I really liked my time with the Raven RV01 from SilverStone. Not only did it put a twist into case manufacturing with their 90 degree spin on how the motherboard is placed inside the chassis, but there were a ton of additional features included as well. Hot swappable hard drives, a front door that would slide up and down and hide all of the drives, and a support bar with adjustable "fingers" to add pressure to the expansion cards, stabilizing their upright installation to name a few that pop into my mind. All of this on top of a windowed chassis with a unique exterior, and of course it was painted black inside and out.
As with most things produced, manufacturers sometimes make revisions along the way. Some are based out of necessary improvements, while others are based off of input from users, while other ideas just make their way in as another solution to the same problem. The RV01 spent a little time on my desktop until it was replaced by something new, I only had one real issue with it the entire time of use, and that was when the front door would accidentally release and scare the stuff out of me in the process.
Changes have in fact been made in the RV01, and today we get to look at the Raven RV02 chassis and see what changes made it into the new version. Some, from my research, are pretty major changes, while others can almost be overlooked if you haven't owned the original version. It's about time we have a look at the specifications and current pricing, then we can get a real look at what the SilverStone RV02 offers over the RV01.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
SilverStone keeps the same black metal and plastic exterior as with the RV01, this time with less plastic and more 0.8mm steel. The SST-RV02-BW does come with a window in the side panel; it's just that this time it happens to be the right side panel. So if you want to look into the chassis of the RV02 you must place it to your left. The chassis size is a bit smaller internally this time, only housing ATX and mATX motherboards, where the RV01 could house extended ATX as well. Where there is a small loss in motherboard room, the RV02 makes up for it in the total of eight 5.25" bays, of which three are needed for the HDD suspension system. In essence all of your drives can be placed just about anywhere you want.
The original RV01 was more of a traditional tower in its shaped and measurements. This time the RV02 is shorter from the table to the top, but longer, around 26" long to be more specific. This length works to change the position of the PSU from the bottom of the RV01 to the top right corner of the RV02. The other major plus to all this length is the ability to line the floor of the RV02 with three 180mm fans, that all have separate speed switches found outside the chassis. These three combined with the single 120mm exhaust fan in the top of the chassis cover the supplied fans.
At this point in time there are only five e-tailers that are showing up in my Google searches. Let me say this, be careful where you buy, I see prices ranging from right around $160 all the way up to and above the $250 mark. This isn't going to bode well for some of the e-tailers, as I know most people look for the best deal from a reputable dealer. On the lower end of the pricing, I was able to get the best of both. I found the Raven SST-RV02-BW at Newegg for the price of $179.99, plus an additional $25 for shipping. So for just over $200 USD you can have a sleek, long, matte black chassis sitting next to you.
The Raven 2, as it is labelled here, is shown on an all black box superimposed over what looks to be a cliff face. This chassis boasts the 90 degree motherboard mounting, and covers six other key features at the bottom.
This side of the package shows a brief description of the concepts and ideas behind the RV02. At the bottom, in nine various languages, the special features are listed.
The back of the packaging houses an opened image of the RV02 surrounded by eleven bullet points explain all the internal features.
The opposing side panel is used by SilverStone to list the specifications of the enclosed RV02.
With the box taken away, I was left with a chassis in a cloth bag capped on either end with Styrofoam end supports. In the top piece of foam, there is a cut out that allows a snug place for the box of hardware to ride out the transit.
The SilverStone Raven SST-RV02-BW Case
The first thing that strikes me about the RV02 is that it is a "left handed" case, or with the window being on the right panel, you have to place the chassis to your left to view it. Also very noticeable is the fact that the sliding door on the front has been done away with this time. It looks very sleek and sexy even sitting here empty.
Since SilverStone did away with the door panel on the RV02, it has been replaced with eight removable panels that will allow any configuration of drives you can think of. The white chevron at the top is the case lighting for power and HDD activity, and barely noticeable it the Raven logo molded into the plastic at the bottom.
Looking at the RV02 from this side, we can see that all the panels surround the door panels and keep the sides very neat and tidy. I had pulled all of the protective coverings except the cling plastic on the insode of the window. There was one on the outside as well to make sure there are no "funny" marks in the window upon arrival. With a touch of class, SilverStone simply applies a small logo at the top of the chassis.
The rear of this chassis is a bit strange at first glance, but once you see the inside it will make more sense when I tell you this is where the PSU fan draws air from, and the removable filter is sitting at the bottom. The hole at the top is where all the wires will come from once things are all hooked up.
The reverse side of the RV02 is very basic and plain to look at aside from the SilverStone logo at the top.
Starting closest to us, there is the power and reset buttons, flanking the edges, that surround the two USB 2.0 ports and the front audio 3.5mm jacks. Behind the front I/O is the well ventilated area that needs to allow the 120mm exhaust fans and the graphics cards to vent freely through. I think it has been accomplished with a bit of flair and style as well.
Inside The SilverStone Raven SST-RV02-BW Case
To get things underway to look at the interior, I looked at the manual to make sure there were no hidden locks, and found there weren't, so off with the top. A gentle lifting at the rear of the chassis will allow the snaps to release the top plastic, so I can get to the thumb screws.
Removing the sides sheds a terrific view on how the interior is laid out. Tool-less optical drives and a three bay hard drive rack are on the left of the motherboard tray that is rotated 90 degrees to the right. With the three 180mm fans at the bottom blowing at the top makes for a complete flow of air to the top of the chassis. At the right side, to the top is where the PSU gets mounted in the RV02.
Inside of the rear of the RV02 there is the vented area for the PSU to pull ambient air in to keep the PSU cool when powering more power hungry components. The tray is laid out well for wire management with holes everywhere you would need then to allow for a clean installation.
The front is where there are the five, tool-less, optical drive bays on the top half, and on the bottom is a specially suspended system for housing the 3.5" hard drives. Oh, and due to the airflow layout of this chassis, the hard drives install vertically inside the three drive tray. At the top you can see the eight expansion slots and vented covers. This should allow for Tri-SLI or Crossfire setups, to allow all the dual slot cards to vent out of the chassis.
With the top piece of plastic removed I figured I needed a shot of this angle. You and see farthest away first, the PSU mounting hole. Then the rear I/O panel hole next to the 120mm exhaust fan. Then of course the eight slots we just saw from underneath, leaving the extra bit of area vented to allow convection to work its magic all the way across the top of the chassis
When you get a little closer to the rear exhaust fan, you may notice three, two position switches. These, when hooked up correctly, are to enable multi zone control of both airflow and noise levels with the flick of a switch.
Looking behind the tray, you can see there is a slight attempt to keep the fan wiring in place already done, but I have better plans for it later. As I said the holes are in all the right places, and should allow me to hide the majority of my PSU's wires and power the components.
The floor of the chassis houses the three 180mm fans, and with that much intake of air, dust is soon to follow. Under each fan is a well ventilated area that houses dust filters, one for each fan. The big rubber footed legs on the extreme corners makes this a very stable chassis.
A much better view of the inside of the top of the chassis, as you can see SilverStone ventilated the top of the chassis so much it doesn't appear that there is much holding it together. Let me tell you, this case is very structurally sound, and I honestly expected the chassis to flex a bit as it was disassembled but it just wasn't the case in the RV02.
The front I/O wiring is short and tough to display for images. There is no need for added length of the included USB 2.0, HD/AC97 Audio connections and the typical power, reset HDD activity and system power LED motherboard connections. When the motherboard is installed all of the headers are at the front end of the chassis, so the shorter the wires here, the less to have to deal with and hide later.
Accessories and Documentation
As i mentioned near the beginning, the hardware box can be found in one of the foam caps. Half of the contents are here. They include the "bag-o-screws", if it needs a screw to be mounted or a riser to sit on, return to this bag for the needed screws and bits. At the top is of course a 5.25" to 3.5" adapter if you choose to use a floppy drive still. That leaves the double sided, Velcro, tie strap that can be used to tidy the mass of PSU wires as needed.
Here we have adapters for just about anything you need. SSD and floppy adapters, a wiring fan adapter, and three tie down straps wrap up the goods.
The manual is very well written in clear and simple text. As I said, I had to refer to it to make sure I wasn't going to break anything just getting it open. While I was there I looked at it from cover to cover, and I don't see how you can get into trouble installing components using the tool-less mechanisms and figuring out what adapters and what hardware to use to accomplish the task.
The Build and Finished Product
Getting down to business, I had to remove the front plastic panel. If I recall there were some screws holing this in place that needed removed prior to the release of the panel. Each bay is covered and has a removable panel to allow access to either the optical drive placement or front removal of the hard drive tray. In the plastic itself, each of the eight slots is easily removed just by unlocking the tabs on either side.
Removing some thumb screws allows the cage to be removed. With rubber washers and special screws, the drives hang in a sort of suspension. In this cage there is only room for three drives, and the cage is currently oriented as it needs to go into the RV02.
One last shot of the front of the RV02 before I close it up. As you can see the drive cage is back in place, and just for giggles I put the Optical drive just above it.
And here it is all closed up and ready to go!
With about an hour and a half of my time, and what I would guess now as maybe fifty zip ties, I was able to keep the wiring neat and tidy, even with a non-modular power supply. You can see I bunched the wiring pretty thick, and I had no problems placing on the rear panel.
From the top, with everything installed, you can see the PSU gets good room to breathe, and the rest of the top allows for all the components to use the airflow from the three 180mm fans, while still allowing the overflow of air to sneak out around the components.
With all the components installed I found I am missing two things that the RV01 had. One of which, I really liked, which was the hot swappable HDD bays. It is sadly missed. The second is the support bar for the expansion slots. Depending on the cooler used in the RV01, it made the bar dysfunctional, so it isn't so sorely missed. Aside from what's missing I was still left with a very clean looking install for my wiring effort.
Once I added the power cord and flicked the switch the Raven kicked into action. As you can see the PSU fan is glowing its blue LED through the provided hole. All that's left is to snap in the filter and turn it around.
The only lighting that emanates from the front is found in the clear chevron at the top. Two blue LEDs show the system power while a red LED in the middle indicates HDD activity.
With the panel back in place and everything up and running, you are left with a very nice view of your components. With more time and effort and a better choice of power supply, the options of wiring and cleanliness are endless, and you are left with a very sexy finished product.
Since I had both versions now, I like the RV02 better overall. While the original version was the more innovative chassis, it came at a premium price as well, somewhere just over $300 when it first hit the shelves if I recall correctly. Price aside, I do find the RV02 a bit more refined even with the lack of a couple of options, it still accomplished the task it set out to do. That is to provide great airflow through the bottom of the chassis and let convection take its course and aid in the dispersal of heat inside the chassis.
When I first powered the system I had all three switches set to the "HI" seting, and there was a noticeable hum coming from the fans at about 2-3 foot away from the RV02. With this hum comes good news, though. I was able to run with a two degree drop in not only the CPU temperature, but the GPU, NB and I would assume the rest of the motherboards hotter components, as my software for motherboard monitoring is limited, I can only guess. With the RV01 I wasn't so impressed with the temperatures, but this time around it looks like SilverStone took a harder look into making this chassis work a bit better.
The SST-RV02-BW is a long chassis and a lot of floor or desktop space is required to set the case down. For me I have a shorter desk, and my PC sits on top. I could move it to the floor, but then I can't see inside of it; I can see the dilemma most users are going to ponder already. The case is definitely cheap enough to make it a "looker" on anyone's shopping list. Just be sure if you do compare it to other choices, you get a good price. For instance, as I mentioned earlier, the lower end of the pricing can be found at Newegg for $179.99. Yes, there is shipping to incorporate, but at this time I don't see Newegg offering many cases with free shipping any longer. So for just over $200 you can have an appealing redesign of a great chassis in the Raven RV02 from SilverStone.