In and Around the SilverStone Sugo SG09

Pulling the SilverStone Sugo SG09 from the box and checking it out from all the angles, it almost feels like a little bit of a chimera. For sure, SilverStone has done a good job producing a fairly aesthetically pleasing design, but the odd bulges and vents along the sides are suggestive of the crafty internal layout required for getting a fairly fully-featured Micro-ATX enclosure down to this size. In fact, the SG09 doesn't even actually sit evenly on flat surfaces without the included adhesive feet being affixed to it due to the lip of one of the removable panels actually being on the underside of the case.

SilverStone has chosen to be fairly conservative in their material choices with the SG09, opting for plastic and steel instead of aluminum. The front fascia has an attractive, symmetrical design that's fairly typical of SilverStone, with a removable filtered vent beneath the slot-loading optical drive bay as well as additional ventilation below the power and reset buttons and port cluster. This front fascia is pretty much the only plastic you'll find on the SG09 outside of the removable vent covers for the top and side fans.

Speaking of the top and sides, the top of the case is where you'll find the biggest clue to how SilverStone plans for the SG09 to work its magic: a whopping 180mm Air Penetrator fan that's actually facing down as an intake instead of an exhaust. It's true SilverStone PR plays up natural convection as a selling point for their 90-degree rotated motherboard case designs, but the reality is that those cases are so effective because of the direct airflow on the motherboard, CPU, and components and not because of the direction of that airflow. Undoubtedly they know this, too, as this is the second case I've reviewed by them that has a top-mounted intake fan.

When you get to the sides, you'll see a slight bulge on the right side that gives the cabling from the power supply some additional room to breathe along with a small vent at the bottom for an optional 80mm fan. On the left side there's a big power supply sized vent along with a single 120mm intake fan and room for additional 80/92mm fans. You'll also see the left side is actually split between a top wraparound panel and a bottom "fan panel," with a screw in the side where you ordinarily never expect to see one.

Finally we get to the back, where we can see how the power cable is routed out; the bulk of the SG09 is pretty much just the space required to house a Micro-ATX board and tower cooler along with the 120mm exhaust and a healthy amount of space behind the motherboard tray. As you've probably sussed out, they moved the power supply to the front of the case and in a way it seems to do what good small form factor designs do in my experience: segregates cooling zones using the size of the components themselves.

Opening the SG09 up requires removing five thumbscrews on the back along with one screw on the side and one on the bottom; that allows you to remove the large top wraparound panel and the lower fan panel. And when you get inside, how SilverStone managed to fit so much in one space begins to come together. Opting for a slimline optical drive saves a ton of space, and behind the motherboard tray there's room for four 2.5" drives and three 3.5" drives, but even SilverStone recommends eschewing 3.5" drives entirely. That's a sound plan, as again, 3.5" drives take up a lot of space as well. Ultimately they've been able to condense their case down to: motherboard, power supply, video card(s). Not too shabby.

While I'm impressed with the SG09's design, I'm also amused at just how aggressively SilverStone culls space. In some ways they went the complete opposite direction of BitFenix with the Prodigy; BitFenix tried to cram as much capacity into a Mini-ITX case as possible, while SilverStone's design requires a more specialized approach to really maximize it. They culled everywhere they could in an effort to shrink the design down, and that meant pushing for smaller form factor components as well. I admire the approach, but it may not be for everyone.

Introducing the SilverStone Sugo SG09 Assembling the SilverStone Sugo SG09
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  • DanNeely - Sunday, October 21, 2012 - link

    Or how about the MountainMods monstrosity known as the Extended Ascension with room for 12x120 mm fans on the top, and side panels big enough to fit a custom 16x120 configuration.
  • Grok42 - Sunday, October 21, 2012 - link

    Yet another great review and even better, it's for a mATX case.

    As for your comment about the slim optical drive, I think you put too much emphasis on this as a negative. While I agree that the drives themselves are expensive, hard to source and a pain to install, the upsides are so great that any mATX or mITX case that chooses to use a full size bay is at a huge disadvantage. As another poster said, optical is on the way out and if you really need a legacy drive you can take the hit for the slim drive or use another computer for your optical tasks. The only thing I use my optical drive for in the last 5 years is to rip content to my hard drive and this happens less and less each year. I just use an external drive and put it back in storage until I need it again. Not sure why most users would need a percent internal optical anymore.

    I'm also not wild about the looks but the front is good enough since they didn't mess it up with any full size bays. I think the best part of this case is that it can take an mATX board. While a mITX board will work for me, mATX can be cheaper, have better overclocking abilities and there are just plain more boards to choose from. The biggest benefit is their ability to use 32GB of memory instead of mITX's 16GB. With memory so inexpensive these days, it is a shame that all motherboards don't offer more ability to handle more memory.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Sunday, October 21, 2012 - link

    I'll admit I might have been a little harsh on it and that the last thing my optical drive was used for was to play "Jason X" on DVD (I really, really love crap), but forcing you to use a slot-loading drive for aesthetic purposes does make things harder. Standard slimline opticals are easy to track down and reasonably priced, but slot-loaders are much more difficult.
  • geok1ng - Sunday, October 21, 2012 - link

    I understand that the plastic faceplate used is for slot loading drives, but the space seen compatible with a standard slimline drive. Can't we just remover the plastic cover and install a trayloading slimline?

    The whole point is moot: most sane people that still need an optical drive have forked the money for an external USB 3.0 optical+2.5" combo drive.

    The other critics are also weird:
    -anyone who opts for this case will use modular PSUs from the start,
    -most MOBOs have ate least one FAN header that can be software controlled
    -GPUs that need more cooling can and will received extra direct air from the 2 optional 80mm fans

    This case has one minor flaw- like every other really small case, its a pain to assemble and one major flaw:
    IT IS UGLY!!
  • Blibbax - Sunday, October 21, 2012 - link

    I feel like this case would be better with intakes at the bottom and exhaust at the top.
  • marvdmartian - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    That's certainly the more conventional pathway for cooling, as it takes advantage of the natural current of heated air to rise......

    .....but as ugly as most people here seem to think it is, it's more likely this would be placed under a desk, and that's where a top intake design wins out, since you're less likely to suck up the occasional dust bunny!

    I do think that the hard drives will tend to get rather warm, though.
  • swe3tdave - Sunday, October 21, 2012 - link

    i can understand why some people might prefer small cases, but this is nuts...
  • Earthmonger - Sunday, October 21, 2012 - link

    This thing is hideous. It's like a portable dehumidifier. I can't believe Silverstone attached their name to it. Oh how the mighty have fallen. But anyway...

    I applaud the slot-in optical. I applaud the front-mounted PSU, though it should be on the floor. And that's all the "nice" I can say about it. So many other SFF cases are available that are miles above this. What the Hell are you thinking, Silverstone? If these things have shipped, recall them. Don't sully your reputation.
  • lmcd - Sunday, October 21, 2012 - link

    I don't think it should be a concern: at this size you're making tradeoffs and half the time you're squeezing it into a small space and hiding it anyway.
  • mfenn - Sunday, October 21, 2012 - link

    I really disagree with publishing this "review" and giving the part the "recommended" seal of approval without knowing the price. This isn't a review, it's a preview and should be labeled as such.

    I for one would be fine waiting on reading the review (even if it was done and ready) until the product actually had an MSRP. If Silverstone was leaning on you to publish, you should push back and say that you'll publish once you get an MSRP.

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