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
There are a few "gotchas" when it comes to assembling a PC in this case, resulting from its compact design. The first thing you're going to want to do when building a system in this case is to install the power supply. While you might be tempted to install the motherboard, you'll regret that decision quickly due to a quirk in this case's design. Specifically, there is no panel behind the motherboard - just the bottom of the case. That means traditional "cable management" goes out the window, as does common cable routing tricks. What we found right away was that our power supply's 12v EPS 4+4-pin connector (also known as a CPU power connector) could not be routed to the top of the motherboard where it's needed unless the cable went under the motherboard. And because there is no back panel, you can't get that cable under the motherboard unless you lay it there before the motherboard is in place. Potential purchasers of the GD09 - consider yourself forewarned! There is one other serious gotcha when it comes to the GD09 case, and we'll get to that later on this page.
Luckily, once the power supply (and its cables) were properly installed, the motherboard went in without a hitch. Note that we pre-assembled it outside the case, as you must with any third-party CPU cooler on Intel's mainstream platform, given that there is no rear motherboard access. If you're using the stock Intel cooler, an AMD Ryzen CPU, or an Intel X99 board, you won't face the same restriction, but you'll probably want to install the cooler outside the case just for easier access. The crossbar running down the middle of the case can be easily removed, although we didn't find that necessary with our low-profile cooler installed. And yes, you will want a low-profile cooler... again, something we'll get to in a moment. Note that in the photo below, we've removed the power supply to give a very clear view of how the motherboard fits in the case without all the power cables getting in the way.
Once you have your motherboard and power supply in the case, you can work on installing hard drives. The sole dedicated SSD "tray" is simply the bottom portion of the case above the power supply area, which we discussed on the previous page. It's not ideal, and it's certainly not fancy, but it works, sort of. Much more impressive are the dedicated 3.5" and 5.25" drive bays. In the accompanying photo, you can see the creative vertical bay right up against the front of the case. While we appreciate that SilverStone has really fit in a lot of hard drive mounting options, this front tray (which is equipped with anti-vibration padding, by the way), isn't ideal for hard drive thermals, so we chose not to use it in the end.
Instead, we placed our hard drive in the "hanging" tray underneath the 5.25" bay. This was very easy to use, as the entire tray comes out, and it puts the hard drive right in the line of airflow, assuming you install additional case fans beyond the single fan the case comes with from the factory. You can see the entire bay assembly, with hard drive and optical drive mounted, in the photo here. Note that because the optical drive actually needs to be installed through the front of the case, this is for illustration purposes only. You can't actually drop the entire bay in with the optical drive attached.
Now comes the big problem with the GD09's design: the drive tray overhangs the motherboard to such a significant degree that it essentially makes the use of high-end CPU coolers impossible. We tried a variety of arrangements, including several that clearly should have worked according to SilverStone's published specs. Let us quote from the GD09 manual:
The GD09 has 138mm height limitation for CPU cooler and clearance of 8mm beyond the motherboard. If no optical drive is installed, there is 170mm of room from the front panel to the motherboard edge. The clearance below the optical drive is 88mm.
Uh, huh. Well, here's what we learned: none of that is at all relevant in the real world. The hanging 3.5" bay actually interferes with any large low-profile cooler, while the optical drive will make it absolutely impossible to mount any tower cooler. SilverStone suggested that some tower coolers will work if you mount the fan on the exhaust side (i.e., the wrong side) of the cooler. Yes, well, that's technically true, but we're not going to go on record supporting that installation method. As far as we're concerned, you should be using a stock Intel cooler, the Noctua NH-L9x65, or AMD's new Wraith Spire (shipped with mid-range Ryzen processors). As can be seen below, the installation of larger coolers like the Noctua NH-C14S or SilverStone AR08 went south very quickly. Our word of advice: don't chance it.
On the next page, we'll discuss our impressions of the case from a cooling and acoustics point of view.