Hardware Installation, Evaluation & Conclusion
The ML08 comes with a number of odds and ends including the standard packet of screws and zip ties, riser cards for the GPU, a pair of feet and a set of rubber cushions to stabilize the case depending on orientation, a face plate for an optical drive, two plastic spacers to support large GPUs, and a case badge with the company’s logo. Not pictured are the instruction manual and the handle.
The cable selection for this case is standard and includes an HD audio and USB 3.0 cable as well as the normal set of front panel power connections. One thing worth noting is the power LED cable isn’t split and won’t work on Asus boards without an adapter.
Aside from a relocated PSU and riser cards for the GPU, installation in the ML08 is mostly straightforward and follows the steps outlined in our How to Build a PC guide.
Here’s how the SilverStone ML08 compares to the other compact cases we’ve tested thus far:
Today’s review is based upon the same Mini-ITX reference platform as past reviews, except that our usual CPU cooler was too tall for this case. We swapped it out for the Reeven RC1001 Brontes, which is a close match in terms of thermal and noise performance.
Noise is measured .5m from the case's front corner, on the side that opens. The numbers are corrected to the 1m industry standard—used by many loudspeaker and fan manufacturers—by subtracting six decibels.
Additionally, the test duration for today’s review was four hours at full load, and the ambient air temperature for the test was maintained at approximately 26°C (78.8°F).
Test System Components
|Test System Configuration|
|Sound||Integrated HD Audio|
|Network||Integrated Gigabit Networking|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce 353.30|
|Chipset||Intel INF 10.0.27|
|Prime95 v27.9||64-bit executable, Small FFTs, 4 threads|
|3DMark 11||Version: 22.214.171.124, Extreme Preset: Graphics Test 1, Looped|
|Real Temp 3.40||Average of maximum core readings at full CPU load|
|Galaxy CM-140 SPL Meter||Tested at 1/2 m, corrected to 1 m (-6 dB), dBA weighting|
CPU temperatures ran a bit hot, though it didn’t start out this way at the beginning of the test. It turns out that the ML08 took just over four hours of punishment to reach its final, stable temperature. That got us thinking that even with the oversized vents, the confined space, coupled with the lack of an exhaust fan, lead to a slow buildup of heat over time. In any case, the Reeven Brontes cooler we used is a bit small, even for a down-draft cooler, and you may get better results from other down-draft coolers that have larger fans.
Noise levels for the ML08 don’t look half-bad, with the case pretty much falling in line with the majority of the others we’ve tested. The design of the cooler we used plays a factor, but the rigid steel used to build the case and the well-placed vents do make a sizable contribution to noise reduction.
The low noise levels manage to offset the ML08’s higher temperatures enough to just barely put it in third place, with a razor-thin margin over Lian Li’s PC-Q34.
The ML08's $75 base price, coupled with its average performance, puts it solidly in third place in today’s comparison. We also suspect that the ML08 would likely make a jump to second place if it weren’t for the Cougar QBX’s rock bottom price tag, which helps keep that case towards the top of the rankings. Still, the ML08 is a great choice for builders who want an ultra-compact HTPC case with a robust (for its size) set of features, all without breaking the bank. Those willing to shell out another ten bucks also get a convenient carrying handle, which makes this case great for LAN parties and other events that require frequent transport.
Parting note: Those who want a bit more lively external appearance and can live without the handle might also consider SilverStone’s RAVEN RVZ02. Cost and design wise, it is almost identical to this case and therefore should perform the same, all while ditching the set-top box look.
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