As I was touring the suite SilverStone had all of the new goods on display at during CES earlier in the year, I remember just prior to getting the lowdown on all the new PSUs up the pipe, we looked at the new home theater cases that SilverStone was just about ready to go public with.
The latest of the Grandia chassis designs is a reworking of old ideas, a few new tricks and giving the buyers exactly what they want or at least what I know I want in my HTPC chassis. There was even tons of work that went into the finest of details, such as the noises that come from dust filters when they are in place and the fan is drawing air through it.
Back in January I was taking pictures of these cases for our news coverage and Tony took us into a demonstration and some of their results from many designs and orientation of the bits in the filter before they came up with a winning design. At that time I was abruptly stopped from taking images of what I was seeing, but now it is out in the wild to discuss and show the potential buyers just what all this thought and design results in for the end product.
Since by this point, of writing the review, I have seen all of what is involved in the latest of SilverStone's HTPC lineup. I've used it all, taken it all apart, put it all back together with components, tested the chassis for a bit to see how well the design works. It isn't always looks that get the job done. I will say this though, even this early in the review, SilverStone really delivered this time around and leaves users wanting very little if anything at all.
The chassis we are going to be looking at is the Grandia GD08, one of a pair of chassis to release with very similar specifications and slightly different looks. As I mentioned, this case offers an abundance of room for very large motherboards, has a unique take on storage and optical bay drives and did I mention you can run SLI or Crossfire in this thing with 13.6" video cards?
I don't want to get too far ahead here, it's just that the Grandia SST-GD08B is one of those cases that you can't help but love, even if not for yourself, it's something you will remember and advise your friends to use. The GD08 is just that good.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The body of the SST-GD08B is steel that is painting black inside and out. The face of the unit is based on a brushed anodized aluminum panel, which is also black giving the GD08 that elegant look we expect from SilverStone.
On the front there is the Silverstone name painted on the top right corner in white, but aside from that there is only the power and reset buttons way below the name and a pair of stealth bay drive covers on the right. The top of the chassis offers passive ventilation over the bracket end of the video cards, while the floor of the chassis offers a pair of fans with removable dust covers that act as part of the intake to the chassis. On both sides there are spots for ventilations, the left for the PSU and the right offers a 120mm fan blowing air into the chassis. Even the rear of the chassis is well ventilated between the eight vented expansion slot covers in a 7+1 configuration and the spot over the rear I/O that can hold a pair of 80mm fans.
If you have noticed the three included 120mm fans are all blowing into the chassis to create a positive pressure inside the chassis to keep dust down and lessen the noise levels. As I said though, SilverStone wanted silence with this design and using 900 RPM fans helps, but typically when you are in a home theater environment, the slightest hum of a fan is a distraction. This is why SilverStone went to such great lengths with the way the dust filter and fan grills are designed. They noticed that straight lines in frames made the fans change acoustically as the fan passed that part of the filter. So what they did was to add curves and break up the intermediate supports to allow the user to get the best results possible acoustically.
There are some limitations to adhere to in this design, such as you can only use a board smaller than SSI-EEB. That's right; there is room for motherboard that is 13" by 12". There is only 138mm for CPU cooler clearance, but even that is quite a bit in an HTPC chassis. The last issue is the length of the cards and that is a maximum of 13.6". I was being a bit facetious with the "limitations" here, you can fit almost anything a mid-tower can hold and SilverStone kept right on going and even offers room for two optical drives and up to twelve storage drives. It's rare that I will say this about an HTPC chassis, but this case really just keeps going with new ideas and attention to details you didn't realize you needed. Until now that is.
The Grandia SST-GD08B as you are about to see it, I was able to locate at one shop in the US, even though this chassis was just released. SundialMicro has a current listing of $145.99. Of course there is the dreaded shipping to deal with and with that totaled up the cost climbs to near $190. If it were me, I would wait until more stores pick up this chassis and you have a bit of shopping opportunity to get a better deal on the transit costs at least. The base price of $145.99 is very reasonable, as I said this may be an HTPC, but it has room like a full tower and surpasses specs of most mid towers out there at this price.
The front or at least I am calling it that, offers quite a bit to take in. The tag line under the company and chassis name is right to the point and in my opinion, dead on. To the left of the image of the GD08 is a list of seven features in this HTPC design.
This side of the box offers a bit of what it is the SilverStone intends to deliver with the GD07 and GD08 chassis designs. The bulk of the remainder of this side is then taken up with multi-lingual features lists like we saw on the front.
Since the back is the same as the front I can discuss the large blue circle that shows this chassis is USB 3.0 ready and that this product is made in China.
If FedEx would put labels on the plain top I could have showed you the specifications chart on this side, but it is identical to the one I showed on the previous page.
I do know the GD08 is upside down in this image, but when I flipped the box over to allow gravity to slide the chassis out for me, the hardware box was sitting there already so I thought I would show it as I found it. The face as well as both sides is protected with thick Styrofoam and to keep the hardware box from rubbing the paint, there is a plastic liner in between the chassis and the other packaging.
SilverStone Grandia SST-GD08B HTPC Chassis
The front of the chassis is clad in brushed aluminum and anodized black to match the rest of the chassis. You find the company name, two stealth drive bay covers, the front I/O and the power and reset buttons all in their respective corners leaving the rest to be just sleek and simple aesthetically.
The right side of the chassis has a few holes at the left to use a pair of included adapters to mount a 3.5" drive inside of there. The rest of the side is taken up with the removable dust filters I have been taking about with the unique design to them.
The filter slides to the left and when removed it exposes the 120mm fan that pumps air in from this side. Also with the filter against the white back drop, it's much easier to see the design.
In the rear of the chassis you can mount a pair of 80mm fans if you wish above the rear I/O. Moving right we run into the 7+1 slot configuration and that leave the PSU mounting area at the far right of this side of the GD08.
The left side of the chassis also offers a removable dust filter to go over where the PSU can draw fresh air in. Again the same design of filter is used to help any PSU fan sound a bit quieter as it draws air through it.
The top of the chassis is flat steel and offers a mesh area of ventilation above the expansion slots. This means a cooling device in the +1 slot has room to draw in cool air or the hole will passive exhaust due to the positive air pressure inside the GD08.
Under the chassis there are a few things to note. There are really large feet on this unit to keep it very stable on a shelf near the TV, it has removable dust filters for the pair of 120mm fans behind them and it seems there is a switch at the front edge.
This switch to be exact. What I found out later after powering the unit, is that this switch will disable the PWR LED. So if the light ends up at eye level, you can turn it off when the lights are low and the movie is playing. This switch can also be used to control the exact brightness of the PWR LED depending if you want it dim or bright.
Inside the SilverStone SST-GD08B
Behind the aluminium and plastic face there is a rack similar to the one in the TJ-04E, but this time way more involved. Removing six screws allows this cage to come out and exposes the chassis wiring below it. Supplying two handles on this device makes it much easier to install when fully loaded later in the build process.
Flipping the case around, now we are seeing it from front to back. There is a large expanse to put in the motherboard before you run into the rear of the chassis. The expansion slot covers are held in with screws, but the +1 slot and outer ring need removed to gain access to the heads for removal.
This time, the large storage and optical drive rack has been removed to show you what is under it. You can now easily see the three 120mm fans all blowing into the chassis and all have 3-pin power connectors. As for the wiring from the front, it's tied up nicely and is long enough to get around to the back of the board and still stay out of the way for the rest of the components in the build.
I realize I didn't get that many images of the interior or its contents. I thought it would be better to show things as the build progresses so you could get a better idea of what I am trying to say with the components in the images to aid in my explanations.
Accessories and Documentation
The cardboard box shipped under the chassis includes this USB3 .0 to USB 2.0 adapter and a set of four wire clips to aid in routing cables inside of the chassis, so they aren't in the way when reinstalling the drive cage.
There is also a set of black steel brackets that screw to the right side of the chassis to allow you to install a 3.5" hard drive, which somehow eluded getting their picture taken with the rest of the hardware.
Shipped inside of one bag, the screws for mounting just about everything from the drives, PSU and the motherboard are on the left. There is a riser socket, extra risers, ODD screws and 2.5" drive screws included in the kit.
When you pop the top flaps of the box, the inner flap says you should refer to the manual before you do anything with the GD08. It does a great job of showing and explaining how the chassis disassembles so you don't go crazy and start breaking things out of the gate.
Once inside the chassis I didn't find it necessary to refer to this manual, the design is pretty intuitive.
The Build and Final Product
The drive bay assembly is sort of an all-in-one for all the drives in the GD08. You can see I added the ODD to the right, but above it is still room for another ODD and even room for a pair of 2.5" drives to be mounted under the top, just to the right of the handle.
The SSD is securely mounted and I found something out right away. You are going to need straight SATA plugs, the ninety degree ones won't work, as it makes the wire run above the limits of the chassis.
Across the middle there is room for six 3.5" drives to go on top of the isolation foam to keep the mechanical drives vibrations out of the chassis. There is even another section to the right that can hold another three 3.5" drives giving this chassis a total of twelve locations for storage drives!
As the build progressed I had to remove the +1 slot and its surrounding cover to allow me to gain access, through cut-outs in the case rail, to get my video card mounted.
Before I take a step back and show the next big step in the build, I thought I would show under the cover next to the pair of 120mm fan on the right. There is no mention in the manual and I didn't see it on SilverStone's website, but I believe this is to run excess wires so that when the drive assembly needs reinstalled, they are out of the way and tidy.
I prepped quite a bit to get to this stage. It does stake a couple of fits to get everything lined up right and being certain I had things like the power to the SATA devices attached to the cage and the SATA leads connected to the motherboard. You can also see I wasn't shy with what I threw into this build.
The Build and Final Product Continued
Now there are compromises that need to be made for my specific build. I could have used the 460s and had more room for hard drives, but I wanted to show the GD08 with a much longer video card in place. Also, as long as you use a shorter optical drive, you won't have issues with taller spreaders hitting it.
I took this shot to show you that there is no way that with this build I could have gotten nine 3.5" drives across the left of this cage. Realistically no one is going to actually use twelve drives, but you have the option to configure it to allow for longer video cards if needed.
I also just realized my DVD drive is dead. I was going to show the spring loaded door with the tray poking out. As you can see the button is depressed on the ODD and I am getting no reaction, but the cover opened perfectly to allow me to take this shot.
In the back the rear I/O dust shield was a bit snug and took a bit of force, but I got it in there. Aside from that, the PSU and card went in without any issues with clearance or fit.
At this point we are back to the sleek and sexy front of the SST-GD08B and nothing has changed from the looks of it.
Once the unit is powered on, the only way you can tell is by looking for the tiny blue LED poking through next to the power and reset buttons. As I mentioned though, when you are ready to watch a movie, this light can be deactivated just by sliding your finger under the front edge and sliding the switch over. The light is then off for your enjoyment of the movie, not the distraction of a tiny LED.
There is just so much to love about the SST-GD08 and I know I am going to leave something out as I hype all the others in this design. I really enjoyed the drive cage at the front. Most HTPC case barely give you room for a slim optical and a 2.5" drive, that just isn't so here, the GD08 can house up to fourteen drives with both storage and optical drives in that count.
If the looks and the storage don't sell you on this design, think about the motherboard compatibility - I mean it took my ATX motherboard and HD7950 with absolutely no issues at all and it can take much, much more. The wiring is kept basic, but is long enough to get the HD Audio and USB 3.0 connections on and with the added clips in the hardware kit, wiring it easily managed in this chassis.
I wanted to give the air flow and implementation of the dust filters in this chassis their own spotlight of discussion. The positive pressure inside the GD08 created from the three 18 dB fans that turn at 900 RPM are already pretty quiet on their own. With the use of the specifically designed frames in the steel and the dust filter combination, you literally have to put your ear within an inch or two of the chassis to hear anything at all and I'm not sure that wasn't the GPU fan that could have been audible from inside the chassis. The only thing I found a bit lacking here is that I would have like Molex adapters to power the fans so I didn't have to plug them into my motherboard headers, but that is personal preference and has little effect on the chassis as a whole.
Since I have started reviewing cases, HTPCs have evolved from media streaming rigs that were ITX based and relatively low powered, and are being replaced with full power, ready to handle anything builds inside of them. This is where SilverStone is going to take the market by storm. It used to be that in order to house a build like I just did somewhere close to the TV, it was in a mid tower, or even a full tower gaming chassis that isn't exactly matching of any decor.
For a measly $145.99 you can get the SST-GD08B, house anything from a low power net cruiser to a multi-card power house that has so much room for storage drives you can easily stack 3TB drives in this case for a total of 30TB of storage and it still has room for a couple of SSDs to run the OS.
There has never been a case that has come across my desk that is so perfect to what I see the trend in HTPC chassis users desiring, but until now weren't able to buy.
PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.
United States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com
United Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk
Australia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au
Canada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca
Deutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de