Pros

Great cooling and sleek exterior design; innovative PCIe riser design; can fit compact ATX PSUs

Cons

The interior is simply too tight; the ATX power supply option creates more problems than it solves

Star Rating

The Raven

Introduction

One of the things we set out to do when we founded The Tech Buyer's Guru back in 2013 was to give ITX builders a place to learn all that there is to know about ITX cases, ITX components, and building ITX systems. That was a lofty goal, and we're surely not there yet, but with each new ITX case review we do, and with each new hands-on ITX assembly guide we publish, we get closer to seeing the full picture, and we hope that comes through in our coverage.

And so when we saw the prototype Raven RVZ01-E displayed at CES 2016, our interest was piqued. We reached out to SilverStone as soon as it released the RVZ01-E in the U.S., and they were kind enough to provide a sample for review. Note that the RVZ01-E is not the first case in the Raven family, nor even the first Raven we've worked with. It's a follow-up to the original, groundbreaking RVZ01, and a cousin to the RVZ02, which we dedicated an entire step-by-step assembly guide to. So, is this the ultimate Raven, or has SilverStone messed one too many times with success? Read on to find out!

We'd like to extend a special thank you to SilverStone for providing the SilverStone Raven RVZ01-E ITX Case and SilverStone Strider 850W Platinum Power Supply used in this review. All other components were purchased at retail.

Description and Features

SilverStone markets the RVZ01-E to high-end ITX PC builders looking for a no-compromise solution. It can fit large graphics cards, which are typically necessary for serious gaming, along with CPU coolers up to 83mm tall. That makes it relatively unique among slim cases. It can also fit ATX power supplies, and while SilverStone specifies that units up to 150mm long can be used, it recommends 140mm units (the shortest you'll find in the ATX market, and made by only a handful of manufacturers). Trust us when we say that SilverStone might as well have spec'd this case for 140mm units only, as no one in their right mind will want to cram a 150mm unit in here!

Comparo

To give readers a sense of the 14-liter RVZ01-E's size, we've placed it next to the 12-liter RVZ02, which many builders would likely think is significantly smaller based on its volume measurement alone. Interestingly, the RVZ02 is actually significantly deeper, and only hits its lower overall volume due to being much narrower. That means the RVZ02 can't fit the kind of CPU coolers you might want for an overclocked CPU, let alone the ATX power supply we used for this review. But in terms of portability, the RVZ01-E may in fact be the winner. It's 382mm (W) X 105mm (H) X 350mm (D), versus 380mm (W) x 87mm (H) x 370mm (D) for the RVZ02.

So, the big question is whether the extra width of the RVZ01-E is put to good use. One of the challenges SilverStone had when converting the RVZ01 to the RVZ01-E had to do with cable management. Obviously, an ATX power supply is larger, but it also has longer cables. All this meant that the RVZ01's front port panel was moved into the GPU section, as can be seen below. This will cause some fitment issues that we'll discuss on the next page. Also of note: the RVZ01 has a single-chamber design, which means the GPU must be mounted on a tray and then dropped into position. The RVZ02's major innovation was a dual-chamber design, which allowed direct access to both the CPU and GPU by providing side panels on both sides of the case. But in being as thin as it is, the RVZ02 gives up something critical that the RVZ01-E provides: room for case fans and powerful CPU coolers. The RVZ01-E in fact comes with two slim 120mm fans. As installed from the factory, you get one above the motherboard area and one in the GPU area, although you can install both above the GPU, and we chose to do just that, as shown on the next page.

Parts Shot

Here are the components we used to put the RVZ01-E case to the test, including many of the same components we used in the RVZ02, but with major changes in the GPU department (given a new generation is upon us!), as well as the PSU, where we use SilverStone's awesome 850W Platinum-rated ATX unit:

The System

  1. CPU: Intel Core i5-6600K @ 4.4GHz
  2. Motherboard: Asus Z170I Pro Gaming
  3. Memory: Team Vulcan 2x8GB DDR4-3000
  4. Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 SC 8GB
  5. Solid-State Drive: Samsung 850 Evo 500GB
  6. Power Supply: SilverStone Strider PS-ST85F-PT
  7. CPU Cooler: Thermalright AXP-100 Muscle
  8. Operating System: Windows 10 Home

This is in fact a fairly high-end build, especially with regard to the GPU, but the RVZ01 can definitely take it. The Thermalright CPU cooler we used is one we've used before. We knew it could handle this CPU, even overclocked to 4.4GHz as we ran it, so we chose not to switch to another model for this article. One issue with it, however, is its limited clearance above RAM slots and motherboard components. We had to use ultra-low-profile RAM sticks from Team to even utilize the Thermalright AXP-100, which doesn't say much for its ITX system compatibility. Note that we actually have eight low-profile coolers in for review, including three from SilverStone, and we'll be publishing a shootout soon. Suffice it to say that it's nice to have this much choice in the CPU cooler market, but not all slim coolers are created equal!

In case you haven't noticed yet, the RVZ01-E does not have an optical drive bay. We were never a fan of the slot-loading affair required for the RVZ01, but we actually like the tray-loading drive bay in the RVZ02. All that being said, optical drives are becoming a thing of the past (only three years after Apple declared them dead!), so the omission of an optical drive bay in the RVZ01-E isn't a serious concern from our point of view. You can always get an external drive like this Samsung model and never worry again about equipping your next PC with an internal drive!

All right, with the basic description out of the way, let's move on to what really counts: the building process and performance!

Next page