ATX Enthusiast Case Final Thoughts
I really appreciate the Raven line from SilverStone. To see these crazy ideas come to fruition and have a testbed where some of the latest engineering results can trickle down to their other cases is a fun thing to be a part of (rather than have it be restricted to some internal prototype). Of course, that’s why I like to upgrade and why I like having a chance to sample some of the latest designs from manufacturers – I’m not a “set it and forget it” type of guy, so the philosophy behind the Raven line really appeals to me.
The design language is such a departure from the rest of the Raven line that it seems more of a setup for the Raven RVZ01 (mini-ITX) case that has been under development. I personally preferred the angular “stealth bomber” look of the earlier Raven cases (I’m sure many disagree with me there), but SilverStone cases have that unique trait of looking even better in person than they do in pictures (that’s been my experience anyway). The Raven RV04 is no exception. Remember, the Raven series is for the “extreme” end of case design, there are more conservative options with the Fortress series of cases which share many of the same features.
SilverStone Raven RV04 Conclusion
While I use a testbed for most of my case builds, I don’t have a standardized test for performance as I’ll commonly tweak a build slightly to stress each case differently. This makes it a little difficult to measure performance between different cases objectively, so I try to rate each case based on its own merits. The Raven RV04 is again unique among standard ATX cases, using an inverted ATX configuration and only two 180mm AP fans as traditional front intakes. This positive pressure approach is very efficient and is capable of pushing cool air through the entire case; you can place your hand behind the vents in back and feel the heated air getting shoved out of the case. This type of efficiency results in a great noise/performance ratio – those two fans provide a lot of cooling potential without much of a noise tradeoff, even at full speed. Overall, I’m impressed with the RV04’s performance as an enthusiast case. Crossfire configurations still struggle a bit, but most cases without a side fan seem to have this in common (and two 7970s with open air coolers are going to get hot, no matter the case – unless you’re willing to ratchet up the noise levels).
Rating appearance is always difficult, especially with cases that have such polarizing designs like the Raven series. I’ll say this: I didn’t think I would like it until I saw it in person (which seems to be a common experience for me and SilverStone cases – some of the subtle details tend to stand out more in person). The design of the Raven RV04 makes more sense when you realize they were trying to “join” the surfaces of the case together, and the flowing design from front to top accomplishes that very well. I still prefer the stealth bomber / Lamborghini styling of the RV01 more than the others, but it’s amazing to see the efficiency improvements and engineering advances from case to case. Really, the RV04 executes its unique design very well – you just have to make your own decision if it fits your tastes or not.
The RV04 carries with it SilverStone’s excellent reputation for engineering and quality construction. There aren’t many companies that can pull off a case that uses only two fans for cooling and have it perform this well. Everything fits together nicely, and the quality of steel and paint are what SilverStone has become known for. The tool-less drive bays are a nice addition, but you’ll still need your trusty screwdriver to work in this Raven. I know I mentioned this before, but it’d be nice to have some more tool-less features (even though that would make it less “SilverStone” somehow…). I’m glad SilverStone’s engineers have such faith in my assembly skills, but I don’t think it would deter consumers if there were more thumbscrews involved. Even if they just started by separating the screws… Really though, none of this is a surprise for anyone that has used SilverStone cases and it seems a bit silly to complain over having to use actual screws; until you’ve built a system in some of Corsair’s enclosures that is.
The inverted design allows for some neat functionality like the CPU cooler “stand” and hot-swap bays that don’t block the main flow of air. All of the intakes are filtered (and those filters are easily removable) adding another nice touch. The removable motherboard tray is wonderful to work with – I know many builders may only use it for the initial installation, but it’s still an option that is worth the price in my opinion (if you’ve ever installed a bulky 140mm tower heatsink with push/pull fans with the motherboard still in the case, you’ll probably agree). Really, the greatest function of the RV04 is its ability to cool an enthusiast setup with just two fans – that’s pretty impressive, and makes for an excellent foundation for an air-cooled build.
As of the beginning of 2014, the SilverStone Raven SST-RV04B-W was selling online for $159.99 (Newegg / Amazon). That places it at the mid-to-high end of the “enthusiast” spectrum, where users start to demand more and more features/qualities for the price. There’s some nice options in this category (Phantom 630, Corsair Obsidian(s), CM Storm Trooper/Stryker, CM Stacker…), but none of those have the aura that surrounds the Raven cases (or use 180mm AP fans to such great effect). The RV04 is a very strong offering in the midst of many great options, but that’s typical of this price range. Anything above $100 generally gets you a great case for the money, but paying extra to get into the $150+ bracket gives you access to some unique features and designs where user preference begins to play an even bigger part. I think the only thing that may deter potential buyers is the unorthodox nature that runs throughout the Raven line – the case itself is a remarkably brilliant feat of engineering. One thing’s for sure, the
mad scientists engineers that work on the Raven line of cases are probably back in their lab even now, so if you don’t like what you see you’ll probably have another Raven to choose from in the next year or so – if you do like what you see, you may want to grab an RV04 as soon as you can as the next version might be an even further departure from the last.
Overall, I fear that most end-users won’t be able to look past some of the unique qualities of this case and find the really interesting computer case that lies underneath those wavy lines. There’s more than enough here to justify a purchase if you like what you see, and as always SilverStone’s engineering is top notch (resulting in top notch performance). I think I can sum up the RV04 like this: cases like these attract the same type of people that made them. If you like your tech a little on the edge, with a sprinkling of crazy ideas and unique looks; with efficiency and engineering as core qualities (along with a dose of “Let’s see what happens if we try this!”), I’d recommend a Raven to you – and the RV04 is the most refined one yet. If you like to play it safe and prefer your cases to blend in rather than make a statement, there’s always the Fortress line of enclosures!
+ Cutting-edge Raven developments
+ Unique look sets it apart from the crowd
+ Very efficient and effective cooling design
+ Hot-swap bays
+ Removable motherboard tray
+ Filtered intakes
– The design might be too “Raven” for some
– Keep a screwdriver close by if you plan on switching out hardware
– Front door may have trouble on thick carpet