Date: February 7, 2007
Author(s): Matthew Harris
SilverStone is one of the premiere case builders in the market today. From their hugely popular Temjin tower series to the elegant LaScala series of HTPC cases to everything in between like the Sugo LAN case, SilverStone has something that’s sure to fit the bill. SilverStone is long known to produce masterpieces of design and thermal engineering, today we look at their latest effort and see if it is indeed their best effort yet.
Say the name SilverStone in any geeky forum on the ‘net and everyone there will know who you’re talking about. Not too shabby for a company not quite four years old but it’s well earned. They offer some of the best computer hardware on the market today. Where companies like CoolerMaster and Lian Li leave off SilverStone takes over. Yes, they take over in quality and in price. I do admit that their cases are among the most expensive out there but are they worth it? Read on and draw your own conclusions.
First let’s see what SilverStone has to say about the TJ09 in their own words:
The Temjin TJ09 is the first SilverStone chassis designed with graphics card cooling as one of the priorities. To meet this challenge, a brand new mid-section air duct was created to bypass the hard drive cage, allowing the strategically placed 120mm to draw cool air from outside of the chassis and blow it directly onto the expansion slot area. CPU and hard drives are also cooled exclusively by 120mm fans to maximize airflow while reducing noise. Covered in styling reminiscent of beautiful chassis of years past, the TJ 09′ s advanced structure is second in stiffness only to the unibody designed TJ07. If you have been waiting for a chassis with plenty of technical and aesthetic excellence worthy of an upgrade, then the TJ09 is the one.
|Material||5.0mm aluminum front panel, 2.0mm aluminum body|
|Motherboard||SSI, Extended ATX, ATX, Micro ATX|
|Model||Standard Model||SST-TJ09B (black)||W / Window||SST-TJ09B-W (black)|
|SST-TJ09S (silver)||SST-TJ09S-W (silver)|
5.25” x 4, 3.5” x 1
|Internal||3.5” x 6|
|Cooling System||Top||2 x 120mm fan slots|
|Rear||1 x 120mm exhaust fan, 1200rpm, 21dBA|
|Mid-section||1 x 120mm intake fan, 1200rpm, 21dBA|
|Front/HDD area||1 x 120mm fan slot|
|Front I/O Port|
USB2.0 x 2
IEEE1394 x 1
audio x 1 ]
MIC x 1
|Power Supply||1 x Optional standard PS2 (ATX) or 1 x Redundant PS2|
|Net Weight||11 kg|
|Dimension||210 mm (W) x 525 mm (H) x 605 mm (D)|
Today we’re taking a look at the SST-TJ09B-W. Talk about a long name, it’s nearly as long as the chassis is.
The packaging is full color and like most, features pictures of the case along with listing why you need it and what it has to offer. You’ll also notice (unless you’ve been struck blind) that MaximumPC has chosen this case for their "Dream Machine ’06" build. This is hardly surprising since they’ve used SilverStone cases since 2004 that I know of.
Inside the box we find the TJ09 well packed inside an closed cell foam cradle and a plastic baggy. There’s enough room between the areas of the box where no foam is around the case that it would take a pretty big impact to reach the case. Big enough that either way, foam or no foam the case would be destroyed.
SilverStone bags the case to make certain it won’t get scuffed on the trip to you. Let’s take a look and see what they’re protecting.
Pretty clean. The case is finished with a nice brushed black anodized finish and this version features a rather narrow window that shows off the motherboard area of the case. I have to say that I personally prefer a window that doesn’t show drive cages and the uglier side of PC innards. The motherboard and it’s associated cards and parts are the more interesting looking parts of a PC, drives are pretty boring unless you happen to have one of the newer WD Raptor X hard drives with the nifty window.
If you look at the roof of the case in the picture above, you’ll notice that there’s a door on the roof over the drive bays. That door pops up to reveal the forward mounted ports which include 2 – USB, 1-1394 Firewire and front mounted audio ports. There’s just enough room over the drive to allow the door to shut but it does eat into the places that are typically used to hide excess cabling. Happily, with the PSU in the bottom of the case it’s not an issue since the excess power cables will be downstairs.
Inside the case is a box with screws and standoffs. Nope, no drive rails as this is not a screw less case.
The front of the case is very monolithic. No intake grilles, doors or anything to mar the "Huge slab of aluminum" impression it gives you. At the bottom is a milled SilverStone emblem set into a recess in the case front. Myself, I think it looks kind of slick but others might not be so hip on having the front of their case branded indelibly. One downside to the anodized finish is that it shows finger/hand prints horribly. They’re pretty hard to get off as well.
Another notable thing about the case fascia is that it’s mounted to the frame with allen head screws. In point of fact, everything is pretty much held together with screws on this case. The drive bays are screwed in, the roof is screwed into the chassis as are the rear supports. If you’re looking for a case that’s easy to mod then you’ve found a likely candidate.
Normally the "off side" of a case has nothing to look at aside from a large featureless panel. Not so with the TJ09. I’m sure that you noticed the "scoop" on the windowed side of the case. The other side features the same "scoop". I say "scoop" as that’s what it reminds me of, the old NACA (NACA was the forerunner to NASA and stood for National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) ducts found on ’60’s and ’70’s muscle cars. While it looks like a scoop it’s really the intake for the front fan and the intake and exhaust for the HDD fan should you choose to add one.
Looking at the rear of the case we see that it has a pull out mobo tray that’s well ventilated to help aid in cooling should you also decide to add the optional roof mounted fans. Having more exhaust fans than intakes generally causes dirt and dust to gather at all the nooks and crannies due to the air having to get into the case from somewhere. With this case you won’t run into that issue which is nice. I’ve found that in cases that have more exhaust air flow than intake it tends to pull dirt in through the optical drives which is a pain in the neck.
We also see that SilverStone was forward thinking enough to pre-drill for tubing to be routed out of the mobo tray. This means that water cooling is a relatively easy and painless upgrade for this case if you opt for an externally mounted radiator.
I mentioned the box of screws earlier and these are what you get along with a manual on the care and feeding of your new case.
The forward ports are terminated with block connectors and the Firewire ports feature single conductors with individual terminations and the audio port is set up for both AC’97 audio and Intel’s new HD Audio spec ‘ed connectors. Sadly though, the wires are a tad on the short side and don’t allow for routing under the edge of the mobo if you’re so inclined.
I know that you’re looking at this and wondering "What the hell?" but I wanted to show just how thick the materials are on this case. The dive bays are made from fully 2.0mm thick aluminum as is the case roof and floor. The edges aren’t covered but they’re not even remotely sharp, you’d be more likely to cut yourself with a mallet.
The drive bays are held in with a pair of plastic arms that lock into the drive bay. This is as close to "tool-less drive bays" as you’re going to get. The drives themselves screw into the cages.
As you can see, the drive cages are also made from the same thick material and feature thin rubber strips where the drives make contact with the cages. This is to help dampen any vibrations the drives might transmit to the case. The drive cages hold three drives per cage for a total load out of 6 hard drives. Also you’ll note that the drives stand vertically on edge. I’ll show you the whys and wherefores of this in a second.
In between the drive cages resides a fan mount for an optional 120mm fan. This allows the fan to blow and draw (ha, I bet you thought I’d say "suck" didn’t you.) air through the drives. This is why the drives mount on edge and is why there are slots in the roof and floor of each cage. There’s also a meshed grill in the floor of the case to allow the air to flow into or out of the drives depending upon the orientation of the fan if you choose to use one.
The fan holder is held in place by a pair of thumbscrews. You simply remove them and slide the fan holder out of the case and install the 120x25mm fan of your choice.
In this case (no pun intended) I went with a low RPM 120mm fan by Thermaltake since it’s nearly inaudible. I set the fan to draw air from the top and exhaust it out the bottom, I think that with the grill in the case floor this is the best option but that’s just me. It also prevents as much warm exhausted air from being drawn in by the front intake fan.
The removable motherboard tray is held in by five thumbscrews. On the left side (as you face the rear of the case) there is a handle to give you something to pull the tray from the case with. As you can see this handle curves in towards the the PCI slots, in my experience with this case it makes attaching a DVI to VGA adaptor to a video card a true pain in the posterior. I think a better design would to have it come straight out from the tray and simply curve left rather than curving inwards.
After removing the thumbscrews and pulling the tray outwards you can see that this thing is built heavy enough to serve as an Olympic diving board! The corners are braced at the top and bottom with heavy gauge steel gussets and the tray is built from the same 2.0mm thick aluminum that finds it’s way throughout the rest of the case. In fact, everything but the front and side panels are 2.0mm thick.
The side panels look to be .75mm thick as they’re just a bit thinner than the side panels on a Lian Li but they’re very durable. I’m guessing that they’ve had some sort of heat treating as I’ve been unable to distort them by tightening the flanges down to the rear of the case. Anyone that’s used a case made with thin aluminum will know of what I speak. Tightening down the door flange when the door isn’t fully seated will bend the hell out of the flange.
These are the rear braces for the case. They’re pretty unique in that they’re made from extruded aluminum rather than stamped aluminum. This adds a rather high level of rigidity to them and keeps the overall structural integrity of the case high. A really nice touch is that they’re drilled to allow you to swap in or out expansion cards without a need to back the mobo tray out past the end of the case. A nice touch that more than a few cases with motherboard trays are missing.
Here’s a look at the case with the mobo tray out. While we’re looking at the case opened up take a look at the bottom rear of the case. There’s mesh under the PSU mounting location. This allows you to mount bottom fan equipped power supplies in this case with the fan facing down so that it can draw fresh air in through the mesh rather than warm case air. Nice touch.
The PSU mount is drilled to support a PSU mounted with the "bottom" of the power supply facing down or up. This is a cool thing since it can make the difference between the cables coming from the power supply being pulled too taught or not going to a distant power connection.
I want to point out a couple of things here, comment on something else and ridicule something else. A closer look at the PSU mounting location shows a pair of rails stamped into the case bottom that are rubber topped to isolate noise from the PSU fan from the case floor AND to protect the finish of the power supply. Taking a peek at the rails for the mobo tray reveals that they’re inlaid with what looks like black delrin plastic. Delrin is a self lubricating plastic and they really do give the motherboard tray a nice easy ride out of the case.
Now, what I think is really kind of silly is the support for the power supply. This support snaps over the top of the PSU and holds it down to the bottom of the case. Yes, I know that it’s to hold it tight to the rubber pads but I’ve tried it with and without it in the case and gravity does a dandy job of holding the power supply down.
The rear plate for the PSU is not at any sort of angle to the case (other than 90 degree) so when the power supply is fastened down it is not being pulled up from the case floor. Looking at the intake fan we can see that it’s placed high enough in the case to blow air over the power supply and right into the PCI area of the mainboard.
If you look in the opening for the fan in the second picture you’ll see that there’s a mesh (you see the edge of it, sorry I didn’t get a good shot of it from another angle. My camera wouldn’t focus on it) that is in front of the fan. I’ve found that this mesh does impede the air flow from the front fan by a good margin but I’ve also found that removing it helps in some ways but hinders in others. More on that in a bit.
I’d also like to point out that unlike some cases with removable mobo trays the TJ09 doesn’t have a removable pigtail for the LED’s and switches. Slight annoyance in that every time that you pull the mobo you have to unplug each switch and LED connection rather than just one single connection.
At the top of the case we see two more snap in fan mounts. I’ve filled them with a pair silent 120X25mm fans.
Here’s a look at the mobo mounted on the tray. Take my word for it, you can put a very large HSF on your mobo out of the case and still slide the tray into the case.
The mobo fits nicely above the PSU area. There’s quite a bit of room between it and the bottom PCI slot so there’s no worries about jamming the bottom PCI card into the PSU when you slide it home.
After installing the video card (EVGA 7950GT) I install the optical drive and begin routing cables. The cables are a bit of a pain in this case thanks to the fan duct. This is in regards to the HDD cables. The duct actually comes in quite handy for tucking excess power cables up under.
Here’s the test drive used for the test system. It’s an older 7200RPM Western Digital IDE drive.
The drives mount using small counter-sunk screws not unlike the screws used with the ICY-DOCK triple SATA enclosure I reviewed a while back. These are needed to allow the drive cage to slide in and out of the drive cage mount. This way there’s no need for any holes cobbled into the drive casing.
Remember when I said that routing the HDD cables is hard with this case? This is an example of what I was talking about.
I can just imagine what running three IDE cables through that wee little groove would be like. You can’t run the cable through the duct area since the plastic scoop on the case side actually fits down into the duct.
Here’s a look at how a completed (OK, mostly complete, no CPU or HSF but you get the idea) rig looks when you’re finished.
The window is quite good for showing off the pretty, shiny, fancy PC living inside your case.
The "Tower of Power" looks vaguely like something you’d see floating in space in a Kubrick flick. I really love that look.
Even without the door in place the TJ09 looks pretty nice with a bit of work. Overall it’s a very impressive case that has a lot of promise. There are a few shortcomings but I think it’s awesome overall.
The installed system consists of an Abit AN8 Fatal1ty motherboard, AMD 3200+ at 2.4Ghz, EVGA 7950GT, 2 X 512Mb of Geil PC3200 nF4 series ram, a WD400 Western Digital 40 Gig 7200Rpm HDD, Samsung DVD-ROM, Ultra X-Pro 600W PSU and a Turtle Beach Montego DDL sound card.
During testing in a 26°C room I was seeing 32° case temps, 38°C CPU idle temps, 42°C load CPU temps and 53°C GPU idle temps and 63°C load GPU temps. The case temps stayed pretty steady during idle and load testing. For idle testing I surfed the web for an hour taking note of the temps with Rivatuner and CoreTemp. For load I ran CoD2 for an hour and enabled logging in both of my temperature monitoring apps. I used SpeedFan to monitor the case temps.
I’ve since migrated my ASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe with SLI 7950GT video cards into the TJ09 and I’m getting 46°C on the CPU (X2 3800+) under load and 63°C on card 1 and 56°C on card 2 under gaming load.
I mentioned earlier the mesh over the intake. Out of curiosity I removed it and saw slight decrease under load on the CPU to the tune of 2°C but on the GPU’s I saw an increase of 13°C on card 1 and 15°C on card 2! I’m attributing this to the design of the EVGA HSF. It puts the fan at the rear of the card near the PCI slot covers and the air exits at the end towards the front of the case. The increased airflow from removing the mesh resulted in the heated air from the GPU heat sinks being blown back towards the fan on cards and recycling through the HSF. On a card with the fan towards the front of the case I don’t think you’d experience the same phenomenon.
The SilverStone TJ09 is one of the most serious enthusiast cases on the market today. It has cooling options aplenty and features several innovations such as the front fan duct designed to aid in GPU cooling, vertically cooled HDD’s and ultra thick materials used throughout the construction of the chassis. The fit and finish are second to none although the anodizing suffers the curse of all anodized cases, I cannot fault SilverStone for that though. You deal with that on any anodized case. I’m not crazy about the situation with the HDD cables but given the design of the front cooling there’s really not much way around that flaw.
If you’re expecting a fly-weight case look elsewhere. The TJ09 tips the scales at 24.2 pounds, nearly as much as a similarly sized steel case but it’s as strong or stronger than many steel cases on the market today thanks to the monster construction. Overall I’m awarding the TJ09 a 9/10 and our coveted Editor’s Choice award and my advice to you is that if you’re in the market for a new case and can afford an E-ticket give the TJ09 a hard look. Keep an eye on our forums because in the coming weeks I’ll be modding the TJ09 to accept water cooling with an internal 240 rad and I’ll be posting a worklog so you can see what’s involved.
If you have a comment you wish to make on this review, feel free to head on into our forums! There is no need to register in order to reply to such threads.
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