In and Around the SilverStone Raven RV04

What I'm about to say is likely going to surprise readers familiar with SilverStone products: the Raven RV04 is actually a little flimsy. Build quality is usually top shelf from SilverStone, and the chassis proper is mostly okay, but the outer shell is entirely "reinforced plastic." This is a company that does aluminum better than Lian Li, so to see chintzy plastic used for the fascia and top of the case is almost mirror-universe-level bizarre.

75% of my disappointment with the RV04's shell comes from the front door design, and this photo doesn't even tell the whole story:

The hinges for the door are cheap plastic, and not just that, but the door doesn't close securely at all. Even a whiff of carpeting makes the door unusually difficult to shut correctly, and there isn't so much as a magnet to hold the door in place. There's just no way around it: the design is terrible, and I sincerely hope the higher end Fortress FT04 version of this chassis fixes it. I'm actually mystified as to why SilverStone included a door on the Raven RV04 at all; a flat front fascia with venting on the sides for the intake fans would've gotten the job done just as well.

There's also a removable plastic shroud on the top of the RV04, but since it doesn't have to move like the door does, there's less of an issue with the design. This plastic feels at least a hair sturdier than the door, but the lined gamer-styling feels out of place for a SilverStone product. The Raven cases have always looked at least a little daring compared to the rest of SilverStone's lineup, but I'm skeptical as to how much of that was responsible for the success of the line. Aesthetics are not a universal science, though, and your mileage may vary.

What should really clue you in to the RV04's unconventional design is the fact that the windowed side panel is on the right side instead of the left; SilverStone flipped the motherboard layout just like they did with the TJ08-E. It makes a lot of sense once you take the side panel off and see just how they've arranged the interior, too.

SilverStone is using just two 180mm intake fans to cool your entire system in the RV04, and the fans are evenly split into zones. The top fan blows directly on the expansion slots, while the bottom fan blows through the hard drive cage and the CPU cooler. Spacing of hard drive mounts allows a decent amount of air from SilverStone's bottom Air Penetrator fan to go through and cool the processor, and the top fan's airflow is almost totally unobstructed. The specificity of this airflow design is key to understanding the RV04.

That top cage is where the two 5.25" drive bays live along with the power supply. The RV04 is designed to have the power supply installed flipped, with the bottom intake facing the top of the enclosure. Meanwhile, the center hard drive cage along with the two drive cages on the bottom of the RV04 are removable, but here we run into another issue.

2.5" drives screw directly into the bottom of the RV04, but that's not the problem. The problem is that you have to somehow guide the screws into the recesses in that front plastic piece to use two of the four 2.5" drive mounts, and that's incredibly difficult.

The TJ08-E's internal design wasn't especially clean, but it was functional and delivered results given the relatively small stature of the enclosure. With the RV04, SilverStone has more space to get the design right, yet the interior still feels curiously slapdash. There's a place for everything and everything in its place, but I can't help but feel like this could've been a much cleaner design. The two bottom cages are just silly; do we really need seven 3.5" bays? Why not simplify the bottom cages into at least a single one that supports easier mounting of 2.5" drives? There's a lot of refinement that could've been done with the RV04, and I'm still shocked the door design shipped in this state.

Introducing the SilverStone Raven RV04 Assembling the SilverStone Raven RV04
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  • Chaitanya - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    This case is a disappointment as water cooling support is missing from case of its price range. Reply
  • iceveiled - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    The case is designed solely for air cooling. As for my take on the case.the cooling is impressive for just having two fans, but man that front door.... Reply
  • JDG1980 - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    It has just two fans, but remember, these are giant 180mm fans with high static pressure. Reply
  • cjs150 - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    ditch the hard drive cage and it looks as though it could accomodate a 2x180 radiator at the front (that is the equivalent of 4.5x120 radiator so enough for most rigs!!) although you might lose a 5.25 bay as well.

    But with that front, why bother, the thing will break quickly
    Reply
  • JDG1980 - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    The FT04 doesn't look quite as nice in photos as the FT02, but that's forgivable if it has good fit and finish and performs well. It looks like the performance is definitely there (the RV04 has basically the same case body and same ventilation), but I hope that SilverStone hasn't let their fit and finish slip too much on the premium Fortress line.

    I'm not sure I would put as much emphasis on ease of assembly as you generally do in your reviews. Remember that even though you as a reviewer have to assemble these things every week, most users (even enthusiasts) will often be leaving the case closed for months on end. You probably won't spend even 1 hour of assembly time for every 100 hours of actual use. I'd prefer a case with excellent thermals, acoustics, and fit+finish, even if it was a nightmare to put together. Of course, all else being equal, easier assembly is preferable. I just wouldn't sacrifice too much to get it.

    SilverStone's literature mentions support brackets for the CPU and video card on the RV04. Did you get a chance to test these? I know I often feel nervous about giant-size CPU heatsinks, so some mechanical support would be much appreciated. Same for the extra-long video cards which tend to sag in their normal tower orientation.

    I think the reason you saw less-than-optimal temperatures with your ASUS GeForce GTX 560 Ti DCII TOP video card wasn't because it is an open-air design, but because of the heatsink's fin orientation. The fins closest to the front on that card are perpendicular to the slot, so they block the path of the airflow. Many newer DirectCU cards and most MSI Twin Frozr cards have fins parallel to the slot. I suspect these would work far better since the air from the front fans could flow through. This would probably also be a great case for using the Powercolor HD7850 SCS3 with the fanless heatsink, since the fins are in the right orientation on that as well.
    Reply
  • zaccun - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    I think the FT02 is going to remain a staple for a long while for me. It's got superlative looks, and still performs like a champ. Reply
  • Subyman - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    I really liked the previous Raven cases, but this one a disappointment for me. The front door is enough to entirely kill it for me. I steer clear of flimsy front doors. I find it hard to spend $150+ for something that has that poor of build quality, even if the design is great. Reply
  • maximumGPU - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    interesting results, but as pointed out in the article this looks like the appetizer before the real dish.
    looking forward to a review of the FT04, but also a comparison to the recently released Corsair Air.
    The Air employs a similar philosophy of unobstructed airflow, and corsair are even claiming it to be the best air cooled case you can buy. So don't make us wait too long:)
    Reply
  • Bojamijams - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    I don't see why this is praised as the best air cooling. The RV03 had the same two 180mm, but at the bottom and a 120mm at the top. And the orientation was such that the 180 was below the CPU cooler and the 120mm was above it. Perfect thermodynamic flow. Math wise, that is a much better setup then a 180mm a long way away, possible going through a HDDs shooting towards a CPU without anything on the other end.

    RV03 >>>>>> RV04
    Reply
  • lever_age - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    Well, I'd rather have specialization than every single case out there trying to hit every bullet point possible and cover all the bases, if it means better performance or lower price. Nothing wrong with a good air cooling case without water cooling aspirations and vice versa.

    Though, I'm kind of wondering if Corsair's approach with the upcoming Carbide Air 540 (which was done in the past with boutiques, smaller vendors, arguably in some rotated sense with say BitFenix Prodigy and Cooler Master HAF XB and so on) will become more popular. Do people really like having that drive cage like that and also on the TJ08-E / PS07? Direct airflow to components is great, and with the move to solid-state primary storage (so less heavy access on mechanical disks) and cooler mechanical drives, it makes sense to chuck drives and other secondary components in a different section where they're not blocking airflow.
    Reply

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