titleWe have taken a look at a whole collection of unique case designs in the past with two standing out more than the others. The Silverstone Fortress FT01 and the Silverstone Raven. Both stood out because of their 90 degree rotated motherboard design that works so well for cooling. Although no one else been making cases with the motherboard oriented that way, Silverstone is still working on perfecting the design now with their Raven 3. We loved the previous versions so I have high hopes for the Raven 3. Lets take a look to see what is new and how it performs.

Product Name: Silverstone Raven 3

Review Sample Provided by: Silverstone

Written by: Wes, Adam

Pictures by: Wes


Specifications

Model No.

SST-RV03B (black, champagne trimming)

SST-RV03B-W (black, champagne trimming + window)

SST-RV03B-WA (black, grey trimming + window)

Material

Reinforced plastic outer shell, 0.8mm Steel body

Color

Matte black

Motherboard

SSI-EEB, SSI-CEB, Extended ATX, ATX, Micro-ATX

External Drive Bays

5.25" x 7

Internal Drive Bays

3.5" x 10 (6 from 5.25” adapters), 2.5” x 2 for SSD

Cooling System

Front         4 x 120mm fan slot*

Rear         1 x 120mm fan slot**

Side          1 x 120mm fan slot

Top           1 x 120mm exhaust fan, 900rpm, 18dBA

Bottom      2 x 180mm AP181 fan 700/1200rpm, 18/34dBA

                 (compatible with 3 x 120mm fan)

Expansion Slot

8

Front I/O Port

USB 3.0 x 2 (backwards compatible with USB 2.0)

audio x 1

MIC x 1

Power Supply

1 x optional standard PS2(ATX), depth limit 180mm

Expansion Card

Compatible with expansion cards up to 13.58 inches, width restriction-6.61"

Limitation of CPU cooler

163mm

Limitation of PSU

180mm

Net Weight

11.4kg

Dimension

235mm (W) x 522mm (H) x 570mm (D), 69.9 liters



Packaging

When the Raven 3 came in, I was a little surprised that they went with the brown box look. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with keeping it simple and keeping the costs down but with such a high profile case we normally see full color designs on the packaging. With the monotone design Silverstone put an outline drawing of the Raven 3 on the front of the box with the word Raven looking from a horror film and an extremely large number 3 as well. Around on the back side we had two more outline drawings but this time around they are of both sides of the inside of the case. Along with that we have red used on the otherwise monotone design to draw your attention to each of the cases features. Each red dot has a line that leads to a short explanation of each feature.

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Inside the case we have the standard styrofoam on each side of the case keeping it secure and a plastic bag around the case to keep it nice and clean. I will point out that our case did come in with a slight tweak to it that I’m assuming happened in shipping so the styrofoam wasn’t really enough to prevent damage completely, going with the softer plastic foam might have absorbed this though.

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With the case out we almost missed the box tucked into the side. Inside the box we got the RV03 (Raven 3) user manual, zip ties, all of the screws needed, and two adapter cables as well. The Molex to two fan cable is nice, but the USB 3.0 to USB 2.0 adapter really caught my eye. I love that they give everyone who might not have a USB 3.0 header on their motherboard a way to keep the USB 3.0 ports on the front panel active. 

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Outside

Silverstone uses the word champagne appropriately for the Raven RV03. It not only nails the trimming that runs along the front and top of the chassis, but also establishes a sense of elegance. Inspecting the exterior of the RV03, I would say that is a safe, early assumption. The Raven 3 isn’t tattooed with any large, high contrast images, intense lighting, or sharp facade. It has a relatively simple look, which is especially misleading if you aren’t familiar with Silverstone cases.

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The front of the Raven 3 is stacked with seven elongated ‘V’ impressioned plates that correspond to the external drive bays inside. Unlike many of the builds we see where a few are removable while the remainder are faux for looks, each of the Raven 3’s are functional. A larger piece finishes the front panel at the bottom, engraved with the Raven logo. You’ll find that this is actually a wall of the power supply bay.

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A corner piece melds the front to the top, equipped with the power and reset buttons as well as an activity LED, again in the wide ‘V’ form. Two USB 3.0 ports accompanied by line in/out are hidden under a small access door that borders the remaining, removable top piece of the RV03. If this is your first experience with Silverstone, you’ll likely be surprised at what is underneath: what is traditionally the rear of the case. You’ll find the typical players here, including an exhaust fan, grommets, motherboard I/O cutout, PCI slots, fan control switch, and thumbscrew access for side panels. Fear not: this removable piece can be put back into place once everything is hooked up, which adds a nice touch to the appearance of the case even when in use. The only concern I have is if you use adapters, such as DVI to VGA, the combination height may be too much.

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This means the the rear of the Raven 03 isn’t going to have a lot going on. In fact, it’s straight flash save a small air vent and 120mm fan slot. The rear side panel is very much the same way, with another fan slot available behind the CPU area of the motherboard.

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The main side panel is available with or without a window, our sample came equipped with. It’s positioned very well, hiding much of the cable management and fans, as you will find during the interior discussion. There is an odd looking vent possitioned on the area where the power supply is mounted. The reason it looks a little out of place is the type of vents they cut out, they don’t match any other area on the case but they should leave lots of room for air flow.The right side panel is much like the left but without the window. In place there is a fan mount directly behind the CPU.

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Finally, the bottom of the Raven is coated with removable filters, since again during the internal portion you will learn how the RV03 depends on bottom intake for airflow. Instead of a snap-and-pray design, Silverstone has equipped their filters with magnets. The magnets should do the job as long as you aren’t moving the case around to much, but if you pick it up and take it to a lan you might have to be careful not to drop them.

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Inside
Unlike the Raven 2 that we had previously reviewed as well as the Fortress 2, the Raven 3 did make a big change to its layout. Previously the right side of the case was where you would find the side panel window and the business side of things. This time around the flipped it back around to a more traditional layout on the left side. That doesn’t mean they changed the 90 degree rotated motherboard tray though.

When standing back and looking at the Raven 3, it actually looks a lot smaller than past models. For example previously there used to be three bottom mounted fans, but now we have two. The height seems a little shorter as well.

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As I mentioned the two 180mm fans on the bottom of the case provide most of the cooling for the Raven 3. They blow up and over the motherboard and video cards and then out the top of the case. The Raven 2 used to have pull out vents here, but this model went with a simpler magnet mounted filters on the bottom of the case.

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Up top we have one exhaust fan above the rear (top?) I/O panel and a whopping eight PCI slots. All of those PCI slots mean the Raven 3 can support up to four video cards as long as your motherboard also supports them. There is a rear exhaust vent, but if you want to run quad SLI/Crossfire you won’t be able to fit a fan in that location. Its a small change but I should also point out that the Raven 2’s PCI slot covers were all silver, its nice to see that they went with black this time around.

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The Raven 3’s 7 5.25 inch bays also double as the home for the hard drive cages. You can mount 6 hard drives in the movable hard drive cages or remove what you don’t need and you have room for a small water cooling setup.

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Even before I took off the right side panel to look behind the motherboard tray I could see I was in for a lot of room. With two inches of room from the motherboard tray to the side panel the Raven 3 has more room than any other case we have worked with other than double width cases of course.

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Around on the other side I was able to see why there is so much room behind the motherboard tray, they have included four 3.5 inch drive mounting locations and one 2.5 inch mount that holds two drives. That brings the overall capacity of the Raven up to 10 3.5 inch drives and 2 2.5 inch drives. For most people there really isn’t any reason to use the front mounted drive cages. Having the drives hidden on the back will make for even better wire management and a clean install. For cooling both of the bottom mounted fans have a small section that blows up the backside as well. Packed full of hard drives I would bet that it would get a little warm but not enough to worry too much about.

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Installation/Performance

The Raven 3 is a very unique setup, before we could even start installing our test bench we had to open everything up. Unlike most cases this required pulling the top panel off before I could get to the thumbscrews holding the side panels in place. We did notice that the thumbscrews were a little hard to take out at first, it looks like our case came in a little tweaked. You can see this especially when looking at the “back” side panel, it was slighting bulging. Once we did get into the case, we were greeted by the unusual layout and an amazing amount of room both on the front and behind the motherboard tray as well.

We started off by dropping in our power supply. Silverstone put the power supply location in the bottom right, right behind the vents on each of the side panels. The downside to this configuration is there is a limited amount of space for the power supply. Our 850 watt had no issues, but I suspect our large power supplies would have been a little tighter. Its not really the power supply by itself, its the space you need at the end for modular cable connections. The official size limit is 180mm’s though, please keep that in mind when building your monster rig. The other issue we ran into here was actually hooking up the power cable. As you can see in our photo the cable was a little tight and the way the right angle connection pointed it covered up the power switch.

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Moving on to our motherboard, the Raven 3's motherboard tray is rotated 90 degrees with the rear I/O pointing up. It felt a little odd installing everything facing up, but once I got over that it went smoothly.While installing our motherboard I noticed a small detail that Silverstone included that I loved. They actually put measurements for height and width across the motherboard tray along with markings pointing out different motherboard sizes. This is unique and a nice way to quickly see what size board you have.

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When it came to dropping in our GTX 580, we still had a full three inches of clearance left before getting down into the bottom fans. You shouldn’t have trouble fitting any of the video cards currently on the market in the Raven 3. On top of that with 8 PCI slots you can run quad SLI/crossfire as long as you have a motherboard that also supports it.The width of the case made for lots of clearance when it comes to the CPU cooler as well. Our Noctua heatsink may be blowing down but as far as height goes it is still a very tall heatsink and there was plenty of room above it with everything installed.

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Wiring the Raven 3 internally really couldn’t get easier. For one, the rotated motherboard design puts all of the video card power cords right down at the bottom where they come right out of the wire management holes. I should also point out that unlike other cases in this price range there aren’t grommeted holes, it still looks good because even the back panel is painted black, but for the cleanest look we would need grommets. All of the wires for the Raven 3 are all blacked out making for a clean look. They even included a USB 3.0 to USB 2.0 adapter for those who still don’t have a USB 3.0 header on their motherboard. Where the wiring gets really easy is around back. The space between the motherboard tray and the side panel is two inches thick, this is over twice what we normally see. This made routing the thick 24 pin cable simple. With the SSD mount behind the motherboard we actually were able to keep our wiring extra clean and for those of you who want to pack more drives in you have the ability to put in up to 6 in the front of the case using adapters.

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Although internal wiring was easy, hooking up the PC itself with all of the connections up top, did create its own issues. For one, people who have their case sitting under a table or desk may have trouble getting at the top of the case. Those who keep their case next to their desk might love this though. Another issue that can come up is the use of DVI to HDMI cables or even just low quality cables. Coming out of the top and then with the top panel in place there isn’t a lot of room, an adapter won’t fit and in my case HDMI cables may break being bent this much. On top of this I’m not really sure what Silverstone was thinking when it comes to the location of the power plug. Due to the internal power supply design they have the cable that hooks up to the power supply inside to move the power plug to a usable location. They put the power plug basically next to the power supply, but completely under the case and it is 2-3 inches up into the case. Your only option is to put the case on its side and plug in then turn it back up. Considering the fact they could have put the power plug anywhere at all I don’t know why they didn’t run it over to the completely empty back panel for example.

With everything installed and powered up we finally had a chance to see how the unique design works. First, the two 180mm fans on the bottom of the case did a great job cooling our test rig. Of course the 90 degree rotated design helps with that by working with heat rising as well as our video card pushing air out of the top. If that wasn’t enough we also have the fan just above the CPU on the motherboard as well. Overall the cooling on the Raven 3 was amazing and should be more than enough for just about any build. You do have a few options for installing more fans if you feel you need it, including one that blows on the bottom of the motherboard, but I don’t think you will need it.

Noise was also impressive considering the amount of fans in the Raven 3. In the end it comes down to the lower RPM 180mm fans that do most of the work. They push a lot of air without making hardly any noise, on top of that you can actually adjust the fan speed using a flip switch on the top of the case hidden under the top panel. 

 


Overall and FV

Of all of the cases we have taken a look at recently, the Raven 3 tops the charts for how many times you could make us ooh and aah. Its unique design is still impressive to this day even though it is similar to what we have seen on past Raven and Fortress cases. On top of that the interesting color combination looks amazing and frankly I am happy to finally check out a Raven case without a door on the front. All of it put together makes this one of the best looking cases we have seen in a long time. The Raven 3 also is one of the best cooling cases we have seen as well, with its large cooling fans and 90 degree rotated motherboard.

So you have to be wondering what is wrong with it then right? The old saying nothing is perfect does apply to the Raven 3 and almost all came up during our installation. I wasn’t a huge fan of the room that you are given for a power supply. Even though it is enough room for most power supplies, I imagine that the Raven 3 would be perfect for extreme quad GPU builds that might require a 1200 or 1500 watt power supply and I question how well they would fit.

On top of that the top I/O location will most likely cause issues for people who need a DVI-HDMI/VGA adapter or even people who are running HDMI. I have had multiple HDMI cables break from being bent even just a little bit on the back of a monitor, the tight space on the Raven 3 could cause similar issues. My last issue was with the location of the power plug. I really don’t think they could find a more difficult location to put a power plug. I would have loved to see the power plug into the back of the case or at least be a little easier to get to.

Having said all of that, I was so impressed with the rest of the Raven 3 that I would happily ignore the issues that I did come across just for its amazing styling and great cooling performance. After multiple years of tweaking this design I was a little disappointed to see that they seemed to create new issues with the design, but I am a sucker for its two inches of space behind the motherboard tray for wire management. If this were Jerry Maguire I would be saying you had me at the wire management.

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Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: http://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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garfi3ld's Avatar
garfi3ld replied the topic: #29671 28 Feb 2013 21:51
Another case review today, we take a look at the unique Raven 3's design
NitrosDragon's Avatar
NitrosDragon replied the topic: #29673 28 Feb 2013 23:15
Awesome review! I'm glad to see that Silverstone is still pioneering the rotated motherboard style. I really enjoy it in my FT02.

I wish I could see how the Raven 3 would have handled a different heatsink while pushing high temps.
evildoer's Avatar
evildoer replied the topic: #29675 01 Mar 2013 00:19
Raven 4 is supposed to be out soonish too.

I had the Raven 3 for about six months. Very nice case and easy to build in with a ton of built in cable management.

What I didn't like with the 3 is that:

1) The Raven 2 had an extra fan on the bottom of the chassis
2) No consideration for mounting of consumer grade liquid coolers (Corsair H70, for example) I had to mount one in push&pull and vent it out the top. It looked a little weird.
3) The front panel USB were USB 3.0 A connectors that piggybacked off of I/O USB 3.0 and not a header connector.
4) The position of the power plug was kind of asinine.

From what I was told by someone I used to work with who attended Computex last y ear is that the issues I had with the Raven 3 were fixed in the Raven 4, just keep in mind that I am waaaaaaaaaay pickier than the person who told me this.

Over-all Silverstone cases, IMO, are the best there is. The Fortress and Raven series are just massive and awesome. The problem of course is they're massive. Probably why we don't see many at LAN parties!
L0rdG1gabyt3's Avatar
L0rdG1gabyt3 replied the topic: #29678 01 Mar 2013 01:08
Ive got a Raven RV01, and I really like it. My temps, with an H60 stay pretty cool.
garfi3ld's Avatar
garfi3ld replied the topic: #29679 01 Mar 2013 01:38

evildoer wrote: 1) The Raven 2 had an extra fan on the bottom of the chassis


yeah this bothered me a little, but then I went back to what I wrote about the Raven 2 when I reviewed it. The way they had the hard drives orientated blocked the flow of air from that third fan anyhow.

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