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SilverStone LC11 PC Case

SilverStone LC11 PC Case

Supplied by SilverStone Technology


lowest price CAD on pricenetwork.ca/ USD tigerdirect.com date of review

The SilverStone LC11 slims down the PC case once again with style and design aimed squarely at the home theatre PC enthusiast. The LC11 turns the PC case world upside down…literally.

beauty

Specifications

Material

Aluminum front panel, 0.8mm SECC body

Color Black
Silver
Motherboard Micro ATX
Drive Bay External

5.25″ x 1

internal 3.5″ x 3
Cooling System Front

80mm intake, 2050rpm, 21dB

Right side 80mm exhaust, 2050rpm, 21dBA
Oversized mesh grill CPU air intake vent
Riser Cards 1 AGP + 2 PCI
Expansion Slot 3
Front I/O Port

USB2.0 port x 4
1394 Firewire x 1
Earphone jack x 1
MIC x 1

Power Supply TFX 240W PFC
Net Weight 7.2 kg
Dimension 424 mm (W) x 96 mm (H) x 430 mm (D)

The LC11 shaves nearly half the height off other SilverStone models and most of the competition. The LC11 case measures in at a low 3.7 inches (9.6 cm.)

case_front

The iconic feature is the faux wood styling around the power/reset button area.

power_reset_area

The wood design embellishment is a matter of personal preference. The reasoning behind the feature may originate from the designer’s thought that a wood accent may blend better with a living room environment or would evoke an emotional response that the LC11 is more than a PC; it’s a piece of furniture.

The side ports, however, are poorly placed for the home theatre PC user.

side_ports

The 1394 and audio connections may not be accessible once the LC11 is slid into a stereo/tv stand. The four front-accessible USB ports have pros and cons. The advantage is multiple ports for two or more game controllers if the LC11 is a home entertainment PC. Front ports are also a necessity for easy connection of multimedia devices such as cameras. The disadvantage is the tradeoff for rear USB ports. If the LC11 is used as a desktop then the amount of ports that the motherboard has on the backplane may force printers or keyboards and mice to be connected up front. The optimum setup is to hide cabling.

The side of the SilverStone LC11 features one 80mm. 21 dBA exhaust fan. The grill is well designed offering minimal resistance to airflow.

side_fan

The LC11 underside reveals two features.

case_bottom

The preceding image doesn’t reveal the feature until it is lit properly then everything turns upside down. The underside of the case has a grill to allow airflow to the CPU area. Orientation of up and down will throw the installation process off a bit. For now the following image shows the LC11 upside down but it is right side up for installation. All will be revealed soon enough.

case_bottom_grill_lit

SilverStone continues to use the hard rubber feet surrounded by a faux-chrome plastic boot. This protects the surface the PC sits upon and adds a nice detail.

foot_cu

The rear of the LC11 will catch some off guard. First impression may be to look to the right side of the following image and wonder why there’s an open drive bay. Now that the case is right side up the installation is now upside down.

case_rear

The motherboard tray is on the roof of the case so the open area is for the motherboard backplane.

backplane_opening

The PCI slots are horizontally mounted and the topmost is dedicated to a video card and nothing else.

pci_rear

Screws at the back of the case allow for removal of the cover.

case_inside_ws_upside_down

Remember that the LC11 is for mATX motherboards only. ATX style motherboards will not fit.

The 2-drive drive cage is removable via one screw at the bottom right of the drive cage in the following image.

hard_drive_bay

Next to the drive cage is one 80mm. 21 dBA intake fan that could have been mounted closer to the chassis. There’s a gap between the fan box and the front of the chassis and warm air could be drawn from inside the case as well as from the cooler exterior through the vents.

intake_fan

The optical bay at the top right of the following image accommodates a single drive. (The PSU has been removed)

optical_drive_open_bay

It’s important to note that the LC11 does not provide for a front accessible floppy drive. Floppy drives are almost archaic and used mainly for emergency boot disks or driver installation during initial OS installation. If a floppy drive is required for OS installation then set up the OS completely, remove the drive afterwards and then button up the case disabling the floppy drive in BIOS.

optical_drive_bay

Do not attempt to slide the optical drive into the bay from the interior. This is not the proper method it will be soon apparent that the bezel of the drive is too big to do so.

The power supply tucks in at the side of the LC11.

psu

The 240 watt PSU will cause some concern. Enthusiasts, with good reasoning, may worry that 240 watts isn’t enough and it isn’t for power hungry, top of the line ATX PCs. The LC11 has to be put into perspective. It isn’t meant for a high performance gaming system but will easily support a mATX motherboard with onboard video, PCI cards for audio, one or two hard drives and the optical drive.

psu_label

The PCI area is shown with the lock bar in the open position.

pci_lock_ms

pci_lock_cu

The bar rotates out of the way for PCI card installation then swings back to lock the PCI cards in place. There is a screw at the rear of the case to lock the bar into position. It’s shown with the screw removed at the centre of the chassis indentation in the following image.

pci_lock_screw

Lastly is the second 80mm. 21 dBA side exhaust fan.

inside_side_fan

The plug for this fan is of questionable design. First it is a 3-pin molex that does not mate with the typical headers on a motherboard

fan_plug

It also may be too short depending on the style of mATX motherboard. SilverStone may be wise to double the length of the fan lead.

SilverStone includes a riser card which is an absolute necessity for installing a video card or PCI cards.

riser

The riser is actually two cards bolted together. The topmost is the AGP riser card and the bottom supports two PCI cards. It wasn’t in the instructions what the smaller PCB at the end of the wires was for. It is assumed cards installed in the white PCI slots on the riser card will not have to share a single slot on the motherboard for data transfer/IRQ assignment.

riser_angle

Installation

The first concept to grasp about installation is that upside down is right side up. If this is somewhat confusing then read on. The LC11 appears normal when the cover is removed. Remember…the case has flipped upside down from its final position. The installation process may be carried out with the case in the following position but…

case_inside_ws_upside_down

When it all comes down to it the final orientation will be like the following image where the case is actually right side up.

case_inside_ws

Yes this means that the motherboard tray will hang from the top of the case. There is no cause for concern. Just remember to use all the motherboard mounting screws.

Upside down and right side up can catch a person during installation. The hard drive cage is presented as exhibit A to support this point. The cage removes and one would easily mount the drives in right side up for their orientation.

drive_bay_wrong

The cage goes back into the SilverStone LC11 case but something is amiss.

drive_wrong_clearance_02

The power molex area at the top of the preceding image is blocked by the fan. The upside down/right side up orientation can throw things off. The drive may look like it mounted correctly but the case is actually upside down during installation so that makes the drive, which looks like its mounted right side up, upside down.

Yes it caused us a few dizzy moments too.

The proper way to install a hard drive is belly up.

drive_right

This puts the power connection for PATA drives free and clear of the exhaust fan. SATA drives are mounted the same way.

The optical drive installs through the front. In the bag of mounting screws is an Allan key which is needed to remove part of the LC11 front bezel. There are screws along the bottom edge and side of the case that must be removed in order to install the optical drive.

optical_drive_cover_remove

The bezel plate comes off revealing the slot for the optical drive.

empty_cd_bay

The drive slides in to rest against stops. The drive will have to be secured with smaller screws on the inside of the case. These screws are included and note that the screws turn into the bottom of the drive…not the side. The tabs will be obvious. Remember to mount the drive right way around. Just glance at the power/reset button area to confirm which way is up. There’s no advantage to mounting a drive upside down except to provide a hands-free method of removing discs.

cd_drive_installed

Next to the PCI slot area at the rear of the chassis is a bracket held in by one screw. Remove it as it is required for the riser card. It slides in between the two riser cards and is secured on both sides with the included screws. When the motherboard is secured to the motherboard tray then this unit will install just like a PCI or video card would. The backet secures the riser card to the chassis.

CAUTION: If the motherboard uses onboard video and NO AGP video card is to be installed then DO NOT connect the AGP riser card. The PC system may not boot or will not display video. Simply unscrew the PCI riser card and store the AGP riser card and stanchions in a safe place for possible future use.

riser_bracket_installed

The riser card slides in like a normal PCI card would.

riser_installed

Note the smaller PCB has been plugged into an available white PCI slot. Again, SilverStone supplied no documentation on what the smaller PCB was for.

riser_3rd_plug

The AGP riser card is show installed in the preceding two images but was later removed due to it conflicting with the onboard video GPU causing failure to boot. The PC booted normally once the unused AGP riser was removed.

Note the unattached fan lead at the right of the preceding image. There is a connector mismatch with the side exhaust fan. It will not plug into the system fan header of a motherboard as shown in the following image. The lead may also not be long enough to reach. The lead was modified to cut the connector off and solder in a longer length of wire and matching 3-pin connector for it to work with the motherboard used in the installation test.

system_fan_cu

The motherboard tray comes with mounts pressed into the steel making installation simple. Again…right side up installation is actually upside down so the case is…upside down in the following image.

ws_rear_case_installed

There is one major design flaw with the PCI locking bracket. If the installed PCI card is too wide then the locking door will not close and lock the PCI cards into place. The following image shows the PCB from a M-AUDIO Revolution 7.1 audio card. The PCB is a few millimeters too wide and the door won’t close to be locked back into place. The screw at the top of the image had to be removed and the door CAREFULLY forced into a closed position.

pci_blockage

Most times the PCI door will easily swing into the locking position as shown with a narrower PCI card but it is something to watch for.

pci_no_blockage

A little bit of careful persuasion and the PCI lock door was set in place and the cards are now installed. The test motherboard has onboard video so no AGP card was installed.

pci_cards_installed

Another word of caution is about video cards and the GPU heatsinks. Video cards with abnormally “higher” heatsinks or greater than 1 centimeter in height from the PCB may reduce the amount of available PCI slots on the riser to one. The space between the video card and the next PCI slot on the riser card may be too narrow to accommodate both. For the most part GPU heatsinks will not be a problem.

Installation was tight but nothing that could be overcome with planning and a lot of cable ties to keep things neat.

ws_case_installed

Installation hints

  • Heatsinks cannot exceed 75mm. in height.
  • PCI or AGP cards should not exceed 120mm. in width.
  • Use cable ties to secure cables and tidy installation
  • Choose a mATX motherboard that suits the intended needs and uses. There are only two PCI slots available for additional cards. In the review installation the audio card and wireless NIC occupied the two available slots.
  • Keep the area around the front intake fan as clear as possible. Orientate the cables to form a tunnel for maximum airflow as shown in the following image.
  • Check the PSU AC tab for proper setting. The review sample came with the PSU set to the wrong AC setting for North America.

wiring_tunnel

Temperature tests

Test system

  • Intel P4 2.4 GHz 512KB 800 MHz processor (HT enabled)
  • Gigabyte GA-8TRS350MT mATX motherboard
  • 2 x 256 MB Corsair PC3200 DDR RAM in DIMM 1 and 3
  • LG 52x CDRW
  • Seagate 120 GB SATA Hard Drive
  • Samsung 950p 19″ Monitors
  • PS/2 Microsoft Keyboard and Mouse
  • Retail HSF packaged with processor
  • Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2 updated

Test cases

EVEREST Home Edition and SpeedFan 4.23 monitored CPU and motherboard temperatures. A Radio Shack outdoor/indoor temperature probe measured ambient room and ambient case temperature. Each system remained operationally idle for 30 minutes to attain the idle temperature. Each system was put through “typical” usage to attain a simulated average load temperature rating. The typical usage test consisted of simultaneous playback of a DVD movie, internet surfing, repeated opening and closing of various programs. Temperatures are shown in degrees Celsius.

 

CPU Idle

CPU Load

Ambient Case Load
SilverStone LC11

21

32

31.3
CoolerMaster ATC610 GX1

24

29

29.4

The SilverStone LC11 competes well with the larger CoolerMaster case. The lower idle temperatures of the LC11 are attributable to the two case fans versus CoolerMaster’s one but the smaller space confines of the LC11 begin to show a small increase in temperature during usage. The bottom line is any concerns about a smaller space having a significant effect on temperature are put to rest.

21 dBA is less perceptible noise than a quiet whisper but the two fan motors are audible in a quiet room. The case is not technically silent but fan noise will not be heard above normal TV or music listening levels.

Conclusion

beauty

SilverStone have made a recognizable name for themselves. The epitaph was being written for the often shunned beige desktop case but SilverStone has transformed the product into that of a well-sought after enhancement to the PC. Home theatre PC enthusiasts can choose from many SilverStone styles and the LC11 is one more example.

The LC11 is best suited for mATX based systems that serve the middle ground of the performance scale. The riser card will allow for the majority of AGP or PCI-e video cards to be installed. Unfortunately the mATX motherboard isn’t as plentiful for design choices as its ATX cousins. The limiting factor will be the PSU which is only 240 watts and that could present problems if a user tries to support a killer gaming rig in the LC11. The LC11 will excel in everyday use as a desktop PC case or as a music/movie PC in a home theatre setup.

PCI-E riser cards are available as an option for approximately $40 CAD or 30 USD.

The LC11 did present an installation problem with the MAudio sound card. The PCI locking door would not close. It may just be a specific issue with MAudio audio cards. SilverStone may want to look into a sliding mechanism rather than a door mechanism to secure the PCI/AGP cards. The other dislike was the side audio/1394 ports. The side-mounted location is difficult to access if the LC11 resides in a stereo or TV cabinet.

Overall the LC11 continues SilverStone’s tradition of presenting a product that has genuine appeal. This is a PC case that can blend well with home theatre equipment. It is has stereo component styling.

case_front

Our thanks to SilverStone for
their support of this and many other sites.

Highs

  • Stylings
  • Quiet
  • Perfect for home theatre

Lows

  • Limited to mATX motherboards
  • PCI locking mechanism could present problems (rare)
  • More expensive than standard ATX towers

Scores Breakdown
Attribute Score Comments
Design & layout 9 The aesthetics of the LC11 are definitely a hit though the wood-grain surrounding the power/reset area may not appeal to everyone or match surrounding components.
Documentation 8 A good manual for installation but missing important information for the riser card.
Features & options 8.5 Bonus points for the quiet cooling fans but minus points for the PCI locking door problem.
Performance & stability 9 The review unit performed without problems but the 240 watt PSU may limit the ability to support power hungry video cards.
Presentation 9 SilverStone does an excellent job of protecting the case inside a well-padded shipping box. The box may be plain and brown but it’s the case that is what’s important and not the box.
Price / value 8 SilverStone is competitive but these styles of home theatre PC cases (and the competition’s) are much more expensive than a standard ATX tower. Specialty items do come with higher price tags.
Total score 51.5/60 85.8%

Comments

  1. profdlp
    profdlp Very nice article. This sort of thing would fit in well with the stereo components I have now.
  2. Jimborae
    Jimborae Good review MM but I really have a problem with the pricing of Silverstone products. Over in the UK they are very, very expensive & really not worth the premium that they are asking the consumer to pay. The products are fairly inovative but not THAT inovative.
  3. MediaMan
    MediaMan I'm going to take that up with SilverStone. They always like to have direct customer feedback. :)
  4. Unregistered
    Unregistered Hi,
    Just saw on the url (in german) below that there is possible to use ATX motherboard for this HTPC case. Maybe you can update the article or test yourself this possibility.
    http://www.alltests.de/hardware/reviews_05/silverstone_lc11/lc11_3.php

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