SilverStone Raven SST-RV03B-W EATX Tower Chassis Review

The Raven gets redone, this time in its third incarnation. SilverStone have dropped off a SST-RV03B-W for us to have a look at!
@chad_sebring
Published Tue, May 24 2011 5:06 AM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 91%Manufacturer: SilverStone

Introduction


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Early in my career with TweakTown, I was asked to review a chassis for SilverStone, and with it being only my fourth go at reviewing cases, I remember feeling like I wasn't covering all that the case had to offer. The case I'm reminiscing about was the original Raven chassis design, the RV01. While it had the outer dimensions of a typical tower chassis when comparing to other chassis' being released at that time, the similarities ended there. It was the first in using a motherboard orientation that took advantage of convection and was aligned so that the rear I/O faced up in the chassis. It had a cool drop down cover for the drive bays, and from what I remember, as it spent some time in my personal use, it was a great case overall.

Almost a year later, I was asked if I would like to take a look at the second incarnation of the Raven, and I jumped at the chance. Things like cooling were gone back over and improved while the outer look got stretched in length and shortened a bit in height. A huge change from the RV01 to the RV02 was that SilverStone reversed the side of the chassis that the motherboard got installed in. With the RV01 the window was on the left panel when looking at the chassis from the front. The RV02, with the tray swap, has the window placed on the right side of the case. The only real reason to swap it was to offer yet another chassis in the Raven series that could stand on its own while using dome old ideas mixed in with some really innovative designs.

That leaves us where we are today, almost exactly on the two year anniversary of me getting the original; SilverStone has again sent me another Raven. The old adage says "the third time is the charm", and I certainly was sold on the FT03. It seems the ball is rolling for SilverStone with the series of thirds. Let's get a look at the specifications and pricing and see if the old adage rings true here as well.

Update: Since this review had been published a couple things have changed and SilverStone would like me to address these points. First of all, I guess I had accidentally typed that the RV03 only has seven expansion slots, while the chart reads eight. Eight is the total number of slots in the chassis; the chart was the right thing to follow there.

But the most important reason for this update is to tell you that as a result of this review, SilverStone has now added details about what the foam in the kit is for. Not to any of the instructions themselves, but rather in the Q&A section of their site, here.

Specifications, Availability and Pricing




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SilverStone's SST-RV03B-W is built mostly of 0.8mm steel panels that are cut, bent and painted inside and out with a matte black color. Externally, the RV03B looks much like the RV02 with its longer than it is tall design, but the overall design and shaping is a close reminder as well; the RV03 was designed with its own personality in mind. On top there is the large, louvered cover for the rear I/O that we are used to. The cover smoothly flows around to the front into the front I/O and down over the optical bays. Since the interior has a new layout, the bottom of the front bezel has a large plastic area with the Raven emblem on it to cover the PSU to be installed there later. The top and front are made of ABS plastic to allow for the unique shapes, but this time there is a pair of gold "racing stripes" that run the full length of the top and continue down the front to the bottom of the chassis.

For those who have owned any of the Raven cases, what's on the inside won't surprise you too much. Most notably, the motherboard tray gets a ninety degree twist the right, orienting the motherboard to allow the graphics card/s and CPU coolers to blow air out the top of the chassis. This tray is marked for the full lineup of motherboards it can hold, and even marks off VGA length so you can see easily if long cards will fit. In the front there are seven 5.25" bays all with tool-free clips. Inside of six of those you will find both fan adapters to add 120mm fans here, along with six hard drive trays if you plan to install hard drives in the front. Where else are you going to install them, you're thinking, right? Believe it or not, there is room for up to five hard drives behind the motherboard tray as well!

Cooling the RV03 is a pair of 180mm Air Penetrator fans on the floor. These fans are slightly offset from each other. The one on the right is set out to add a great flow of air to the GPU area. The right fan is set further back and under the motherboard tray a bit. With the added venting at the bottom of the tray, it allows this fan to add air flow behind the motherboard tray as well. Both of these fans are connected to a fan controller found near the front I/O that have a Hi and Low setting and are pre-wired, just like all the other chassis wiring found in the RV03. There is one other fan installed in the RV03 from the factory and that is the 120mm fan in the top acting to exhaust the chassis. Optional places for fans are the front, and if you wish to remove the 180mm fans in the floor. In the front, you can use the 120mm fan adapter to secure up to four fans in the optical bays. If you remove the 180mm fan, you then have room to use three 120mm fans, or for those who water cool, the RV03 will take on a triple 120mm radiator.

SilverStone just released this concept of the Raven, so I expect availability to be a bit limited at this moment. A quick trip over to Google shopping definitely confirms this. Searching every way I could think of, I was only able to locate five e-tailers showing stock of this chassis. Pricing is all over the place with this chassis! I see pricing going from $139 on the low end, and charging up to $40 to ship it, while others are listing around $209 shipped. In the middle, as usual, I found a listing of $159.99 at Newegg.com. They are asking $28 to ship the RV03B-W, but all said and done, the RV03 rings out at under $180 this route. With the price of the RV01 at $249, dropped to the $179 of the RV02, I'm glad to see change didn't come with a heavy price. Now let's see if it's worth it!

Packaging


The Packaging

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Helping to keep the pricing down, the RV03 ships in a plain brown box with all the text and images applied in black on top. The front has the Raven 3 "redefining the rules" along with an image of the chassis with nine features listed next to it.

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SilverStone used this side to give a statement about the RV03 and below are lists of the features on the front in various languages.

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The back of the box shows the Raven 3 with both the windowed panel removed, as well as a look behind the motherboard tray. The red points are traced by lines to text explaining what all can be found.

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Had Fed Ex not plastered this side of the box with stickers, you would have seen a full list of the RV03's specifications. Don't worry, it's the exact same information I already covered with the last page.

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The RV03B-W ships with Styrofoam on both ends while the case is surrounded with a plastic liner. To help keep things like bay covers and fan filters in place, you will find this green tape in various places.

The SilverStone SST-RV03B-W EATX Tower Chassis


The SilverStone SST-RV03B-W Extended ATX Tower Chassis

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From the front, the top of the RV03 is pointed in the middle and drops to the sides. Each V that goes from gold stripe to gold stripe is a bay cover and can be removed. The large panel at the bottom gets a PSU behind it, so there is no need for this area to be vented and SilverStone added the Raven logo here.

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On the top you get very stylized louvers and mesh to cover the top. In the front there is the Front I/O under the cover, and the hole behind this gives you access to the fan controllers.

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Looking into the hole behind the I/O, there is a pair of switches with a "H" and "L" marking for fan speeds. Since they are pre-wired to the 180mm fans, SilverStone designated which is the front fan and which is the rear fan control.

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Under the cover you find a very simple front I/O panel. There are 3.5mm jacks for headphones and a microphone along with a pair of USB 3.0 ports. Since they are reverse compatible, they can be used for USB 2.0 as well.

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The left side of the chassis has the window in the RV03, and at first glance it appears the window is small. When the build is finished you will see that it is just the right amount of view into the chassis. The large vented area at the bottom will allow for the PSU to exhaust out this panel.

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It's a bit tough to see in the expanse of black, but there is a spot to add a 120mm fan here if you wish. On the left, there is a vented area that is behind the motherboard tray and will allow for air to escape here, too.

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The right side carries the same venting over the PSU as did the other side, but the hole in the middle of the door is odd. Looking deeper, I now see that this hole will allow for air to be blown right onto the back of the motherboard under the CPU.

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To look at the typical "rear" panel, we need to remove the top. Once out of the way you can see there is an exhaust fan, water cooling holes, USB 3.0 cables, and eight expansion slots.

Inside The SilverStone SST-RV03B-W EATX Tower Chassis


Inside The SilverStone SST-RV03B-W Extended ATX Tower Chassis

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As I started to open things up, I was wondering how to gain access to the front. I removed all of the bay covers, which are removable from the outside, and I found a set of hard drive bays and some fan adapters. To get this out, I need to remove like fifteen screws and lift the tool-free latches to sled all this out.

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Panels removed, we can get a look inside the latest Raven. At first glance it looks typical, but look closer; there are a few changes afoot in this design.

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Matching the outside, on the inside there are another two fan adapters in the bays. If you want to install hard drives here, you can, but there is a better place for those. It looks odd with the cable at the bottom, but that plug is an adapter for the PSU that goes in here. It then leads under the chassis to be powered.

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The motherboard tray is decked out with all the management you will need along with many places to tie wires to on the back. You will also notice that motherboard sizes and VGA length is stamped into the metal as a guide.

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In the floor of the RV03 you will find the pre-wired 180mm Air Penetrator fans. As I mentioned, the one on the right is shifted back slightly to add flow behind the motherboard tray, and these are what is attached to the fan controls.

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Under the chassis there is a pair of magnetic dust filters for both the 180mm fans as well as the power supply. The large tabs allow you to easily remove them while the chassis is upright, and the magnets make replacing them a cinch.

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Behind the tray SilverStone has done a similar treatment to this as I just saw in the FT03. There are loads of options to install drives, with plenty of room for the wiring. Speaking of which, you haven't seen much of it have you? This is due to the whole chassis being essentially pre-routed for the best looks and an awesome looking finished result.

Accessories and Documentation




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Part of what gets included in the hardware box is these wire ties, the Molex to triple 3-pin fan power adapter and a thick block of white foam with tape on two sides, for which I never found any use.

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Screws are plentiful for this build. The large bundle on the left is used to install any 3.5" drive. There is a small black foam strip with tape on one side; again I don't know what for. There are some extra risers, motherboard and power supply screws, and 2.5" drive installation screws, or for securing optical drives.

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The RV03 manual is top notch. Every aspect of removal or replacement is covered in here. While there wasn't an explanation to the foam pads, there are terrific drawings to go along with the simple to follow text. There is even a section on maintenance and fan replacement, when or if you need that information.

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The solid plastic bay covers on the front of the RV03 are backed with a built in dust cover. As there is room and included hardware to add intake fans to the front of the chassis, SilverStone offers the ability to replace just the filter half of these components to allow good flow, while keeping dust and mischievous pets at bay. The two components are simply snapped together with a large tab on both sides. I was pretty aggressive with a couple of these and they all removed cleanly and nothing got broken, so don't be shy if they seem "stuck".

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There are two more fan adapters not shown; one would go on the opposite ends of these assemblies. Essentially, these hard drive trays slide into tabs on the fan adapter to make a somewhat solid unit, but without the screws it is flimsy in this state. If you do plan to use these in the 5.25" bays, I will recommend you replace all the little black screws it took to remove these from the chassis with the drive trays you reinstall. In my instance, I just left them out all together, as there are better hard drive mounting options around back.

The Build and Finished Product




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Since we saw the RV03 with its full covering when we got it out of the box, I figured when I installed the optical drive, I would now show you the "other" face. While not as clean of a finished look, these filters will definitely allow for excellent air flow and dust protection.

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Even using a m-ATX board in this chassis, the cabling that was pre-wired still looks amazing once it's all connected. This has to be one of the cleanest builds I have ever turned out. I also have to mention I'm using the same PSU I was given for the FT03 review. Without its modularity and optional short cable kit, I could see this chassis getting hard to manage with too many wires.

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With the door back on and the view through the window having something to look at, you can see the odd shape allows for a view from the last VGA or sound card on the right, all the way to the "top" of the cooler on the right. There is no visible mess, or any view of steel framing. While small, this window does exactly what it's supposed to.

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The set up back here couldn't have been easier unless I was watching someone else do it. You do have to remove the drive trays to install all of the drives, but even so, it is well worth the effort. Notice again, all you see is the wiring I added; the case wiring was and is still hidden!

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When I replaced the rear panel the fan hole made a lot more sense to its location. The twist of the tray was throwing me off, but once I could see the back plate through the hole, the light bulb turned on and it all made sense.

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Powered up, the only noticeable LEDs on the chassis are the same as the other Raven models, and it offers only the white chevron at the top that in the middle has a red LED to show hard drive activity.

Final Thoughts




Update: Since this review had been published a couple things have changed and SilverStone would like me to address these points. First of all, I guess I had accidentally typed that the RV03 only has seven expansion slots, while the chart reads eight. Eight is the total number of slots in the chassis; the chart was the right thing to follow there.

But the most important reason for this update is to tell you that as a result of this review, SilverStone has now added details about what the foam in the kit is for. Not to any of the instructions themselves, but rather in the Q&A section of their site, here.

Every aspect of this chassis I love. The modularity, the hidden way of adding room for drives, the pre-wired nature of the case from the factory, and of course I like the "twist" that SilverStone Ravens are known for. There is only one thing about this chassis that to me stands out like a sore thumb. I get that a splash of color may have been the desired effect, but to me this champagne gold color wouldn't be my first choice. Brushed aluminum, copper, even chrome would have looked better in my opinion. For me, if the exterior of the chassis is going to have a random splash of color, it needs to be able to carry a "theme". In the PC market I don't see a lot of "gold" aftermarket products to blend the outdoors with the indoors.

Since my only complaint about this chassis is purely aesthetic, I won't let it affect my judgment. SilverStone took big strides in the latest version of the Raven. Having all three at one point, I can appreciate how the design has evolved and the thought taken to deliver one of the best laid out chassis' I have ever used, and It also offered the most professional end result I can remember in some time, maybe since the 800D. While I am still left wondering the uses of the foam included with the hardware, I ran into no issues with anything during the build, and if you end up with an issue, the manual is right there to help you along.

Cooling has been addressed since the RV01 and RV02 as well. I remember a lot of articles reporting that the old 180mm fans that used to be in the floor weren't adequate. I liked the performance I got in the RV02, but in reality it wasn't "better" than the flow in a normal chassis layout over the long term. With the addition of the Air Penetrators, air is forced through the RV03 like in no other Raven. With this sort of air flow you have to assume there is going to be a bit of noise with it. With the fan controls switched to high, the noise levels could get annoying in an office type of setting. For gamers with a headset, you will likely not notice it until you need to go to sleep. Even so, there is the option to switch the fans to low when it is needed. While not offering the performance I got of some three to five degrees cooler across the GPU, CPU and chipset, you can still manage good temperatures with the fans on the low setting. If the chassis doesn't have the umph to cool some monstrous build, there are always options to add more fans, or possibly swap the pair of 180mm fans for water cooling.

The SST-RV03 has everything the average case builder wants and everything that the custom builder would want to see in their next purchase. I'm glad to say that the styling wasn't the only things brought over from the RV02. With a very similar release price of $159.99 at Newegg.com, the RV03 offers a ton of features in a larger than full tower chassis that everyone can afford. From those on a budget, to those who can afford a $300-400 chassis, why spend through your nose to get unique, well thought out, and full of options? Seems to me SilverStone did one hell of a job offering a huge bang for the buck with the Raven SST-RV03B-W!

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After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM, cooling, as well as peripherals.

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