Mini-ITX Case Final Thoughts
While I don’t think I can take credit, I’d like to think I’m partially responsible for the changes that resulted in the ML06-E. I liked the price point of the original ML05, I just couldn’t get over the plastic/acrylic front panel. For $25 more over the ML05, SilverStone added a 120mm slim fan (the ML05 didn’t have any active ventilation included), a vastly more sophisticated look and feel, and improved thermals. There’s still nothing quite like it on the market today, but even without much competition SilverStone wasn’t content to sit back and leave it alone – I’m glad they didn’t.
If I could use my super (humble) hardware reviewer/writer powers and suggest one or two more evolutions, I think this case would be perfect. The drive cage should really be tool-less – I’d love to see a way to slide in 2.5″ drives on their side. Just drop em in – I’d even be okay with fastening a rail to one side or something to facilitate this, but being able to lift them straight out of the chassis instead of dealing with a drive cage would be wonderful. The multipurpose bracket could benefit from the tool-less treatment as well – I’m just imagining four little magnets on the corners instead of the installation screws that hold the bracket in place. I’d love to be able to open the top panel and simply lift the bracket up to access the motherboard. These are all tiny issues that don’t necessarily apply to the overall purpose of the ML06-E, but I feel they’d be improvements nevertheless.
SilverStone ML06-E Conclusion
While this may deviate slightly from my normal method of rating, I thought it might be helpful to rate the ML06-E in the context of its original scores (in ML05 form). Given the ML06-E is an “evolved” version of the ML05, I thought it would be interesting to see where it has improved.
As with the ML05, I can’t say much about the performance – although the ML06-E is a definite improvement over its predecessor. By design, it’s a pretty limited case for a very specific type of build – although the new layout and included slim 120mm fan do a great job keeping everything cool. Your component choice will make the most difference in this category, but GPUs especially should find a better home in the ML06-E than in any of the previous cases.
The appearance of the ML06-E is in a different category altogether. While the ML05’s use of acrylic kept the price point down (and is still a nice option to have in the market – it wouldn’t be too tough to paint over that acrylic panel…), it really stole too much of the sophistication from what is, in all honesty, a pretty cool little case. It was such a minor aspect that didn’t affect performance or functionality in the least, but…I just couldn’t get over that acrylic and how it seemingly cheapened everything else. The brushed aluminum panel on the ML06-E is such a drastic improvement aesthetically, making this category win the award for “most improved.”
The original ML05 was constructed very well, but this version seems…better, somehow. It’s probably just a perceived difference due to the way the ML06-E feels while handling (that aluminum panel has a lot to do with it), but it feels like an improvement. I didn’t have any complaints with the original, and the ML06-E seems to do no worse. The typical SilverStone quality shows throughout – I’m not sure if I’ve ever had much of a complaint with any of SilverStone’s enclosures as far as construction is concerned.
I can reiterate my exact statement from the ML05’s section on functionality, as it is perfectly applicable to the ML06-E:
You can’t really rate the functionality of such a purpose-built case on the same criteria as every other PC case. It’s limited to SFX power supplies and half-height expansion cards, but that’s hardly a surprise given the miniature size. Accommodating an optical drive or 3.5? drive (or 120mm + 2x80mm fans) along with four more 2.5? drives (or six total using the multipurpose bracket) is pretty surprising, and impressive for such a small case. The ML05 resides in somewhat of a niche market, so it is hard to compare it to anything else – but I’d say the ML05 has above-average functionality for a case its size.
The same functionality is present in the ML06-E, but the reworked layout is a nice addition and improvement. Double-slot GPUs are now an option, but there are only a few half-height cards on the market that fit that criteria anyway. Still, it adds some nice breathing room to any potential card, and there’s always the prospect of filling that area with 80mm fans for additional airflow.
All of these improvements come at a cost; true to the Milo mission the ML06-E nevertheless manages to bring some big-case features to a very respectable price point. The ML06-E is available online for $74.99 (Amazon | NewEgg) and given the aesthetic and thermal improvements (don’t forget the 120mm slim fan and a few extra accessories) I feel that’s a very fair asking price. It isn’t quite the bargain of the original ML05, but if you take a hard look at what you get in return I think you’d agree it’s worth it. Of course, cases like these appeal to a very specific set of users, but for its audience I feel the ML06-E delivers quite a value. If anything, while it’s a slightly different category, SilverStone’s own RVZ01 SFF case can be found for a similar price skewing the value equation a bit (the Raven RVZ01 can fit full-size GPUs) – but I think the two cases are in different enough markets to avoid any cross-shopping conflicts. The ML06-E easily stands on its own for what it offers.
I still feel like taking credit for the new face of one of the most interesting cases I reviewed last year, but I know SilverStone has a demonstrated a tenacious appetite for iteration before – it was bound to happen eventually. However they arrived at the decision to take another look at the ML05, I’m glad they did – the ML06-E is a worthy evolution of the original. It’s not often you get to see a case get better in every way, but here it is. Nice work SilverStone!
+ Great price for a niche market
+ Includes slim 120mm fan
+ Brushed aluminum panel a great addition
+ Makes for a perfect streaming/Steam/HTPC box
+ Improved layout really is an improvement
+ Clean lines blend in with almost any setup
– SFX PSUs only
– Half-height expansion cards only
– Additional style is (fairly) reflected in additional price
– Needs more tool-less features! (Drive cage, multipurpose bracket?)