ProsIncredibly small yet big enough to run a high-end system; excellent ventilation; very low price
ConsThin sheetmetal leads to some flexing; must choose components wisely; no fan included
Here at The Tech Buyer's Guru, we begin every case review by noting that we really like reviewing cases. In fact, we've reviewed more PC cases than any other tech product. 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 they might have a greater impact on your overall user experience. And our very favorite area of case design is in the Small Form Factor area, with our top-rated SFF cases becoming featured picks in our popular Small Form Factor PC Buyer's Guides.
Anyone who's followed the SFF market for the past decade or so has inevitably come across the name SilverStone. The Taiwan-based company has done more to develop the SFF market, and particularly the mini-ITX market, than any other manufacturer. SilverStone developed a loyal following with its original miniature shoebox-style case, the Sugo SG05, released back in 2009, and went toe-to-toe with Apple in terms of sleek industrial design with its high-end FT03-Mini, released in 2011. But tastes change, and SilverStone works hard to keep up with consumer preferences. One of the biggest drawbacks of the SG05 is that it couldn't fit video cards larger than 9.5" without modification. That was the standard size of midrange Nvidia-based GeForce cards like 2010's GTX 470 and 2012's GTX 670, but few cards are released at that size today. The standard is now most definitely 10.5", so SilverStone had to adjust to a changing marketplace. And that's exactly what it's done with the SG13 we're reviewing here. Essentially, the SG13 is an SG05 that's been hollowed out to allow bigger components to fit (this applies to both video cards and power supplies), while eliminating compatibility with a specific piece of gear that just isn't all that commonplace today: the optical drive.
So how does this "factory mod" work out in the end? Is the SG13 the perfect case for a high-end ultra-compact PC? Read on to find out!
We'd like to extend a special thank you to SilverStone for providing a review sample of the SilverStone SG13B ITX Case.
Description and Features
Let's start with the specification that really sets the SG13 apart: size. It's just 8.74" wide, 7.13" high, and 11.22" deep, with a total volume of just 11.5 liters. That makes it the smallest ITX case from any major manufacturer that can fit a high-end video card. For some PC builders, that will be reason enough to choose it!
But let's take step back. When it comes to building a Small Form Factor case, component selection matters, and this is particularly true when building a system in the SG13. While SilverStone's specs for the case suggest you can equip it with an ATX power supply, a 140mm liquid CPU cooler, a 3.5" hard drive, and a 10.5" video card, combining more than a couple of these items together will lead to a PC building nightmare. It simply won't work. We think the most critical aspect of the SG13's design is the ability to fit 10.5" video cards, so we'll let that be our starting point. We wanted our Titan X Pascal in the build, and everything else would have to make way. That meant no 140mm radiator up front, indeed no 140mm fan at all. Furthermore, we chose not to use an ATX power supply, which as we'll show a bit later is really the right move for this case.
With those considerations in mind, here's the list of components we used to put it to the test:
- CPU: Intel Core i7-7700K
- Motherboard: Asus Z170I Pro Gaming (current version being the Asus Z270I ROG Strix)
- Video Card: Nvidia Titan X Pascal 12GB (current version being the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB)
- SSD #1: Samsung 850 Evo 500GB
- RAM: Corsair Vengeance 2x8GB DDR4-3000
- Case: SilverStone Sugo SG13 (thank you to SilverStone for providing this review sample)
- CPU Cooler: SilverStone NT06-Pro (thank you to SilverStone for providing this review sample)
- Case Fan: Arctic F12 PWM 120mm
- Power Supply: SilverStone Strider SX700-LPT (thank you to SilverStone for providing this review sample)
- Power Supply Bracket: SilverStone RL-PP08B ATX to SFX (thank you to SilverStone for providing this review sample)
- Operating System: Windows 10 Flash Drive
This is a very high-end build, and we're guessing that most builders who choose ultra-high-end video cards like the Titan X Pascal (or the similarly-fast GTX 1080 Ti) will think they need to spend a lot on their case too. Well, as it happens, there's only so much you can spend on a compact ITX case - there's nothing remotely as small as the SG13 available for more than $100, and most cases in the size class are around $50 to $70. Note that the SG13 is both the smallest and least expensive of the widely-available shoebox-style cases.
There's not too much to say in terms of features. You're basically getting a vented metal box to hold your components. The SG13 has just the basics when it comes to front-mounted connectors and switches. You get standard 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks, two USB 3.0 ports, a LED drive activity light, and a power button. Similar to many of its other recent cases, SilverStone has not included a reset switch. This isn't a serious omission, as the power button can always be used to shut off the system, although some users may lament its omission. What you can't see in the photos on this page, but will be evident later in this review, is that SilverStone has included downward-facing blue LED accent lighting. We frankly had no idea this case even featured LED lighting until we finished our build and powered it on, so you too will have to wait to see what it looks like! We're a bit surprised SilverStone hasn't made this obvious in its marketing, as we think most potential buyers would want to know about it (and many would view it as a positive).
As can be seen in the photo below, the case is really quite simple, with just a mesh intake filter added as an embellishment. We've provided this "exploded" view to show you exactly what comes in the box (minus the vented metal exterior shell). The ATX power supply brace helps support the weight of heavy ATX PSUs, but we didn't use it, as we equipped this build with an SFX-class unit. One thing we should note about the SG13 is that it's made of pretty thin sheetmetal. We were surprised that when we placed it on a level surface, the floor of the case would pop and flex under little more than the weight of the components inside. In the end, we don't think this hurts anything, but it does go to show that inexpensive materials were used.
All right, now that we've covered the basic description and features of the SG13, let's see what it's like to actually build up a system in this case.