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

    Exactly!!!
    Thank you!
    Reply
  • banthracis - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    I did find the FT02 vs RV03 temps odd since bit tech has the FT02 on low beating the RV03 on high.

    Also, over on HardOCPs FT0 thread, Tony Ou, Silverstone's sales rep mentioned that in their internal testing that the RV03 should get very close to the FT02, but implies it shouldn't be better.
    somewhere in this thread
    Reply
  • veselinbg - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    I'm sorry this is my short post version, because Anand didn't allow me to post all the text at once Reply
  • Devoted - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Hi Dustin, and congrats on another great review.

    I'd like to know if you'd be able to test the FT02 with a graphics card with a non-reference cooler, like a Twin Frozr from MSI or a WindForce from Gigabyte... Since these coolers don't push air outside the case, I'm curious if the vertical aiflow orientation will be detrimental to their performance.

    I've been reading conflicting results allover the 'net, both from people who have consistently good results and from other who claim the GPU's temp steadily climb until it's over the card's threshold...

    Anyone has any opinion/data on this? I'm considering moving from an Antec P182 to a FT02, but I'll also be getting a new graphics card, so I'm cautious about this...

    thanks!
    Reply
  • runavaio - Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - link

    I've used for a year and a half a FT02 housing a very hot GTX295, without problems, despite it being the dual pcb earlier design.

    A few months ago I switched to a GTX570 and so far, so good, despite this one is a zotac non-reference design with a central fan. Probably not the best choice for this case, but for me, it is a lot cooler than my old gtx295.

    With neither of them I have had cooling trouble, nor feared for the temps, always cool and as quiet as those cards can be.

    Just this week I have also updated from a Q9450@3,55ghz with noctua C14 to a 2600K@4,6ghz with noctua d14, awesome difference!

    I always wanted to set up a water-cooled rig, but I have settled for a very good air cooling solution.
    Reply
  • Devoted - Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - link

    Thanks, just the kind of I needed...

    I'm considering going from a Q6600 to a 2500K and from a 8800GTS to a GTX570 SOC, and maybe change the case later on... we'll see..

    I've been entertaining the notion of watercooling for quite some time but I always end up going for aircooling, too.
    Reply
  • danjw - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    I would really like a review of the P193 v3. I haven't found any English language reviews of it. Reply
  • sakanade - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Nice review.

    Could you elaborate more on swapping the usb2.0 panel for a 3.0?

    Where did you get one that fits the FT02?
    Reply
  • sakanade - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    I mean the cables...

    sorry
    Reply
  • burningrave101 - Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - link

    You can contact Silverstone RMA here in the USA to order the USB 3.0 upgrade kit and last I called about it it was $12 shipped. Reply

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