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SilverStone ML05 HTPC Case Review

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Building in the ML05

SilverStone was kind enough to send along one of their SFX power supplies, the 300W model SST-ST30SF (Newegg / Amazon).  With its intelligent fan operation that only turns on when the internal temp reaches 55C, this PSU is a really good choice for this enclosure and a good choice overall for an HTPC (it didn’t need the fan for cooling the entire time I tested it – I’m not sure you could even fit 300W of components in the ML05).  It even comes with a full size ATX bracket for use with larger cases if you desire.  You’ll probably need to pick up an SFX power supply if you decide to get into mini-ITX builds, and right now SilverStone is one of the main players in this market.

ML05_AccessoriesPSU

While the PSU includes the accessories on the left side in the photo above, the ML05 only comes with a few additional items.  The rubber feet will need to be installed, and some cable ties and rubber “stickers” (rubber spacers for reducing vibration if you opt to install a 120mm fan on the multi-purpose bracket) accompany the bag o’ screws, magnetic dust filter and manual.

ML05_25DriveMount

Drives can be installed at any time since the drive cage is removable (after the removal of three screws).  Otherwise, if you only want to attach them on one side make sure to slide them in before installing the motherboard!  As always, I find myself daydreaming of the 2.5″ tool-less stackable drive cage of Corsair’s Carbide Air 540, and would love to see a tool-less implementation in more cases – although, the removable cage in the ML05 does make it pretty simple to add drives even after a motherboard is installed.

ML05_PSUInstall2

The PSU itself installs easily, and you can see I was able to tuck the cables into the drive cage to keep them out of the way.  There happens to be just enough space for those cables in between the power supply and drive cage, and that’s where most of them ended up – making cable management a surprisingly easy task for such a miniature case.  Silverstone does make a modular SFX power supply, but I wouldn’t recommend it for this case (you just don’t have the clearance for modular connectors).  The SST-ST30SF was more than sufficient for the ML05, and the extra cables tucked neatly into this crevice.

ML05_Build1

I made a mental note to go back and sleeve those power/reset switch and LED cables for the front panel, as bundling them together would clean up the appearance of the interior greatly.  They’re long enough to reach most motherboards and do some clean cable routing, but mini-ITX boards are notorious for not following much of a standard layout – check your specific board and think about the wiring layout to plan ahead.

ML05_Build2

I simply grabbed most of the cables and pulled them against the front panel – for a more permanent installation those cable ties would come in handy, and the front tie-down points are well placed.

ML05_Build3

While it isn’t in this photo, I was curious what installing a 3.5″ drive on that multi-purpose bracket would do to the cabling.  Surprisingly, it was pretty easy to mount to the bracket and install it into the chassis with the data/power cables connected (it was a slim 3.5″ SSD, a regular HDD would not clear the A10-5800K’s stock cooler).  The drive was mounted the wrong way for most 90-degree SATA cables, but there was enough room for a regular connector (to make life a little easier, there are slim connectors on the market but they aren’t necessary).  Of course, an optical drive in the same location would put the cables at the back of the chassis, so that could get a little more interesting – especially with a half-height expansion card installed.  Still, for such a small enclosure it was actually really simple to get everything wired up and with a little more work you could get things looking pretty tidy.  The stiff USB 3.0 cable was annoying as always, but that’s pretty typical of most cases.

ML05_Final

 

The blue power LED is indirectly lit, making it visible but very subtle and not blinding whatsoever.  That’s important when a case like this will probably end up close to eye-level when sitting on a couch.  The overall appearance is pretty attractive, but some more aluminum on that front panel would do wonders… *ahem* ML06 *cough*….


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