ProsReasonable price for the unique functionality, form factor, and high build quality
ConsSomewhat compromised cooling of high-end builds; noisy included fan; unusual method of building
While not the newest compact Micro ATX case on the block, the Silverstone Temjin Series TJ08 Evolution, or TJ08-E for short, still sets the standard by which all other enthusiast-class micro ATX (mATX) cases are judged. This is in part because Silverstone has essentially cornered the market for innovative, space-saving designs. We feature Silverstone prominently in our Build Guides in part because for certain usage scenarios, Silverstone practically has no competition at all. That's especially true in the mini-ITX market, but the micro ATX market has existed for a long time and has plenty of competitors. This review will look at what makes the TJ08-E special, but also where it may stand to be improved in the next iteration.
Description and Features
Much of what makes Silverstone cases unique are their compact exterior dimensions, and this often leads to an equally unique interior design. This is often very much an exercise in function follows form, as the functioning of Silverstone cases can be anything but straightforward. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing, because in this case "form" is itself a function. If a case is too large for the space allotted for it, it doesn't really matter what the function is - the form has failed to allow for the intended function to be utilized. So let's take a look at the dimensions and capacity of the case on review.
The TJ08-E is 15.2" deep, 8.27" wide, and 14.7" tall, resuting in an exterior volume of 30.2 liters. While not a small form factor (SFF) case by any stretch of the imagination, this is very compact given all the hardware the TJ08-E can hold. It is surpassed in terms of compactness by very few mATX cases, even several years after its introduction, and most of these are other Silverstone cases! To realize just what an achievement those dimensions are, consider that the TJ08-E can accommodate a full-size 180mm power supply, two external 5.25" drives, five internal 3.5" drives, a 2.5" drive, a 165mm high tower-style CPU cooler, and dual 13.25" video cards. Now, we don't recommend filling it to capacity, because doing so would in essence fill the case end to end, bringing airflow to a halt. But there certainly isn't much wasted space in the design - everything has been structured to place a significant amount of componentry as close together as possible. Note in the picture above that the drive caddy is directly in front of the intake fan. That caddy holds four 3.5" drives, while the fifth spot resides in the permanent 3.5" bay at the bottom of the case - this can be used for either an 3.5" external device (like a card reader), or a 3.5" internal hard drive. Hidden beneath that bay, essentially on the floor of the case, is a mounting location for a 2.5" drive, such as a solid-state drive. Unlike all the other bays that result in cables pointing towards the back of the case, that drive mount orients the 2.5" drive laterally, such that the cable connections point towards the side of the case, which makes for very clean cabling.
That's not where the innovation ends, however. The TJ08-E also uses an aggressively positive airflow design, such that the case will always be actively pulling in more air than it is actively exhausting, based on the assumption that once cool air has entered the case, it will find its way to components requiring cooling and will in the process push existing hot air out. The TJ08-E in fact ships without any exhaust fans installed, and only has space for a single optional 120mm fan rear fan. Silverstone relies on the large 180mm "Penetrator" fan installed at the front intake to handle all the cooling duties. Note that even the power supply compartment, in the upper-rear quadrant of the case, is designed to reinforce this concept - the power supply's intake fan can only be pointed up, towards the outside of the case, and will not function as an exhaust fan for internal heat.
Silverstone may not provide many fans, but it does provide two excellent fan filters - one magnetic filter covering the power supply's intake on the top of the case (which does a fantastic job staying in place, by the way), along with a slide out fan filter for the 180mm front fan. These are both made of high-quality mesh, and they really do trap dust, which means they do need to be cleaned, but also means that less dust is entering the case. Some of the less expensive cases we've tested that offer "fan filters" really provide nothing more than a punched out metal sheet, which does not actually capture dust - it just blocks airflow. The filters on the TJ08-E actually achieve their intended goal without blocking much airflow.
That does not mean everything is ideal with regard to the TJ08-E's airflow, however. The Silverstone Penetrator 180mm fan has a very significant internal grill, as shown at right. Silverstone claims that this fan was designed specifically as an intake fan, and so its strength is not in airflow, but in directionality. The grill apparently is supposed channel air into a column, moving from the front of the case to the back. We have no way of testing Silverstone's claims, but what's obvious is that there just isn't much air being pushed through this grill. Even at the fan's maximum speed (around 1200 RPM), the airflow simply isn't what you'd expect of a fan this size. To make matters worse, at 1200 RPM, this fan is very loud, much louder than a 120mm fan at that speed, even a cheap 120mm fan. Compared to a high-quality 120mm fan using hydraulic bearings, the Penetrator's noise level at 1200 RPM is not even in the same league. That's disappointing, but at least Silverstone was thoughtful enough to provide an easy-to-use two-position switch on the right hand side of the case, just above the fan filter. You'll want to use it, perhaps along with motherboard fan controls, as the Penetrator is audible at anything above about 500 RPM, and above 900 RPM, it's uncomfortably loud for long-term use. Silverstone also sells a reduced-cost version of the TJ08-E called the Precision PS07, which utilizes twin 120mm front fans in place of the 180mm fan. We haven't tested that case, but to a certain extent, the use of twin 120mm fans could be superior, not just in terms of the total area dedicated to air intake, but also in terms of replacement with the fans of your choice. The 180mm fan size is proprietary to Silverstone - if you'll be replacing the fan, it will probably be with another Penetrator.