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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  • veselinbg - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Hi everyone! This is my first post and would like to say that I really like Anandtech.com, guys you're great!

    So right on the subject - I think that there is some general issue with testing methodology or accuracy of temperature measurements.

    OK, let see what are the temperatures reported by the SSD:

    Stock speed/ IDLE
    FT02 33 C (low fan)
    RV03 29 C

    Stock speed/Load
    FT02 35 C (low fan)
    RV03 31 C
    Reply
  • veselinbg - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Difference 4 C, both Idle and Load.
    How is this even possible?! It's a HUGE difference for the same piece of hardware and same conditions (same ambient temperature, same mount method)?!

    Again, the SSD was mounted in a way, that airflow inside the case doesn't affect it's temperature. This statement is more true for RV03 then FT02, because RV03 doesn't have a 180 mm fan under hard drive bay. So for FT02 still there is a little chance to "catch" some of the airflow from third fan. But in thermal diagrams we can see that the SSD in RV03 is cooler then in FT02

    So I have to conclude that the ambient temperature was NOT the same when both cases are reviewed. Which means that all other thermal results (CPU, GPU, chipset etc.) are not relevant.

    Please, let me know what do you think.
    Reply
  • Uritziel - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    I'm not sure if I'm understanding you correctly; however, I think the answer you're looking for is that the SSD in the RV03 is mounted behind the mobo, where it receives a fair amount of air flow due to one of the fans being offset. Reply
  • veselinbg - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    No, I want to say that in both cases Raven03 and Fortress02, the SSD was mounted under the motherboard tray and the airflow created by the fans affects it's temperature very little, if any.
    In FT02 a little amount of air is possible to reach the SSD, hence the SSD should be more cooler in FT02, then in RV03. But the thermal readings shows exactly the opposite results, which means that something is wrong.

    I intentionally choose to compare the thermal results of two Silversone's cases, because they are using same mounting method for SSD's.
    Reply
  • Uritziel - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    While both cases can mount the SSD behind the mobo, it seems to me the similarity stops there. The RV03 has an air channel back there. The fans actually extend behind the mobo, and the air can continue past the SSD to exit via venting holes in the top.
    I'm not as familiar with the FT02, but looking at the top-down view in the gallery here, there seems to be no air channel behind the mobo. The fans don't appear to actually extend behind the mobo, and I see no venting at the top either. Also, does the FT02 also use the newer "air penetrator" fans (or whatever they're called) that the RV03 uses?
    I just recently put my RV03 build together, so I'm trying to help you make sense of the thermal discrepancy since Dustin hasn't responded to you yet.
    Reply
  • veselinbg - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    I make my conclusions only by using images from the gallery.

    Please take a look here:
    http://www.anandtech.com/Gallery/Album/1235#3

    Please show me where is that air channel?
    As I can see there is a metal folded plate which "hide" the SSD from airflow.
    Reply
  • banthracis - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    It's stated that ambient varies from 71F to 74F so it's not a constant. If fact, unless the room is temperature controlled, I'd also assume the variance is greater as as these systems increase ambient over time.

    It would be much better IMO to measure delta's like bit-tech or normalize the data like HardOCP does, rather than simply give the temperature.
    Reply
  • veselinbg - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Yes, I agree with you that thermal results as delta is more accurate.
    And I suspect that that big difference in SSD's temperature comes from different ambient temperature.
    Reply
  • don_k - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Just to point out that a 4C difference on an SSD is simply down to ambient temperature or positioning of the SSD and even then, it does not matter.

    It's an SSD. It uses just a few W of power, it's not going to get hot in the first place.

    Worry about gpu/cpu deltas, not SSD temps.
    Reply
  • banthracis - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    The point he's trying to make, is that if the SSD's should have been the same temp, yet are 4C off, then does this mean there was a 4C ambient temp difference?

    If so, that makes all the thermal tests results invalid for comparison, not just the SSD ones.

    So basically, vs the RV02 for ex, the FT02 could temps should be 4c lower than what's on those graphs, a significant difference considering how close temps are.
    Reply

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