|SilverStone SST-GD06B HTPC Chassis Enclosure|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cases|
|Written by Dan Ferguson|
|Wednesday, 11 January 2012|
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HTPC Chassis Final Thoughts
I did say I wanted the kitchen sink on my HTPC right? But to get a case that's affordable, not everything will fit. On the GD06 SilverStone managed to fit a framework for performance. To me that seems to be the main theme for our readers. Performance and cost, though I know for some the cost is less of a factor and performance is more important. That's why the GD06 is a good fit at Benchmark Reviews. But in keeping costs down you'll miss out on some of the finer aspects of HTPCs like digital displays, external controls, IR and the like.
One interesting note on HTPC cases, they are difficult to find with shallow depths. Actually, that's true for all cases. In order to fit everything in you always have to stack two components. You may not think about it often, but it always works that way. Standard ATX cases stack the motherboard behind the hard drive cages. Alot of the innovation we've seen in the last couple of years has been by modifying the hard drive cages to better utilize the space. If you think top to bottom in a standard case, the PSU is on top or below the motherboard. But things don't have to be stacked that way. It's just a shape that's fairly regular shape. Not a perfect cube, not a long skinny box, just normal. But HTPC's fall under a different rule. The depth dimension is often the critical dimension when I help people build an HTPC. This is one area that SilverStone has done well versus others. They stack the hard drives in front of the PSU as their depth dimension. They could get another couple inches if they stood the PSU up on end.
SilverStone GD06 Conclusion
When it comes to performance, it's somewhat difficult to give a rating for the GD06. On the one hand it held lots of stuff really well, but on the other hand it was a real pain to build. But compared to other HTPC cases the build could have gone much worse. Still, everything requires a screwdriver, the screws are different sizes and threads, and there were a ton of screws. It made me wish even just for thumb screws on the top panel at least. Despite the inconvenience, everything fit together nicely. There just wasn't anything else to complain about.
The appearance of the GD06 is a step above past cases from the Grandia series. The GD06 is very similar to the GD05 but hides the front ports behind a nice-looking front panel. In most ways this improves the look. But the front of the case is now so plain that it can make it look like some kind of mystery device on the entertainment center. It's missing all of the classic signs of an HTPC or other media device typically found in living rooms which may leave guests wondering, "what is that thing?" Underneath the front panel the finish is drab and boring, so you'll want to leave the door shut by default.
It's a really solid, sturdy case. The steel construction makes the case heavy for its size. But it's the kind of case that I wouldn't mind leaving within reach of clumsy hands. The kids can put in a DVD and I'm not worried about them breaking anything. There's a lock on the front and on the back (Kensington style) so the case is actually a great fit for leaving out in the open, say for a store display. Rubber feet on the bottom provide added traction. There are filters on every fan so the interior will be kept cleaner. Tolerances and screw fittings on the case were all well-designed.
The GD06 can hold up to five hard drives, two of which can be hot-swappable. It can also hold up to five full-size expansion cards, with a video card up to 11" long. The front I/O has two USB 3.0 ports in anticipation of the future. Three 120 mm input fans run silently and provide fresh air to critical areas in the case. With the ODD tray mounted above the CPU there are options for installing a short DVD drive and larger CPU cooler. Aside from these fundamentals there's not alot of flashy or advanced features common to HTPCs.
As of January 2012, you can find the GD06 for $129.99 at NewEgg or $122.00 at Amazon. This puts it into the upper-middle range for price. In this range you don't typically see any of the advanced or fancy features like digital displays and support for IR. The style of cases in this range is fairly standard, so layout and component compatibility are left to set the cases apart. The GD06 does very well at holding alot of standard hardware, but a couple other cases provide good competition like Lian Li's PC-C50B. Many of SilverStone's other cases fall into this same range like the standard ATX Lascala series. Bump down in price and you get some cheaper cases that hold fewer parts with cheaper construction. Bump up in price and you can get fancier features. But for quality build, lots of standard parts in a small form factor there are really only a few choices, and most of them are SilverStone. There's not a ton about the GD06 to make it stand out above the GD05 except USB 3.0, hot-swap drive bays and an extra hard drive.
+ Small Form Factor
- Multiple tools required
Final Score: 8.05 out of 10.
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