SilverStone’s CW03 is the most expensive touch-screen LCD case in this roundup, thanks largely to its sturdy, high-end workmanship. However, for the price, we would have expected I/O options–like what the Moneual 972 offers, such as front panel USB, FireWire, audio, and media card slots. The CW03 has no such options, and the lack of USB connectivity in the front of the case is particularly notable.
While the CW03 might not come with many options, it has the most impressive expandability in the roundup, with three external 5 ¼” drive bays and six internal 3 ½” drive bays. It is notable that one of the front 5 ¼” bays comes with an external 3 ½” adapter plate. A multimedia card reader could be mounted to add USB and FireWire connectivity to the unit. Two of the external drives are accessible behind a door to preserve the look and finish of the case, which is unique to the CW03.
The CW03 sports the most fans in the roundup, with four 80 mm fans, two of which are under the hard drive cage to intake air from the bottom of the case and two at the rear of the case to expel hot air. This airflow comes at a bit of a price, as the SilverStone CW03 is a tad louder than its competitors.
The SilverStone CW03’s bundle includes pin-to-molex adapters for the fans, screws, a manual, software installation CDs, a touch pen, and the iMon remote and batteries. Unique to the SilverStone are vibration dampening pads and hardware to attach the CW03 to an A/V rack mount if the user desires.
SilverStone has built a reputation on manufacturing very high-quality and well-finished cases and the CW03 is no exception. It is the heaviest case in this roundup by a full pound due to the very sturdy aluminum with steel-reinforced ribbing construction.
It is also the only case in our roundup that comes with hardware to rack-mount the case for an enthusiast’s home-theater setup and that allows for more than one 5 ¼” external drive (three to be precise).
The CW03 is also differentiated with the only touch screen in this roundup capable of displaying a 1080p (1920×1080) signal. Of course, the native resolution of the CW03’s screen is 800×480, exactly the same as its competitors. However, the Moneual 972 and Thermaltake DH03 can only display signals with a resolution up to 1024×768.
In our experience, there wasn’t a good reason to run the screens at any resolution except 800×600. Anything higher would simply be interpolated down to 800×480 anyway, so while the Silverstone CW03 sports a nifty 1080p check-box, the feature is not really that noteworthy after all. Indeed, all of the cases’ screens are bright and responded well to user inputs.
Appearance, Fit, and Finish
The CW03 is a tall HTPC case, and is over an inch taller than the Thermaltake DH102, in fact. This gives it a more substantial appearance compared to its competitors. Other than this, it simply looks elegant and classy both in brushed metal or black metal. The sample SilverStone sent us was brushed aluminum and definitely looked like it belonged in a high-quality home theater.
As we already mentioned, fit and finish is what SilverStone is all about and the CW03 doesn’t disappoint. The case offers extremely high-quality construction with features including a flush-mounted thick aluminum cover, flush-mounted nuts instead of steel-tapped holes for screws, steel-reinforced ribbing for structural stability, and sound-dampening materials around the hard drive cage.
The SilverStone CW03 offers enough space to make component installation fairly simple. One interesting limitation is that the case includes motherboard standoff locations only for standard ATX motherboards. Users with motherboards that have different standoff location holes are expected to use the holes they can and put plastic standoff spacers in the incompatible locations. This is likely because the threaded holes are actually nuts embedded in the case metal, and it would be much more difficult to add multiple sizing options.
The only real frustration is adapting your optical drive’s eject button to work with the universal one in the case. While SilverStone does provide adhesive pads to extend the button to fit, in our experience these pads fell off. We were able to make things work with a little ingenuity and an old adhesive case badge we had lying around, but it’s a notable irritation.
Otherwise, the SilverStone CW03 is a great case with which to work. If build quality, external and internal drive space, and a rack-mount option are high on your list of priorities, the CW03 is the perfect choice for you. Because of the structural rigidity, it is also the case you might choose if you want to put other home-theater components on top of it. However, if budget is more of a concern, you would be well served with the Moneual 972 or the Thermaltake DH102.