Small form factor cases seem to be making a rise in the market lately. It's sort of reminiscent of "sleepers" in the street racing scene. This is where you take an average car, usually paint it in black primer, and strip it of all non essential parts. The biggest part of a "sleeper" is what's under the hood. Pulling up to a Chevette at a light, you wouldn't expect it to have 350 cubic inches of motor, but you sure know it when he rockets away at the green light.
SilverStone has done exactly this, in my opinion, just with a computer chassis. They took a SFF chassis, simplified the outside and removed or hid all non-essential items. Keeping with my "sleeper" analogy, SilverStone leaves enough room for some monster horsepower to be dropped into this chassis as well, making what appears to be a simple gaming rig at a LAN event, to possibly be one of the most powerful rigs on the table.
Today we are looking at the SG04B, one of many in the Sugo series of chassis' built by SilverStone. These compact SFF cases are small in size, some being more sleek and sexy than others, but all suit a specific need. Through discussions with SilverStone, they had sent me a chassis to meet my build specs, to ensure proper fit. With the previous samples I have received being both quality and attractive, I am eager to see just how well this all comes together.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The SG04 SFF chassis comes in with measurements of 7.9"wide, by 14.2" tall, by 13.6" deep; quite small! When empty, the SG04's aluminum outer shell and SECC steel inner chassis weighs in at 10.5 pounds. This chassis supports mATX only and up to four various types of drives. There is room for one optical drive and one floppy drive externally. Two 3.5" internal hard drive bays are part of the floor. The hidden front I/O consists of the usual suspects. There are two USB 2.0 connections, one IEEE 1394 connection and of course the microphone and audio 3.5mm jacks.
SilverStone uses only one fan to cool the SG04 when it ships to your door. This 1200 RPM 120mm fan is screwed to a dust filter that allows for multiple positioning of said fan for optimum airflow and so it can get out of the way of 10.5" graphics cards. There is also an optional FX121 Crossflow fan that can be added if desired. SilverStone also recommends some products to help with the build process to thwart off any height restrictions, such as the 82mm one for the CPU cooler. Take a look, it's time well spent.
Doing the usual Google search, it shows that the SG04B version we are seeing here today can be found at about fifteen various e-tailers. The SG04 from SilverStone can be found at Newegg for $149.98, plus shipping, which comes out to just about $166 USD to get one to your home. I'm not sold yet on the pricing, but availability isn't an issue if a SFF build is in your future. Time now for me to get some images, work with the SG04 a bit and see just how much horsepower I can fit inside this SFF chassis.
SilverStone places three views of the SG04S on the packaging. This is most likely due to the silver version being easier to see and the lines and vents are more distinguished.
Features are bullet pointed and displayed in eight various languages on this side panel.
The rear of the package displays the SG04B as we received inside the package. In English this time is the same features list of bullet points.
Thanks to UPS, we aren't really able to read the specifications or the introduction at the top. My chart in the specifications section covers all the info found here.
Similar to the IN WIN packaging in my last article, SilverStone also used the stacked and glued dense foam for the end caps to support the chassis during shipping. The case is incased in a plastic bag and the hardware box was nestled in the side during its transit.
The SilverStone SG04B SFF Case
Out of the box you are greeted bay an all black, brushed aluminum exterior, the front of which is rounded and has access to the front I/O to the far left. The twin grooves separate the I/O panel from the center section that hides the intake. SilverStone boldly labels the SG04B with a standout, white moniker across the middle.
The sides of the SFF SG04 are plain with no venting or finger holds, but they sure do look sexy in brushed aluminum. This panel is removed with two thumbscrews seen at the left edge of the chassis.
Looking at the rear of the SG04, you finally get an idea of the layout and just how they get all the equipment into such a small chassis. Moving the power supply above the CPU cooler offers a solution to this, but does leave the SG04 with an 82mm height maximum for the cooler to fit. At the top is a slot for a fan controller. Just below is the motherboards rear I/O panel cutout, followed by four expansion slots. These slots do have a screw-on cover that when removed allows access to the slots mounting screws. The whole rear of the chassis is ventilated to aid in allowing for maximum circulation of airflow.
The top of the SG04 has an unusual shaped front piece that lends to the curve of the front bezel. Further down, past more brushed aluminum, you run into two holes placed in the top panel. I'm still not quite sure what they are used for, unless it is a carryover from the SG04H chassis. They would make sense to me to be the handle mounting holes.
Getting a look at the underside of this chassis, you can see the cast aluminum panels that are ribbed. These are actually what hold the hard drives, on the other side of course, but act as both coolers and feet for the SG04 chassis.
Inside the SilverStone SG04B SFF Case
At first glance things seem a bit tight and I'm left wondering how everything I want to go in there fits. The bottom "rack" removes easily with a few screws and gives a lot more access to install all my parts.
With the floppy drive, power supply support combo piece removed, you can get a better idea of the room inside the SG04. This chassis supports mATX motherboards and comes with heaps of power switch and front I/O wiring to get the job handled easily.
Inside of the front panel, the power and power LED wires are on the left. The adjustable 120mm fan with fan guard is placed in the center, with the front I/O and fan wires on the right. At the very top is the Solo 5.25" drive bay for your choice of optical drive.
Carefully looking over the chassis and reading the included instructions a few times, I was finally able to get the front to open up for me. Opening these allows the placement of the optical drive to happen and to gain access to the fan and dust cover. Speaking of which, all those holes in the edges means you can unscrew the fan and place it anywhere you like, so long as it fits. Along those lines, the front opens to allow a 10.5" card to slide in for installation. The length of my GPU of choice meant I had to move the fan for clearance.
Accessories and Documentation
The box that was packaged alongside the SG04 is what you see here. There are four screw-less hard drive slides to use with the racks in the floor of the chassis. At the top, in the middle is the stealth drive cover that is formed to match the shape of the front of the SG04. You simply attach it to the drawer of your optical drive using the 3M adhesive included. A bag of screws and raisers along with some wire management ties and a 4-pin CPU power extension is included to wrap things up.
Of course, there is the manual. Well written with decent images to help explain if the words just aren't getting it done. I found it thorough and descriptive. From beginning to the end of the build, I referred to the manual many times and always found the solution.
Not really included "hardware", but I wanted to remove the hard drive racks from the bottom of the chassis to allow you to see how they work. It takes the removal of three screws total to get theses out; two screws inside and one on the bottom of each piece. They easily lift out once the screws are removed.
As I mentioned before, I had a few discussions with SilverStone about getting all the right parts to get this build underway. They found it best to send along the PP05 short wire kit for their 600w Strider PSU, which is completely modular, to keep things tidy inside. The short wire kit allows me to take that even further and use only the length I need, not having a nest of wires lying about inside. Lastly, due to the 82mm heatsink restriction for the CPU, SilverStone Has also sent along the NT06 Evolution CPU cooler to use during this build.
Along with this series of cases, SilverStone had the foresight to create a LAN bag for the Sugo series chassis. This bag allows you to take your SG04, keyboard, mouse, headset and whatever other vital pieces you can stuff in the rather large pouches.
The Build and Finished Product
Grabbing a pair of the screw-less hard drive rails, I pushed the pins in place and slid the drive into the floor bracket, hard drive rack. The drive can only be installed one way and that is with the connections facing away from the motherboard.
Fast forward a bit and I have most of the major components installed and the chassis wiring in place. The cooler for the CPU will accept a fan to aid in cooling, but due to the configuration of this chassis, there just isn't any room. It will cool slightly passively, but the PSU fan will draw heat off of it, which you will see. Oh, and yes, that is a GTX 280 in there. With the right motherboard I could have even installed two of them for SLI or Crossfire horsepower.
Once the bracket and the PSU are installed, visibility of anything inside is brought right down to almost no visibility at all. The PSU is installed fan in, which will draw the flow from the intake through the chassis. The bracket at the bottom not only supports the PSU, but does allow for a floppy drive to be installed on the flip side, too.
One last look at the business end before I go to power it up and see if the cooling in this SFF is good enough to house this "heater" I have put together with an E6400 B3 and a GTX 280.
Looking at the front, we are almost ready, but I forgot to do one thing...
With the SG04 you have the option to stealth the optical drive. Placing the rounded drive cover on with the 3M foam tape delivers a clean and smooth finished look.
Powering up the SG04B, the only light visible is this single LED. While the chassis has connections for Power LED and HDD activity, they both show up in this LED. While the hard drive is active the LED is violet, and when the PC is idle and ready to go the LED stays a constant blue. This is a simple, yet brilliant idea to let you know the status of your PC without gaudy lighting.
The build was virtually flawless. I did have to refer to the manual quite a few times to figure out the finer points of how the chassis is supposed to come apart for installation and adjustment of the fan. This is a compliment to the included instructions as well. When I did run into something that confused me, the manual set me straight every time. Things such as wiring needs to be looked at carefully, as with all the parts such as HDD trays and the PSU and FDD rack, and even the wiring of the PSU aren't the easiest to do. It takes a bit of thought and fiddling around to get it all together, but once everything is in place I do have one "sleeper" of an SFF chassis. When I set that rig on a table, I think people would giggle at first until they found out what was inside.
Speaking of what's inside, I kept the build somewhat simple. A stock clocked E6400 under the passive cooler and just to show that I can, I installed my "furnace" of a graphics card, my XFX GTX 280. Now, realizing things would be a bit warm to begin with, I was really surprised to see what I did with my limited time messing around with the SG04. The GPU stayed well within spec, as the BIOS fan control would ramp to keep things below the 80 degree mark, which my 280 does in any rig under full load. The CPU being passively cooled was a bit more of a shock. The combination of placing the intake fan just above the graphics card pushing air in and the PSU fan pulling air out, I loaded OCCT at a very acceptable 54 degrees.
While the SG04B chassis may not be for everyone, I for one loved the fact that I could stuff all that power into such a tiny chassis. Yes, it looks a bit tight, but in my opinion there is plenty of airflow to keep things under control during long LAN sessions and it can definitely handle day to day use as a HTPC. Pricing of the SG04B, as tested, is in line with cases sold in the mid-tower market, but none are as sleek and surprising as the SilverStone. With an asking price of $149.98 at Newegg, I think you get not only a SFF chassis, but one with room to house some of the meanest LAN rigs and still the SG04B screams of style and sex appeal.
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