|Silverstone SUGO SG08 Mini-ITX Case|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cases|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Wednesday, 22 August 2012|
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Mini ITX Case Final Thoughts
SilverStone is known for their innovative case designs, and the SST-SG08B, although ordinary looking from the outside, carries on this tradition. The main points of interest are its use and inclusion of a 600 watt ATX power supply, enabling enthusiasts to build a high-end gaming system with headroom for overclocking the video card, and the unique ventilation arrangement, with a single large Air Penetrator fan blowing down onto the motherboard area and out the side of the case. Baffles on the bottom of the case isolate any hot air exhausted from the video card or rest of the case from the cool air intake for the power supply.
Compared to a standard full tower case for ATX motherboards, the SG08 is miniscule:
The whole point of a mini ITX system is small size, and while there are certainly smaller mini ITX cases, SilverStone's made this one as small as possible given its beefy power supply and ability to hold three hard drives/SSDs. Building a system in a case this small might come as a shock if your only experience has been with larger cases; frankly I'd argue for a few extra millimeters to be spliced in here and there, and it would make building a system in this case much easier! SilverStone uses this same power supply in at least one other mini ITX case, the SG07, and I imagine it has the same problems with excess cable length in that case as well. Lopping a few inches off each of the power supply's cables would make things much neater inside.
I was surprised at the flimsiness of the steel case body. It's very easy to bend or deform both the rear panel of the case (when snapping in the I/O shield) as well as the top rails of the case, which seem to be natural "handles" for moving the case while you're working on it. The 10mm thick aluminum front panel, on the other hand, would probably stop small arms fire and adds a lot of weight to the front of the case.
SilverStone's decision to design the case to accept only slim optical drives limits your choices there, too. In this post-physical-media world, optical drives may be going out of style, but there are a number of other interesting things you can do with a full-sized 5.25" drive bay.
SilverStone's top-down airflow scheme is unique in the mini ITX case market, but having a 180mm Air Penetrator fan just inches above the motherboard works really well. Even though the Cooler Master GeminII M4 is hardly an enthusiast heat sink, I was able to run the Intel Core i7-2600K CPU through AIDA64 stress testing (at stock speeds) with no cooler fan at all. With the cooler fan I was able to run stress tests with a mild overclock.
What's really nice about this system is that with a late model video card, you can have a very high performance gaming system with very little noise.
SilverStone SST-SG08B Conclusion
SilverStone set out to make the smallest possible mini-ITX computer case they could that could still serve as the basis of a high-performance system. They succeeded, albeit with some design decisions and compromises that make the result possibly less than optimum.
Nobody expects a mini ITX case to have the sort of expandability a standard case would, and yet SilverStone manages to fit room for two 2.5" drives, a 3.5" drive, a slim optical drive, and a 600 watt power supply all inside one of the smaller mini ITX enclosures made. Granted, you do have to plan on putting some quality time in for cable management. With a standard case, poor cable management just means things are messy inside the case; with this case, it means you can't get it put together!
If you're familiar with SilverStone's other cases, like the TJ-11, the Raven series, or the FT02 and FT03 series, you'll find the SST-SG08's styling to be very bland-- even its predecessor SG07 was more visually interesting. It's a plain black box, and if you wanted to say nice things about it you'd use adjectives like "elegant" and "understated", which it of course is. The brushed and anodized aluminum slab that forms the front panel does give it some presence, though. While it may not be striking, it's also not garish or offensive and will fit in well with any decor.
The case body and frame are mild steel, with a 10mm thick aluminum front. While the construction is of high quality from a "how do the parts fit" point of view, the steel used for the case frame and rear panel is so thin that it's easy to bend or deform the case if you're not careful. I was quite surprised by this since it's completely unlike any other SilverStone case I've ever seen. The case is hardly a lightweight at over 12 pounds (admittedly with power supply), so I think some extra ounces devoted to a more robust construction would be well worth it.
The case performs its main function-- housing and cooling high performance components-- well. As a modern case it offers SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports on the front of the case if your motherboard has the appropriate header. I still would have liked to have seen an integrated card reader, even if it's just for SD cards. Online gamers will appreciate the microphone and headset jacks. SilverStone has gone to a great deal of trouble to design the airflow for this case, with touches like the baffles on the bottom of the case that ensure the power supply intake air is cool, and the adjustable filter and foam collar that directs cool outside air directly into your video card's axial fan.
At $199.99 at Newegg, this is certainly one of the most expensive mini-ITX cases you can buy, but that price does include a very nice 80 Plus Bronze-certified power supply with exactly the number and type of connectors you'll need for a full build, with no wasted cables. That power supply also means that you can run cards like an NVIDIA GTX690 without a problem.
There are cheaper mini ITX cases you can buy, as well as larger ones that arguably provide a better home for high performance systems by permitting larger CPU coolers and more hard drives. SilverStone is aiming for a pretty small demographic with this case: people who want to build the smallest possible high performance computer and run a high-end graphics card. If this describes you, this is about the best case out there.
+ Included 600W 80 Plus Bronze power supply
- Distressingly thin sheet metal is easy to damage
Final Score: 8.85 out of 10.
Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.
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