Silverstone Raven 2 Water Cooled

Overall Score

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Last year Silverstone introduced its Raven line of PC cases with the RV01. The original Raven case introduced some firsts for Silverstone and for the PC chassis industry. The bold, stealth-like look of the RV01 was a huge divergence from Silverstone’s traditional and classy looking lineup. Along with this look was a 90 degree rotated motherboard tray that put the I/O(input/output) panel at the top of the case.

As we all may know, heat rises. So, it was Silverstone’s goal to bring to market a PC case that utilized the natural flow of heat. The new Raven design did well with this concept. Unfortunately, it did not do well enough. The GPU area did not get proper airflow to remove the massive amounts of heat produced from multi-GPU setups. The RV01 was a unique case that functioned ok, but its users demanded more.

Enter the Raven 2(RV02). We get hands-on with the updated redesign of the RV01. Does it live up to expectations? Read on to see what we think, and more importantly, what you will think of this new entry in the Raven lineup. You can check out our coverage of the Raven 2 at Computex, here.

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New hardware… There is just something about getting a package in the mail that excites many of us. It’s like the night before Christmas or a birthday. The anticipation can be overwhelming. Waiting for the Raven 2 from Silverstone was akin to Christmas Eve when you were a little kid. We had been excited to see the new Raven at Computex, but getting a hands on was that much better. The outside of the box is similar in style to the orginal Raven. This box was shorter and taller due to the changes in the RV02 design. Everything you would need to know about the Raven 2 is printed somewhere on the outside. Having been punished by time, we finally got to open up the box. The RV02 is protected very well and wrapped up neatly to prevent any nicks during transport.

The case itself is all black with design influences mimicking the Stealth Fighters just as its predecessor did, the RV01. We can see where the design influences meld into the case by looking at it from any angle. Smooth, sharp lines give the Raven 2 a unique look while still maintaining a classy feel. This is a case that will look great in a dorm room or in a personal home office.

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An interesting design aspect of the Raven 2 is the windowed side panel placement. On most desktop cases the motherboard tray is positioned so that the motherboard is mounted on the right side of the case. The RV02 switches the orientation of the motherboard to the left side and gives you a beautiful acrylic panel on the right side. This is also a change from the RV01 which uses the 90 degree rotation of the motherboard, but positions it in the more traditional side of the case.

Looking at the rear of the case we can see the intake vent for the PSU fan. There is a removable filter for easy cleaning and a dust free interior. The front of the Raven 2 shows (8) 5 1/4″ drive bays. The vibration free hard drive cage takes up three slots which leaves you with 5 more. We’ll talk more about the optical and hard drive bays in a bit.

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The bottom of the Raven 2 has three intake vents for the three 180mm fans and each space comes with a filter to help keep the inside of the case dust free. The top of the case has a removable panel that gives you access to the I/O area as well as the thumb screws used to keep the side panels on the RV02. The original Raven used a locking mechanism to hold the side panels on, but the Raven 2 has an easier to use and less prone to malfunctioning setup. There is a single 120mm fan mounted at the top of the case to help aid in the Stack Cool effect that the Raven 2 is designed around. To reiterate, the Stack Cool effect is based on the natural movement of heat, as in heat rises. The three 180mm fans on the bottom of the case help bring in cool air to cool the hot components and the 120mm fan helps guide the air out of the top of the case.

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There is not a huge box of accessories included with the Raven 2, but what is provided is sufficient enough to help put together an awesome system. Silverstone has provided a radiator mounting kit and a bracket to mount an SSD. A velcro strap is included to help secure very large power supplies which we will show you during the installation segment of this review.

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The inside of the case is very spacious. The motherboard tray has an access hole for easy installation and removal of CPU heatsinks. If you use an extended motherboard like the eVGA Classified or ASUS Rampage II Extreme, the hole in the motherboard tray is virtually useless. The backside of the case offers decent wire management. We would like to see some cable sleeving in a case of this quality. A little detail like that adds to the value of the case and makes less work for the end user.

The 5 1/4″ drive bay has room for 8 single slot devices without the use of the HDD cage. With the HDD cage installed, you get the use of 5 slots. The HDD cage holds up to three 3.5″ HDDs and uses a new and improved anitvibration mounting system.

The three 180mm fans on the bottom of the Raven 2 provide the cooling for the entire case. The additional 120mm fan at the top, as mentioned earlier, helps remove heat from the case based on Silverstone’s Stack Cool concept. Included with the accessories is a mounting bracket for a 360mm radiator used in a water cooled setup. The radiator mounts on the rear two 180mm fans. We will get a look at this setup on the installation page. Under each 180mm fan is a removable fan filter which helps keep dust out of the case. The Raven 2 has support for 8 single slot expansion devices.

Up next, we cover the installation of a CPU water cooling system in the Raven 2.

Before we jump into the installation part of our review, let’s take a look at the specifications of the Raven 2 and a list of the hardware we will be using to fill it up.

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The Raven 2 has support for extended ATX motherboards like the eVGA Classified and ASUS’ Rampage II Extreme. Also of note is the materials used in constructing the RV02. The outershell is plastic with a steel frame. This may sound cheap but the quality of craftsmanship is excellent, not to mention the price: $179.99 at Fry’s or $199.99 on Newegg.com. That is $50 less than the RV01.

For today’s installation, we will be using the following list of components:

  • eVGA X58 3X SLI Classified(759)
  • Intel Core i7 Extreme 975
  • 6GB Corsair Dominator GT DDR3 2000CL7(6 x 1GB sticks)
  • Radeon HD 4890 and a 4870 X2 w/ TRUE 120 Black for air cooled tests
  • 300GB Velociraptor
  • 1TB WD HDD
  • HP DVD Writer
  • Swiftech GTZ, MCW655 pump, microRES v2, 360mm radiator, tubing, etc.(for the water cooling setup)
  • Thermalright Utlra Extreme 120 Black Edition w/ generic 120mm fan(for air cooling setup)
  • Silverstone ST1500 PSU

Our testing suite for this review is simple. To stress the CPU for our air cooled portion of testing we used linX which is a great program that is based on Intel’s Linpack. To heat up the 4870 X2 we used Furmark’s stability test. The results can be found on the Conclusion page.

To start our installation segment, we’ll begin with mounting a 360mm radiator in the Raven 2. The mounting bracket is found in the accessories box. The first step is to mount the bracket on the radiator in the orientation you desire. Due to the lengthy PSU we used in this review, we chose to have the inlet/outlet knobs positioned near the front of the case. You can see the installation and orientation in the pictures below.

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To correspond with the orientation of the radiator, we mounted the pump in the available space offered in the 5 1/4″ bays. The reservoir was rotated and mounted as seen in the pictures below. This setup did not restrict flow of the water through the system. The only issue was initially getting the water into the system. To get proper flow, we rotated the case so that it rested on the front panel. This allowed for the water to fill the system and when completely filled, it operated smoothly with the case in its original orientation. *NOTE: The kinked tubing you see was used to fill the system and is not part of the loop*

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The total install time for this water cooling setup took about 2 hours. As you can see in the pictures below, the Raven 2 looks very clean stuffed full of highend gear and a water setup. For comparison purposes we chose to put the Raven 2 side by side with the Cooler Master Storm Sniper Black Edition. Each case is an excellent product from both companies. And each case represents a different look and feel. The Raven 2 has clean lines with a shorter but longer chassis design, whereas the Sniper BE has a heftier, military look and feel.

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On the results page we include figures taken from an air cooled setup. For the installation section of this review we chose to focus on how well the Raven 2 accommodates the water cooling enthusiasts. For those that prefer air cooling, the RV02 can support the CM V10 with ease and we tested the unit with a TRUE 120 Black Edition.

TEST RESULTS:

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We chose to run the hot(literally) 4870X2 and an i7 Extreme 975 overclocked to 4GHz in order to stress the Raven 2’s cooling capablilities. The screenshot above is the results at idle. The GPU and CPU temps are excellent in this situation. Ambient room temps were ~23C and we used a generic 120mm fan on the TRUE 120 as opposed to a high CFM and extremely loud version.

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The load temps are very acceptible as well. LinX really heats up the i7’s and requires a very short amount of time, compared to Prime95, to determine a stable overclock. Those temps may seem high, but remember, we ran the test with ambient room temps of around ~23C. In order to stress the GPUs, we ran furmark. We did not get a screenshot, but temps never exceeded 90C during our 15 minute torture test.

CONCLUSION:

Silverstone has dramatically increased the cooling capabilities of their Stack Cool design with the Raven 2. We loved the bold look of the original Raven case, but the newest version brings more style and class to the table. This is something we expect to see from Silverstone given their history. The quality of craftsmanship is unsurpassed by most other chassis manufacturers.

Of course, not everything is perfect with the RV02. We would like to see more companies include sleeving with their cases, especially on ones that are considerably more expensive than the competition. The PSU velcro strap is quick and easy, but also seems cheap. We would like to see a more elegant desing implementation used for helping to secure the power supply. The HDD cage leaves you with only 3 spots for HDD’s, but with companies releasing 2TB version of 3.5″ hard drives, we wouldn’t necessarily count that against Silverstone. There is only one adapter for an SSD, so with future revisions we would like to see space created for more SSD’s as prices and availablitiy improve.

The Silverstone Raven 2 is a masterpiece of design and build quality. It carries on the tradition of excellent cases as one would expect, but it also brings a bold, new look to a typically classic case design company. Choosing a case comes down to personal taste. So, in the end the decision to choose the Raven 2 is left up to you, the reader. We just hope you give the Raven 2 a look as it is an excellent choice for a new build.

We’d like to extend our thanks to Silverstone for providing us with the review sample.

If you would like to comment on our review, check it out in our Forums.

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