SilverStone SUGO 15 Aluminum Mini ITX Case Review
The Latest SUGO Is An Aluminum-Clad Mini-ITX Cube
SilverStone has been around since the early 2000s, and while they have diversified their product offering over time cases are still the biggest part of the product stack every year – though PSUs seem to be catching up. Regardless, I’m a fan. The Raven series is why I got into cases in the first place, and my favorite of the cases bought with my own money is still the Temjin TJ08-E (with the Fortress FT02 not far behind).
And now we have a new SilverStone case to look at, and it’s part of their cube-like small form-factor offering that is quite versatile. And so, with a flexible internal design supporting large components, a stylish aluminum exterior, and multiple placement/orientation options, the SUGO 15 joins the ranks of interesting and functional case designs from SilverStone.
Features include (via SilverStone):
- Supports 3 slot full length graphics cards with adjustable graphics card holder
- Compatible with Mini-DTX / Mini-ITX motherboard & ATX PSU
- Supports up to 240mm radiators
- Modular design with 4 removable captive thumbscrew panels (top, left, right, bottom)
- Different configurations support various storage components for 3.5″ and 2.5″
- Front I/O port includes: USB Type-C x 1, USB 3.0 x 2, combo audio x 1
It’s a mini ITX chassis, but component support reads like a compact ATX case. And if you aren’t keen on the silver look, it’s also available in black.
- Model Number: SST-SG15B (black), SST-SG15S (silver)
- Material: Aluminum exterior, steel body
- Motherboard: Mini-DTX, Mini-ITX
- Drive bays (internal): 3.5″ x 2 (without radiator installed), 2.5″ x 3
- Cooling system:
- Rear: 120mm / 140mm x 1 (120mm black fan x 1 included)
- Side: 120mm / 140mm x 2
- Radiator support:
- Rear: 120mm
- Side: 120mm / 240mm
- Expansion slot: 3
- Front I/O ports:
- USB Type-C x 1
- USB 3.0 x 2
- Combo audio x 1
- Power supply: Standard PS2 (ATX)
- Component Clearance:
- VGA card length: 330mm, width: 148mm
- CPU air cooler: 182mm (without top fan)
- 240mm AIO water block: 55mm
- ATX power supply: 150mm
- Net weight: 4.25 kg / 9.37 lbs
- Dimensions: 247 (W) x 211 (H) x 366 (D) mm / 9.72 (W) x 8.31 (H) x 14.41 (D) inches / 19.07 liters
“Mini-ITX cube chassis with aluminum exterior. High compatibility with no compromise.”
We received the silver version of the SUGO 15 (SG15S), and a black version is also available (SG15B). The silver aluminum panels are almost metallic – a brighter finish than the brushed satin you see from Lian Li, for example. It’s more pronounced in bright lighting – the photo below is an example of how the silver finish can look more like gray in indirect light:
At its core this is a steel chassis, with aluminum panels on all sides. This provides a great look and premium feel, and helps keep the weight down. But these panels also serve a very important purpose: airflow.
To refer to this case as “well ventilated” is an understatement, as only the front and one side panel are solid, leaving three vented sides and the rear of the case for airflow. And each side panel vent offers a screen filter to help keep your build clean.
The front panel I/O includes a pair of USB Type-A ports, a Type-C port, analog audio, and power / reset buttons. It’s always nice to see a Type-C header for modern boards that can support it, and I like the minimal look of this black strip along the upper edge (or side, if you orient it differently).
One aspect of this design that’s a bit unusual is that lack of a pre-defined orientation. You want to make the wider, solid panel the bottom and have your system horizontal like a testbed like I did? Sure. But you can pick any side to adhere the included feet to – and you have a choice of those, too:
The taller feet provide an enhanced airflow option if you’re using a vented side as the base – but either way you get both sets of these rubber feet to experiment with.
Getting inside the case is painless, as there are captive (and apparently spring-loaded) thumbscrews on each aluminum side panel. With these panels removed there are a pair of fan mount brackets to remove (four screws each) to fully open up the enclosure during the build.
With the panels removed you can see the screen filters, and while these sides are very light there is enough thickness to provide good rigidity. The case feels very solid, and that impression doesn’t change during the teardown.
Here’s where things get really interesting. I’ll take advantage of SilverStone’s studio photography to best illustrate the options at a builder’s disposal. We will now scroll through the five configuration options listed on the product page.
SilverStone SUGO 15 Config 1 – Max Storage + 120 mm AiO
There’s quite a bit going on here, but essentially you have mounting points for up to five drives ranging from 2.5 to 3.5 inches, with the side dual fan mount bracket doubling as a storage mount as you can see. Another interesting aspect of this design is up front – with that pair of SSDs in the foreground actually hidden from view behind the solid front panel.
The only difference between this configuration and the one that follows is CPU cooling, as this first config makes use of a 120 mm AiO liquid cooler attached to the rear exhaust.
SilverStone SUGO 15 Config 2 – Max Storage + Air Cooler
As stated above, this config omits the 120 mm AiO liquid cooler and uses a typical low-profile cooler instead. There is still room for that second 3.5-inch HDD on the side bracket, and all SSD mounts are available in any configuration.
SilverStone SUGO 15 Config 3 – More AiO Cooling
While it is possible to use both single and dual-width liquid coolers like this, in my testing the hoses from an AiO on the side bracket won’t clear the fan on the rear exhaust. Orient the cooler in the other direction, and this clearance issue is eliminated – though hose length and other component choices might make a setup like this impractical.
Side AiO hoses can’t go on this side if you have anything on the rear exhaust
As it is, this particular configuration only makes sense for a GPU with an attached liquid cooler plus a CPU liquid cooler – or a custom loop. Another consideration is the top fan mount (the bracket that mounts above the motherboard, separate from the rear exhaust), which could allow some interesting dual AiO setups with certain CPU/GPU combos as well.
SilverStone SUGO 15 Config 4 – Twin 120 mm AiOs
This one actually works as shown, since the side-mounted AiO’s hoses don’t interfere with the fan mount on the rear exhaust in this orientation. It’s still a fringe use-case, but I like to think of the liquid cooler mounts as more either/or than simultaneous.
SilverStone SUGO 15 Config 5 – BIG Air
This represents a particular strength of this design, and one that you need a larger mITX enclosure like this to support. I’m talking about BIG air cooling for your CPU. Coolers such as the Noctua NH-D15 (165 mm high), be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 (163 mm high), and the ubiquitous Hyper 212 EVO (159 mm high) will fit easily in this case. A maximum cooler height of 182 mm is supported here, as long as that optional top fan bracket is removed.
As shown above, you won’t be able to mount that second 3.5-inch HDD with large tower coolers due to clearance, but one drive can still occupy the other side of this bracket.
To make things easy, SilverStone was nice enough to send along both a compact ATX power supply – the 80 Plus Platinum rated ST1000-PTS – and a set of their short, flat modular cables (which are fantastic, by the way).
I have to say, with the two fan brackets removed this is a very easy mini-ITX build. I dropped in our trusty ASUS ROG Stirx B450-I Gaming board (somehow I don’t have a later AMD chipset board in mITX on hand), which already had a Ryzen 5 3600X installed. Sure, this can be upgraded to a 5000 Series CPU, but in the interest of a quick build I threw it in as is – stock cooler and all.
This was the nucleus of another system at one point, featuring an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 FE graphics card. To begin with I tried out that GPU, and later switched to a much larger – and more thermally challenging – ASUS Strix GTX 1080 Ti model. Clearance for GPUs is massive, by the way. There was room for a longer card, and these Strix triple-fan designs are quite big.
One clearance note here, as the height of the G.Skill Trident Z NEO memory that I used here was just a big high for 240 mm radiator clearance on the side bracket. Lower-profile DIMMs would work just fine, however.
A big help to the ease of this build was definitely the compact ATX PSU and short cable set provided by SilverStone, and while other solutions are compatible this particular setup enables a very clean build with minimal excess cabling inside the enclosure. Granted, you won’t be able to see any cable mess with the side panels attached, but you’ll still know the rat’s nest is there.
Non-modular PSUs are another good option (if that’s still a current product category), as longer ATX models with modular connectors aren’t going to fit. Official support is only up to 150 mm depth from the PSU, and even that is cutting it close. The model that SilverStone sent over with this (ST1000-PTS) is a very compact 140 mm design.
Of course you can always use an SFX-L power supply here to maximize clearance, but you will need an SFX to ATX bracket (not included with this case).
This part of the review is going to be uncharactaristically incomplete by my standards, as I don’t have comparative data. I haven’t measured the configuration I used in the SUGO 15 in other enclosures, so it would be pointless to attempt to make charts with relative temps and noise. That said, I did record data and my findings are, essentially, that both temps and noise are really going to depend on how you intend to use this enclosure.
With all air-cooled components, which is how I ended up using this case, there was sufficient ventilation for very good thermals when using a stock-cooled CPU and a midrange GPU like the RTX 2060 that I started out with. There are vents everywhere you need them, and the case breathes nicely. I did notice, however, that after extended testing the rather toasty GTX 1080 Ti – with its aftermarket cooler blowing air into the case, rather than out the back – produced some very warm surface temps on the top aluminum panel.
To simulate a challenging gaming load I chose our lone “hot” day thus far in Michigan, and used the ASUS Strix GTX 1080 Ti in a very warm room (AC off, ambient over 80 degrees F) with an endless loop of Unigine Heaven. In this “worst-case” scenario I saw GPU temps max out at 84.7 C, with the fans spinning at 70%. The Ryzen 5 3600X CPU hit a max of 61.3 C during this test session, using the stock cooler. Noise hit 46.2 dBA with the SPL meter positioned 12 inches from the top of the case, above the running system in my build’s orientation. A more modest build (or an air-conditioned room) produced deltas that were much lower, with my living room RTX 2060 build producing a max 71 C GPU temp with ambient air of ~72 F / 22 C.
My son decided to use my infrared thermometer as a hammer, so it was unavailable for this review. The aluminum was quite hot to the touch after a long benchmarking session with a hot-running GPU, so keep that in mind when deciding on enclosure placement. Blower-style cards are a different story – but that’s always the case. If the GPU produces a lot of heat and doesn’t exhaust it from the rear bracket, any case is going to suffer without high airflow. This was a perfect test scenario for a top-mounted exhaust fan, but I did not end up getting to that. It should help – but in any event make sure you keep plenty of room above this case for heat to escape the panel above your system.
Ultimately take these results with a grain of salt, but essentially the SUGO 15 is open enough that it allows components to breath properly, and by the same token won’t mask noisy coolers if you have them.
The SUGO 15 is another excellent enclosure from SilverStone, offering a versatility uncommon to mini-ITX form-factor designs – though its size does push the boundries of “small form-factor” a bit. But it is the overall size of the enclosure which enables outstanding component clearance and plenty of configuration options. An A4-SFX this is not, but it was never intended as an alternative to ultra-compact designs.
Even with tons of room the need for a 150 mm or shallower (140 mm is my recommendation) ATX power supply might be irksome if you don’t already own one, and there is no SFX adapter included; so if you’re moving up from a smaller mITX case and want to bring over an SFX/SFX-L PSU you’ll need to find a bracket (SilverStone offers one separately, model PP08).
Aside from the need for a small PSU in such a large mITX case, there really isn’t much that a builder might find to complain about here. The component clearance is so high and build flexibility is so extensive, that depending on your chosen configuration you may find zero compatibility issues. Fans can be mounted to three of the enclosures sides, and two of these sides offer removable brackets – making placement of radiators particularly effortless for a mini-ITX case.
Bottom line, the SUGO 15 is a very roomy mini-ITX case with the best component clearance for CPU and GPU coolers I’ve yet encountered in a compact design. The larger size of the enclosure greatly enhances the build process, with removable fan/storage brackets creating as effortless an experience as you are likely to have with a mini-ITX build.
And the quality of the SUGO 15 is very high. Thick aluminum side panels are strong, with significant ventilation and nice screen filters. Panels mount easily, with nice captive fasteners. The chassis is strong, and the finished built is one solid block of a PC. And aesthetics are great, too. Sure, this part is subjective, but I think the classy, minimalist appearance allows the case to fit within just about any environment.
Pricing is just under $165 USD for either color option, with the silver finish we looked at currently selling for $163 on Amazon. This price reflects the hybrid nature of this design from SilverStone: priced higher than many steel cases, and lower than the all-aluminum designs manufactured by Lian Li for crowdfunded projects that we’ve looked at.
If you have the budget for a more premium option like this, and are looking for a roomy take on mini-ITX for your next enclosure, the SUGO 15 makes an outstanding option. An alternative from SilverStone is the SUGO 14, a lower-cost companion to this that shares the internals but forgoes the aluminum panels. The current ~$30 difference still has me leaning toward the more premium SUGO 15, and I think it’s obvious that I really liked this enclosure. Recommended!