With the arrival of Big Picture mode on Steam and Valve's Debian-based SteamOS, the call for Mini-ITX boxes has exploded as many gamers look for a solution that is more flexible than consoles and more compact than desktops. Having taken notice, case makers including Silverstone are answering that demand.
Unveiled at CES this year, the latest member to Silverstone's Raven family quickly gained recognition for being the ultimate Steam Machine enclosure. Called the Raven Z RVZ01, this gaming chassis is among the best compact designs we've seen for cramming a fully-fledged enthusiast PC into an impressively small space.
Despite weighing just 8.17lbs (3.71kg) with a tiny 14L capacity, the RVZ01 is destined for big things with support for enthusiast gear including a dual-slot GPU that's up to 13" (330mm) long -- technically leaving enough room for the GeForce GTX Titan. Perhaps equally attractive is the RVZ01's asking price of only $85.
This is even more impressive when you compare it to the recently reviewed Xigmatek Nebula, which has a 22L capacity (57% larger than the RVZ01) but is limited to much shorter 175mm dual-slot graphics cards and is currently going for $120. With that kind of an advantage on its side, the RVZ01 is off to a great start.
Being a member of the Raven series, the RVZ01 is very aggressive looking and should appeal to gamers, though it's worth noting that Silverstone will release a more sedate version called the ML07. A date hasn't been released on that yet.
Measuring 382mm wide, 105mm tall and 350mm deep, the RVZ01 features a capacity of just 14L and weighs just 3.71kg, making it only slightly bigger than the Xbox One. The case is designed to either stand up like a tower or lay flat like a desktop case. The Raven logo on the front can also be orientated horizontally regardless of whether the case is used as a tower or desktop, which is kind of nice.
The case has a matte black finish, which typically is good for avoiding finger marks. However while the plastic front panel and side are fairly finger print resistant, the steel top and bottom panels are extremely prone to gathering fingerprints.
The three plastic panels look very aggressive and feature the same design found on the much larger RV04. For the most part we really like the design and believe it will speak to gamers very well. That said the front mounted blue USB 3.0 ports do spoil the design somewhat, using black USB ports might have been the way to go here.
Along with the USB 3.0 ports Silverstone has colored both 3.5mm audio jacks black along with the power and reset buttons. There is also a slot-in slim optical drive slot if you wish to install an optical drive.
Personally, I did away with optical drives many years ago now, but Silverstone sent its 8X DVDR drive (SST-SOD02) which costs about $75, around 3x more than a standard 5.25" optical drive. Ironically the slot-in slim optical drive costs almost as much as the RVZ01 itself, so we feel most will neglect to purchase it.
If you lay the case flat in a desktop type orientation the left and right sides feature aggressive plastic panels that are ventilated to allow hot air out as Silverstone has gone with a positive air pressure design. Some of the ventilation slots can also be used to install four rubber feet which are provided in the package should you choose to stand the case up like a tower.
Alternatively, when laid flat like a desktop there are different rubber feet that can be used to raise the case about a centimeter off the ground.
Around back, the RVZ01 looks a little unusual featuring nothing more than an I/O slot for the motherboard, a 3-pin power in-put and a pair of expansion brackets that look to be mounted the wrong way (we will explain this soon once we get inside).
Fan grills are on the steel panels that we spoke of earlier in the top and bottom when the chassis is in the desktop position. The top panel features a single 120mm fan grill while underneath there are two. What's great about these fan grills is that they feature external dust filters that snap into place using magnets. Apart from looking good, they are a highly practical way of keeping dust out of the RVZ01 as they can be quickly removed for cleaning without having to take the system apart.
These dust filters are highly effective due to the way the fans inside the RVZ01 are configured. As air going into the case is filtered, the positive pressure means dust cannot get inside through other slots and vents around the case as it is constantly being exhausted though these openings.