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Written by David Ramsey   
Thursday, 05 August 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
SilverStone Fortress FT02 Computer Case
Closer Look: Exterior
Detailed Exterior Features
Closer Look: Interior
Detailed Interior Features
Building a System
Cooling Performance Tests
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

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.

silverstone_sst-ft02s-w_right_front_34.jpg

SilverStoneSST-FT02S-W Conclusion

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.

Pros:Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award

+ Innovative, unique design brings significant cooling benefits
+ Sleek appearance refreshing among the glut of "extreme" and "military" styled cases
+ Room forfive 5.25" devices andfive 3.5" devices
+ Excellent build quality and quiet operation
+ Integrated fan controllers

Cons:

- Not much room for cables behind the motherboard
- Case design limits utility of the 7th slot...and there really should be 8!
- Longer cables required both internally an externally
- Smooth exterior makes the case difficult to move
- Mismatched colors and textures slightly compromise case appearance

Ratings:

  • Performance: 9.25
  • Appearance: 8.75
  • Construction: 9.50
  • Functionality: 7.50
  • Value: 8.75

Final Score: 8.75 out of 10.

Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.

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Comments 

 
# Feet...??BruceBruce 2010-08-05 13:15
Any feet included on this case, or does it sit directly on the flat bottom surface?
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# RE: Feet...??David Ramsey 2010-08-05 14:19
There are no feet as such; just a couple of very thin horizontal rubber strips at the front and back.
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# That's good....BruceBruce 2010-08-05 18:59
...just need something to keep it from sliding around and getting scratched up if it's on a hard floor surface.
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# RE: SilverStone Fortress FT02 Computer CaseSteven Iglesias-Hearst 2010-08-05 13:30
That symbol by the fan controls means that the case is recyclable (do not throw in the bin) :D
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# Yeah, but.....BruceBruce 2010-08-05 13:34
My Recycling Bin looks just like that!
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# RE: RE: SilverStone Fortress FT02 Computer CaseDavid Ramsey 2010-08-05 14:23
So everyone is telling me! What happened to the good 'ol triple arrows? The whole point behind an icon is to be simple and, well, iconic: you know, like the old Mac trash can icon which was INSTANTLY RECOGNIZABLE as a trash can everywhere in the world...a wheeled trash can with a lid is needlessly complex and fools old people like me.
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# RE: SilverStone Fortress FT02 Computer CaseRobert17 2010-08-06 15:25
Although from your review this appears to be a respectably nice case, aluminum with foam noise dampeners and all, comparing it to the review of the upcoming Phantom case, then comparing MSRPs, it would seem to have limited draw. I'd like to get these two case designers in a room and not let them out till they agree on one really neat clone.
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# RE: RE: SilverStone Fortress FT02 Computer CaseSteven Iglesias-Hearst 2010-08-07 00:01
Yeah that phantom is super sexy inside and has a nice design on the outside too. Anyone seen the red one yet? You should go have a look.
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# RE: RE: SilverStone Fortress FT02 Computer CaseDavid Ramsey 2010-08-07 07:10
The Phantom does appear to be a really nice case at a great price point. However, I doubt it will be able to match the cooling/noise of the FT02. Wait until you see what I did with the case with SilverStone's optional fans!
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# RE: SilverStone Fortress FT02 Computer CaseVito Cassisi 2010-08-06 22:00
I have the Silverstone Raven RV01 and RV02, which I really like. This looks like another good case. Too bad it's a tad pricey.
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# Nice Reviewm3kw 2011-08-16 18:42
I've read many reviews of this case, this one is the most detailed on the case design, very good review!!!
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# RE: SilverStone Fortress FT02 Computer Casem3kw 2011-08-16 18:53
You did nikpick quite a bit.
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# RE: RE: SilverStone Fortress FT02 Computer CaseDavid Ramsey 2011-08-16 19:01
You know, Silverstone griped about that, too. Sorry, but if I can't fit my optical drive in your $250 case, you're gonna get dinged for it.

Still, it's a spectacular case overall, so keep that in mind.
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# Thanks!G 2011-08-25 14:29
Very detailed review, well written and clearly not biased.

Thank you for adressing the flaws, as it seems like most reviewers are afraid of stepping on toes.

I agree on the optical drive issue, but the performance and and graceful design on this case leaves me with little choice.

Would perhaps mounting the optical drive in the fifth drive bay slot give more space? I guess it depends on the card...

Thanks again Mr. Ramsey, keep up the great work!
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# RE: SilverStone Fortress FT02 Computer CaseEric Monteiro 2014-01-27 00:24
I have been custom assembling my own desktops for quite a few years. Obviously, that included going through various leading brand cases. I am now running the Silverstone SST-FT02S-W, along side two other top brand models. The Silverstone is undisputedly, so far, the quietest and most cooling efficient mid-tower I have ever come across (period).
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