We’d probably describe the average sub-$100 SilverStone case as being solid, maybe a little plain, but often offering an interesting layout and feature set, as well as good cooling. However, the Primera PM01 marks a change in direction for SilverStone with its striking, sports car-inspired aesthetics and, unusually for SilverStone, it even sports some glossy panels.
However, any snazzy touches to the case’s shape are fairly subtle, with the most obvious one being a large glossy plastic shroud on the top that directs exhaust airflow to the rear of the case, hiding any unsightly vents. The Primera PM01 is a high-airflow case though. Its entire front section is a huge mass of mesh, but SilverStone has hidden it away behind some angular edges so that it isn’t too in-your-face. Despite its sub-£100 price tag, the PM01 is large, packed full of fans, bristling with LEDs, well-made and very water cooling-friendly too.
The cavernous interior will swallow an ATX motherboard easily, and there are plenty of handy, rubber-lined cablerouting holes around the motherboard tray too. There’s a large PSU cover that hides the rest of the cables below the motherboard, and with no storage mounts in the main chamber, it will be easy to build a super-clean system, especially as SilverStone includes several Velcro cable ties too. That’s just as well, because the PM01 sports a large side window as standard.
The case comes in three flavours – white with blue LEDs, and either matt or gloss black with red LEDs. All the models offer LED fans in the front, plus various LEDs are peppered around the side panel and roof. If LEDs aren’t to your tastes, you can switch them off via a small button on the outside of the case, which can apply different lighting levels too. The steel construction means the case weighs a hefty 9kg, although this weight isn’t excessive when you considering the height and depth measurements of 571mm and 560mm respectively.
A generous count of four 140mm fans is included, three of which act as intakes. As a result, the airflow coming through the front of the chassis is substantial, and is helped by the hush mesh front section. Thankfully, the fans are also very quiet at full speed and only audible within a foot or two of the case. As the fans are so quiet, SilverStone has hooked them all up to a ten-port fan hub, rather than a fan controller, and all the fan mounts are adjustable along short rails too.
The front can house a trio of 120mm fans too, along with a triple 120mm or double 140mm-fan radiator. There’s 45mm of clearance between the front mesh and the chassis, plus enough space for a 30mm radiator and single row of fans behind these front fan mounts too. The roof is also fairly spacious, with just under 73mm of clearance for fans and radiators installed above the motherboard. You can also mount two 120mm fans above the fan mounts in this location, beneath the plastic shroud, allowing you to use a full-height double 120mm-fan radiator. The rear fan mount is well placed for a third single-fan radiator too, and SilverStone has included a mount for reservoirs and pumps next to the motherboard.
If you’ll be air-cooling your system, there’s an ample 180mm clearance for CPU coolers and 419mm for graphics cards, and the PSU has a roomy 240mm of space beneath the PSU cover. There’s a dust filter below the PSU as well, along with a giant filter in the front panel, both of which are removable for easy cleaning.
There’s plenty of storage space too – behind the motherboard tray, you’ll find two dedicated 2.5in mounts, plus a further three 2.5in bays behind the reservoir mount – you’ll be a lucky person indeed if you can fill all these mounts with SSDs. On the downside, the SSD mounts aren’t tool-free, unlike the mounts in Corsair’s similarly priced options such as the 400C. There are four further drive mounts – three in a cage at the front of the case and one in the base in front of the PSU – that are all able to take a 2.5in or 3.5in drive.
With so much cooling on tap and a sparse, clutter-free interior, cooling was always going to be a strong point for the PM01. Its CPU delta T of 50°C is spectacular for a sub-$100 case. This result beats any temperature we saw in our recent sub-$100 case labs, and you’d need to spend well over $100 on a case such as Phanteks’ Enthoo Luxe to get similar airflow results. The GPU delta T was equally awesome at 50°C, once again trumping any other case recent sub-$100 case we’ve reviewed, and only toppled by much more expensive cases, such as SilverStone’s own Fortress FT05. Noise-wise, the fans were easily drowned out by our graphics card, making the PM01 an excellent choice if low noise is top of your list.
Practically everything about the SilverStone Primera PM01 is good. It will leave you with change from $100, it includes a massive count of four 140mm fans that perform well and are quiet, it has plenty of visual pizzazz, including LEDs and edgy styling, and the build quality is solid. Add the excellent cooling for its price range, plus its superb water-cooling support, and there’s very little not to love.
There are a few small niggles; the SSDs mounts aren’t tool-free, and some parts of the case, such as the side panels and drive mounts, are a slightly clunky. Many of the panels require screws to be removed too, rather than popping off easily, which will add to build times, especially when water cooling is involved. A fan controller would have been good too, although the fans are already very quiet and powerful. Finally, the design is perhaps a tad garish, but there is a matt option to avoid the gloss, and few high-airflow cases offer such sleek looks anyway. Apart from these small issues, though, the PM01 is a great case for either air-cooled or water-cooled systems, and all for less than $100.