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The GD04 is SilverStone’s latest addition to the popular Grandia Series HTPC enclosures. The case is about the size of a typical home theater audio receiver and is available in either silver or black to match existing equipment. The GD04 is constructed out of steel with an aluminum front panel that will fit in perfectly with any high end components you may have.

The quality of the case is top notch and follows SilverStone’s tradition of sturdy and beautifully crafted enclosures. This model eschews the hot swap hard drive racks found in the GD03 and provides the perfect balance of form and function for the home theater user. Even though the storage potential has been reduced from the last model, it still has room for 2 full size 3.5″ hard drives and one 2.5″ SSD or notebook drive. The reduction of storage opens up the interior to allow for excellent air flow with the three included 120mm fans. The positive air presssure design that was introduced in SilverStone’s tower enclosures makes it’s way to the Grandia series providing an excellent cooling solution for high end parts.  For full specs, visit the product page at SilverStone’s website.

Packaging and Accessories

SilverStone did an excellent job protecting the case and it arrived in perfect condition. The large foam blocks provide enough support to keep everything in place during shipping. The accessory box includes all the necessary case screws, an aluminum optical drive cover, rubber PSU feet, a molex to fan plug adapter, and some wire ties.

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Exterior

HTPC cases are meant to be displayed along with your (usually expensive) home theater components, so they better look the part. The GD04 will fit in nicely no matter what it’s sitting next to. The look is very high quality without being too flashy. The back of the case has room to mount two 80mm fans if you need additional cooling later on.The power and reset buttons have a sturdy feel to them. The optical drive button is adjustable so that it lines up with the eject button on the installed drive. Curiously, there is no way to cover the open optical drive bay if no drive is used. The included optical drive cover needs to be attached with adhesive to the optical drive bezel. If no drive is used, there will be an open hole in the front of the case. You may be able to rig the opening so that there is something to stick the drive cover to, but it seems that SilverStone assumes the drive bay will be used. Most users will be installing a drive anyway so they can watch DVD’s or Blu-ray discs on their HTPC, so this really isn’t a huge issue.  Finally, the front connectors include two USB, mic and audio ports.

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The GD04 uses special golf bladed fans that are designed to be quieter at faster speeds. The three filtered 120mm fans push air in on both sides and vent through the top and back of the case. This positive air pressure forces hot air out of the case and allows almost silent cooling to be achieved. The fan filters can be removed for cleaning, but the fan screws will have to be removed first. The single left fan can be replaced by an 80mm fan if a PSU longer than 180mm needs to be used.

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Interior

The interior design is surprisingly spacious, although there are a few size limitations to be aware of when choosing parts to install inside. The case supports Micro-ATX, Mini-DTX, Mini-ITX motherboards and full size PCI / PCI-E cards, so you won’t need any half-height cards to use this case. You can install up to two video cards that are less than 11″ in length. Cards that vent exhaust through the PCI slot are recommended to reduce heat inside the case. The optical drive and hard drive mounting brackets are positioned so that the drives are up and out of the way of other components. The case supports full size ATX power supplies, but extra long ones may require the 120mm fan to be removed or replaced by a smaller 80mm fan. If an optical drive is installed, the CPU cooler is limited to a maximum height of 70mm. If no drive is used, the CPU cooler can go up to 120mm.

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The hard drive bracket includes rubber grommets to reduce vibration. The bracket can be used to install two 3.5″ hard drives and one 2.5″ SSD or notebook style hard drive. You can also choose to go with two 2.5″ drives and one 3.5″ drive if you’d like. The optical drive bracket supports one 5.25″ drive and the installation couldn’t be simpler.

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The Build

The Parts Lineup

  • Case – SilverStone GD04 HTPC enclosure
  • PSU – SilverStone ST60F
  • Board – Asus M2A-VM (socket AM2)
  • Processor – AMD 3800+ Dual core (2.0Ghz) 65W Windsor core
  • CPU Cooler – SilverStone NT01-E
  • Memory – 2GB Corsair DDR2 667
  • Hard drive – Western Digital WD800JD
  • Optical drive – Lite-On SHD-16S1S
  • Video Card – Leadtek Winfast PX6600GT-TDH
The parts used represent a typical home theater PC build, but your options are many. The GD04 will support up to two graphics cards 11″ in length. It is totally possible to build a high performance rig using this case as there are some Micro ATX gaming boards that have everything a gamer would need. You can also use a motherboard with integrated graphics if you want to cut down on fan noise and heat. The interior is spacious and the parts are easy to install. I had no trouble installing any parts, even the PSU had plenty of room. The cable tie down slots came in handy while wiring the PC.

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A PSU up to 180mm in length can be installed without needing to remove the side fan. If more room is needed, the fan can be removed or replaced with a 80mm model. The PSU can be mounted with the fan towards the bottom of the case to take advantage of the filtered vent.

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Here you can see the hard drive bracket with a 3.5″ drive installed. The Black rubber piece is to help airflow in the case. The optical drive mounts to the bracket and the aluminum drive cover is applied with the included double sided tape. The drive cover gives the front of the case a finished look.

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Both the stock AMD CPU cooler and the SilverStone NT01-E cooler fit perfectly inside the case. SilverStone recommends that a 65W processor is used to prevent overheating when using the NT01-E without the optional 60mm fans installed on it.

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The SilverStone ST60F power supply is a perfect fit for this type of PC. The modular cables and silent fan keep things cool and quiet. The extra room inside the case allows for better airflow. I mounted the PSU with the fan facing down so that it pulls cool air from outside the case. Even with all of the parts installed, the GD04 still has plenty of room to route cables. The cable tie down slots are great for keeping cables out of the way and allowing a neat wiring job.

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Thermal Tests

Thermal tests were run using Speedfan 4.39. Two instances of Prime 95 were used to max out each CPU core for max load. 3DMark06 was used to stress the GPU for testing. GPU fan speed was set to 100%. Ambient room temperature is 80 Degrees Fahrenheit. The GD04 has awesome numbers when using either the stock CPU cooler or the SilverStone NT01-E. Both setups ran cooler than when installed in the Antec Sonata mid-tower case. Even the GPU runs cooler because of the positive pressure airflow design that the GD04 uses.

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Conclusion

I was amazed at the temperatures that were recorded while using this case. The fact that the parts run cooler in the GD04 than they do in the Antec Sonata case is a testament to SilverStone’s great design. I had no trouble installing any of the parts for this build. The case is spacious, given it’s small footprint and was really a pleasure to work with. I reviewed the GD04 using SilverStone’s ST60F modular power supply which is perfect for this type of PC. The ability to leave out extra cable clutter gave me even more room in the case and allows greater airflow throughout. I highly recommend using a modular PSU.While the temperatures will vary depending on the parts used, I’m confident that even a higher powered system would work great in the GD04.

I was pleased with the performance of the NT01-E CPU cooler because the system was almost silent without the CPU fan noise. The CPU temps were higher with passive cooling, but still well within safe range. The NT01-E is not recommended for CPU’s that are above 65W unless the 60mm fans are installed on it. The optical drive cover issue is the only minor note in an otherwise perfect case. Most builders will be using an optical drive with this case, but for the few that don’t there should be a blank that can be installed to cover the hole. The GD04 is a beautiful case that will fit the needs of most people looking for an HTPC enclosure. I would definitely recommend it without hesitation. The GD04 was unanimously picked for our editors top pick award! The case is given a 9 out of 10.