Mini-ITX Slim Case Final Thoughts
It’s a bit confusing. To be honest, I expected the second evolution of the Z series chassis to be smaller in every way – trimmed up completely. It’s less of a sequel and more of an iteration on the original – a complimentary chassis to be sold alongside the first, if that makes sense. The improvements found on the ML08 are noteworthy indeed – but they don’t seem to be enough to completely supplant the original Z cases. If SilverStone ever retrofits the tool-less 2.5″ drive trays into the FTZ01, I’m not sure if I ever would have considered the ML08/RVZ02.
That is, until I saw how well it performed even without any active chassis cooling whatsoever. I’m still in a bit of disbelief over this one, and perhaps there’s a flaw in my methodology. The earlier Z cases seemed to deal with the heat a little better (the ML08 got uncomfortably warm to the touch in certain spots by the GPU exhaust area), but overall temperatures were comparable or even lower in the newer ML08. I can’t really explain it – perhaps I’ll have to revisit my results sometime, but that’s what the sensors showed. Perhaps there was too much room for heat to “accumulate” in the FTZ01? Frankly, it’s going to keep me boggled for a while, but there’s no denying the ML08 with its revised internals was just as good (if not better) of a performer than the FTZ01.
SilverStone ML08 Conclusion
I was pleasantly surprised at the performance of the ML08. Unfortunately CPU temps were up a little – even more unfortunately, you’ll be very limited in ways of dealing with it (at least the ML07 had options for cooling). Still, it should be obvious this isn’t a chassis for chasing high overclocks and custom liquid cooling loops – viewed in that aspect, I can’t complain much about my results with the ML08. In fact, the performance was far better than I expected.
I like the appearance of the ML08, perhaps even more than the Raven version (and I’m generally one for the more outrageous designs!). With the handle it looks like some sort of futuristic ammo box – without it, it looks like a conservative, modern piece of A/V equipment. It should blend in well with most setups. It’s almost so thin it’s beginning to look out of proportion – while I have no problems with the current appearance, I find myself wondering what the ML08 would look like folded in half with the same aesthetic. You know, with the GPU using a flexible PCI-E ribbon to mount directly behind the motherboard… Perhaps for the ML09…
Similarly, I can’t complain about the construction of the ML08. The panels can be a little wobbly when working with the chassis, although any panel that wraps around three sides is going to be difficult to line up on your first try. The Milo series isn’t designed for the same purpose as the Fortress series – coming directly from the Fortress review I had to constantly remind myself that this chassis wasn’t supposed to be an equivalent to the ~$45-pricier FTZ01. Working inside the ML08 was a treat though, no complaints there. Overall I think it’s about right for its intended purpose and market.
It’s tough to rate the functionality of a case like the ML08 – it’s almost purpose-built for a specific build and that’s it. Not much for functionality from that perspective, but I don’t believe anyone purchases a case like this to fit just any type of build and component (as is typical with many ATX cases). It isn’t an “everything and the kitchen sink” case. For a slim HTPC or mid-range gaming system (Steam machine, etc.), the ML08 functions perfectly. It’s easier to build in than its predecessors, and slim enough you can almost wall-mount it. There’s enough room for adequate storage, tool-less drive cages to make swaps easy, and a slim form factor to keep everything portable. It’s tough for an obsessive tinkerer like me to be restricted (there isn’t even an option to mount fans/liquid coolers/etc.), but this isn’t a tinkering case. With a case like the ML08, the form is the function.
Finally, the value question. As of November 2015 the ML08B-H was selling online for $84.99 (Newegg | Amazon), with the handle-less versions $10 cheaper at $74.99. As purpose-built mini-ITX cases go, that’s a very fair price, especially for such a unique form factor and approach. The previous versions of this chassis (the RVZ01/ML07) are currently selling for the same price, but the ML08 adds tool-less drive trays, an easier experience to build in overall, and an even slimmer profile. If you find value in those things, this latest Milo is a great value for such a unique enclosure.
There are still a few things to fix, but when you take a step back and think of what SilverStone has accomplished with this chassis it’s hard not to be impressed. It’s more efficient, tidier overall, easier to build in, less expensive, more portable, and performs about the same as the first versions without any fans! I’m sure there are other mini-ITX chassis out there that perform better but I doubt they can match the 12L volume of the ML08. There’s enough little quirks to make me look forward to the ML09, but there’s no denying in my mind the accomplishments of this chassis. Well done, SilverStone!
+ 12L and can still fit full size GPUs
+ Thermally-isolated compartments for CPU and GPU
+ Tool-less drive trays!
+ Easier to build in than the first versions
+ Conservative styling fits in anywhere
– No active cooling – although it doesn’t seem to suffer much for it…
– Performance highly dependent on component choice
– Front panel cables can be short (depending on motherboard)
– Must remove handle to access GPU