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SilverStone ML05 HTPC Case Review

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ML05 Detailed Features

ML05_SizeCompare

Although the perspective makes it a little difficult, hopefully the above image helps depict the small size of the ML05.  That’s a 120mm SilverStone fan leaning against the case – the ML05 only stands 99mm tall.  You could almost squeeze three 120mm fans across the front, but it would still overhang 10mm past the ML05’s 350mm width.

ML05_Inside

Removing the top cover reveals just enough room for a mini-ITX motherboard, a drive cage for four 2.5″ drives and enough room for a SFX PSU.  There’s a small cross-brace that helps keep the sides from flexing (the normal brackets that would occupy the corners to perform this task take up too much room in such a small enclosure), and the 4-in-1 multi-purpose bracket on the right helps stiffen the structure as well.

ML05_TieDowns

They may be a little hard to see, but the front panel has a few tie-down points for cables to assist with some cable management.  That’s about as much as you can expect for such a small case – even many micro-ATX cases have cabling challenges, so there’s not much you can do when you have only 7 liters to work with.  It’s not like you’re going to block a lot of airflow though (unless you bundle all of the cables next to the 80mm fan mounts…) so you should be able to use these tie-down points adequately.

ML05_Bracket25

The modular 4-in-1 bracket allows for – well, four different configurations.  I suppose you didn’t really need me to clear that up, but let’s take a look at what those configuration are.  Obviously, you could just leave it open and improve airflow to the CPU that’ll be positioned right underneath (but that doesn’t count as one of the four).  Or, you could add two 2.5″ drives to this bracket.  Although it is possible, I’d say there isn’t much point to placing 2.5″ drives here (unless you’ve already used up the four locations in the drive cage).  At least you’ll still get some airflow to the CPU cooler with this configuration as it doesn’t completely block the vent.

ML05_Bracket35HDD

Again, although possible I’m not sure if I’d recommend using a 3.5″ drive here.  A “thick” hard drive wouldn’t even fit on top of the stock AMD CPU cooler for the A10-5800K, and using a very slim 3.5″ solid state drive ended up blocking a lot of airflow to the CPU causing the fan to spin up much more often (increasing noise substantially over leaving this vent open).  It’s nice that the option is there, but you should really be looking at 2.5″ drives or SSDs for a case this small anyway.  Still, with a low TDP processor and a low profile cooler, it’s a very valid option and impressive for such a small case.

ML05_Bracket120

For a “Steam machine” or other light gaming build, a 120mm fan might make the most amount of sense for the modular bracket.  Mounted as an intake directly over the CPU and complemented by 80mm exhausting fans, this would undoubtedly assist immensely with cooling.  The A10-5800K stock cooler I used was too tall to allow this though, so I’d have to stick with just the vented opening.  That’s too bad, but to be expected when you only have 37-70mm of clearance for the CPU cooler itself (the clearance is a range depending on what you place on this modular bracket).  For specific distances, be sure to check the chart on page 13 in the included manual.

That’s only three!  What about the four in “4-in-1″?  The final configuration would be a slim slot-loading optical drive.  In a case this small, an optical drive of any kind is impressive.  I don’t have any on hand, but the only ones I’ve seen available cost almost twice as much as the ML05 itself.  Personally, I have a hard time spending that much for the convenience of having a drive inside the enclosure – I’d rather just use an external drive for movies or rip them on another machine and stream them, but at least the option is there for the people that want it.  I’ve heard certain drives can have problems “grabbing” an optical disc since it is set back a little into the chassis (while others don’t have an issue), but I don’t have the equipment to prove or disprove that particular statement.


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