In and Around the SilverStone Fortress FT02

I'm not going to lie, I had high hopes for the FT02. Cursory experience with a boutique build utilizing the enclosure was, while backbreaking, ultimately pleasant. A healthy number of you hold it in high esteem, and frankly, it's just nice to look at a case that's understated. The Raven RV03 seemed gaudy in places, but it's also about as out there as SilverStone's designs seem to get in terms of aesthetics.

So what stands out about the FT02 from the moment you unwrap it (besides its staggering 33.1-pound weight) is how sleek and minimalistic it really is. This is the polar opposite of gaudy gaming-oriented enclosures: the design is basically a black aluminum band wrapped around the front, top, back, and bottom of the case, with a steel internal body and side panels. The FT02's side panels are both padded with foam internally, and the case is available with or without a side window (our review unit eschews the window.)

Of course it's SilverStone, so the design is going to be anything but normal, and the FT02 fits their mold by utilizing the 90-degree rotated motherboard design pioneered by their Raven series of cases. The aluminum unibody band produces a healthy gap between the bottom of the case and the floor, creating a space for the three 180mm intake fans in the bottom to easily bring in cool air. The top of the enclosure is where the I/O shield and expansion slots are, along with a single 120mm exhaust fan, and this area is covered by a large mesh panel that snaps on and off with a little force. By removing this panel, you'll see the two side panels are held on by two top-mounted thumbscrews each.

Once we're inside the case, we can see where all of SilverStone's engineers really spent their time. The motherboard tray is indeed rotated in such a way that two of the three bottom intake fans blow directly into the video card and processor heatsink. The net result is an unobstructed path of air that barrels directly through our hottest components. What struck me most about the FT02 was how much cleaner its internal design was compared to the Raven RV03; with a larger chassis and more breathing room, the FT02's insides are more simplified and orderly.

To the left are the five 5.25" external bays, and below them are five drive cages for 2.5" or 3.5" drives, mounted vertically to allow the third 180mm fan to blow straight up through them. The mounting seems a little bit tight, but should be adequate for keeping the drives cool. What's weird is that only one of the 3.5" drive bays features a SATA backplane for hotswapping (made odder by the two step process of getting into the case to begin with); there are places to mount additional backplanes for the other four drive cages, and once again I'm sure SilverStone would love to sell you those separately. Weirder still, the backplane uses a molex connector instead of SATA for power.

There are plenty of places to route cables behind the motherboard tray, but it's here that our SilverStone rep warned us that the FT02 may not be with the times, citing a lack of space behind the tray compared to other, more modern cases. It does appear a bit cramped, but we'll see when we get to assembly.

Initial impressions were pretty positive, and if anything the FT02 makes the RV03 look like a massive step back for the company. The whole fit and finish of the FT02 is attractive, and assembly should be much cleaner if still fairly involved compared to more standard ATX case designs.

Introducing the SilverStone Fortress FT02 Assembling the SilverStone Fortress FT02
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  • sweetca - Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - link

    Thank you so much! I laughed so hard and ended up choking on the M&M I was eating. Reply
  • ACEkombatkiwi - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Great review as all ways but I hope you cleaned up those cables :)

    It is one of the few cases that can fit a HWlabs Black Ice SR-1 560 internally without heaps of modding.

    Where did you get those USB 3.0 connectors from that is the only reason I had against this case for a build that is coming up.
    Reply
  • Rick83 - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    I actually see a USB 3.0 version being sold in Europe.
    Not sure about overseas.
    Reply
  • Bobben49 - Sunday, August 24, 2014 - link

    I just got a USB3.0 version from Amazon on July 28th 2014 to build my wife's new system in. They are currently in stock listed as "Silverstone Tek FT02B-USB3.0. . ." Reply
  • DLeRium - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    While I realize review data may be old, this is a CLEAR competitor against Antec's P183 or P182. I forget if you guys even did a P183 review, but this is clearly one of those ATX cases that come to mind.

    P183/Define R3/HZXT H2/Silverstone FT02 are very commonly debated cases on forums and stuff.
    Reply
  • radium69 - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Jarred,
    When are you going to review the Lian Li a70F case?
    I've heard it's great value and a lot of nice features.
    Just need a little push to open up my wallet :)

    http://www.lian-li.com/v2/en/product/product06.php...

    It's quite an old model, but it looks very sleek. Especially if you take the LED fans out and replace them with normal black ones.

    Pricing is around 180 euro's in europe, can't get a hold of it though.
    The A77 is her bigger brother and looks very nice also!

    Cheers,
    Kevin
    Reply
  • don_k - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Seconded for a Lian Li review :)
    Kevin you can get the A70 from caseking.de for 170EUR + shipping. They have most Lian Lis in stock. I actually have the A77F - it's a thing of beauty, words don't do it justice.

    To mention just one thing, humongous full tower case that weighs just about 9Kg (20lbs)..
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Talk to Dustin, not me! ;-)

    I think we've pinged Lian Li before, as well as Fractal Designs. I'll tell Dustin to try again on both, though.
    Reply
  • R3MF - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    i have this case too, and it was worth the money.

    i agree with more room behind the tray, and side-mounted optical drives.
    Reply
  • Sunburn74 - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    The writer is wrong on anumber of accounts. These criticisms of his opinions come from someone who has owned the case for about 9 months now.

    Criticisms
    The writer says it is in dire need of an eighth expansion slot but doesn't say why. I yet to have found myself deficient in expansions and I have a dual slot gpu, a single slot sound card, and a single slot tv tuner card.

    There is an issue with the top 5.25 bay and the last expansion slot, but its something that can easily be avoided by populating your 5.25 bays from the bottom up. It still looks aesthetically pleasing and is perfectly normal.

    The FT02 doesn't need more ports in the top cluster. The fact that the vertical orientation puts all the difficult to reach ports normally in the back of your board right on top, makes it unnecessary to have an all inclusive top cluster at all. I'm even surprised you went as far as to add a USB 3.0 front port, when whever I need to use my 3.0 slot, I can pop the mesh and I have as many of them right there.

    The PSU strap is fine. Its only purpose is to hold the psu in place whilst you screw it in on the initial install. Once you've done that, the screws do all the work. The writer fails to understand that.

    The case costs 250 but its fit and finish and appearance is in line with the "premiumville' cases the writer mentions. No case is perfect, but at the 250 its just as clean and beautiful looking as the more expensive 800d and the lian li x2000f both of which I was considering at the time.

    The real issues with the case are as follows:

    The 2.5 mounting system is pretty lousy for running SSD raid setups. I ended up just sticking both my ssds into one of the 3.5 drive bays without any screws. They are ssds and do just fine, but it'd be nice if there were a cleaner solution. You can purchase SSD mounts but they don't work very well with silverstones railing system for some reason (i tried).

    The dust trays are easily accessible and relatively effective, but nonetheless a ton of dust will build up on the fans and cause them to get slightly noisy over time. The sata bays take a bit dust hit too despire the presence of filters. The internal mobo and etc will however remain very very clean.

    The back psu air supply is questionable and has cord reach issues with certain PSUs (corsair psus in general).

    Overall I don't see myself replacing this case for 3-4 years (this coming from a guy who replaced his case at a clip of every 5-6 months due to one issue or another). My internals are clearn and the case is quiet. Its also a stoic monolith in my room. On a scale of 1-10, I'd give it a 8.7 after 9 months of ownership.
    Reply

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