Please note: we left the fan off the V2 (and installed it upside down from its proper orientation) so you can easily see the location of your power connectors.
Just as we have done in the past, the very first thing we like to install is the power supply and get that over and done with. While the Raven may have a unique motherboard installation process, the power supply is as simple as can be. As stated through out this review the Raven is a bottom mounted PSU case and as such the PSU installation is as easy as can be.
Before starting with the PSU we first removed both side panels to give us some extra room to work with. When this was accomplished we simply slid the unit into place along its two PSU rails and secured it with four knurled screws (just as we would with any other case’s PSU). As you can see in the above photo, SilverStone has included a PSU arm to help keep the it from moving around. It did make installing the PSU a little more difficult than normal (as it was a tight fit) but we think the extra security is worth the extra effort. In this instance we have gone with our tried and true Seasonic S12 600W which is a standard-length ATX power supply; however as you can see in the picture this area can easily accommodate much longer units.
After installing the power supply we turned our attention to installing a hard drive. As with all drive cages which use a variation on the drive caddy system we strongly recommend leaving all the empty drive caddies out of the case. This increases the chance of losing them, but by doing so it should increase the amount of air flow. Air flow in the Raven is crucial for making the Stack Effect as efficient as possible. Please do not get us wrong, you can safely install 6 hard drives in this case with very little to no ill effects; however, it may have a slight negative impact on the cooling potential of this case and this case is all about cooling potential.
To install the hard drive the first thing you have to do is release a caddy from the cage by opening the front door of it and pulling it out. Once this is done you then mount the removable drive caddy unto your drive. This too is not a tool-less installation process, as you have to first line up the drive and drive caddy holes and then screw in four speciality screws (with rubber grommets for anti-vibration). When this is accomplished you then press down on the drive to slide the screws into their locked position. This may sound complicated but if you have ever done this with either another SilverStone case or even Antec you will be right at home as it does become second nature pretty quickly.
When this is accomplished all you have to do is slide the drive back into one of the six prearranged places and close its locking arm. As we said earlier we have come across many iteration on the drive caddy and cage system and this is one of the better example of a consumer oriented, user-friendly system. It is a classic example of how to properly implant a tool-less installation and in a nut shell it “just works”.
Once the power supply and hard drives are in properly installed, the next thing we like to do is prep the 5.25 bay area and then install our optical drive. Unlike some cases where you need to remove the front of the case to prep the area (i.e. yank out all those metal blanking panels) the Raven allows you to simply pop off the 5.25 covers and then remove the necessary metal covers without the need of removing the front face. This certainly saves time and does reduce the risk of breaking a retaining wing which keep the front of the case (i.e. the face) in place. In this instance the top two 5.25 slots are already prepped for us as they come with their metal chassis blanking panels already removed. If you plan on using one of the lower slots you will first have to remove the pre-stressed panel but this is still above average and was a nice touch.
Once you are ready to install your drive all you have to do is slide it into position and then push up on the large tool-free retention mechanism. This pushes two pins out and into position. Since they are not spring loaded you do have to be careful to line them up with the holes of the optical drive first. In practice, this means you push the drive most of the way in, try to push the large switch, slide the drive in further, try again and rinse and repeat until you have lined them up. It may sound difficult but once you get the hang of it , it becomes a simple and very effective setup.
To release the drive simply push the large lever like switch again and the retaining pins sink out and away from the optical drive allowing you to easily remove it.
With the PSU, HDD and optical drive installed the next thing on our list of things to do is prep the motherboard area by removing the brace bar which runs from front to back and then installing the included standoffs. Removal of the bar is easy as removing some screws and angling it out and then yanking the clipped end out of its slot. With this done we then went ahead and started to install the motherboard standoffs. We really wish SilverStone had taken the time to label the holes or at least include a layout chart for them as it may be a bit confusing for even seasoned professionals.
The confusion stems from the fact you have to install all the pins 90° off their normal axis. The easiest thing to do, is place the Raven case on its side and rotate it so the top of the case is where the “back” of normal case would be. This will make it easy to remember what pins are needed for your motherboard.
Since we opted for installing a stock OCZ Vendetta 2 we did not need to install any motherboard backplate. If your after market CPU cooling solution requires a backplate (say a Vendetta 2 w/ “crossbow” backplate upgrade) we recommend you install it now before going any further with your installation process.
Once we had the motherboard in place and secured we turned our attention to the video card installation. As with most cases, this is not a tool-less installation procedure. However, while it did require a screwdriver it still was as simple as removing a retaining screw from the proper AeroSlot filled PCI slot, removing the AeroSlot blanking plate and gently installing our video card before using the retaining bar to secure it in place. After we had reinstalled the retaining bar, the majority of our install was complete.
As the old saying goes everything was steaming along fine…until the wheels fell off. Earlier in this review we mentioned that you would need extra long SATA cables to reach from the hard drive to the motherboard and boy were we not kidding. Even though we knew this for a fact our longer cables still did not reach and we had to go out and get some extra, extra long ones. We wish SilverStone had included some of these cheap accessories as we are sure more than one customer’s Raven-based build will be stalled by lack of cables.
Depending on whether or not you want to route your cables behind the motherboard (i.e. do a neat and professional looking job) or just string them across the front the length of cable needed will vary; however, buy the longest frickin’ cables you can find before hand and pray that they will do. This issue will be exasperate if you use the top most 5.25 bay or the hard drive bay closest to the front of the Raven.
Please do not get us wrong; this is not a huge issue and besides the hassle factor is more of an annoyance than anything. The SATA 3.0 standard allows for 1 meter cables and while you will need long cables (we had some 36 inch ones in our Ye Olde Parts Bin which were more than long enough even for the optical bay drive installation) no signal errors should happen unless you get a bad cable. Morale of the story: SilverStone may have cheaped out but you shouldn’t. Spend a couple extra dollars and get good quality cables. They may just save you a lot of time, hassle and troubleshooting.
Once we got past the SATA cabling issue (we dodged a bullet by not using PATA at all in this build and we recommend you do as well) the cable routing was almost straightforward. We say “almost” as our suspicions were correct about the two rear most cut-outs. These two holes are completely covered by our motherboard making cable routing very difficult. This may or may not be a big deal, but most of those slick cable clips will go to waste as it stands. To be honest we were not happy with the options available and even without the front connectors not installed it was fast becoming a spaghetti of wires.
All in all the installation procedure was a mish-mash of good and bad, but overall we would rate it slightly above average but nowhere near what we expect from a SilverStone case. This may be a situation where SilverStone is being their own worst enemy, as were we expecting nothing less than perfection. Overall, it’s still a fairly easy installation and as long as you are prepared for the SATA cable issues, and less than tidy cable routing, you should have very little cause for pause. Unfortunately, above average or not, this case feels like a first generation product, one where all the quirks & kinks have not been ironed out yet.