Silverstone TJ08-E: Wind Tunnel in a Box
As we continue our quest to look at SFF cases we had an opportunity to speak to the folks at Silverstone and they asked us to look at the TJ08-E. This is an mATX case but still very compact, measuring only 14.5” tall and 8.25” wide, it case easily fit on many desk shelves. What got us excited was this case was a none traditional, design at least none traditional for everyone except Silverstone.
You see over the years Silverstone has bucked many of the traditional case design trends. They are one of the strongest proponents of positive airflow design, even going to the point of designing an entire fan series just to assist with that. They also use a reversed motherboard design that moves the CPU from the top of the case where it gains the warm air as the fans pull air up and out, to the bottom of the case and usually in a direct line for air flow. This is the design we are looking at today.
On the outside of the case you will see we have the option to mount two 5.25” external devices as well as a 3.5” device at the bottom. We have the standard dual USB 3.0 slots, headphone and mic jack and of course the power off and on switch. Behind the large grill area ta the front we have a 180mm Air Penetrator fan that is the sole intake source of air for the entire case.
When we remove the side panel we see a HD bay and then the motherboard tray with a space set aside for a 120mm fan if you decide to use it. Look at the placement and you can see why we said this is a wind tunnel design. The Penetrator fan in the front is known for it ability to direct the air flow from the fan into a solid spacing. While most other fan designs spread the air as it leaves the Penetrator will keep the air in a nicely confined column when it first leaves the fan. This means in this design the air is moving in a very forceful manner from the fan and straight to the back of the case. The majority of that air is passing over the CPU and power areas of the motherboard and then right toward the exhaust port.
Now our listeners know me and I use only SSDs, so do I need to leave the HD bay in front of that fan, no. The design allows for me to remove the 3.5” drive bay and give that 180mm brute a clear shot for maximum air flow.
The PSU fits at the top of this case and has a magnetic filter at the top covering the PSU intake. The rest of the top area is closed with the exception of a small grilled section at the top rear of the motherboard tray. This leads behind the tray to and slightly indented area that then exhausts out the rear of the case through another grilled area. This is added so the positive air flow design of the case has a way to dray some of that positive pressure out the upper areas of the case.
Now a case of this type of design practically begs for a tower cooler and Silverstone thought of this, adding a neat little feature to help out. At the bottom of the case this this small adjustable platform. It can be positioned so it’s lifted platform can be against the bottom of a large tower cooler and provide support. This helps reduce some of the strain these coolers can put on a motherboard. The design is super simple and really very ingenious.
Speaking of well thought out features, remember that 180 brute of a fan at the front of the case? Well obviously it needs to be filters. Silverstone designed the filter for easy removal without opening the case. A gap between the grilled front and the fan, a small slot is used to allow the filter to be easily removed. The slot is open on both sides of the case so you can remove it in the direction best suited for your layout. The key to removing this filter is to push it in one side and have it start coming out the other.
Now you might have noticed I am not diving as deep into various features as I have in other case reviews, well that’s because the major feature of this case is it’s cooling design. To find out how well that held up I moved my Haswell 4770K build into this case. To help with this Silverstone sent their Strider Plus 750 watt modular PSU. When I say modular I mean modular, every cable on this PUS can be removed allowing for a maximum choice in cabling used. With 80Plus Silver certification and a large fan for cooling this PSU is overkill for our build, but a nice overkill. To make this work even better with our SFF case, Silverstone has developed for their entire Strider lineup a short cabling kit. This kit has all the cables you will need in a build but has greatly reduced the length of those cables. This means there is less excess cable running around and cable management is easier.
Now I can tell you as I started the build that what I said back in the early looks we took at SFF building still holds true, be aware of the motherboard layout and your build design in advance. For this build I was using the Z87N from Gigabyte, a board I might add I love to work with, well at least in mITX builds. As I have mentioned in a few reviews the Gigabyte mITX layout can be a pain because all the connections, except the front audio is on one side and close together. This layout created an issue for me during my build. The USB3 header is positioned so that I would not be able to to use the Water 3.0 Performer cooler I was trying to put in, I was forced to used the included USB 3.0 to 2.0 adapter that Silverstone includes with the cased.
Also, I noted that we got the shorter cabling kit from Silverstone for it’s usefulness in SFF builds. Well because this case supports mATX boards it can have a few reaches that are a bit longer, however the modular design of the Strider PSU shows it’s value and I was able to move and match long and short cabling to create the perfect cable set for my build.
Looking at the finished build you can see how the wind tunnel design should come into play, the 180mm Penetrator fan will be providing solid air flow unimpeded. Enough with the theory, does it deliver? Now I will begin by saying that the test results I am about to compare this to will seem unfair. I had planned to move this same build to another case and then compare but my results in the TJ08-E where such that I saw no need.
The setup I will be comparing too had the same components except the cooler was a Water 2.0 Extreme and the case used had used dual Noctua 120 for intake. In theory this base should provide much better cooling. Well the theory got blown away in the wind tunnel of the TJ080-E. CPU temperatures under load where only 2C warmer in the TJ08 than with the baseline system. Now some of this of course could be credited to the upgrades made to the Water 3.0 but shifting from a 240mm radiator to a 120 the difference should have been bigger. Especially when you realize that the 240mm radiator had been using the fan as intakes and where providing cooler outside air while this case test was using the fan as an exhaust. All these factors taken into account and the only reason we can have for the increased efficiency of the CPU cooling is the case design.
This is further displayed by the system temperature reported by the motherboard. The TJ08 was able to deliver almost 8C cooler temps for the system than the other setup. Before someone argues that this was because the radiator was exhausting heat into the case as I mentioned above, when I did the first build I tested with the radiator as exhaust and intake and saw zero difference in system temp. The amount of positive air flow seemed to counter act the setup and no system temp increase was found. So now we see the positive airflow and wind tunnel design of the TJ08 clearly show it’s power.
Looking at the finished build however a few of you might have the same concerns I had at first, what about the GPU? It has no outside air access and it’s fans face away from the wind tunnel made by the Penetrator fan. Well our testing only showed an increase of 3C on the GPU under load. It would seem the front intake is so overpowering the exhaust capabilities that a lot of that fresh air is still getting up to the GPU fans to help there as well.
The design of this case and the power of the Penetrators fans have proven themselves in our testing. The Penetrator came with options for low and high on fan speed and even at low the performance was outstanding. Any concerns about the fans noise level need to be taken from a view of perspective. If I sat in a silent room and listened, at low the fan noise could be heard but was not bad, at high it was much more noticeable but still nothing awful. However if I turned on one house fan or the kid was up running around, or the TV was on, or I was gaming in headsets or any of the many other constant noises a typical house has where active, the noise of the case fan all but vanished even at high.
I have always read about Silverstone’s efforts at positive air flow design and their commitment to SFF building before others took an active interest. Now, seeing those efforts in action I can tell you they are not hype, they are real. Priced at $100 the TJ08-E is a great mATX case for any build, the Strider series PSUs begin at $75 for 500 watts are fully modular and adding the short cabling kit is $20 more. This PSU is a perfect fit along with their SFX PSU designs for the SFF builder.
- Compact Size: smaller than some Super ITX cases
- Lots of options: the mATX design gives you a wider range of motherboard and add-on card options than a pure ITX build
- Amazing cooling: the Penetrator fan and the wind tunnel design means this case can deliver a lot more cooling that you would expect from a single intake fan design.
- Easy Filter access: with only two intakes from the outside and both filtered plus no case opening to clean, this system should stay very clean
- Removable HD Tray: removing the 3.5” tray really opens up the front intake to give maximum air flow. Plus the bottom 3.5” area can hold an HD and SSD if you like without impeding the intake
- Only a single designed SSD mount: This case must be of an older design because the only SSD mount designed into the case is a bottom screw hole system.
- Top Panel needs lots of screws to remove: hard to call this a con but you have to remove 6 screws to take off the top panel.
As you can tell I had to stretch for some cons for this case. The TJ08-E should be on everyone’s short list for an mATX build that is compact and powerful. Be sure to include the Stride PSU with the short cable kit to get the most out of the build potential.
We would like to thank Silverstone for provide this case and PSU for our review.
As aired the weekend of September 21st