ProsHuge airflow thanks to four 120mm fans, mesh front panel, and clean interior; great looks; low price
ConsFan hub offers no speed control; very limited cable management space behind motherboard
Here at The Tech Buyer's Guru, we really like reviewing cases. That's why we've reviewed more PC cases than any other tech product. This is despite the fact that they are incredibly time-consuming to review, because a proper writeup requires that you actually build a PC in them (which oddly, a lot of reviews on the Internet don't). And while big changes in other areas of PC technology get lots of press, the equally-important changes in case design often get overlooked, despite the fact that in the grand scheme of things, they might actually have a much greater impact on your user experience. This is doubly true if you intend to keep a case for a while, tweaking, refreshing, or completely rebuilding your PC over time, but sticking with the same chassis. That's why every year, we aim to review the best new cases at a variety of pricepoints in order to give our readers a "best of" list that keeps up with the times. These top-rated cases end up being the driving force behind our Do-it-Yourself PC Buyer's Guides, as they are the very first component readers will focus on as they select the right PC for their needs.
To keep up with all the latest designs, we spend a lot of time chatting with PC case vendors at trade shows each year (primarily CES and PAX West), which gives us a preview of all the "next big things" in PC cases long before they actually hit store shelves. And that's how we came to review the subject of this article, the SilverStone RL06-Pro. SilverStone had a number of new cases on display at CES 2017, and right off the bat, this case was the one we thought had the greatest market potential, and therefore the one we most wanted to review. We've seen what it takes to make a case a #1 best seller. Back in 2015, we picked up the NZXT S340 as soon as it was released and published one of the first S340 reviews on the web. We called it a winner, moreso for the forward-looking changes it brought to case design than for actual execution. And sure enough, today the S340 is the top-selling case in America in the coveted $50-$100 price bracket where most PC case buyers shop. Could the RL06-Pro unseat the S340 and thus become the next #1 best seller? Read on to find out!
We'd like to extend a special thank you to SilverStone for providing a review sample of the SilverStone RL06-Pro White Case.
Description and Features
SilverStone markets the RL06-Pro as a high-performance case at a budget price. To achieve this performance, SilverStone starts with the basics: a main compartment devoid of drive bays, a fully-meshed front and top panel, and four 120mm fans, three mounted up front. Due to the compact layout of the RL06-Pro, those front fans are surprisingly close to the components they're actually supposed to cool (i.e., the CPU and GPU), unlike in larger cases where front-mounted fans blow directly into closed drive bays, where the air is dissipated before it reaches gear that really needs the cooling. The case is 477mm tall and 455mm deep, quite tidy for an ATX case. Like many SilverStone cases, the RL06-Pro is also surprisingly narrow, at just 200mm wide. That gives it one of the smallest footprints of any ATX case, but also comes with its drawbacks, as we'll discuss on the next page.
The RL06-Pro features top-mounted data ports on par with more expensive cases: two USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports. Note that these are all of the Type-A variety, and we anticipate it will be a while before we start seeing Type-C ports on many cases, let alone lower-cost cases. SilverStone tried that approach with its RL05 case, but users took issue with the reduced number of Type-A ports this entailed, as Type-C is almost impossible to find being used by any peripherals or accessories today. The RL06-Pro has a nice-looking power button with an LED bezel, but oddly leaves out a reset button. This has been a trend in case design for the last couple of years, and we're not sure how we feel about it. Yes, we understand that resetting a system can be done by a hard power-down in case of a crash, but it's still a nice option to have, and probably wouldn't add anything to the cost. The RL06-Pro does at least come equipped with a drive activity LED, along with headphone and microphone ports.
We'll highlight some of the RL06-Pro's other major features on the next page when we step through the assembly process, but first, let's go over the components we used to put the case to the test:
- CPU: Intel Core i7-7700K
- Motherboard: MSI Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon (thank you to MSI for providing this review sample)
- Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 SC 8GB
- SSD #1: Samsung 850 Evo 500GB M.2
- SSD #2: Crucial MX300 1TB 2.5"
- RAM: Corsair Vengeance 2x8GB DDR4-3000
- CPU Cooler: Arctic Freezer i32 (thank you to Arctic for providing this review sample)
- Power Supply: SilverStone Strider 850W Platinum (thank you to SilverStone for providing this review sample)
- Operating System: Windows 10 Flash Drive
This is in fact our brand-new mid/high-end benchmarking system, and we'll be publishing a step-by-step assembly guide using these same components soon. SilverStone got lucky here, because there were a number of cases we were eyeing for this role, including the fantastic Phanteks Enthoo Pro M (a cost-reduced, higher-airflow version of the Phanteks Enthoo Evolv that we reviewed and loved), the sleek CoolerMaster MasterCase Pro 5, as well as some great new cases from Thermaltake (one of which we'll likely be reviewing soon). We've also had discussions with Corsair about the cases they've announced over the past six months or so, but in reality, all of these cases (the Crystal 460X, the Crystal 570X, and the Air 740) have been delayed again and again, and in any event focus more on style than performance.
One thing that all of those cases have in common is that they cost more than the $70 RL06-Pro, which says something about the value proposition offered by the RL06-Pro. Yes, it's smaller than those cases, which limits component selection somewhat, but in terms of style, features, and performance, it's right on par with them. We're pretty confident you won't find another $70 case from any manufacturer than includes the RL06-Pro's 10-port fan hub, four fans (let alone LED fans), along with high-quality craftmanship. We've provided a closeup interior view of the front fans to better illustrate their layout. Two drive air directly into the main compartment, while the lower fan sends most of its airflow through the bottom-mounted drive bay and PSU area.
Note that the chassis allows you to use either triple 120mm fans or dual 140mm fans, but it does not allow for customizing the location of these fans. The pre-drilled screw holes set those positions for you, and dual 140mm fans would be stacked at the bottom of the case, an unfortunate setup for cooling purposes. The triple-120mm array defintely makes the most sense in this case in terms of both cooling and exterior aesthetics. The LED lighting shining through the entire front fascia just looks great!
To help keep the interior clean despite the massive amount of air that will be flowing through it, the RL06-Pro includes filters for all of its intakes. A large, easily-removable mesh screen guards the front-mounted triple fan array, using a huge number of fine holes, which we find to be the most-effective, least-restrictive type of filter. It's the same type of metal screen you'll find on windows, and there's a reason people use it in their homes - it keeps everything but the air out! The top vent (which can accommodate a 240mm radiator or dual 140mm fans) uses a very slick removable plastic filter held on by magnets. It's easy to pull off, yet stays in place perfectly. Our only concern is that the plastic crimps easily, so if you don't handle it gently, you might find it's picked up a permanent crease, as ours did. Note that with top-mounted filters, the goal is really just to keep objects from falling in without blocking too much airflow, as the optimal thermal layout will always be to use this area for exhaust, not intakes. The bottom power supply intake uses a smaller plastic mesh filter, identical to the top filter, but much smaller. Like the top filter, it's also removable (by sliding out), in case you don't want to use it. We'd prefer to see a fine metal-mesh screen here, like the one used for the front fans, as these really do trap dust better than plastic filters.
All right, now that we've covered the basic description and features of the RL06-Pro, let's get cracking on that build of ours to see how it works in practice!