SilverStone ML05 HTPC Case Review


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ML05 Overview

The 7-liter mini-ITX ML05 is a new addition to the Milo series.  Designed as entry-level home theater PC cases that are a step down from the Grandia series, the ML05 is a forward-thinking enclosure that takes advantage of the industry’s trend of shrinking form factors.


SilverStone’s HTPC cases have traditionally sported a brushed aluminum front fascia.  With the ML05, SilverStone tried a different direction and went with a mirrored acrylic face – and when I say mirrored, I mean mirrored.  I’ve got to be honest, I would have greatly preferred to see them stick with brushed aluminum (interestingly enough, after receiving the ML05 for review an ML06 was announced that returns aluminum to the front panel).  It isn’t ugly, but it’s just not my first choice in materials as acrylic tends to scratch easily and highlight every single fingerprint.  For someone that prefers matte finishes like myself, mirror is about the furthest I can get from my preferences.  Of course, that’s just me – although I can’t help but think such a rapid development of a new front fascia means there’s quite a few out there that agree with me…  For such an interesting choice of materials, the ML05 still manages to look pretty stylish.  At least it’ll blend in nicely with its surroundings – or should I say, reflect them?


The top cover hooks into the front face plate and is secured by three screws in back.  I’m not sure why SilverStone doesn’t just include thumbscrews for this, but to be fair it is an HTPC case – constant tinkering isn’t in the mission statement for such cases.  It’s a little tough to gauge how small the ML05 really is in photos – the mesh square on the right side fits a 120mm fan, if that helps.  Width and height (depth, when in a normal orientation) in the photo above measure 350mm by 204mm.  The other mesh vent on top is the intake for an SFX power supply.


The bottom of the ML05 is very plain, only depicting small rings in the corners where the included rubber feet are installed (the two in the center are raised for the power supply mount inside, and also contain rubber domes).


The right side contains a standard USB 3.0 and headphone/microphone jack arrangement and space for two optional 80mm fans.  I discovered an exhaust fan installed here does a great job of assisting with cooling the CPU, but as always in such small enclosures the main factor will be the components you choose to install in the first place.  The open mesh does an acceptable job of exhausting heat without fans, but the option for more airflow is always appreciated.


There isn’t any wasted space on the back panel either, with room for a single half-height expansion card.  An additional “utility” slot is available above the motherboard, but it is oriented the wrong way if you planned on using any PCI-E risers or ribbon connectors – it’s designed for fan controllers and switches that occupy a PCI slot.  A knock-out can accept a VGA connector (commonly added as an expansion on some half-height graphics cards), allowing you to keep the half-height compatibility and still add the VGA port.  A Kensington lock slot above the SFX PSU completes the tour, so let’s take off that panel and look inside.


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