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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  • brett.bdy - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Definitely has its issues, but still better than the FT03. Still unsure about which case I'm going with my next build. The Fractal Design ones are stellar for a company I only just learned about.

    PS
    Fitting review for my birthday!
    Reply
  • headbox - Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - link

    $250 for a case that is still junk compared to a Mac Pro. Seriously JUNK! People wonder why Macs cost more? It's because they don't just round 2 edges of a cheap ATX case and have a jungle of cables inside. WHEN WILL WE SEE A PC CASE THAT ISN'T OVER PRICED CRAP??? Reply
  • truthbeacon - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    " WHEN WILL WE SEE A PC CASE THAT ISN'T OVER PRICED CRAP??? "

    You see them all the time in (for instance) the Level 10 GT.

    When will we see anything from Jobsland that isn't overpriced crap? Never.
    When will we see anything that hints at creative diversity from Jobsland? Never.
    When will we see anything terribly original from Jobsland? Those days ended a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

    Damned crApple troll.
    Reply
  • DallasWits - Monday, August 29, 2011 - link

    Second this.

    I thought the apple trolls stayed over at Engadget and Arstechnica.....
    Reply
  • Bobben49 - Monday, August 11, 2014 - link

    Three years ago I built an air cooled 2700K sandy bridge system (I ordered MB and CPU on January 9th 2011 the day it was released) installed in this Silverstone Fortress 2 case. I had the system up and running stably at 4.4GHZ (I have all 4 cores locked at that speed none of that turbo stuff) on day after these two parts arrived. The longest downtime I've had since then was swapping out the MB with the B3 upgrade that I got free when the intel chipset problem was detected. I've had about 5 BSD's in 3 and a half years mostly from doing dumb things like rebooting the machine during the middle of a MS system upgrade. I've never had never had an overheating problem the cores are running at 38-44 degrees C right now and in the 70's C when I run Prime95 stress tests. Hey Mack trol. go look at the 1984 introducing the Mac ad. Your one of the zombies watching the movie not the one throwing the sledgehammer at the screen
    BTW! Until your new Mac Tube Steak came out, three years after I built my system, there was not a MacPro out there that could do an Adobe Photoshop HDR Merge faster than the system built by this schlup with no EE degree a couple grand and no multi million dollar budget. By the way what is your framerate on running Battlefield 4 on your Mac Pro. . . Oh! I forgot you can't run real games on a Mac . . My Mistake.
    Bob Benson
    My real Name "headbox" I don't have to hide my name like you Mac Zombie Trolls
    Reply
  • IAMTHEPROCESSOR - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    ANYMOO take off the steal grill at the top of the case improves airflow a lot i mean unless you know you have a wire that would fall in there if so do some cable tying on top of you case with your cables and just leave the top panel off for better temperatures you won't have to put fans on high! Put a noctua nhd14 then you never put those fans on high ANYMOO did you forget that not all the fans need to be put on high at the same time to get better temperatures! Now if you really want good temperatures change those fans on the bottom to 180mm fans without grill that are faster but make less noise then actually do some cable tying and don't complain like a noob about how lazy you are that you need to shovel your wires in the back of you case!!!! Also takoff psu fan grill!

    My PC specs

    GTX 590 700MHZ!

    2600K 5.0 GHZ!

    COUGH CABLE TYING COUCH!!!! NEAT LIKE A PRO!
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    What the heck is with the CAPS and ANYMOO comments? It almost reads like a spam comment with the additions of random comments. "COUGH CABLE TYING COUCH!!!" Thanks for that -- very useful. I'm not even sure it's worth responding, but at the risk of stating the obvious:

    This is a review of a case, and as such it looks at how the case ships. Given this is a $250 case, it should include everything you need for optimal performance. Do the filters restrict airflow? Yes, a bit, but they also keep out dust. Does the top cable cover do the same? Sure, and it also makes the top of your PC not look like a mess of wires.

    As the review points out, there's plenty that can be done to improve the case, but a lot of what can be done requires extra investments into an already expensive case. Different fans? $20 a pop for good quality options. USB 3.0 top ports? Probably another $20-$40. The FT02 is still a very good case, and the review is very positive overall, but that doesn't mean the case is perfect. Your suggestions amount to taking several of the key features of the FT02 and removing them, so why even bother in the first place?
    Reply
  • mtoma - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    You're right, the above comments are unusual, to say the least! It implies a lack of basic english. However, I have to pretty-please ask Dustin to put some extra photos in his future Silverstone cases reviews. Those extra-photos should present the case attached to a monitor, keyboard and mouse. I hope I don't ask for much, but I am concerned about the external cable routing (because of the I/O ports located on top of the case), and how neat it is.

    Maybe this would convince me about SIlverstone's original motherboard assembly, because, altough it's efficient, I want to see some esthetics to it.

    To date, my reference case-design is Antec P183 and future Antec P280.
    Thanks a bunch!
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    That's a little more tricky to do, but for what it's worth the cable bundle spewing out of my tower through the routing hole in the back:

    3x DVI, one HDMI, 4x USB, Ethernet, FireWire, optical audio, eSATA, and a power cable.

    It's not the most attractive thing in the world, but I leave the top cover on and my GTX 580 barely hits 70C under load. I'd say aesthetically it's probably fine. Actually more than fine, because having to route all the cables through the back winds up bundling them together quite nicely. :)
    Reply
  • Samus - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    FT01 owner here, and I'll say for sure it has its problems (low quality, odd sized 180mm stock fans, expensive additional SATA backplanes, top fan filter that is irremovable without partial case disassembly)

    ...but it's still the best case I've ever owned.
    Reply

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