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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  • Dustin Sklavos - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    It's hard to say someone is wrong when you're citing what I think are largely opinions and my own personal experiences with the FT02.

    An eighth expansion slot would be appreciated because as an X58 board owner, I personally did make use of the eighth slot in my 600T by spacing my second video card down to the bottom PCI x16 slot to improve airflow between cards. YOU may not have run into this issue, but I sure did.

    Placing the optical drives from the bottom up instead of the top down is frankly asinine. This case is under my desk, I want the ODD as close to the top as possible to be more easily accessible, and frankly to me it DOES look weird to have them at the bottom instead of the top. This is a problem with the design.

    Popping the top panel off of the case to access ports also defeats the purpose of even having the panel there to begin with. And I don't know about you, but the one on my FT02 actually does take a little force to remove. PLUS, those ports are recessed, making it hard to see them (at least from where I'm sitting) to even access them.

    I didn't use the PSU strap when I installed the PSU in the FT02 in testing and in my personal system; I use the screwed in "support ledge" which is honestly a bit wonky. But the PSU strap seems awfully clunky to begin with. Also keep in mind that while the screws are doing the work to keep the PSU in place, they're also having more stress placed on them than they would in a traditional case.

    And it's true the case does feel like a premium, $250 case. That doesn't really negate the fact that it's $250, which is NOT a mild amount of money to spend on an enclosure.
  • Bobben49 - Sunday, August 24, 2014 - link

    I have owned my original FT02 for 3 1/2 years and have not once missed crawling around on my hands and knees to plug in a new external device. My initial thought and my firm opinion now is that why in the heck did it take case manufactures 30 years to figure out that a vertical orientation is both thermodynamically and ergonomically vastly superior to the horizontal orientation of the motherboard in a tower case. What I wonder is why in heck would any manufacturer make a horizontally oriented tower case? Reply
  • rpg1966 - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

  • Dustin Sklavos - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    SilverStone sent it to me. Let me get in touch with my contact and see if he can give me a link to where you can order it, but failing that I'm sure if you get in touch with their customer service they'll make it available to you. I know Antec's really good about that having dealt with them personally and off the record before; if SilverStone doesn't help you out, come back here and let us know. ;) Reply
  • justaviking - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    "undoubtedly cable of pulling more"

    Undoubtedly you meant to say "capable of pulling more". :)
  • Stotty01 - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Great review however the overclocked results simply don't seem to make sense. Unless I am reading it completely wrong, which I doubt, you are suggesting that a stock Antec Sonata IV results in a cooler CPU temperature than a Silverstone Fortress FT02? Other reviews also seem to contradict this result.

    What is your control over your ambient temperature?

    Apart from sponsorship agreements, is there any justification for using the Zalman CNPS9900 MAX? Because it seems odd for testing thermals and noise ratios that one of the loudest and least efficient coolers would be chosen. Wouldn't it make a little more sense if on next revision, a quiet and efficient cooler was chosen?

    What was the fan settings set to and has there been any software or bios updates allowed that could have affected the aggressiveness of fan response?

    Personally, for testing cases I think it would be great if a fairly mainstream, efficient cooler was selected that was set to say 9 volt or equal to the PSU noise to completely eliminate such issues and provide a more useful comparison between cases. That being an isolated one based on their included fans and configuration.

    Also if there was a test for each with the GPU fan speed set to say 70% or 90%, we could also get an accurate idea as to how well the air is circulated to the video card without having to worry about the dynamic fan speed adjustments compensating for lower or higher temperatures which depending on model works off ranges and not necessarily absolute ratios?

    Your feedback would be appreciated.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    The HSF wasn't used because of sponsorship agreements; it was selected as a reasonable cooler that quite a few people use. All of the components are basically there for the same reason -- they represent a reasonable setup. Since we're doing apples-to-apples case testing, we have to use the same components in each case. Would a different CPU HSF change the results? Undoubtedly, but it would change the results on every case we've reviewed. You also need to factor in the noise levels with the performance, so even if a case doesn't run as cool, if it runs quiet that's a bonus.

    If you're going to buy the FT02, you might as well splurge on a good HSF, make sure to get blower-style GPUs (so not the HD 6990 or GTX 590), and perhaps even look into alternative 180mm fans that aren't as loud.

    Personally, I'm not as concerned with 5-10C extra on the CPU when it's still running at less than 70C as I am with 10-20C extra on the GPUs. Right now, I have a couple HD 5870 cards in my gaming system, spaced too close together, and under load the things get LOUD. A different motherboard and case would help, but for now I'm using what I have.
  • radium69 - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Hey don,
    Just bought the Xigmatek Elysium from incl shipping for 173 euro.
    It is a BEAST. Look at the size of that thing. I find it a real big black beauty.

    Maybe interesting for AT review aswell.
    It costs 160 Euro's normally in Germany, US might see good prices aswell.
    Hard to resist so I bought it just a moment ago. I fell in love :')


    When are you going to review this baby!?
    Johnnyguru did a review but I know you guys can do way better :)
  • Gascogne - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    I love my FT02 case. =D

    The only things I wish for is a smaller version of the FT02 since I only use one 5 1/4" and two 3.5".
    We will see what Silverstone brings us in the future. ^^
  • Zoeff - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    I've got the RV02-E, which is basically the same case but with a slight amount of raven styling. The only practical difference that I can see would be the screwless design on the 5.25" bays which as the reviewer mentioned is a bit odd considering the left side needs screws anyway.

    I agree with all of the downsides but I've managed to work my way around all of them. If you have a tower CPU cooler and a GPU that blows air out the top but you're put off by the price of the FT02 then I recommend getting the RV02-E instead (Make sure it's the E model). It's about 50 to 80 euros cheaper where I live, depending on the store. This made it an obvious choice for me.

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