SilverStone RL08 Micro-ATX Case Review: Features and Flexibility

Manufacturer: SilverStone SilverStone RL08 Micro-ATX Case Review: Features and Flexibility

SilverStone has a long-standing reputation among PC enthusiasts for providing a full line of high quality enclosures, power supplies, cooling components, and accessories. The RL08 is a premium tower enclosure designed specifically for SFF motherboards and features clean, elegant styling. It also provides a lot of flexibility for various cooling solutions (large air coolers and/or water cooling) and numerous storage options (one external 5.25”, two internal 2.5” SSD, and three internal 3.5” HDD bays).

SilverStone states their new Red Line Series RL08 enclosures are built to push Micro-ATX case design and performance to the limit. The RL08 Micro-ATX tower is available in either Black/Red or Black/White color schemes with a dark tempered glass side panel. Both RL08 models come with two 120mm RGB fans in the front and one 120mm exhaust fan on the back to get you started with great case cooling.

Features

SilverStone RL08 Micro-ATX Tower Enclosure Key Features:

  • Premium build quality with dark tempered glass side panel
  • Available in Black/Red or Black/White finishes
  • Two 120mm RGB intake fans and one 120mm exhaust fan included
  • Positive air pressure design optimizes cooling performance
  • Quick access filters (front, top, bottom) help prevent dust buildup
  • Convenient wire and cable routing pathways for clean installation
  • Support for Micro-ATX, Mini-DTX and Mini-ITX motherboards
  • Two removable side panels with thumb screws
  • Easy access front mounted I/O panel with two USB 3.0 ports
  • One 5.25″ external drive bay
  • Three 3.5″ and two 2.5″ internal drive bays
  • Independent compartment for standard ATX PSU
  • Adjustable support bracket for large graphics card

Specifications

The SilverStone RL08 is an elegantly styled, Micro-ATX tower enclosure designed for PC professionals and enthusiasts alike. It features a sturdy stamped and riveted steel chassis painted black inside and out. The left side panel is painted either red or white depending on which option you prefer and the right side panel features a large dark tempered glass window. The removable front panel is black plastic. The RL08 is a good choice for housing a SFF build and for anyone who is looking for a small tower media server. The Micro-ATX tower enclosure measures 8.6” W x 16” H x 17.1” D.

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SilverStone RL08 Specifications (from the SilverStone website):

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Cooling Fan Specifications:

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Note: In addition to the standard 3-pin power cable/connector the two front fans have a second cable with 4-pin connectors for powering the RGB lights.

Packaging and Parts

The SilverStone Red Line Series RL08 case arrived securely packed inside a retail box illustrating the enclosure’s main features and specifications. The case comes wrapped in plastic and protected by two large Styrofoam inserts.

Packed inside one of the internal 3.5” drive bays is a small bag of parts that contain the mounting hardware and a very brief Installation Guide. A more detailed User Manual is available on the SilverStone website.

A Look at the Outside

The overall build quality appears to be excellent and the clean lines combined with the dark tempered glass side panel are sure to appeal to a large enthusiast market. The main chassis is painted with a scratch-resistant black finish inside and out.

The front of the RL08 enclosure contains one external 5.25” drive bay at the top and an easily accessible I/O panel on the left side, which includes two USB 3.0 ports along with a headphone out and microphone in jacks below the Power on button.

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Tempered Glass Side Panel

Both side panels are removable and secured with two thumb screws. The left panel is either red or white while the right side panel is a dark tempered glass. The top of the case includes large openings for optional fans (two 120mm/140mm) and is covered with an easy to remove dust filter (held in place by magnetic strips).

The large front bezel is removable (grab at the bottom and pull out). Behind the bezel are two 120mm RGB intake fans protected by a pull-out dust filter. Note: the RGB fans are each fitted with two cables; one cable has a 3-pin connector and supplies power to the fan motor. The other cable is fitted with both a male and female 4-pin connector to power the RGB lights built into the fans, which can be connected to a motherboard that supports RGB lighting. Alternately you could purchase a RGB lighting controller like SilverStone’s LSB01.

Moving around to the rear of the enclosure reveals a fairly typical tower layout. There are five expansion card slots at the top with a 120mm exhaust fan in the middle. The bottom opening is for mounting a standard ATX power supply.

Flipping the RL08 case upside down exposes four large rubber feet and a removable dust filter that is located under the power supply area. Also notice the four mounting screws that locate the 3.5” HDD cage with three different positions.

A Look at the Inside

By now the observant reader will have noticed there is something different about the RL08 Micro-ATX enclosure. While most ATX tower enclosures provide access to the motherboard area through the left side panel the opposite is true for the RL08. As you can see in the pictures below removing the left side panel exposes the back of the motherboard tray, power supply area and drive bays. There are several large openings fitted with rubber gaskets for cleanly routing cables.

Two 2.5” SSD mounting locations are provided at the top-left and three removable 3.5” HDD bays are located near the bottom-right. Note, the 3.5” HDD cage can be mounted in three different positions (front-to-back) or removed altogether if not needed.

A large baffle separates the power supply and cables from the rest of the enclosure. This provides a clean finished look from the window side but might restrict airflow to the 3.5” HDD cage depending on your final build configuration. I wish the baffle had been designed to be removable instead of being permanently mounted. That way it could be taken out for max airflow around the 3.5” HDD cage if desired.

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Looking into the RL08 enclosure from the right side reveals the motherboard is mounted upside down which places the graphics card(s) on the top instead of underneath. This arrangement allows cool outside air to be drawn into the graphics card through the top panel openings. This also eliminates a problem that occurs in some ATX tower designs where warm internal case air tends to stagnate in the area below the motherboard where the graphics cards are located due to airflow being blocked by drive enclosures and cables.

The motherboard tray is designed to mount a Micro-ATX, Mini-DTX, or Mini-ITX motherboard and contains a large opening behind the CPU socket area that allows changing CPU coolers without having to remove the motherboard.

The two 120mm RGB intake fans and one 120mm exhaust fan are clearly visible. The large baffle with the SilverStone name hides the power supply and most of the cables for a clean look.

Component Installation

It’s always nice to have a good looking case that comes packed with features but what really counts is how well all the parts go together during assembly. In this section we are going to look at each of the major components and check on fit, alignment, clearances, cable routing, etc.

Motherboard and Graphics Adapter

One of our favorite RL08 features is the inverted motherboard mounting that puts the graphics card on top where it can breathe instead of underneath the motherboard. We installed a SFF motherboard (MSI Z87I Gaming 9.6” x 9.6”) along with a dual slot graphics adapter (Zotac 660 TI) into the RL08 to check the fit.

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Everything lined up and fit perfectly as expected. Expansion cards are held in place with easy to reach machine screws (not a flimsy plastic quick-release clip).

Note: The RL08 includes and adjustable VGA card support that is designed to help distribute the weight of a long graphics card (up to 13.6” long).

Power Supply

The RL08 enclosure is designed to mount a standard ATX style power supply. For this review we used a SilverStone Strider Platinum 1000W power supply (ST1000-PTS). The power supply slid easily into position, sits securely inside the rear compartment, and is secured with four screws on the backside panel.

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As another option we mounted a SilverStone SFX 700W power supply (SX700-PT) which obviously leaves more room for cable storage. Note: the 3.5” HDD cage location can be adjusted front or back to suit your particular build.

External Drive Bay

The front 5.25” drive bay cover is made of the same black mesh material as the front panel so it blends in and is barely noticeable when an external device is not mounted. Some users still need an external 5.25” device so we installed a Blu-ray drive to test the fit. All’s well.

Internal Drives

One of the many things we like about the SilverStone RL08 case is its ability to mount two 2.5” SSDs and up to three 3.5” HDDs. That is a lot of storage capacity and flexibility. One or two dedicated system SSDs and a bank of multi-terabyte HDDs could make a very nice media server. We mounted two 2.5” SSDs onto the removable plate with the provided screws and then loaded up the 3.5” drive cage with three HDDs.

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The internal 3.5” HDD cage can mount up to three drives. Each of the tool-free drive trays is removable. Once removed, the tray slides open to receive a drive and then holds it securely in place with metal pins when closed. The 3.5” drive cage can be mounted in three different positions (front-to-back) or can be removed altogether if not needed.

Cooling Options

Another thing we really like about the RL08 case is the many different cooling options it supports. If you are planning to go with straight air cooling the RL08 has you covered. The three bundled 120mm fans (two intakes and one exhaust) provide an excellent start for good case cooling and will be all many users need. The three fans are relatively quiet measuring 32.8 dBA at a 3’ diagonal from the front of the case. However, if you want more, the RL08 provides numerous options.

Three (3) Pre-installed 120mm fans: 32.8 dBA @12 VDC (28 dBA background)

  • Front: (2) 120mm/140mm fan openings (two 120mm RGB fans included)
  • Rear: (1) 120mm fan opening (one 120mm exhaust fan included)
  • Top: (2) 120mm/140mm fan openings
CPU Air Cooler
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The SilverStone RL08 Micro-ATX tower enclosure can accommodate large, high performance CPU coolers up 168mm (6.7”) tall. For our test build we installed a Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO that measures 158mm in height. Check!

Liquid Cooling

If you are planning to incorporate liquid cooling into your next build the RL08 also has you covered with at least three different options for mounting one or more radiators.

  • Front: 120/140mm or 240/280mm radiator
  • Rear: 120mm radiator
  • Top: 120/140mm or 240/280mm radiator
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For many, a single 120mm radiator mounted on the back panel will be a great option for keeping the CPU temperature under control while air cooling everything else. We mounted a Corsair Hydro Series H80i CPU cooler without issues.

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If you want a little more cooling capacity, the top and front panel both provide dual-fan radiator mounting options. We chose to leave the two RGB intake fans on the front and installed a dual-fan 240mm radiator on top (Corsair H100i). Alternately this location could of course be used to mount a GPU liquid cooling system.

Notice that the 5.25” drive bay bracket has been removed to accommodate the larger radiator – yes, it is attached with machine screws and not riveted! Now I’m impressed.

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

We have truly enjoyed our time spent with the SilverStone RL08 case. If you are in the market for a Micro-ATX tower enclosure to house your next SFF build, the RL08 deserves serious consideration.

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One of our favorite RL08 features is the inverted motherboard mounting that places the graphics card(s) on top of the motherboard instead of underneath for better cooling. The RL08 provides excellent cooling options and comes with three 120mm fans pre-installed. And it packs a lot of storage options and capacity into a small package.

The overall build quality is very good and the simple yet elegant styling is just what we have come to expect from SilverStone. The dark tempered glass side panel is icing on the cake. The RL08 proved to be a pleasure to work with and earned this editor’s choice award! Highly recommended.M/p>

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The SilverStone RL08 Micro-ATX tower enclosure is currently available and selling for $119.99 USD on Amazon.com (November 4, 2019).

Strengths:

  • Premium build quality with dark tempered glass side panel
  • Available in Black/Red or Black/White finishes
  • Numerous options for air and liquid cooling support
  • Two 120mm RGB intake fans and one 120mm exhaust fan included
  • Positive air pressure design optimizes cooling performance
  • Quick access filters (front, top, bottom) help prevent dust buildup
  • Mounts full size ATX power supply
  • Convenient wire and cable routing pathways for clean installation
  • Support for SFF motherboards (Micro-ATX, Mini-DTX and Mini-ITX)
  • Two easy-to-remove side panels with thumb screws
  • Inverted motherboard mounting places graphics card(s) on top
  • Easy access front mounted I/O panel with two USB 3.0 ports
  • Provides great storage options and capacity
  • One 5.25″ external drive bay
  • Three 3.5″ HDD and two 2.5″ SSD internal drive bays
  • Small footprint for a high-performance tower style chassis

Minor Weakness:

  • Large, lower baffle is not removable; may restrict airflow to the 3.5” HDDs

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4 Comments

  1. BigTed

    That’s actually a really nice looking case in white – turn off the front RGB and I think its something my middle aged self wouldn’t be embarrassed to show off in the office. Makes a refreshing change to most modern cases that look like Optimus Prime’s ball bag.

  2. c7346240@urhen.com

    > […] and installed a dual-fan 240mm radiator on top (Corsair H100i).

    Too bad you did this build with a mITX board. 🙁

    It would have been nice to see build using a 240mm radiator together with a mATX board, especially with regard to any potential clearance issues with any of the typical connectors that are usually placed on the motherboard edge facing the radiator (bottom edge; or here rather top edge, since it is an inverted layout) .

  3. lobstershaver

    What is the appeal of a inverted layout?

    • Gandorff

      It’s made for Australians. Without an inverted layout, Ozzies would run their PC components in upside-down position, with all the electrons falling out. Just think about cleaning all the mess that spilled there onto the carpet…

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