ProsThe smallest ATX case on the market; excellent fit and finish, very low price
ConsOnly one fan included; large CPU coolers will not fit; needs better 2.5" drive trays
The Tech Buyer's Guru is at it again, reviewing yet another case. This is our 18th case review (with number 19 and 20 already in the works), so at this point we have a pretty good handle on what it takes to make a great case, from full towers to ultra-compacts. And we're going to ruin the surprise just a bit and jump to our overall impressions of the SilverStone GD09 home theater PC chassis: it's great! In fact, it's so great that we think anyone even remotely interested in building a home theater PC should at least consider it. So is that the whole story? Well, of course not. Read on to learn more about all the GD09's strengths, its minor drawbacks, as well tips on how to build up your own PC inside the GD09!
We purchased our sample SilverStone GD09 at retail. It is currently available from Amazon for $74.99 shipped.
Description and Features
Let's start with the specification that really sets the GD09 apart: size. It's 17.3" wide, 6.7" tall, and 14.1" deep, with a total volume of just 26.8 liters. That makes it the smallest ATX case currently on the market. In that regard, it may be interesting to a lot of PC builders, but of course it's aimed at home theater enthusiasts. While we wouldn't call this case a true Small Form Factor PC chassis, it's still compact enough to fit a lot of places where typical ATX cases won't fit.
With that being said, we didn't want to go easy on this case - we built it up with enthusiast-class components to make sure it could handle them. Here's the list of parts we used to put it to the test:
- CPU: Intel Core i7-7700K
- Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z270X-UD3
- Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 8GB Founders Edition
- RAM: Corsair 4x8GB Vengeance RGB DDR4-3000
- SSD #1: Samsung 850 Evo 500GB M.2
- SSD #2: Crucial MX300 1TB 2.5"
- Hard Drive: Samsung Spinpoint 2TB 3.5"
- Optical Drive: LG WH14NS40 Blu-Ray Burner
- CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-L9x65
- Case Fan: Scythe Kama Flow 2 120mm
- Power Supply: SilverStone Strider 850W Platinum
- Wireless Adapter: TP-Link Archer T8E 802.11ac
- Operating System: Windows 10 Flash Drive
This is a fully-equipped build, as we wanted to determine just how well a lot of full-size gear could fit in this compact case. In the end, all of this worked great, but there were a few other configurations that we tested that did not work, and we'll discuss that more on the next page.
There's quite a lot going on inside the GD09 given how small it is. You have a full cross-brace, which is unusual in a case at this pricepoint, and allows the user to stack other gear like an AV receiver, on top, or alternatively a monitor if that's the preferred setup. In terms of cooling, SilverStone provides a single 120mm fan, mounted from the factory as an intake next to the CPU mounting area (in the photo below, we've switched it to exhaust, reasons for which we'll discuss later). Two additional 120mm fans can be mounted in the case (one next to the pre-installed fan, one next to the power supply on the other end of the case).
Moving to the front of the case, you have the cable connectors (HD audio, USB 3.0, power and reset), and then you have the nifty multi-purpose drive tray in the corner of the case. This tray can hold one 5.25" external device (the most obvious choice being an optical drive), plus one 3.5" hard drive or two 2.5" drives. You can also forego any external drives and use the top half as a 3.5" drive bay. Amazingly, hidden underneath is yet another 3.5" drive bay, oriented vertically and against the front of the case. So SilverStone gives you a lot of options here, although you do have to pick and choose: you can mount three 3.5" drives if you mount nothing else in the bays, and this is what a lot of folks running content servers may want to do.
The one thing we haven't mentioned yet is the dedicated 2.5" drive mount, which is really just that: a mount. It's not a tray or a caddy, and in fact is just four holes punched through the floor of the case that let you attach a 2.5" drive to it. Thankfully, these holes are at least countersunk so screw heads don't poke out the bottom, but we really think SilverStone should provide a caddy that slides into place. It was pretty inconvenient to place the case on its side, with one hand inside holding the SSD in place and the other hand outside attempting to affix the screws. This is one of those PC building situations where you ideally have three hands, which means something just isn't right about the product design. Furthermore, flush-mounting an SSD is always going to be really questionable, because power and SATA cables often won't fit properly pressed up against the floor of the case. For example, we could not attach the end of our SATA power cable daisy chain to this drive - we had to use a middle connector, which provided a greater amount of bend. If this all sounds a bit too in the weeds for you, trust us when we say that if you choose to purchase the GD09, you'll end up agreeing that SilverStone could have done a better job.
On a positive note, the fit and finish of this case is extraordinary. The paint job has a texture to it, which we assume was intentional - getting that much dust and dirt into the paint mix would be pretty unlikely! We really liked the chrome-plated screws used throughout the case, which give it a touch of class, as do the chrome-plated rear vent covers. The case is made of steel, while the front panel is plastic with a "faux aluminum" finish. We think it looks just fine, and is a good compromise to hit a low pricepoint. Yes, real aluminum would be ideal, but it would probably add $20-$25 to the cost of the case. In fact, SilverStone markets a nearly identical case, the GD10, with an aluminum door over the plastic fascia, and it costs around $95.
All right, now that we've covered the basic description and features of the GD09, let's see what it's like to actually build up a system in this case.