SilverStone Sugo SG05: The Mini-ITX Standard Bearerby Dustin Sklavos on August 19, 2012 12:01 AM EST
- Posted in
- Mini ITX
In and Around the SilverStone Sugo SG05
The great thing about reviewing these Mini-ITX cases is that oftentimes there just isn't a whole lot to them, and that's true of the SilverStone Sugo SG05. This is the smallest case I've reviewed yet (at least until the impending review of the Antec ISK 110), and SilverStone makes smart use of the entire space. You can get most of the information you need just by looking at the case, and in fact when I went to assemble it I found myself checking the manual just to make sure it really was this simple.
The front is a clean black plastic bezel with sharp lines. On the right are the pair of USB 3.0 ports, the indicator LEDs, and two very small power and reset buttons, while the top of the fascia features the slimline optical drive bay. Of course the star of the show is the beefy 120mm intake fan at the center, and this 120mm fan represents the bulk of the cooling system. It isn't the most attractive thing in the world, but it's very functional as you'll see later on.
When you look at the top and sides of the SG05, you see how SilverStone is managing the rest of the case's thermals: copious, copious ventilation. This type of design choice winds up being a bit of a double-edged sword; there's nothing keeping the internal fan noise internal, but it also allows enough cool outside air to reach the components that the fans don't have to work as hard in the process. In my experience, smart airflow design can oftentimes be more conducive to keeping noise down than any kind of sound dampening material. Where I do think SilverStone misses the boat a little bit is the back. There's the expected extrusion to cover the expansion slots, but I feel like they could have and should have ventilated the space between the downward-facing PSU and the I/O cluster.
Popping open the SG05 reveals a very straightforward internal design. Given the fact that none of the case's dimensions exceed a foot, there just isn't space inside for any kind of chicanery; every inch must be accounted for. With that in mind, there's a removable support bar for the PSU (not strictly necessary but a nice touch) and the 3.5" drive cage and optical drive/2.5" drive cage are removable. That's it. There's the 120mm intake fan in the front, the cluster of headers for the case's I/O, and motherboard standoffs built into the bottom, but that's the extent of it.
Finally, SilverStone includes a very robust power supply with the SG05. The 450-watt unit is 80 Plus Bronze certified, and has a healthy 36 amps on the single 12V rail. This should be adequate for just about any video card you can actually fit inside the enclosure; NVIDIA's recent GeForce GTX 660 Ti may very well be an ideal candidate.
For how simple the SG05's design is, though, I feel like there's a bit of wasted potential here. The optical drive cage probably could've supported a pair of 2.5" drives side-by-side on the underside without interfering with the expansion slots, or alternatively could've included some means of mounting a 2.5" drive to the optical drive area. Interestingly, SilverStone opts not to include one of their 120mm Air Penetrator AP121 fans in the front, sticking with a more conventional fan. The AP121 can get a little noisy, though, and they may have just elected to err on the side of silence.
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UpSpin - Sunday, August 19, 2012 - linkIf you don't change the PSU fan and use it as it is, it will get audible and noisy if you tax the PC.
However, I changed the PSU fan to a 120mm one and build a new case for the PSU which guides the air, speed regulated every fan, dampened the noise of the HDDs and bought the EVGA GTX560Ti, which is based on the NVidia reference design, which uses a very quite fan. And unlike more silent looking GTX560Ti cards, the stock NVidia design also cools the VRM, thus the fan speed can get reduced further without issues and doesn't ramp up as fast as the more silent looking designs. I also modded the GPU Bios to run the fan at lower speeds and undervolt the GPU.
But you're right, I can hear it if I'm working alone, because of the GPU fan and the open design of the Sugo case. Not because of the air flow but because of the GPU fan's bearing, which is still very very quiet. I haven't found the time to replace this fan with a higher quality one. It's not annoying, because it's really silent and at a low frequency, but yeah, still audible if the environment is silent.
Jackattak - Sunday, August 19, 2012 - linkI would go with the drawer idea personally. PCs sitting on desks suck. It doesn't matter how quiet you get it, you will notice the noise while sitting at the desk alone in the room. And anyone who is in IT or Development or any other mentally demanding job will tell you, even normally mild or even nearly unnoticeable noises can cause you great frustration.
I like the idea of putting this in a sliding drawer. That way when you needed to work on the machine's innards you could just slide it out and pop the cover and work right at your desk. And when you're actually using the PC within, you could slide it back to the end of the desk, and if you mounted the drawer underneath the desk, you'd never notice it.
Great review as always, Dustin. I have built about a dozen PCs (for myself, that is) but I haven't done it since 2003! I've been buying Dell XPS systems since then, as it was worth it to me to purchase fully assembled products with generally nice cases, believe it or not, rather than going through the rigamarole of purchasing all the separate parts and praying to the gods that everything works well with everything else. The manufacturer mashups can be pretty frightening. At any rate, your review here makes me want to buy one of these as I've had increasing interest in mini-ITX systems as of late. Might just have to workout a project plan! :-)
doctormonroe - Sunday, August 19, 2012 - linkWhat happened to the photo galleries?
Dustin Sklavos - Sunday, August 19, 2012 - linkWe had a bug in the system with them; adding galleries now.
Conficio - Sunday, August 19, 2012 - link"the general industry tend towards smaller"
Meaker10 - Sunday, August 19, 2012 - linkAn OCed 680M stays along side a stock clocked GTX670 :D
Grok42 - Sunday, August 19, 2012 - linkI am so glad to see more reviews of mITX cases. I believe as the reviewer does that these cases are the future of enclosures. I also believe that optical drives are legacy drives as well. All the reviews of mITX cases come to the same conclusion that the external bays seriously compromise the overall design of the case. Small cases are always going to be a set of trade offs but it seems obvious the trade off should be to remove the external bays but not a single case does. It seems so obvious that improved thermal and acoustic performance is more important than the ability to have an optical drive that is used once or twice in the life of the system.
If your taking requests for future reviews I would nominate the Lian Li PC-Q16A. I'm worried it doesn't support a discrete GPU at which point I would retract my request. I can't find any information or reviews about it of any depth so I can't be sure if it does or not.
JoanSpark - Monday, August 20, 2012 - link+1
there is not a single mITX/mATX case out there without an external (optical) drive bay.
Not a single case maker is producing a box where you can put in a mb, a gpu, some 2.5/3.5 drive(s) and call it a day.
You get countless towers, med towers, mini towers etc with numerous external bays in all kinds of styles and colours.. but not a single case without an external drive bay.
Zap - Monday, August 20, 2012 - linkCheck out the Lian Li PC-Q25 series. It is like the PC-Q08, except supporting more 3.5" drives and no external drive bay. And yes, gigantic graphics cards are supported.
Alternately, for those who don't need discrete GPUs there are plenty of mITX cases which don't have external drive bays.
JoanSpark - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - linkI stand corrected.
Thx for the pointer, very interesting.