The new Silverstone RVZ01 is a Mini ITX case that might be the best we have seen thus far for HTPC enthusiasts.

Small form factor cases and the push to Mini ITX designs took a dramatic journey during 2013 as the popularity of the smaller PC once again became a popular trend.  Though a company like Shuttle, that hardly exists in the form it did in 2004, was the first PC hardware company to really drive home the idea of an SFF system design, many other players have released compelling products helping to strengthen it as one of the unique possibilities for enthusiast PCs.

Even better, though a Mini-ITX based platform could mean limited options for hardware and performance, with companies like ASUS, EVGA, BitFenix and others in the mix, building an incredibly fast and powerful gaming machine using small hardware is not only easy but can be done at a lower price than you might expect.

One entry that found its way to our offices this December comes from Silverstone in the form of the Raven Z, RVZ01 case.  This case includes unique features and capabilities including the ability to support nearly any high end graphics card on the market (dual slot or single), space for larger heatsinks and even liquid coolers along with a home theater friendly look and style.  Oh, and it's the same almost the same design that Valve used for its beta Steam Machines as well.  (Update: Turns out the size of the Steam Machine is actually a fair bit smaller than the Silverstone RVZ01.)

Silverstone Raven Z RVZ01 External Design

The new Silverstone RVZ01 case is a horizontal (lay flat) design that measures just over 15-in wide and 13.75-in deep with a vertical height of 4.1-in putting it just over the capacity of the new Xbox One hardware.  It should still fit just fine in most users home theater cabinet designs if that is the target destination.

Coloration on the RVZ01 is a flat black paint with the only color coming in the form of the two blue USB 3.0 ports along the top right of the face of the case.  

At this point, I would have preferred Silverstone color these ports black, along with the rings on the audio input and output, to try and match color of the plastic shell.  As it looks now, the blue kind of stands out unnecessarily.

Other than the pair of USB 3.0 ports and the audio I/O, the RVZ01 includes power and reset buttons (bottom right) with the power and drive access lights resting between them.  

The Raven logo on the left hand side has a replacement option in the box should you decided to stand this unit up vertically and just above it you'll find the opening for the slot loading optical bay.  I for one am glad to see the ugly 5.25-in optical drives off of these smaller case designs.

On both the right and left sides of the case Silverstone has included plastic housing that wraps around the rectangular metal frame of the chassis.  They both provide ample area for air to come into the case for cooling while also giving the design a unique look and aggressive style.  As it turns out, some of those holes in the plastic housing can also be used with four included rubber feet to stand the RVZ01 vertically.

The backside of the case looks much like a standard PC as it can be hard to disguise the fact that standard form factor components are included within.  On the left side you find the IO connectivity for the Mini-ITX motherboard (we used the new MSI Z87I Gaming motherboard) and on the right are the two expansion slots used for a graphics card.  The power connection on the far side actually connects to a small extension that routes to the power supply location internally, which we'll show you on the other page.

On the top of the case, the panel that is removed for installation has an opening for an include Silverstone 120mm 1500 RPM 18 dbA fan for air intake.  In our case the CPU cooler we used was too tall and forced us to remove that fan but there is an open area for an additional fan on the bottom of the chassis we moved it to.

Speaking of those fan placements on the bottom of the case, here they are.  Out of the box you'll have one fan on the bottom and one on top, but due to the CPU cooler used in our setup both are shown here on the bottom.  On the left fan spot you'll see one of the three optional, but included, fan filters installed.  They are magnetic so you can remove them and clean them easily but they definitely take away from some of the visual appeal of the design.  On the bottom that's not a big deal but if you wanted to use one of them on top, it might be an issue for the more discerning among us.

As I mentioned above, the Raven Z RVZ01 case can be stood up on it side.  In this image the original Raven logo is still attached but Silverstone does include a different one that properly aligns the logo to this standing position.

As many SFF builders know, looks can be deceiving and installation/setup of a Mini-ITX build can be more of a pain than you might at first expect.  Let's see how the Silverstone Raven Z handles that critique.

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