Introduction, Design Features
SilverStone’s classy full-tower PC case is back, with some noteworthy upgrades and a limited-edition model that will have you either grinning or cringing.
The Primera PM01-RGB, which was hitting U.S. retailers just as we wrote this in late June 2017, has an in-your-face front panel that showcases its three 140mm intake fans with the help of SilverStone’s own distinctive RGB LED fan guards, which resemble big, glowing snowflakes. Put some additional RGB LED lighting behind a tempered glass side panel, and you’re looking at a serious showcase chassis.
Here’s a look the PM01-RGB and below that, the limited-edition PM01-FX…
Let’s get this out of the way right now: Yes, that’s a fiery unicorn gracing the side panel of the Primera PM01-FX. We’ll admit that we dig it, but we realize that many of you won’t. More important, SilverStone recognizes that, too, which is why the unicorn will be riding only a single manufactured batch of these cases as a limited edition. The PM01-FX is identical to the PM01-RGB, save for the unicorn side panel, and it is expected to sell in the neighborhood of $170, versus the $159.99 MSRP of the no-unicorn version.
Both of the new Primera cases hang on to the best features from SilverStone’s original Primera PM01, which we checked out last summer. One of those is an internal fan hub, which provides plenty of headers for your cooling devices. And because it’s tucked behind the motherboard tray, the hub makes hiding your extra cable lengths easy.
Another perk that sticks around from the older Primera PM01 case to the new models is the support for liquid-cooling devices. If you’re not jumping on the small-PC bandwagon that’s been picking up speed of late, it’s probably because you need the space for liquid-cooling gear. SilverStone seems to understand that. The chassis maker went out of its way to provide space (complete with screw holes) for radiators at the top, back, and front of the system. You can cool your CPU and your graphics hardware using wholly separate cooling loops with their own radiators, if you so desire. There’s enough room.
SilverStone also kept the removable fan filters. Because we work with so many desktop PCs, we’ve come to appreciate sturdy filters that are easy to reach and remove for cleaning. The PM01 had excellent filters, and so does the new PM01-RGB.
And, of course, there’s the killer lighting, which defines the Primera PM01 series’ style. But SilverStone made some changes to give creative users more flexibility when customizing the case. Thanks to the RGB LED lighting, you can choose colors (and lighting modes) to match your mood.
SilverStone is offering the PM01-RGB in three colors: black, matte black, and white (PM01B-RGB, PM01C-RGB and PM01W-RGB, respectively; we received the middle one for review). The PM01-FX will also be available in black and white models; the white one will have an “ice unicorn” design instead of the fire ‘corn. (See our preview of these and other SilverStone cases from CES 2017.) The cases support MicroATX and ATX motherboards.
Be Quiet Dark Base Pro 900, but the SilverStone’s chassis is definitely not for small spaces. The PM01-RGB demands a sturdy desk, not to mention a sizable chunk of that desk’s surface.
As its name suggests, one of the Primera PM01-RGB’s most eye-catching features is the lighting. (That said, we’d argue that its sturdiness and internal layout are its most important characteristics.) SilverStone outfitted the original Primera PM01 with a stack of LED-lit fans behind a honeycomb-style front panel to create an impressive, attention-grabbing look. Built-in LED strips continued the effect inside the chassis and near the window. But customers had only two choices in LED colors: red or blue. This time around, you can customize the lighting as much as you’d like.
At first glance, the front of the Primera PM01-RGB resembles the front panel of the older Primera PM01 chassis, but the subtle difference will matter to DIY-ers. With the PM01-RGB, SilverStone skipped the LED fans in favor of LED fan guards, which sit in front of the fans. As a result, you can remove the fans without affecting the front panel’s LED lighting. Want to mount your radiator near the front and prefer the fans you already have? No problem. You won’t lose the look you paid for.
The two light strips responsible for lighting the interior of the chassis are also RGB-capable, letting you control the light scheme with a single button. That button, which sits at the top of the chassis, is handier than it looks, thanks to its toggling feature. You can choose from a bunch of canned modes and colors to give your PC a new look in a matter of seconds.
Of course, you’ll have much finer control over your lighting than the button affords by using your motherboard’s RGB lighting software. Pick up a motherboard that supports RGB lighting, and you’re in business. SilverStone’s RGB lighting is designed to support Asrock’s Aura RGB LED, Asus’ Aura Sync, Gigabyte’s RGB Fusion, and MSI’s Mystic Light Sync, as well as the lighting schemes used by Biostar’s Racing motherboards, and others. The motherboard-based lighting software will let you pinpoint those specific shades of colors you want and create sophisticated light shows.
SilverStone also upgraded the window side panel for the PM01-RGB, switching from a half-panel window to a panel made of tempered glass end to end. The panel-as-window feature accounts (at least in part) for the case’s increased weight, as it’s surprisingly heavy.
The full-panel window makes for a bold look, and we like it, though we still also like side panel on the original Primera PM01. That panel’s window left a blind spot near the front of the interior, giving you plenty of space to stash cables out of sight. The Primera PM01-RGB’s panel exposes that area, meaning you’ll need to bring your best cable-management game. On the other hand, the larger interior view also means that people can see more of your cooling hardware, whether that’s the installed fans or a radiator. Depending on what it is and how it looks, that may be a good thing or a bad thing.
SilverStone designed the Primera PM01-RGB to create positive airflow. That’s not unusual, but it’s an important characteristic of the chassis. Thanks to its size, the PM01-RGB has plenty of options when it comes to fan placement. The case ships with the three 140mm front-panel fans and single 140mm exhaust fan, but it can support 120mm replacements, if you prefer. The top of the case has holes for three more 120mm fans (or two 140mm fans), while the back of the case supports just one 120mm (or 140mm) fan, to create positive airflow.
As we mentioned earlier, the PM01-RGB is very liquid-cooling-friendly, supporting radiators from 120mm to 360mm in the front or at the top. That rear fan spot is also capable of handling a 120mm or 140mm radiator and its fans. SilverStone updated the well in the top panel of the PM01-RGB to accommodate larger radiators than the original case supported.
A chassis at this price point (or any price point, in our opinion) should have decent fan filters. The PM01-RGB’s filters are just what we want: sturdy, easy-to-reach panels that slip out for cleaning. SilverStone put a filter in the front and another under the power-supply exhaust. (The latter one is pictured below.) That front-panel filter has a rectangular grid that can cut up the view of the LEDs a bit, depending on where you stand, but it’s not likely to be a big issue for most buyers.
As we mentioned, the PM01-RGB’s top has a pocket that is ideal for cooling gear. Removing (and replacing) the top is easy. The top also houses the front-panel ports, which are the usual suspects: two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, and audio/mic jacks. A USB Type-C port would have been a nice touch here.
The Primera PM01-RGB has a total capacity of 70.3 liters, meaning SilverStone had plenty of space to work with when designing the interior. It created a layout that showcases the motherboard while tucking most of the other hardware out of sight. Multiple grommeted pass-throughs direct your cables to the far side of the case, creating a clean look.
The Primera PM01-RGB supports graphics-card lengths up to 16.5 inches with widths up to 6.88 inches, offering plenty of room for today’s high-end video cards. The interior also provides ample space for tower CPU coolers, allowing cooler heights up to 180mm.
Now, let’s take a look at the behind-the-scenes side of the Primera PM01-RGB…
Check out the integrated cable-management straps, the lighting controller, and the fan controller/hub. It’s enough to make a DIY-er tear up. We’d almost like to have a window on this side’s panel, too, just to show off all of the efficiencies SilverStone supplies here.
SilverStone put some hardware of its own in the Primera PM01-RGB. The fan controller provides support for up to eight fans from a single connection. As for the RGB LED controller, six of the connectors are already used by the case’s onboard RGB LEDs, but the controller board has two free connectors for users who want to add their own light strips. The controller also has a switch that lets you choose motherboard-software or case-based control for the lighting. You’ll want to put this in the correct position before you seal up the right panel after your build.
As for storage, you have plenty of flexibility here. Overall, the case supports three 3.5-inch drives (via horizontal slide-in sleds) plus five 2.5-inch drives, and, alternately, you can put 2.5-inch drives in the 3.5-inch drive sleds. You can see the 3.5-inch bays below…
In addition to those bays, you have two removable 2.5-inch sleds that mount vertically, under the CPU-cooler cutout, which you can see a few images back. These sleds detach via a single thumbscrew each. SilverStone also drilled holes in the motherboard tray, down the left side above the 3.5-inch bays, for mounting three more 2.5-inch drives. Those are a little trickier to install. (You’ll need to add the screws from the other side of the case.) But if you need the storage, those spots are available.
This side also provides access to the power supply. A gaming PC case like the Primera PM01-RGB is going to see its share of bulky, powerful power supplies, so SilverStone gave the compartment more than 240mm of space. We like the panel that hides the bay from sight on the showcase side of the PM01-RGB. SilverStone put a pass-through in that panel so you can guide the necessary power cables (particularly the bulky 24-pin connector cable) directly up toward the motherboard while exposing only the minimum needed.