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If you are new to the PC building scene, it’s possible that you have never heard of the Kublai Series from SilverStone. If you have heard of it, you may have wondered when the series might be updated. Today, we are reviewing the newest case in the series, the KL04. It has been a number of years since the KL03 debuted, and this new model is quite different from it’s predecessors. The KL04 marks the first in the series to ditch the aluminum front panel in favor of stylized plastic. While some features have crossed over from SilverStone’s other popular case series, like USB 3.0, a large CPU cutout, painted interior and positive pressure design, the KL04 has enough unique features to bring new life to the Kublai Series.

Constructed with a steel chassis and plastic front panel, the KL04 sits firmly between the budget Precision Series and the higher end Temjin Series. The Kublai series has always been geared for enthusiast level storage and the KL04 does not disappoint. This chassis has four 5.25” drive bays, and can accommodate up to nine 3.5” hard drives, and up to six 2.5” SSD’s. All of this storage is packed into a Mid-Tower chassis with special features to keep it all running cool. If mass storage is an important feature to your next build, the KL04 is worth taking a look at. Check out our full review after the jump.


Specifications

Model No.
SST-KL04B (black)
SST-KL04B-W(black+window)
Material
Plastic front panel, steel body
Motherboard
SSI-CEB, ATX (up to 12” x 10.9”), Micro-ATX
Multimedia
Drive Bay
External 5.25″ x 4
3.5″ x 1 (compatible with hard drive)
Internal 3.5″ x 9 (optional 3.5” x 8 + 2.5” x 1), 2.5” x 6
Cooling System
Front
Rear 1 x 120mm exhaust fan, 1200rpm, 21dBA
Side Right:1 x 120mm intake fan, 1200rpm, 21dBA
Right:1 x 120mm fan slot (optional)
Top 1 x 120mm intake fan, 1200rpm, 21dBA
1 x 120mm or 140mm fan slot (optional)
Bottom 1 x 120mm fan slot (optional)
Internal
Expansion Slot
8
Front I/O Port
USB 3.0 x 2 (backwards compatible with USB 2.0)
audio x 1
MIC x 1
Power Supply
Standard PS2(ATX) *1
Operating system support
Expansion Card
Compatible up to 17 inches in length *2
Limitation of CPU cooler
168mm
Limitation of PSU
Unlimited *1
Net Weight
8.2kg
Dimension
214mm(W) x 489mm(H) x 499mm(D)
Extra

 

Remark
*1 – If bottom fan or 2.5” SSD is installed, the maximum depth for PSU is 180mm (or 160mm with extra cabling room), otherwise there are no depth limitations.*2 – If hard drive is installed in front of the cards, the length limitation is 12.8 inches.

 


Packaging and Accessories

The KL04 comes in a nice retail friendly box which includes pictures of the case and lists the features and specifications. The case comes with a bag of screws, motherboard standoffs and tie straps, a front panel 5.25″ to 3.5″ drive bay cover, a pair of 3.5″ to 5.25″ drive bay adapters, a USB 3.0 to USB 2.0 adapter, and the user manual. Everything was packaged nicely and the case arrived in perfect condition.

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Exterior

The outside of the KL04 is a drastic change from previous models in the Kublai series. The front panel is made from plastic, with a simplistic design. The front of the case has room for four 5.25″ drives (one can be converted to accommodate a 3.5″ device with the included adapters). To continue the sleek look of the front, SilverStone has designed the power and reset buttons as part of the panel. The plastic tabs are depressed to activate the button underneath. The power and hard drive activity LED’s glow from beneath the button tabs when powered on. This unusual design has it’s benefits and drawbacks (more on that later).

 

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The mic and audio ports reside on the top of the case, along with two USB 3.0 ports. These ports are angled to provide easy access if the case is sitting on the floor. The top of the case also contains a filtered 120mm intake fan, with room to install a second 120mm or 140mm fan later on.

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The stylized front panel has no vent holes at all, so the filtered 120mm intake fan on the right side will cool the hard drives. An additional 120mm fan can be installed in this spot if desired. The left side panel on our SST-KL04B-W review unit has a nice sized window to view the installed parts. A non-windowed model (SST-KL04B) can be purchased for a savings of $10.

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The rear of the case is almost entirely vented. There are eight vented expansion slots, two punch out holes for water cooling tubes, a 120mm exhaust fan, and spot for a bottom mounted power supply. The bottom has a removable filter for the PSU intake fan and a filter for an optional 120mm bottom case fan. Four rubber feet finish off the bottom, providing a little bit of height to increase the airflow from this area.

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Interior

The interior of the KL04 is spacious for a mid-tower case. The black painted interior gives it a nice finished look. There is a large CPU cutout for the motherboard tray. The four drive bays include tool-less locking with the option to install screws if desired. There are cable routing holes in good locations, although they are not covered with any sort of grommets. The lower right contains a huge hard drive cage capable of holding up to eight 3.5″ drives. There is also a small drive cage in front of the PSU area that can hold up to six 2.5″ drives.

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Here is the right side of the case. The included 120mm intake fan is positioned to cool hard drives installed in the large drive cage. There are plenty of spots to tie down cables behind the motherboard and enough room to run big cables, like the 24pin power, without interfering with the right side panel.

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The 2.5″ drive cage is a nice addition to the KL04. This cage can be installed in front of smaller power supplies, or removed to allow longer ones to be installed. If a large power supply is installed, the drive cage will get in the way of power cables. The 3.5″ drive cage is huge. With room for eight drives, the KL04 is a great choice for home server builds.

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Hard drives are installed inverted in the cage. Drives are secured with three screws on one side, but only one screw on the other side. The drives did feel secure and did not move too much. This design allows the right side fan to cool the hard drives without obstruction. If larger PSU’s are installed, the 2.5″ drive cage can be installed in the bottom of the large drive cage. This option still allows for up to five 3.5″ drives to be installed.

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The Build

Parts Used:

Case – SilverStone KL04 – $109.99
CPU – Intel Core i7 2600K – $315
Motherboard – ASUS Maximus IV Gene-Z – $170
Memory – Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600 8GB – $60
GPU – EVGA GTX 570 – $330
PSU – SilverStone ST75F-G 750W – $180
Hard Drive – Corsair Force 3 120GB SSD (CSSD-F120GB3-BK) – $190
DVD Drive – Samsung SH-S223 – $20
OS – Windows 7 Professional OEM – $140

Total: $1514.99

**two 3.5″ hard drives installed for photos only, not use in final system.

 

The build process went pretty smoothly. The rear of the motherboard tray has plenty of room for routing cables and the spot for an optional bottom intake fan will actually blow cool air on both sides of the motherboard. The metal tabs on either side of the CPU cutout are good at keeping cables out of that area to allow better airflow behind the CPU.

When we were preparing the KL04 for our build, we had some trouble installing the motherboard standoffs that we needed for our Micro-ATX board. Some of the standoffs could not be screwed in by hand (possibly due to the board and standoffs being painted black). The standoffs that our review unit came with were 5mm hex screws (not the 3/16 ones that are more common among case manufacturers). This size difference, combined with the inability to screw them in by hand, prompted us to purchase a 5mm hex driver to complete our install. Once we had the proper tool, were were able to install the standoffs (with little force), but this is something to be aware of.

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The finished front panel looks a bit odd, with the installed optical drive being recessed so far. We had no trouble operating the drive, but the non-symmetrical drive covers may not appeal to everyone. The front power and reset buttons take a bit more pressure to activate than a standard case button. These buttons are also hard to see in a darker room because they blend into the front panel so much.  We are always glad to see SilverStone try something new, but not at the cost of functionality.

The interior is spacious, especially with a Micro-ATX board installed. Our SilverStone ST75F-G 750W PSU is 180mm in depth, so we chose to move the 2.5″ drive cage in order to have more room for the cables. If a bottom fan or 2.5” SSD is installed, the maximum depth for PSU is 180mm (or 160mm with extra cabling room), otherwise there are no depth limitations. Since we weren’t filling up the 3.5″ hard drive cage, we installed the SSD cage in that location.

The right side of the case has enough room to comfortably route all of the cables, with ample tie down hooks across the back of the motherboard tray. The cable routing holes in the tray are in good locations for a clean routing job. Overall, we were very pleased with the finished build. For builders that are only planning to install one or two hard drives or SSD’s, the empty space in the drive cage will just funnel the air flow through the case better.

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Testing

Thermal tests were run using CPUID Hardware Monitor ver. 1.1.8. Four instances of Prime 95 were used to max out each CPU core for max load. Furmark 1.9.1 was used to stress the GPU for testing. Ambient room temperature was 80 Degrees Fahrenheit. GPU tests were run after manually setting the fan speed to 85% using EVGA Precision. We ran tests using the stock case fans for the KL04. Our Intel Core i7 2600K was running at stock speeds with the stock Intel CPU cooler installed. The temps were really pretty amazing. The three pre-installed fans push a lot of air through the KL04. The fans can definitely be heard, but they are not annoyingly loud and actually served to produce the lowest temperatures for this set of test bench parts to date.

 

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Conclusion

The KL04 is a great choice for builders that value storage and require space for a large number of hard drives. The build quality is of this case is very good, though we did have some difficulty with the motherboard standoffs. We also found the inverted design of the 3.5″ hard drive cage to be a little strange for connecting power and data cables because we are used to the connectors facing in the other direction. The few minor issues we experienced are not enough to really detract from this capable addition to the Kublai Series. The MSRP for the KL04B is $99.99, and the KL04BW windowed version reviewed here can be purchased for $109.99. The features SilverStone has included at this price point make the KL04 a great value.