Review: A small-but-mighty case for all walks of life, whether you want a media machine or a mini gaming powerhouse.
We’ve waxed lyrical about SilverStone’s penchant for flipping traditional case designs around with wanton abandon before, but never fear, the company’s continuing to give us fuel for the fire with yet another non-standard design that’s making waves in the Micro ATX space. Called the TJ08-E (gallery here), as an ‘Evolution’ of the earlier full-tower design, this case takes the traditional mATX layout and flips it 180 degrees – resulting in the CPU and heatsink sitting at the bottom of the case, and the graphics cards at the top.
Of course this design change isn’t immediately apparent from the outside, as the nicely brushed aluminium fascia appears to be quite standard – though aesthetically pleasing. Hard angles abound with easy access to two USB 3.0 ports, whether the case sits on a desk or on the floor, and the power/reset buttons are similarly accessible. They feel a bit loose, but are easy to press (and honestly aren’t used often enough to be a bother with Sleep mode in W7 working so darn well).
The left-hand side of the case is bare painted steel, which is only noteworthy for granting access to the rear of the motherboard tray; there’s ample room to run as many power or data cables as your heart desires. The right-hand side is where the action is, and removing the metal thumbscrews (which include little plastic washers to limit the scratching – a nice touch) reveals a rather spacious internal design.
Clearly intended to be cooled by the single 180mm intake fan, which also features an easily-removable filter, this inner chamber is partly separated from the 5.25in drive bays by a contiguous piece of steel. However, this choice ultimately appears aesthetic, with the real separation coming from power supplies with 120/140mm fans – there’s a 120mm grille at the top (with filter) to allow for fresh, cool air to pass through the PSU without influence from the hot system. It’s worth noting that although SilverStone suggests a length of 160mm for power supplies, up to 180mm will fit without too much trouble, leaving wiggle room for very powerful units (as seen in the gallery of pictures, linked above). Due to the tight nature of this case six screws must be removed to lift the top panel of the case off, then dropping the PSU in vertically.
Installing the motherboard into this case is simple enough, requiring that the HDD cage be taken out by removing two standard screws and sliding it out on two metal rails. This also facilitates installation of up to four storage drives into the cage, which comes factory-installed with sound and vibration-dampening foam to cut down on noise. Annoyingly there’s no tool-less options at all in this case, though that’s not entirely unsurprising considering its $109 price.
Once the motherboard is in and secured with the included stand-offs, the heatsink can be installed using the large cutout in the motherboard tray – though of course it’s easier to do this outside of the case. The TJ08-E takes heatsinks up to 165mm in height (meaning the Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus at 159mm will fit fine), and includes a small plastic platform to hold the heatsink stable.
Though not packed to the brim with features, the build quality of this case is very good, and we were surprised at how well thought-out it was – it can even fit graphics cards up to 13.25in long (a HD 6990 is 12in), making this an option for high-powered mATX gaming systems. As such, the TJ08-E is worthy of a Hot Award; it’ll suit all tastes and budgets.