|SilverStone Fortress FT02 Computer Case|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cases|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Thursday, 05 August 2010|
Page 8 of 8
Fortress FT02 Final Thoughts
In an earlier case review I asked the question "What is the purpose of a computer case?" For most people, it's simply to hold the components of their system together and provide some degree of protection from the environment. Some cases make "extreme" or military styling a feature, and it's certainly true that many enthusiasts will pay extra for a cool-looking case. But as enthusiast level components increase in size and power, a case must be more than just a frame to hang parts in.
In the last few years we've seen significant functionality added to cases: cable routing systems, hot-swap drive bays, integrated fan controllers, and tool-less designs to name a few. The increasing power draw of modern enthusiast-level components (if you'd told me a few years ago that 750 watt and up power supplies would become common, I would have laughed at you) means that heat management is much more important than it used to be; we've come a long way from the days when a simple "Golden Orb" cooler was all you needed for your overclocked Pentium III...dissipating 29 watts of heat just isn't that hard.
Standard tower-style computer cases have adopted a number of design features to increase airflow and cooling, ranging from integrated side panel fans to directed graphics card cooling "tunnels". SilverStone's "rotated motherboard" design was introduced in June 2008 at Computex Taipei with the Raven RV01 case, and refined with the RV02. The Fortress FT02 takes the basic RV02 design and moves it upscale with an aluminum chassis. And as our tests have shown, it provides significant enhancements in cooling ability when compared to a standard ATX design.
Another advantage this case design has over other "high flow" designs is silence: a case like the Cooler Master HAF 932 encourages airflow with extensive perforations in every panel except the right side panel: the top, bottom, front, back, and left side all contain perforations, fans, or both. In contrast the front and sides of the FT02 are solid, and this, combined with the foam covering every interior panel and large, lower-speed case fans, makes the case much quieter than its competition.
So:the FT02 is a case whose striking, innovative design results in excellent cooling andquiet operation.
However, I can't help but be disappointed with some aspects of the case. A high-end enthusiast-level case like this where advanced cooling is a primary feature really should feature 8 card slots; but this design even compromises the use of the 7th slot. And some extra space behind the left side panel would make cable management easier (the extra length required for internal power cables and external video, USB, and other cables are unavoidble consequences of the design, and a reasonable tradeoff for innovation like this). Last, the case's smooth exterior makes it quite difficult simply to pick up, since there's no good place to grab it.
The performance of this case— specifically, its cooling ability— was excellent, as is its quietness. In 2007 I had a system with twin NVIDIA 280GTX cards; it was quite noisy under load (i.e. playing Crysis), but at the time I just accepted that as an inevitable consequence of owning a high-performance air-cooledsystem. With the hotter and arguably louder GTX480s, the SilverStone Fortress FT02 is almost inaudible at idle, and much quieter than my other system at load.
The appearance of the case is almost dull compared to stylistas like the Thermaltake Level 10, Cooler Master HAF series, Antec Dark Fleets, and the new NZXT Phantom. However, many will find the Zen-line austerity of its lines attractive.
The quality of construction of the case was excellent, as expected both for a SilverStone product as well as a case in the $200-and-up price range. The acoustic foam seems a little cheap, somehow, although it does work.
The functionality I can only rate as "good". Compromises in cable management and the use of the last motherboard slot, along with the fact that it's a 7-slot case, are hard to excuse. Other than these complaints, though, the case works well.
Priced for $239.99 at Newegg, this is an expensive computer case. But the price is still in line with other large enthusiast cases from the likes of Lian Li or Corsair. Given the innovative design, it represents a good value. Note that the problems I encountered with spacing behind my optical drive would be less evident with most other X58 motherboards, whose first two PCI-E x16 slots wouldn't have the extra slot between them that the ASUS P6T V2 Deluxe has, so the second video card would be further away from the 5.25" bays. If your high-performancecomponents fit, this is a case you should consider.
+ Innovative, unique design brings significant cooling benefits
- Not much room for cables behind the motherboard
Final Score: 8.75 out of 10.
Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.
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