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

Assembly

PSU

As suggested on the previous page, SilverStone has tweaked an existing design to create the RVZ01-E. And while the trail-blazing video card tray hasn't seen any changes, the power supply bracket certainly has. As you can see here, you actually need to attach the power supply to the bracket, and then install the bracket in the case. Because the power supply bracket is essentially the same width as the case itself, it screws right into the side panel, which is a little unusual. We're actually wondering if over time this could warp the thin metal of the side panel, as an ATX power supply is fairly heavy. Note that SilverStone recommends that installation of the power supply be one of the last steps of assembly, and the reason is simple: it's hard to angle the motherboard into its rear I/O panel if the power supply is already in the case, as there's practically zero clearance between the board and power supply. That's not a problem for PSU installation, as it drops right into place.

But that is a problem for cabling, because it means all your cables will be added after the whole system is built, unless you take the unusual step of routing your modular power cables without a PSU installed. We actually recommend this, because many of the decisions you'll make about where various cables go will depend on where the power cables need to be routed. We have one last helpful tip for builders using the RVZ01-E: don't forget to flip the main power switch on your PSU before you bolt it into place, because you'll otherwise have a whole lot of disassembly to do to get your system up and running!

SSD Support

Unfortunately, that's not where the challenges end with regard to building up a system in the RVZ01-E. At left you can see pictured a combination SSD tray and video card support, borrowed from the original RVZ01. Well, it may have worked in that case, but it does not work here. Not only do you have the video card's own power cables to contend with, but the RVZ01-E throws two more challenges at you: first there's the front panel cabling, which is located next to the power supply in the RVZ01, but in this version must snake its way past the SSD tray, and second, the great wall of cables that protrude from the power supply itself. Simply put, this was a challenge like none we've ever seen in our many years of PC building, and frankly we gave up. Trying to install that SSD tray right up against the thick power supply cables, while also providing enough space to actually route those cables in various directions is simply impossible. We left the SSD tray out, which meant that our GPU tray was not fully supported.

This, we feel, was a critical error on SilverStone's part. Even with the shortest ATX power supply on the market, even with using the fewest number of cables possible (one PCIe, one SATA, the 24-pin motherboard cable, and the 8-pin CPU cable), we had a huge mess on our hands. And that's ignoring the thick USB 3.0 front panel cable that's a challenge in just about any case.

It was at this point that we actually considered scrapping this review entirely and pulling all our gear out to reinstall it in our trusty RVZ02. But we stopped just short, realizing that we might be able to help out our fellow ITX builders, while giving SilverStone some friendly feedback along the way. So we threw the SSD bracket in the accessory box and pressed ahead with our project, as can be seen below.

VGA install

With all cables tucked away (using the periphery of the case as much as possible), we were ready to drop our GPU into place. And this was where we met our last challenge: getting it into place while ensuring that no cables got caught up in the fan blades. This step you really must do blind, as you simply cannot see or feel what's below the GPU once it's in place. That's why it's so important to sort through the cables before you install the video card. Note that while extra-long video cards are in theory supported, even getting our relatively-compact 10.5" GTX 1080 in place was difficult. Again, this is a problem that wasn't quite as dire in the original RVZ01, as there were no front panel cables in the GPU area. We also want to make clear that given the loss of the GPU support provided by the SSD tray, our GPU tray was somewhat free to move from side to side, potentially putting pressure on the PCIe riser card and the motherboard's PCIe slot. The tray is only attached to the top and back of the case as installed, with no attachment points inside the case. While we wouldn't worry about this for a system that will stay put throughout its life (the video card is essentially suspended from the top of the case, with gravity holding it in place), this certainly isn't a transport-ready configuration. And that's a huge shame, because the RVZ01-E is just begging to be taken on the road given its trim dimensions.

Performance

OK, so we had our issues with the build process, but how does this case perform? Well, in a word, great. The CPU has plenty of room to breathe, and while we didn't use the biggest heatsink possible, that may have been a good thing, as the fan wasn't pressed right up against a case panel as it is in thinner cases like the RVZ02. The GPU also ran amazingly cool, and this was in part due to the dual 120mm fans blowing directly into it. We will admit, however, that the slim fans SilverStone is using buzz a bit more than we'd like, but that's typical of such designs. Making matters a bit worse is that the minimum controllable speed of these fans is around 950RPM. That means getting a silent setup isn't going to be entirely possible. Given a decent enough heatsink on your GPU, however, you really don't need them.

Another thing that made the cooling situation better in the RVZ01-E than the RVZ02 is that the RVZ01-E has abundant, relatively-unobstructed vents on both ends, allowing the PSU to push hot air out the bottom (if the fan even runs!), while CPU and GPU heat can escape out the back or rise up through the top. And this is one area where having a single chamber might be better than dual chambers: CPU heat doesn't get stuck in the lower half of the case as it would if there were a solid barrier separating the CPU from the GPU.

Under maximum load, our CPU hit around 72°C, which is great given that it was running at 4.4GHz, while our GPU settled into the typical 74°C-78°C range it hits even in a large ATX case. So, in short, you're not sacrificing performance with this case, at least if you keep your overclocks to sane levels.

There's one minor caveat regarding cooling performance we should mention here: SilverStone includes high-quality mesh filters to cover the case's three fan slots. For builders seriously concerned about dust buildup, this is a great option. But in our testing, these mesh filters obstructed so much airflow that they significantly impacted cooling. In our opinion, lack of airflow is far more dangerous to electronic components than dust (especially SSDs and CPUs), and given this fact, we're not exactly sure why so many case manufacturers have jumped on the dust filter bandwagon. That's why we're glad SilverStone doesn't pre-install these filters at the factory, instead giving builders the option of installing them if they have a need for extra dust protection.

Finished looks

Conclusion

SilverStone is never afraid to iterate, innovate, or push boundaries where necessary. That's why we are always interested in what they have to offer in the case market. With the RVZ01-E, SilverStone takes a proven, popular case, the RVZ01, drops the costly (and outdated) slot-loading optical drive bay, opens up the space for use by an ATX power supply, and still offers the best cooling you'll see in a slim console-style ITX case.

But SilverStone needed to make quite a few concessions in modifying the RVZ01 to fit ATX power supplies, and to what end? You'll still need to go with a 140mm model, which basically means SilverStone on the high-end or Corsair on the low-end, and even then you're stuck with a massive amount of cabling that just doesn't fit in the RVZ01-E as well as it should. We've got to wonder why SilverStone went to all this effort when you could already get great SFX-L units that have more than enough power to support any possible build that would fit in an ITX chassis. In fact, SilverStone makes the very best SFX-L units on the market, including the 700W Platinum-rated model we've reviewed, so SilverStone already had builders covered there.

In the end, we're going to call a spade a spade here: the RVZ01-E is an experiment that simply didn't go quite right. That doesn't take away from the great achievements SilverStone has already made in the ITX market, and it's clear that the company wanted to provide a unique, custom case for the niche segment of the PC builder community looking to jam as much wattage as possible into a slim design. We think that's great, and as long as builders understand what the RVZ01-E is and is not, it's a good choice. But for anyone new to ITX PCs, or those who simply want the easiest ITX building experience, the RVZ01-E is most definitely not the one.

As of our publication date, the SilverStone Raven RVZ01-E is available for $89.99 shipped free from Amazon. The older Raven RVZ01, which requires an SFX or SFX-L power supply, is $79.99 shipped from Amazon after rebate. We think the RVZ01 is the overall superior design, although our very favorite model in the Raven series is the ultra-slim Raven RVZ02, available for $79.99 shipped from Amazon.

To see our most recent case recommendations in the ITX market, from SilverStone and a host of other manufacturers, check out our Introduction to Building a Small Form Factor PC, updated monthly!

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