angle like it does in traditional ATX cases.

SilverStone Raven RV04 Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX, E-ATX, SSI-EEB, SSI-CEB
Drive Bays External 2x 5.25"
Internal 7x 3.5", 4x 2.5"
Cooling Front 2x 180mm intake fan
Rear 1x 120mm fan mount
Top -
Side -
Bottom -
Expansion Slots 8
I/O Port 2x USB 3.0, 1x Headphone, 1x Mic
Power Supply Size ATX
Clearances HSF 165mm
PSU ~200mm with optical drive
GPU 338mm
Dimensions 8.62" x 22.87" x 19.57"
219mm x 581mm x 497mm
Special Features USB 3.0 via internal header
Removable drive cages
Three-speed intake fans
Support struts for CPU fan and graphics cards
Window or windowless models
Price $159

The Raven RV04 is, in true SilverStone fashion, kind of an oddball. But it's an oddball even by SilverStone standards. What should strike you immediately is the fact that they don't include a 120mm exhaust fan by default, flying in the face of conventional wisdom. This is something actually covered in their press material; by not including the 120mm exhaust fan, they're able to let the extant front intake fans to channel air directly from front to back. The flow of air inside the RV04 winds up being defined almost entirely by the coolers used on the processor and graphics card(s). Ordinarily I pay even less attention to PR than you do, but SilverStone's is usually pretty on the money, and without spoiling too much I can tell you that I definitely didn't miss the exhaust fan.

In and Around the SilverStone Raven RV04
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  • genghisquan - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    The graph really should have RV02 and/or RV03 comparisons. I was already iffy about this case when I first saw pictures of it. Rather than keeping what was great about the RV02 and trying to improve the few errors that it had, it seemed like the RV04 wanted to do something completely new. Why change what was already good about the RV02?
  • JeBarr - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    I too would have liked to see a comparison with the previous Raven chassis but the designs were so good they lasted far longer than most reviewer test beds.

    This new Raven, though showing great performance numbers is just so dang ugly. Heck, I'd take the RV03 with champagne trim before getting anywhere near this new pile.
  • losttsol - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    Silverstone sure has put out some strange cases lately. Are they under new management or something? Maybe there's just so much you can do with a rectangle? I used to love their designs, but I wouldn't even put them in my top 5 anymore.
  • landerf - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    What the hell is that? Fucking gross looking. They've fallen far from the FT02 days. All they needed to do was update that and they'd have a real winner instead of this plastic clown.
  • smellykaka - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    It looks to me like you could make a massive improvement in the look of this case just by removing the front door entirely?
  • smellykaka - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    Bitterly disappointing, the terrible look and terrible drive layout, because a case with minimal 5 1/4 bays and multiple big fat front fans has been on my wishlist for a long time.
  • JDG1980 - Friday, June 21, 2013 - link

    Antec's P280 has a soundproofed front door.
  • Shinobisan - Friday, June 21, 2013 - link

    I'm being a bit 'counter culture' and thought I would write out my experience.
    I was using a Corsair H80 closed loop cooler, and it died. Critical Failure. The pump went bad, and before I noticed the extra noise... my PC was shutting down due to CPU over-temp.
    I'm so glad my motherboard saved me there.!
    So... my conclusion can be a quote from good ol' Scotty, "The fancier they make them, the easier it is to plug them up".
    For me, the closed loop cooler is just too much of a risk. There are too many critical components that can fail and cause bad things to happen.
    I went with one of the latest fan coolers now, the Noctua NH-D14. Super cool, less risk of failure.

    Oh... also a bit of a note on the closed loop type coolers - specifically radiator installation.
    They recommend setting up the radiator to pull in fresh air from the back of the chassis. This is the best cooling method. But only for the first week.
    My PC chassis is great, with air filters on all intakes. This keeps everything running nice and cool because there isn't any internal dust buildup.
    BUT... the H80 doesn't have an air filter. When I went to remove it, there was dust blocking about half the radiator. So, the radiator was working at half efficiency.
    If I would have installed it the other way around, it would pull warmer air from inside the chassis and exhaust out the back. This would have been slightly less effective, but the performance would not have dipped over time. In the long run it would have been better to keep it clean.

    Not many reviews cover the dust issue. Short term it doesn't matter (like on these test beds)... but long term... dust will kill your cooling.
  • HisDivineOrder - Friday, June 21, 2013 - link

    Ehhhh... I don't know. I mean, it just seems like to me you're going on and on about how well designed this case is and how it's cutting edge this and what not.

    It's like they took one of those ancient Lian Li cases I had a long time ago that inverted the motherboard upside down where, yes, you had to go in from the other side. Then they tossed the biggest, most awesome fans they could put in the front.

    Is that cutting edge design? Is that amazing? I think I was more impressed by earlier Raven designs and I fail to see the advantage of this one over those designs. At least they had the advantage of pushing air upwards and out of the case. You talk about air moving straight through the case being important, but I don't see how having hot air exhaust in the natural way up isn't the superior way of handling a scenario where a case doesn't have an exhaust fan.

    And I also don't see why having an exhaust fan is preferable to having one unless it's the loudest, most annoying exhaust fan in the history of the world. Even a really, really, REALLY slow one would be better than not having one.
  • JDG1980 - Friday, June 21, 2013 - link

    The inverted motherboard tray is actually a pretty big deal. As the review notes, for optimal cooling, you want the intake fans blowing straight at the CPU and GPU heatsinks. But a standard ATX case doesn't do that; instead, one intake fan covers maybe the lower half of the motherboard (including the GPU, if you're lucky), and the other one blows at the back of the power supply, which is usually a waste. The CPU heatsink sits behind the 5.25" drive bays, getting little airflow except from its own fan and maybe a small assist from the exhaust unit. This design has little more than tradition to recommend it. Flipping the motherboard upside down may sound simple, but it makes a big difference because the whole motherboard now gets covered by the airflow from the intake fans. (You could, I suppose, leave the motherboard as-is and put the external drive bays and PSU on the bottom, but no one wants their drive bays down there.)

    I do prefer the rotated motherboard design, but it is clearly more complex; because of the orientation of the motherboard and card ports, you need a "fake roof" to route the external wiring out the back, unless you want it to look really, really ugly.

    The photos indicate that the RV04 has a mount for a rear exhaust fan, even though the fan itself is not included. So it shouldn't be at all difficult to add one if you were so inclined. I wonder if this mount will be populated by default on the FT04.

    But I do think you're right about one thing: SilverStone gets a lot of cooling design wins because they have "the biggest, most awesome fans". Nothing else out there really equals the AP181 and AP182. Even cases with 200mm or bigger fans seem to fall behind compared to the SilverStones. And the fans aren't that loud, either. What I don't understand is why, given clear design wins like the FT02 and TJ08-E, other companies haven't specced out high-quality 180mm fans and given SilverStone a run for their money on this turf. I wonder if Nidec could be convinced to design a line of 180mm Gentle Typhoons?

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