There are many who consider the TJ04 to be a classic case, and with good reason. For some time it has set, shall we say, a certain standard against which others are measured. Over the years it's appeal may have waned as it became a little dated. Other more modern cases have stepped int the fray with some challenging for the crown. With the small Suffix "E" Silverstone in their typically understated way are indicating that the TJ04 has Evolved.
At first glance the exterior remains largely unchanged. The floppy drive bay has gone, and the small door at the base hiding the front I/Os has been replaced by a roof mounted tray I/O port area. Inside however it's a different story. Things have changed big time. To find out how and whether it's for the better, read on.
|Model No.||SST-TJ04B-E (Black)|
|SST-TJ04B-EW (Black + Window)|
|Material||Aluminum front panel, steel body|
|Motherboard||SSI-CEB, ATX (up to 12” x 10.9”), Micro-ATX|
|Drive Bay||External||5.25" x 4|
|Internal||3.5" x 9 (optional 3.5” x 8 + 2.5” x 1), 2.5” x 6|
|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 / 140mm fan slot (optional)
|Bottom||1 x 120mm fan slot (optional)|
|Front I/O Port||USB3.0 x 2 (backward compatible with USB2.0)|
audio x 1
MIC x 1
|Power Supply||Standard PS2(ATX) *1|
|Operating system support||--|
|Expansion Card||Compatible up to 17 inches in length *|
|Limitation of CPU cooler||168mm|
|Limitation of PSU||--|
Up Close: Packaging and Exterior.
At first sight the TJ04-E comes packed in pretty much the same way as most cases do. A heavy duty cardboard box with the case in a big plastic bag and two large sections of polystyrene either end to provide isolation and shock/vibration damage. On delving a little deeper into the packaging however we see that Silverstone have gone a little further than most and included a sheet of expanded polythene which totally covers the front aspect of the case ensuring protection of the brushed Aluminium surface underneath.
Extracting the case from it's protective polystyrene nest we are greeted with the simplistic beauty afforded by the clean lines of the TJ04-E. I think it only fair to say at this stage I'm rather taken with the looks of this case. The front of the case is made from a single piece of 7mm Aluminium, milled flat and then brushed to give a wonderfully luxurious silky feel to and look. Seriously sexy is really the only way to describe it.
The example we have for review is the non window example, but be assured that Silverstone do produce a windowed version of this case also.
In the non windowed model the left side of the case is totally featureless, further adding to the sleekness of the design. The right side of the case has a small vented area at the bottom front corner. This is the intake for the HDD colling system which we will talk more about later.
Up Close: Exterior continued
Looking more closely at the front we can see that visually a few changes have been made since the original TJ04. Gone is the floppy drive bay (seriously who uses floppy now?). Also gone is the small door at the base of the case that used to house the front I/O connections. The front of the case and the bay covers are made from Aluminium and finished to an extremely high standard with a black linear brushing. The front of the case is kept very clean and simple with 4 5.25 bays. Power and reset buttons along with power and HDD activity lights can be found spaced vertically on the lower half of the fornt panel. The only other feature on the front of the case being the Silverstone name and Logo. The outside edges of the front panel have been ground at a 45 degree angle and then milled and polished to a high silver sheen to provide a contrast with the satin black of the front.
Turning our attention to the roof of the case we can see that this is where the front I/O ports have been relocated to. Silverstone have provided 2xUSB3 sockets along with a headphones and mic jackplug socket. The connections are located in a ramped recess towards the front of the roof, more akin to the hot-swap drive bay ramps we've seen on other cases. Personally I think the use of this recessed ramp breaks with the sleek lines of the case and would like to have seen a simple row of sockets mounted into the roof, or perhaps a covered plate in the roof.
The roof of the case also houses a plastic perforated fan grill cover. The cover is easily removable and has a mesh filter fitted to it's underside. Locations for 2x120mm or 1x120mm and 1x140mm fans can be found underneath. The case comes fitted with 1x120mm case fan mounted as intake. While on the subject of ventilation let me draw your attention back to the side fan grill. Again with fitted mesh filter this grill is slightly recessed and covers an intake able to accept 2x120mm fans (1x120mm fan is fitted). The intake is intended to provide cooling for the HDD rack as well as providing a non linear source of airflow to the front of the case.
And finally onto the rear and base of the case. Silverstone certainly haven't scrimped on the powder coating with even these areas been afforded a good thick coat of the black stuff. The rear of the case has 8 vented expansion card slots along with square mesh areas to the right. By now you're maybe thinking why so many meshed areas and why so many intake fans. Well if it hasn't just dawned on you, this case is designed as a positive pressure enclosure, so hopefully in addition to providing good cooling dust ingress should be kept to a minimum. The rear also sports 2x1" watercooling tubing holes. The holes are closed off by means of a metal disc held lightly in place by a small tab so should just twist off when access is required. It's worth noting that the holes are not protected by rubber grommets. Underneath these holes and to the right of the rear I/O port area is 120mm fan set on extract (the only extract in the case in keeping with the positive pressure set up).
The TJ04-E supports a base mounted PSU. An ample filtered intake area allows support of the larger sized PSUs. An additional 120mm filtered fan mount can be found anterior to the PSU location, but more of this when we move to the interior.
Up Close: Interior
With the side panels removed via black anodised thumb screws we are able to get a good look inside the TJ04-E. It's in here where the major changes over the older model can be found. First off it's rather obvious that unlike with the older model Silverstone have powder coated the interior of this case. The motherboard tray area is dominated by a large CPU cut out, along with 8 cable management holes. Although these management holes have nice rounded edges they're not grommeted, a strange omission in a case of this pedigree.
Focusing our attention on the front of the interior we can see that there are four 5.25" bays. The bays of the tool-less type but the plastic fixings can be easily removed if you prefer to screw your drives in place (as I do). Underneath we find what is probably the most significant feature of the TJ04-E, the removable HDD rack with integral cooling. this section is able to house 8x3.5mm HDDs, with another 1 being mounted in a non removable floor location. An additional SSD rack is also able to accommodate up to 6 SSDs or 2,5" laptop type HDDs, giving a grand total of 9x3.5" HDDs and 6x2.5" SSDs or HDDs. Not bad for a case of this size.
Peeking through the front and out the side (below left) enables us to get a better view of the HDD cooling intake. Better still, removing the HDD enclosure entirely by means of the folding chrome handle affords us a view of the whole front of case interior including the floor mounted 3.5mm HDD mount and the 2.5mm SSD drive rack assembly. Although the top I/O cables are black coated making them less visible when routing around the case, the front mobo connection ribbon isn't so will present a few more challenges to you if you wish it's presence to remain anonymous (it's also about twice as long at it needs to be for some reason).
Staying at the front of the case we now take a look at the removable HDD rack. Able to take 8x3.5" HDDs, the rack only has two sides, with a little stub of about an inch long for the third side, which I have to say was a bit confusing at first, forcing me to refer to the instructions for guidance on how to mount the HDDs. In Essence HDDs are mounted with screws securing them to the side of the rack closest to the chrome handle. The drive is then located on the opposite side by only the one screw through the stub section. The multi finned Aluminium heat-sink, which comes in two parts, is then secured to the drive directly by means of the last drive locating screw hole. When I was putting it all together it did feel a bit of a fiddle and I wasn't too convinced by it's structural soundness, but once assembled it all feels solid enough. The Aluminium heat-sink being indirect contact with the drives is able to provide cooling for them which is aided and abetted by the airflow from the fans.
Up Close: Interior continued.
Staying at the base of the case but moving towards the rear. In the pictures below we can see that the TJ04-E is able to accommodate full size PSUs, with a filtered intake running the full length of the PSU mounting area. Rubber strips are present to help reduce resonant noise. If fitting a large PSU it may be necessary to remove the SSD rack in order to accommodate the loom, or at the very least feed your loom through it. Also seen in the images below is the base 120mm fan mount location. Silverstone have positioned this such that if used as an intake it will push 80% of it's airflow into the main section of the case and the remaining 20% to the rear of the mobo area. Again if you're fitting a monster PSU you may encounter some cable abutment issues.
Moving up the rear of the case we're afforded a view of the 8 expansion ports. As with the HDDsthere's no quick release here, just good old fashioned screws. The Expansion card screws are accessed by first removing a mesh cover from the outside of the case and then the PCI locating screw itself. The image on the bottom right shows the rear 120mm extract and roof 120mm intake fans, along with the vacant roof fan mounting demonstrating the ability to fit a further fan if required.
The reverse side to the motherboard offers ample room for cable management. With the larger than average CPU cutout enabling the accommodation of both older and newer generation processors and their coolers without having to remove the Motherboard. The images below also afford a another view of the front HDD drive cooling intake and fan.
I was actually quite surprised by how much room their was on the reverse side. Having built into more cases than I can remember I was pleasantly surprised when such a relatively small case provided such ample cable management space. The main area on the reverse side has just over 20mm of room, however Silverstone have managed to build in a deeper area at the bottom of the case just the other side of the PSU which at just over 45mm deep provides a great place to bundle up and stash away all the cables from your PSU you won't be needing. I've not actually come across this before and have to say I'm particularly taken by it. A good smattering of cable tie locations and conveniently spaced cable management holes completes the deal.
Accessories wise it's a bit of a case of quality over quantity. The usual bag of screws is accompanied by 10 cable ties. Silverstone also bundle a USB3 to USB2 converter for the front I/O along with two rather nice short chain SATA power connectors for use with the HDD rack, giving a total of 8 ganged SATA power plugs and as such making it easier to achieve a tidy interior. Along with a set of very comprehensive instructions Silverstone also include the HDD heat sinks should you wish to fit them (and why not).
Testing and Conclusion
Building into the TJ04-E is an easy enough affair. OK, so it's not a super tower so you're not going to be able to get inside the case and sit along side your hardware while you fit it, but there is plenty of room to work even for those who have what resemble ham joints on the ends of their arms. There is ample room behind the motherboard for cable management and a good selection of cable tie mounts. It would have been nice to see the cable management holes fitted with rubber grommets but as the CM690 is also grommet free I don't think we can mark the TJ04-E down unduly for this omission. The only exception to the ease of the build was perhaps the assembly of the HDD heat-sink assembly. It's not at all intuitive and more of a fiddle than it needs to be. Put it this way, I've never had to resort to a good read of the instructions before fitting a Hard Drive before. Even once assembled it all feels more than a bit odd in the way the HDDs are essentially only held securely on one side with the other having the heat-sink attached to it. Still it seems to work well and hasn't caused any problems so I'd have to say although unusual and fiddly the concept is a sound one. On a more positive note, a big plus is the large cable stash area at the base of the case, a real gem of an idea and makes hiding all the cables you don't use so much easier, especially if you have a non modular PSU.
Although I've only fitted my trusty old 8800GT, the TJ04-E is able to accommodate cards of up to 12.5" in length without the removal of the HDD rack, and even longer if the rack is removed (please Nvidia and ATI lets not let have cards any longer than they are now). So even with the HDD rack in place the TJ04-E should be able to handle most of the current cards.
On the subject of space, at just 214mm wide I was a little concerned about it's ability to take a tall tower cooler. The Xigmatek Prime is quite a tall heat-sink at 166mm with the fans fitted (159 without). It does fit, but only just, with about 4mm to spare, so all things being equal you should be just able to fit most of the larger coolers on the market such as the NNH-D14 the NZXT Havik.
After building into the case I thought I'd let my i7 stretch it's legs to see just how well this case was able to keep things cool., comparing the temps to those in my usual test rig which has a more conventional front to rear airflow set up. Pushing things straight up to 4.2 with 1.35Volts and with the same Xigmatek Prime cooler fitted as recently used and tested. I have to be honest with so little cross case airflow I was actually expecting core temps to max out. Surprisingly they didn't. After 30 mins of stress testing in the usual way the max CPU temp hit 81 degrees, which with an ambient temperature of 16 degrees gave me a DeltaT of 65 degrees, just 2.25 degrees hotter than the same set up in my usual test set up. I guess there's something to be said for this positive pressure malarkey then! And remember all this with just 2x120mm intakes and a 120mm exhaust. Not bad for out of the box cooling. Should you require more cooling then of course there's room to add to what's already there. With that in mind I can't help thinking that although the CPU heat-sink is fed by nice cool air from the roof the lack of a front fan and direct airflow may leave a toasty GPU starved of fresh air. Installing a fan into the mount at the base of the case should go some way to remedying this.
If you're like me you can't help looking at a case and seeing how easy it would be to fit a water loop. The good news is that there's room in the roof for a slim 120.2mm rad and fans, with Silversone slightly off setting the roof fan mounts to help reduce RAM encroachment issues. If you feel the need you also be able to fit a rear 120mm rad and fan although it's going to be tight with the roof rad
Looking at sonic performance I have to say I was a bit disappointed with noise levels finding them more intrusive than I'd anticipated. More a fault of the fans than the case itself. Rated at 1200rpm and 21 dB-A if you have a motherboard with good fan header speed control then you may be able to quieten things down a bit. The inclusion of a fan controller by Silverstone would also have mitigated this issue to some degree. Don't get me wrong, the noise is by no means deafening, it's just not as quiet as it probably should be.
Quality wise the TJ04-E is head and shoulders above anything I've looked at so far, with only the CM690 coming anywhere close. The use of a single sheet of 7mm thick Aluminium for the front panel the TJ04-E just oozes class taking it up a level from other plain fronted cases on the market. Build quality is also high both inside and out. and although like all products this case will have been built to a budget you get the distinct impression that quality was higher on the design agenda than cost.
For me there are a few minor niggles on the styling front, mainly the choice of the ramped roof I/O port area, I think a covered port or even just a row of vertically inset sockets would have looked better, but this sort of niggle is more subjective than objective. So I can't really mark it down for this just because I happen not to like it.
With no firm UK prices available it's hard to talk about value for money. In the States the case is retailing for about $150 which should equate to in the region of £95. I'm suspecting the UK price point may be a little higher than the straight currency conversion would suggest (as everything in the UK seems to cost "a little more"). So with an anticipated price of about £100-£110 the TJ04-E drops itself right into the mid-high end of the mid tower price bracket. I could talk for ages about the BitFenix cases and the Coolermaster range and how they can be had for a less money and offer largely the same functionality, but basically if you want a case that oozes this sort of quality then the TJ04 is perhaps the only one that fits the bill.
So to summarise then. A stunning looking case oozing style and quality. More than ample storage options, reasonable cooling for a case of this type although a little louder than it could have been. A bit of a fiddle to build into but with some genuine areas of innovation and cast iron build quality.
Falling short of perfection I'd love to give it a Gold but the niggles above mean it's going to have to be a Silver.
Thanks to Silverstone for the TJ-04-E on test today, you can discuss your thoughts in our forums.