Completed Build, Performance, and Conclusion
The RV05 is makes creating a clean build simple, and I accomplished what you see with minimal effort. With some additional care (and perhaps individually sleeved cables and custom case lighting) the finished build could look even better. As it is I'm certainly not complaining.
Cooling and Noise
The 90° motherboard orientation with the Raven RV05 provides what would seem to be an ideal situation for air cooling. Anchoring the thermal solution are the large 180mm fans at the bottom of the case, which are directed upward to pull air up through the bottom vents and out the top of the enclosure. These fans are controlled with 3-position switch, allowing the user to select between increased cooling performance or lower noise output. So how did the RV05 perform? While I would typically compare an enclosure against other samples with the same hardware, I used a new test platform for the RV05 review and haven't generated any comparison data yet. As I set out to do this I had a thought: what if the Raven's cooling performance was good enough to rival the temps I'm used to on an open test bench? Typically the warm air that builds within an enclosure will increase the temps of surrounding components before being exhausted from the case. An open test bench alleviates this issue as in this ideal testing configuration one is only limited by ambient temperature.
So with my unusual open test bench comparison idea I set to work benchmarking. Testing was done in a room with an ambient temperature of 18° C and a noise floor of 34 dB.
|Processor||AMD FX 8350|
|Memory||Samsung 4GB 1600MHz DDR3 (OEM)|
|Graphics Card||MSI AMD Radeon R9 290X Lightning|
|Storage||Plextor M6 Pro 128GB SSD|
|Cooling||Corsair Hydro Series H75 Liquid CPU Cooler | Stock AMD HSF|
|Power Supply||SilverStone Strider ST-1000P 1000W Modular PSU|
|OS||Windows 8.1 64-bit|
To measure the temperature performance of the RV05 I ran benchmarks using both low and high case fan speed settings. For CPU temps I first tested the Corsair H75 AIO liquid cooler used in the build, and then the stock AMD heatsink/fan from the retail box.
Typically the open-air setup I use for game benchmarking is a best-case scenario for cooling. Without an enclosure to trap warm air the only limitation becomes ambient air temperature. However using the Raven proved to be just as effective as the large fans were able to eliminate warm air effectively. In fact, here we see better results with the "high" fan setting as the added air pressure increased the performance of these coolers. This fan setting has a sound penalty, with noise reaching 50 dB (16 dB above ambient). Air cooling will benefit the most from the added air pressure it seems, as the case airflow helped bring the stock AMD cooler results from a high of 61° C on the open test bench to just 54° C on the "high" setting. Next I tried out a 4.40 GHz overclock on the FX 8350, and this time I didn't even consider using the stock solution so just H75 results will follow.
The Raven's design again presents excellent CPU cooling potential here. The increase in noise from the high fan setting is significant, but it's nice to be able to push a CPU cooler further just by flipping a switch, especially when you're looking for thermal headroom for a bigger overclock. It should be noted that the fan controller does have a medium setting as well, so you can more precisely dial in and find your own balance between noise and temps.
The graphics card also benefited from the increase in fan speed as you would expect, with this R9 290X card dropping from 70° C at load down to 68° C at the high setting. 70° C is very good for an air-cooled Radeon R9 290X, and a testament to the outstanding thermal design of the MSI Lightning version I used. Of interest however is just what a thermal challenge aftermarket cooling solutions often create, as even with the high fan setting the RV05 couldn't expell warm air being pushed into the enclosure by the GPU cooler enough to match the open-air result.
As I anticipated the RV05's bottom fan control affected temperature results along with the expected hit on noise output at higher speeds. When switched to the "high" setting the fans generate a lot of noise, measuring 16 dB over ambient (50 dB in my room). Though very noticeable the large fans do not "whine", but have a deeper tone. The fans told the story here, as the RV05's noise output was dependent on the speed setting. At idle my test system measured 39.4 dB, the level of the fans at "low". On the "high" setting the system consistently measured 49.8 - 50 dB, the noise output of the fans again. Even under full sustained load my MSI R9 290X Lightning never measured above 41 dB in the RV05 enclosure, and this slight increase over the sound from the case fans at their lowest setting was barely noticeable.
Behind the striking design of the Raven RV05 is outstanding performance from great thermal design.The combination of high air pressure from the dual 180mm bottom fans and the 90° motherboard layout creates a great thermal situation for graphics and cooling. This is particularly useful to mitigate the effects of aftermarket GPU cooling on system/case temps, where air coolers often dump heat back into the system. This change in heat dissipation is normally the tradeoff when switching from the OEM blower-style coolers on most reference cards, as better GPU core temps can result in higher overall system temps. With a design like the RV05 such concerns are mostly eliminated as warm air is continuously pushed up and out of the system.
One of the few drawbacks to the RV05's design is noise output, as the 90° orientation and ventilated top creates more audible noise above the case. There is no sound dampening material in use with this design, and in comparison SilverStone's Fortress FT05 adds such additional measures to the Raven layout, but costs about $50 more. The Raven RV05 is really all about raw power, and the twin 180mm fans at the bottom of the case - while noisy at the high setting - produce measurable performance gains. In the spirit of overclocking the free performance boost from simply switching the fan controllers to a "high" setting is a great benefit in the effort to push maximum performance from an air-cooled system, regardless of sound levels.
Out of the box a user is presented with only one 120mm fan opening at the top, but this in no way inhibits cooling as no exhaust fan would be needed with this well-ventilated design and giant fans at the bottom pushing air upward. Initially you would be limited to a 120mm liquid CPU cooler without removing those dual 180mm fans, but doing so allows the installation of 240mm, 280mm, or even 360mm wide radiators. My 120mm Corsair H75 performed admirably, and I imagine it would be tough to beat the thermal performance of a cooler like the H75 (or an H80i) with the bottom fans helping keep things cool.
The Raven RV05 is a unique and well crafted enclosure that combines a trio of advantages: great design, excellent performance, and reasonable cost for a premium enclosure. This is an easy one: