The Silverstone Raven 2 Evolution is one of those rare cases that made us wonder how to approach the installation process. Being very unorthodox in design makes everything seem quite unfamiliar, even for those that have built countless computers.
As always, we started by picking the hardware: the AMD Phenom II X6 1100T processor, Cooler Master V6GT cooler, dual AMD Radeon HD 5870 graphics cards, 8GB OCZ memory, MSI 890FXA-GD70 motherboard, two 1TB Samsung hard drives, a single OCZ Vertex 2 240GB SSD, and Thermaltake Grand XT 750w PSU.
The Raven 2 Evolution supports ATX motherboards up to 12" x 11", so taller 13" Extended ATX boards won't fit. The case comes with standard mounting screws that you must install for your motherboard.
Despite lacking a removable motherboard tray, we had no problem installing the MSI 890FXA-GD70. With rear access to the motherboards CPU socket, it should be possible to install the CPU cooler once the motherboard has been fitted to the case. However this was not the case when using the MSI 890FXA-GD70 and Cooler Master V6GT combo.
The MSI motherboard offsets the CPU socket too far from the I/O panel and we couldn't fully access the Cooler Master V6GT backplate to complete the installation. We had to unscrew the motherboard and fit the cooler externally, so you should probably double check this before taking the time to install your motherboard.
We installed AMD Radeon HD 5870s next, which fit with room to spare. The Radeon HD 5970 is also compatible, though it's a much tighter fit.
Installing the Thermaltake Grand XT 750w PSU was straightforward and the Raven 2 Evolution's cable management setup works very well for hiding excess power cables. If our 6-pin and 8-pin PCI Express cables were longer we would have directed them behind the motherboard tray, but even so the finished product looked quite good.
The only concern here was that the thick power cables could block some of the airflow from the huge 180mm fans, but this didn't turn out to be an issue when firing up the Raven 2 Evolution. The airflow forced though the case is very impressive and we're amazed at how quiet the Raven 2 Evolution is given the large volume of air that it moves.
There was nothing unusual about installing the 3.5" and 5.25" storage devices. The removable 3.5" drive cages are a nice touch, and although they're not hot-swappable, we understand given the case's price tag.
With all the hardware installed, we connected all the power and data cables. As we found elsewhere with the Raven 2 Evolution, this was a standard procedure. With the case lid removed, we had access to the motherboard expansion slots, I/O panel and the power supply.
The cables must be run through what looks like a handle before you can plug them into their appropriate spots. Once everything is wired up, the case lid can be resecured. Although the process is unlike anything we have experienced before, it works very well and we didn't find anything annoying or impractical.