Silverstone SG05 mini ITX system review

9.3 Overall Score
Build Quality: 10/10
Layout: 9/10
Price: 9/10

Tiny case packs a punch!

No room for expansion.

Conclusion

With a price of $99 which includes an 80 Plus certified 300W power supply, Silverstone has an excellent mini ITX case. We used this system in a livingroom setting for about a month. We took our time because there are always things that pop up with extended use of any piece of hardware. All the quirks and nagging little tidbits did show face while we were using the system.

The largest problem we had with this build was not the case, but rather the motherboard. The Zotac GF9300-ITX WiFi is a marvel of engineering, but the tiny size has its drawbacks. While using the system to watch Blu Ray movies, play games or playing HiDef encoded videos, such as .mkv and x264, the system would randomly shut down. We pinpointed the problem to the onboard GPU/NB. The little heatsink that is on the motherboard is not enough to keep the GPU/NB cool during load situations. We resolved the issue first, by installing a Scythe Ultra Kaze 3k RPM fan. Although wider than normal fans, it was able to fit with the HDD cage installed.

The problem with this fan on the GF9300 is that it runs at full RPM. Like we mentioned earlier, there are no options to adjust the fan speed in the BIOS and using a software fan controller like Speedfan does not work. Our only option was to use a PWM fan that had a controller built in. We mounted the fan adjuster on the back of the case and were able to adjust the fan speed that way. Using a higher RPM fan with a lower decibel output should work as well. Again, this is not Silverstone’s fault, but one we found with the motherboard.

The Silverstone Blu Ray player worked flawlessly while playing HiDef movies. The onboard GPU is more than capable of HD playback, but we wanted to be able to game at 1080P resolutions as well as watch movies. That is why we initially went with a PNY GTS 250, but ended up using an HD 4870 512MB. We were pleasantly surprised that the PSU could handle all the hardware we threw at it. Not once did the system crash during intense game play, even after hours of non-stop gaming.

The 4870 512MB can play games at higher resolutions than 1080P, but you are pushing the limit as far as game detail goes. Overall, we are extremely impressed with what the Silverstone SG05 can do given the right hardware. A few improvements we look forward to in later revisions is sleeved cabling on the PSU wires, and a lower profile CPU cooler that would allow us to set a 120mm fan on it in order to improve the processor temps. We also wouldn’t mind an optional 2.5″ HDD/SSD cage that would free up some room inside the case. With Western Digital’s announcement of a 1TB 2.5″ HDD, we see no need to not include an optional 2.5″ cradle along with the 3.5″/2.5″ one that comes standard with the case.

The total cost of the system we tested today was around $800. This may seem expensive for an HTPC, but remember, we had suggested that this system could be used as a mid-range gaming machine as well as a family PC and HiDef player. A big thank you goes to Silverstone for helping us put together this review.

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