Product Review: Silverstone TJ08-E

Written on August 19, 2011 by Matt Bach
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Introduction

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The Silverstone TJ08 has been a very popular MicroATX case for many years.  No case sticks around forever however, and Silverstone has decided that it is finally time to update this case to a new version: the TJ08-E.

Before we delve into the review of the new TJ08-E, lets take a minute to compare the manufacture specifications of this new case to it's predecessor.

  TJ08 TJ08-E
Color Black/Silver Black
Material Aluminum front panel, steel frame Aluminum front panel, steel frame
Type/Size Micro tower Micro tower
Max. Motherboard Size MicroATX MicroATX
Case Window No No
Dimension    
Height 15.0" 14.7"
Width 7.7" 8.3"
Depth 14.9" 15.2"
Net Weight 12.1 lbs 11.7 lbs
Drive Bays    
External 5.25" 2 2
External 3.5" 2 1
Internal 3.5" 3 4
Internal 2.5" - 1
Front Panel Connectors    
USB 2.0 4 -
USB 3.0 - 2 (backwards compatible with USB 2.0)
Firewire 1 -
Audio In 1 1
Audio Out 1 1
Cooling System    
Cooling Method Air Air
Included Fans Front 120mm, Rear 120mm Front 180mm (with low/high switch)
Additional Fans Possible - Rear 120mm


The specs between the two cases are very similar. The differences to note are the cooling changes (2x120mm fans on the TJ08 compared to 1x180mm fan on the TJ08-E) and the front ports (4xUSB 2.0 and firewire on the TJ08 compared to only 2x USB 3.0 on the TJ08-E). Some consumers might be disappointed in the drop in the number of USB ports, but the move to USB 3.0 is a good one. One nice thing is that Silverstone has included an USB 3.0 to USB 2.0 adapter with the TJ08-E, so if your motherboard does not support USB 3.0, you can use those ports as USB 2.0 ports instead.

Exterior Features

The first thing most people will notice on the TJ08-E is the huge front grill for the 180mm fan. Under the grill at the bottom-right is the single 3.5" bay.  For those who actively use 3.5" devices such as cardreaders, this placement will probably be an annoyance unless the system is on the user's desk and not the ground.

We can also see the 2 USB 3.0 ports, audio in/out and the power/reset switches.  One thing not visible is that the very top and bottom of the front panel is actually textured plastic, not brushed aluminum.

Silverstone TJ08-E front

The filter for the front fan can be accessed without removing the side panels which is a nice touch.  It is only friction fit however, so it may come loose if you ever need to transport the system.  

Above the filter is the front fan's low/high switch. Again, it is conveniently located towards the front of the case, yet recessed and on the side so as to not disrupt the clean lines of the case

Silverstone TJ08-E front fan filter and switch

On the top of the case, you can see the fan filter for the PSU which is intended to be mounted fan-side up. The filter is held in place with 8 small magnets, which is not something we are a fan of. While these small magnets should not cause any problems with the system, it makes the filter feel like a last minute, tacked-on addition.  

One thing worth mentioning is that the PSU can only be mounted by removing the top panel (6 screws), which is a bit of a nuisance, but not a big problem.

Silverstone TJ08-E PSU fan filter
The side panels are fairly basic with nothing exciting. The one thing to note is that both panels are interchangeable. While this may not be a huge deal, it does mean that if you ever scratch or damage a panel, you don't have to worry about getting the exact right panel as a replacement. Silverstone TJ08-E side panel

The rear of the case is pretty standard, but does show the one peculiarity of this case: the motherboard is mounted upside-down. On most MicroATX motherboards, this will not be a problem, but any board that utilize heatpipes for cooling may have heat issues.

Silverstone TJ08-E rear view

 

Interior Features

Removing the side panels, we see three of the internal features of this case. First, at the bottom-right you can see the adjustable CPU cooler support stand. This might appear to be somewhat gimmicky to some, but with the gigantic size of some heatsinks currently on the market, it is actually a great way to reduce stress on the motherboard.

We can also see the 3.5" drive cage, which is actually dual-purpose. The first is it's obvious use: mounting 3.5" drives. Vibration dampening foam is included to help remove the vibration noise from platter drives. The cage also works as a shelf for long PCI-E video cards. Again, this might seem gimmicky, but really long PCI-E cards can over time damage the PCI-E slot on the motherboard just from sagging due to gravity.  

Since the PCI-E cards pass over the 3.5" drive cage, it also allows very long PCI-E cards to be used (up to 13.25" according to Silverstone's specifications)

Silverstone TJ08-E drive cage and CPU cooler stand

With the 3.5" drive cage removed, we get our first good look at the front 180mm fan. The fan is a Silverstone AP181 which is the same fan used in the Silverstone FT02B-W. This fan is roughly the same in terms of noise as an Antec Tri-cool, although due to it's size moves a decent amount more air.

The front fan mount also includes mounting for a 140mm fan, so replacing this fan with a quieter 140mm fan should be possible. In order to replace the front fan, you need to remove the front panel which is held in place with six screws, three on each side.

Silverstone TJ08-E AP181 front fan

Looking from the opposite side, we can see the removable motherboard tray. The tray has plenty of options for cable management, but using any of them will essentially makes the tray non-removable.

You can also see that the PSU mount is offset away from the motherboard tray. While this at first appears to be minor detail, it is actually a great thing for cable management. By offsetting the PSU, it creates an extra space in which to store all the extra PSU cables you don't need.  

Silverstone TJ08-E AP181 motherboard tray
Silverstone includes both a rubber pad and a USB 3.0 to USB 2.0 adapter. The pad is used on top of the 3.5" drive cage to both cushion long PCI-E cards as well as act as a shim to give a little bit of adjustability.   Silverstone TJ08-E accessories

 

Cooling Performance

With only a single front fan, we were curious as to how well this case can keep a hot system cool. Since the motherboard is mounted upside-down, the GPU fans will actually be above the main airflow provided by the front fan, so GPU cooling was one of our main concerns.  For this reason, we used a GTX 480 for our testing. While this card is a few generations old right now, it is one of the hottest video cards we have ever seen which makes it ideal for heat testing.  When it was our main high-end GPU, we regularly saw 100% load temperatures between 90° C and 100° C.

Test System

 

To fully load the system, we ran a combination of Prime95 and Furmark until the temperatures stabilized (roughly 10 minutes) with CoreTemp and GPU-Z being used to log the temperatures. This will cause higher temperatures than any normal user is likely to see, but gives us a clear worse-case scenario for cooling. Lets take a look at the results:
 

  Idle Load
CPU  33° C 51° C
GPU 50° C 92° C
  Silverstone TJ08-E Idle Thermal Image Silverstone TJ08-E Load Thermal Image

To put it simply, the temperatures look great.  The GPU does hit 92° C, but again this is an abnormally hot GPU running a load that is beyond normal real-world levels.  The thermal images show that even though the fan does not provide a large amount of cooling to the area above the video card, it is still plenty adequate for a single GPU system.  

Conclusion

Overall, we feel that this case is a worthy successor to the Silverstone TJ08. The only major issue we found was a conflict between the hard drive mounting and larger CPU coolers. In short, with larger CPU coolers that have a fan on the front side (like the Gelid Tranquillo Rev2 we tested with) the SATA cables that are plugged into the hard drives get dangerously close the the CPU cooler fan. A 2.5" drive using a short adapter (such as the Scythe Bay Rafter) should not have this problem however, so this space issue is largely limited to traditional 3.5" drives. 

The cooling provided by this case is definitely a step up from the TJ08 with the addition of the 180mm front fan.  If the case did not also include a mount for 140mm fans, we would be concerned about using this case for an ultra quiet system since the 180mm fan, while quiet, is not as quiet as some 140mm fans available.

Pros

  • Anti-vibration for 3.5" hard drives
  • Removable motherboard tray
  • Internal USB 3.0 header for front ports
  • All black interior
  • Thick rubber case feet
  • No dual-audio header cable (HD only, no AC'97)
  • Excellent cable management
  • Externally accessible low/high switch for front fan
  • Externally accessible front fan filter 
  • Adjustable CPU cooler stand to help brace larger heatsinks
  • 3.5" drive bay acts as a "rest" for longer video cards

Cons

  • 3.5" drive cage or motherboard panel must be removed to install/uninstall the motherboard
  • Removable motherboard panel is not removable if using any of the cable management
  • Larger CPU heatsinks may conflict with hard drive SATA cables
  • Top panel must be removed to install/uninstall PSU
  • PSU filter held in place only with magnets
  • External 3.5" bay located at the very bottom of the case


Puget Professional Advice
William George (Customer Service)William George (Customer Service) Says:
Please note that some larger CPU coolers, like the Gelid Tranquillo, don't fit properly in this chassis. That is one of the downsides with smaller cases of course, and combined with the noise of the front fan keep this from being in the same category as our Serenity computers... but it is still a reasonably quiet setup overall, and a great choice if you need a smaller size but don't want to compromise on cooling or performance.

John D. (Production Technician Lead)John D. (Production Technician Lead) Says:
This is an interesting little case. The TJ08-E replaces the TJ08 in Silverstone's lineup, but you'd be hard pressed to find any real similarities between the two apart from their compact size. The interior layout is completely reworked, with the motherboard being mounted upside-down from typical orientation. Hard drive mounting is improved, with room for a greater number of drives--but large CPU coolers can limit the number of usable spaces. A large front fan with high-low switch provides plenty of air for drives, cards, and CPU, and a clever little adjustable brace helps provide support for heavy CPU coolers. If you're looking for a small mid-tower that's a bit different, the TJ08-E is worth considering.