Silverstone is a name that should be familiar to most PC gamers and enthusiasts in New Zealand. Their popular range of power supplies and cases have been selling here for a few years now, and more recently their cooling products have also started to appear on our shelves.

Another product from the Taiwanese manufacturer soon to hit our shores is the Raven 2 case, one of which I was lucky enough to have a good play with recently. This case is the sequel to the Silverstone Raven RV01, which was released last year to mixed reviews. The main innovation of the RV01 - the fact that the mainboard tray pointed upwards so your input/output connections were on the top of the case instead of the back - was quite well received but many felt the overall design was a bit too techy and overstated.

If at first you don't succeed...

Now enter the RV02. While still retaining the rotated mainboard tray and characteristic style, this new Raven case is of a much more sleek and subtle design. Gone are the sharp edges and sticky-outy bits; this unit is fiercely minimalist by comparison.

One side of this gigantic EATX case is windowed - the opposite side to most cases I might add. This gives a full view of the motherboard and cuts out most of the expansion bay.

Virtually the entire case is metal, only the top and front panels are plastic. The top piece is supposed to be shaped like a raven's wings, hence the name, and removing it reveals the conduit which leads the cables out to the rear of the case. It is also perforated to let air from the top of the case flow out.

The rear panel is rather featureless, save for a dust grill with a removable filter for feeding fresh air to the power supply unit. This is the ideal scenario for PSU's - using cooler room temperature air rather than heated case air will allow it to run more efficiently and even extend the life of the unit.

It's what's inside that counts

The most noticeable feature of the all-black interior of the case is the bank of three 180mm case fans running along the bottom. These three fans suck in cool outside air from the bottom of the case - which is raised slightly by plastic feet to keep it off the ground - and push it up to the top of the case. This follows the principle that hot air rises, but it also lowers the perceived noise of the case as the fans are not facing you. They also have removable dust filters and can be adjusted between low medium and high by three switches mounted on the topside of the case.

At the bottom of the expansion bay is the hard drive cage. This is a pretty standard-issue cage, with rubber grommets around all the mounting holes to reduce vibration and noise coming from the drives. Above the hard drives there is room for four 5.25" devices, all with tool-less mounting mechanisms.

Moving across the top of the inside bay you can see the 120mm rear exhaust fan. Generally you'll want to point your CPU cooler at this (mine is pointing the other way in the picture because it tends to make better contact with the CPU in that orientation).

The general intention of the fans in this setup is to draw cool air in from the bottom of the case, force it over all the components from bottom to top, then exhaust it.

Setup/operation

Installing my ATX motherboard into the Raven 2 was a very smooth affair. There's a lot of room on every side of the board - even the side with the I/O ports due to that side being indented into the case - allowing you to get hands and wrists and screwdrivers in and pointing in all directions to get everything screwed down and plugged in. The rear side of the mainboard tray has a cut-out allowing easy access to the backside of the CPU socket for the installation of a mounting bracket.

Cable management is also a fairly simple task here. If there's enough length in your power cables you can run most of them along the sides of the bottom fans, out of sight. There is also plenty of room behind the motherboard tray for running wires.

Having all the external cables routed out a small opening on the back of the case also tidies things up significantly. This is quite an innovative feature in itself; people often spend literally hours managing the cables inside their case and then leave all their external wires - monitor, keyboard, mouse, ethernet cables and so forth - in a complete spaghetti junction on the outside.

Final thoughts

I like this case for many reasons. Firstly, while I'm not usually a fan of oversized cases, the Raven 2 is deceptively large because it is the length which gives it so much room on the inside, not the height (although this meant that it stuck out a little from underneath my desk). The build quality is also impeccable, which one should expect from a brand like Silverstone. Then there's the cooling system - totally unique and absolutely practical. Lastly, it looks the business, with sleek lines and an understated matte-black finish.

The Raven 2 should be available in NZ next month, and will probably land around the $350 mark.

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Our thanks to PlayTech for providing the preview sample.