SilverStone is a company that I may have not given a completely fair shake to over the last year or so. I tend to look at most cases in the mindset of what I think people are going to want, what I enjoyed working in, and may have cut them off at the ankles not looking deep enough into what is truly being offered in their SFF chassis lineup. I usually come to the basic conclusion that while a tad bit pricey at times, and of course it was a strong and well-built case, but I never really gave props to the engineers for what they were actually trying to accomplish with each design.
As I try to improve things this year for my readers, I want to try to put myself in the shoes of both the engineer trying to solve all of the #firstworldproblems in SFF cases, and try to develop things that are new and eye catching, while redesigning things, that puts the average offerings to shame. At the same time I will still be playing devil's advocate and pointing out any issues or things I believe will warrant your attention.
Anyone who is interested in a SFF chassis has to have seen the various releases on the SUGO series chassis line. What started out as more of a generic cube, moved into taller mini-tower status even sprouting a handle at one point, and for the past four versions SilverStone has returned to the cube design with many improvements made to the series along the way. Things that made the SUGO series so popular since its inception was stylish looks and a very well ventilated chassis. This is something that was never lost through the years, but as things got better for the company, they kept adding new developments and improving the series into the 23 liter capacity chassis we are going to be looking at soon enough.
A new addition to the SUGO series has arrived for me to test and that is the SST-SG09B. The basic concept was to see just how well the engineers at SilverStone were at offering the most ability from this chassis in such confined quarters. While doing this, they still want to offer room for full length video cards, full sized Strider PSUs up to 1000W, and even have room for huge air coolers like the SST-HE02. The issue with this on paper is that the conventional layout won't allow for such things to work out very well.
That in mind, be prepared for a layout that is a bit unusual, but as you install parts and begin to use this tiny SFF chassis, you do find a better appreciation for where the money is going, and why you should have a SilverStone chassis on your desk over some other SFF chassis offerings.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The SST-SG09B is a Small Form Factor chassis made mostly of steel with a plastic front panel and aluminum-like texture around the edges of the front bezel. As I mentioned, the goal here was to stay within 23 liters of space. This chassis comes in with measurements of 220mm wide, 295mm tall and 354mm deep. Around the chassis you will see that this SUGO keeps with the ventilation that has been such a success. In fact, keeping with trends, there are three removable dust filters on the SG09, all removable from the outside of the chassis. Something that may throw you off when you first see this chassis is the lack of a PSU mounting position in the back of the chassis, but SilverStone has a solution for that too. The last thing to cover on the outside of the chassis would be the front I/O panel with the power button, pair of USB 3.0 ports, and a reset button that is found on the front of the SG09.
On the inside things are radically different than most cases of this nature. At the top of the case is a 180mm Air Penetrator fan and room for a slim, slot load, optical drive. Under the optical drive slot is where the PSU installs in this chassis and can take units up to 180mm in length the way it is oriented inside. Under there you do have room for wiring and even have a spot for an 80mm fan to force air in through the right side of the chassis into the main area. The motherboard tray is compatible with Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX, and DTX motherboards, and the CPU access through the tray is almost the size of a Mini-ITX motherboard. In the back of the chassis there is a 120mm fan installed to help exhaust the SG09, and the last fan is the 120mm fan included on the left side of the chassis to blow air into the front of the SG09. Along with the 120mm fan on the left side, you do have an option to add in a pair of 80mm fans to blow air directly onto video cards positioned behind them.
Many of you may have already seen reviews of this chassis, and it has taken me about a month thus far to even get to get to this sample for review. In the time it has been sitting here, I would have assumed that this chassis would be more readily available by now. I was able to find that Amazon and Newegg are both currently stocking this chassis at a price of $94.99.
Shipping is really close, but Newegg is offering one additional thing at the moment, a $10 Mail in Rebate if you don't mind waiting a few weeks to see that money again. For the purposes of the evaluation today, I will be using the near $95 pricing as the bar to which I am judging this design overall. Now let's see what this money gets you.
SilverStone keeps with a recognizable packaging to show off the SUGO SG09. At the top it states this is USB 3.0 ready, and next to the case image it covers the major specifications, and at the bottom is stated that this is "designed for advanced PC builders" because of the engineering involved in this design.
Under where it says SUGO Series SG09 is where there are nine languages covering the specifications shown on the front. As usual though, the shipping company got me with sticker and packing label bag.
On the back of the box you get a really good look inside of the SG09. As you can see this is nothing like a traditional chassis design, and it may take you a few trips around the chassis to find all of the tricks used in this compact design.
The last panel on the box contains the idea behind the SG09 and what SilverStone is offering within their own tight confines. Under this statement you can find a full list of specifications for this chassis.
As you could see, the box was beat up and a little rough around the edges, but the thick Styrofoam that is used above and below the SG09, along with the plastic liner allowed the shipping company to play a down or three of football with it, and I still received an immaculate sample inside.
SilverStone SUGO SST-SG09B SFF Chassis
The front bezel of the SG09 is plastic, yet SilverStone designed the outer edges to have a texture and look of aluminium. In the middle of this is where there is the slot for the optical drive to accept media with a large opening to allow the PSU fan to intake air, and this section above the I/O is a removable dust filter.
The front I/O panel is basic, but functional. It offers a power button with the power indicator LED nest to it, a pair of USB 3.0 ports surrounding the 3.5mm jacks, and a reset button with the HDD activity LED next to it.
The top of the chassis is one of the three panels that are connected. The panel has a large honeycomb grill on it, and it is removable because it works as a dust filter, and allows the 180mm Air Penetrator fan a way to breathe through the chassis.
The left side of the chassis has ventilation for the PSU exhaust near the top. The bottom section of door panel offers a three fan option with its own removable dust cover. There is a 120mm fan installed now, but you can add a pair of 80mm fans, too.
In the back there is the rear I/O area next to an exhaust fan as expected. What isn't expected is the PSU socket installed at the top corner instead of a large hole for the PSU. At the bottom there are four expansion slots and this chassis will house long video cards.
The right side of the SG09 offers a bump near the front to allow just that extra bit of room for the connections of the power supply. Under this is where you can install another 80mm fan on the inside, and this mesh is where it draws air through.
The bottom of the chassis is solid steel and has a rolled edge where the chassis ends inside the case, and the lower side panel attaches. There are no feet at the moment, as those are shipped in the hardware bag.
I forgot to remove the front panel for this image, but all three sections are just held in with plastic tabs and can easily be removed just by lifting a corner with your fingernail and popping them out for a cleaning.
Inside the SST-SG09B
As I started to remove the top panel along with the full right side and about half of the left panel, it required removing the thumbscrews in the back, but I also had to remove the screw that was in the middle of the left side to get the panels to come off.
To remove the lower section there is a screw located under the case that needs to be removed. With it gone you can see the internal layout is not typical at all. I do like that there is plenty of cabling, and it is neat and tidy for transit. As for the hardware and instructions, they are shipped outside of the case.
At the top of the chassis, in front of the AP fan is the one and only optical bay. For the SG09 you will need a slot load type, as the front bezel will not allow for drawer operation.
Under the optical bay is where the PSU is to be installed. You can either use the front grill for fresh air intake into the PSU or you can flip the unit around and use the PSU to help exhaust the chassis.
Under the power supply there is a bit of excess space. Here is a good place to tie up some of the extra wiring from the front I/O, and you can also see the mounting plate for an 80mm fan to be mounted to the other side of.
Just behind the optical bay is the AP 180mm fan.
The motherboard tray comes with seven of the risers pre-installed and send an eighth in the hardware bag for Micro-ATX motherboards. You can also see that the access hole in the tray is as large as it possibly can be and still have risers in the right spot.
In the back of the chassis hangs a 120mm fan above the four expansion slots. To offer a bit more room, these slots are even with the rear of the chassis and you need to remove the external cover to gain access to the screws.
Behind the tray there is a 3.5" HDD rack across the access hole capable of housing two drives. At the bottom are plastic supports to mount 2.5" drives in. Each side can hold two drives, so you can stash four 2.5" drives back here as well.
This shot was to show two things. One is that the 2.5" drive rack holds the drives stacked on each other, and the second is that by letting the drives reside here, there is plenty of room for wiring, and it keeps some of the heat out of the main compartment.
The wiring in the SG09 contains the other end of the PSU extender that was mounted to the rear of the case, has Native USB 3.0 and HD Audio. It also has a rainbow of wires for the front panel connections, but without a window to even see them, it's fine this way.
Accessories and Documentation
As I opened the cardboard box and slid the case and inner packaging out, this bag flopped on the table since it was shipped slid down the right side of the box. At this point I want to cover the manual. It may look plain on the outside, but as you go through it you see how finely detailed the instructions are as it does explain everything you need to do. While a novice may be slowed down a bit with this case, I do still think with any mechanical aptitude, you can get a build finished in the SG09 pretty easy.
In that bag you get four wire ties to help manage things inside. You also get a 4-pin Molex power to three 3-pin fan connections adapter to supply them with a constant 12V. You also get a bag with all the screws you will need and that extra riser I mentioned. You also will get a USB 3.0 to USB 2.0 converter for those whose motherboards don't have native USB 3.0 on it.
You also get a foam adapter to take the 80mm by 25mm fan to 32mm thick when this is on it to mate the foam with the door panel to draw in only fresh air. You also get four round rubber feet, and four spacers to use with 9.5mm slot load drives
The two chunks of plastic at the top are shipped along to allow users to remove the 180mm AP fan in the roof of the SG09, and adapt it with these to then allow for a 140mm fan to be attached. The piece at the bottom is used to help secure the slim optical drive in the top bay of the chassis.
The Build and Finished Product
All assembled, there is only the slight hint of the fan grill from the PSU showing through the grid on the front. Besides that, with this design, it isn't meant to look different after you are finished.
Inside the chassis there is plenty of room for the Micro-ATX build and SLI to still be usable. You can see the PSU is installed and the wire has been plugged in. Most of the room below is the natural spot for wiring to pass through, and that is all part of the design with an intentional wire management plan in the design.
The back of the chassis could be a little tighter around the dust shield for the rear I/O panel, but it is just snug enough to keep it in place. I did have to spin the rear fan for wire management and was pleased to see the holes weren't all stripped out, and the cards went in with no issues.
The right side of the chassis has all of the PSU wiring dropping straight down and into the hole provided to allow that small bulge to take on only the connectivity points and not have to deal with bulk wiring. I am running off the 3.5" drive that is installed, but I did throw in an SSD to show how they go in as well.
Reassembling the side panels, I installed the lower section and got to this angle so you can see how beneficial it may be to go ahead and get a pair of 80mm fans to blow right into the cards. It is sufficient with the 120mm fan and my cards, but these are not as power hungry as some.
Getting the top and side panel section back on seemed a little tough at first, but I just removed it and tried again, and it almost fell into place. I did have to jiggle it a bit to ease the wiring in the correct place, but once it was settled in, the panel slid right into place.
Even from here you don't see this panel bulging or under any stress from the wiring of the PSU, and since I am about to add the power cord, we will see soon enough if the system is still in good shape.
Powering up the SG09 with the fan selector for the 180mm AP fan on its highest setting, not only is there a constant glow of blue from the power LED and an occasional flicker of a blue HDD activity LED, from this distance you can barely hear this chassis. With the switch set to low speed, you have to almost put your ear to the mesh to hear anything at all.
Considering everything we have just seen in the SST-SG09B, I really can only say "wow". The looks are outside the box for the typical SilverStone, the ease of access to all of the filters to keep this chassis clean for months or years to come. On the inside there is so much being offered, yet in such a small space that it is hard to really fathom it until you have the experience of working with it. Everything about the SG09 is a success in its design and layout, and is really a pleasure to build a PC in. Then there are the small things to consider, there is room for six storage drives, and even if specific, there is room for an optical drive. On top of that, even with the price set so low, SilverStone even includes a USB 3.0 to USB 2.0 adapter so that everyone gets full use of the front I/O panel.
Cooling in the chassis is handled quite well out of the box. Even with the smaller CPU cooler I used to try to bring up the temperatures a bit to impose some load on that 180mm AP fan, the temperatures are surprisingly cool as it ships. There are always benefits to be had by adding extra fans to the chassis, but there is the noise level to consider since we are dealing with 80mm fans as options.
If you want to stash a pair of 680's or even some 7900 series video cards in here, at least adding them to the left side panel is going to blast cool air into the chassis from every way to directly cool every component inside of the chassis. As far as I am concerned, with the setup I installed, the trio of fans is plenty, and I have the PSU installed to draw its own fresh air so that wasn't aiding the internal cooling at all. I also like the fact of the negative pressure design, and the very near silent operation levels of the fans that are equipped in the SG09.
What really makes the SG09 stand out to me is that you get a great feature set for a chassis this compact, but you also get some bold and slightly aggressive styling, and a layout that is entirely unique, and it can be had for less than $100. Not only do you get a solidly built chassis, even with all the panels removed there was no flex or alignment issues, the SG09 is built like a rock. Then to add in the through instructions and endless goodies in the hardware bag, it really makes me wonder what some of the other companies are charging for, because here you don't have the same old dull layout, you aren't in a plain square cube, the list really goes on and on.
Taking this from both an engineer's perspective and as the average Joe looking to buy an SFF chassis, SilverStone has really worked their tails off in this design and in doing so gets my full support and recommendation for the SST-SG09B. It is just one of those cases that breaks all the rules and will be something everyone else will mimic in years to come.
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