Video Card Magic
We benched this system with an EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti ACX 6GB video card, which we'll show you installed in a moment, but first we wanted to illustrate how truly cavernous the video card bay of the RVZ02 is. Here you can see the Sapphire Radeon R9 290 Tri-X 4GB installed in the case. At over 12" long, it's the biggest video card we have in our test stable, and even it easily slips right into the RVZ02 case. That's pretty impressive for a case as portable as the RVZ02. It's almost as if Silverstone designed the RVZ02 to be a video card with a PC strapped to its back.
Before moving onto the GeForce and our performance figures, we should mention the truly brilliant magic trick that Silverstone has conjured up to make this video card sleight of hand possible. It's a two piece PCIe adapter, shown here. The top adapter serves to turn the PCIe slot 90 degrees, and the bottom adapter extends it into the video card bay on the flipside of the case. Nothing too fancy, but this custom bit of engineering works exactly as intended and fits perfectly in this case. Clearly, this is one example of Silverstone actually tailoring a component to a specific application and getting the enginnering just right.
All right, enough ooh-ing and ah-ing, time to get our GeForce card installed. In the RVZ02, the 10.5" GTX 980 Ti looks positively tiny. And that's a good thing, because it means the card will have plenty of room to breathe. While we typically recommend blower-style cards for ITX cases, in the RVZ02, they aren't necessary, as the video card essentially has a mini-ecosystem all unto itself. It takes in air through exterior vents, exhausts air out the same vents, and never sends any of its hot exhaust towards other components. Well, actually, in our sample build, it does affect one component - the M.2 SSD. And, alas, we just don't think these rear-mounted SSDs make much sense, because they'll either be entirely unvented, or in the case of the RVZ02, they'll be hit by tons of exhaust heat from the video card. It idled at a relatively-high 40 °C, and we routinely saw it hit above 50 °C under a gaming load. That's just too high for comfort, given that SSDs typically operate closer to 30 °C in the 2.5" form factor when exposed to standard case ventilation.
For the final "glamour shot", we decided to photograph the system with the Radeon installed, as its bold coloring really shows off the acrylic side window of the RVZ02 case. Our EVGA GTX 980 Ti's styling is significantly more subdued in comparison and just blends into the black background of the case interior. We should note that Silverstone also markets another version of the RVZ02, technically the RVZ02B rather than the RVZ02B-W that we tested, which eschews the transparent side panel for a meshed side panel instead. This is great for dust control, but perhaps not as good for aesthetics (depending on personal taste, of course). It will also cut down on airflow significantly, as the vented panel is smaller and obviously obstructed slightly by the mesh. We recommend it primarily for home theater PC use, while the version we profile here is really better for a high-end gaming machine.
Unfortunately, we can't end our discussion of building this system without a bit more bad news. The Silverstone SX500-LG, while more than up to the task of powering our mini-monster, was not a particularly docile creature. Sure, it shuts its fan off at idle, which is a neat feature, but once it spins up, some pretty nasty traits become apparent. Its fan bearings just aren't properly balanced, and when it's in the middle of its RPM range, it emits a noticeable scratching sound that is far louder and more obnoxious than any of the other fans in the case. And that's a shame, because at full-tilt, the power supply is fairly quiet. As we've said before and we'll say again, Silverstone is a master of theoretical design, but this slip up is pretty unacceptable in a power supply as expensive as the SX500-LG, and the unit is clearly of lower quality than any other ~$100 power supply we've tested. [Update: we took advantage of Amazon's amazing return policy on defective products, getting a new SX500 cross-shipped to us at no cost, and we're happy to report that the replacement sounds much better than the original. We recommend that if you buy this model, you get it from Amazon as well].
On the next page, we'll give you some performance metrics and provide our closing thoughts on our latest foray into the world of ITX computing.