What's new
  • Please do not post any links until you have 3 posts as they will automatically be rejected to prevent SPAM. Many words are also blocked due to being used in SPAM Messages. Thanks!

SilverStone Fortress FT02 Mid Tower Case Review

Status
Not open for further replies.
M

Mike D.

Guest



Silverstone Fortress FT02 Mid-Tower Case Review



Manufacturer Product Page: SilverStone Fortress FT02
Product Number:
SST-FT02B (black)
SST-FT02S (silver)
SST-FT02B-W (black + window)
SST-FT02S-W (silver + window)
Availability: Now
Warranty: 3-Year
Price: $230-250 CAD. Click here to compare prices.




It has been just over a year since we looked at the very impressive SilverStone Fortress FT01. It’s top notch unibody construction, positive air pressure design and simple good looks earned it high marks in our books. Today SilverStone is back at it and we’ll be taking an in-depth look at their next-generation Fortress, the FT02.

Silverstone's FT02 continues to share some of the FT01’s great design considerations like unibody all-aluminum construction, positive pressure airflow and oversize 180mm fans. Cosmetically, it also looks quite a bit like the FT01 with a simple front panel and an overall minimalist design. But there is another case in SilverStone’s lineup that has a lot more in common with the FT02 than it’s predecessor, and that case is none other than the Raven RV02.

The FT02 employs the same unique 90 degree motherboard rotation found in the RV02 along with the same triple 180mm intake fans along the bottom of the case and the top-of-case cable connections and shroud. The cooling system configuration and fan placement is nearly identical, so we certainly have some high hopes for the FT02 based on what we have already seen with the RV02.

For those not familiar with the RV02, it’s key to high performance is both it’s huge intake fans and an overall positive air pressure design. Positive pressure is achieved through the use of use of greater intake flow than exhaust flow. Even a case having an equal number of identical intake and exhaust fans will still have an overall negative pressure due to the PSU fan, and sometimes the video card exhausting air from the case. SilverStone uses massive 180mm intake fans in the FT02 to outweigh the single 120mm exhaust fan which create a significant positive pressure zone within. Not only does this reduce the amount of dust entering the case but SilverStone also claims that it can benefit the temperatures of high-end video cards as well. Hot air from the cards is not allowed to escape at or around the PCI brackets in a negative pressure environment. In the FT02, a continuous stream of exhaust will be exiting the vented PCI-brackets as well as the other crevices in the case. SilverStone has a video demonstrating this effect at the FT02 product page and details the advantages of the design in the tech talk area of their site.

Although the RV02 has proven to be an excellent case, it’s overall aggressive appearance and plastic front panel didn’t appeal to everyone. Many enthusiasts prefer the simplistic design found with other high-end cases, and we believe that this is exactly where the FT02 fits in. SilverStone does not appear to have reinvented the wheel with the FT02, but rather made the revolutionary Raven stack cooling layout and performance available in a more elegant and simple looking outer shell.

One part TJ07, throw in the FT01 and mix with RV02. Let cool and what do you have? The FT02. Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at this new mix and see just what is has in store!

 
Last edited by a moderator:

lemonlime

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 10, 2008
Messages
520
Location
Greater Toronto Area
Packaging and Accessories

Packaging and Accessories


The SilverStone Fortress FT02 ships in a monster of a cardboard box. We placed a 120mm fan next to the package just to give some semblance of it’s size. The box itself is not that wide or deep, but since the case sits upright in the box, it is very tall. The package is also quite heavy, weighing in at over 33 pounds.

In typical SilverStone style, the box is nice and colourful with a listing of all of the case’s pertinent features and specifications listed on the sides.


Although there is no doubt that this is a massive box, we were happy to see ample spacing on each side of the case, as well as thick Styrofoam padding. The case is also wrapped in plastic to keep the dust out while it sits on warehouse shelves.

As we have mentioned in previous case reviews, it is important to remember that online vendors almost never place an enclosure box within another box filled with protective packaging like they would with smaller items. What comes from the case manufacturer is what gets tossed around by the courier company.


A pretty minimal set of accessories ships with the FT02. Included, we find a Velcro strap, reusable zip-ties, plastic adapters and a fan power splitter. A decently detailed owner’s manual is included as well as bag of the usual stand offs and screws. Since the purpose of some parts was not immediately evident, we cracked open SilverStone’s very thorough owner’s manual and were greeted by the following:


The screws and most of the items are pretty self-explanatory, but it was interesting to discover that the two larger plastic adapters could be used to attach 120mm radiators to the floor of the case. Even a triple 120mm radiator should fit so long as overly long video cards are avoided. Although brackets are available for radiator installation, the overall bottom to top airflow design of the case is better suited as an air cooling solution. As such, we won’t be testing it for watercooling purposes.

The small black plastic clip which is included is actually to hold the PSU in place so that it doesn’t put all it’s weight on the screws alone. This isn’t really necessary to use, but those with really heavy PSUs may appreciate the extra insurance. SilverStone also includes a long Velcro strap to hug the PSU against the case if the clip isn’t enough for you.

Another nice addition is the included 2.5 inch bracket to allow solid state drives and other small laptop style hard drives to be used in the FT02 without modification or having to purchase a special adapter. With the prevalence of SSDs in the performance market, we think this was a wise decision.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

lemonlime

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 10, 2008
Messages
520
Location
Greater Toronto Area
Exterior Impressions

Exterior Impressions


Once we carefully removed the FT02 from it’s packaging, we were immediately taken aback by it’s dimensions. Although it is not a terribly tall case at only 19.5 inches, it measures over 24 inches in depth. It seems that interesting layout and features often result in interesting dimensions.

From an aesthetics perspective, the FT02 is a beautifully simple case. There is virtually nothing on the front panel and it’s smooth lines, subtlety and curves give it a style that we’d liken to the popular TJ07. There really isn’t anything to dislike about the appearance of the FT02, as it would look just at home in an office as it would on the desk of a PC gamer or enthusiast.

The model we’re taking a look at today is the SST-FT02B-W (black + window) model. We are told that a silver model should follow, and both black and silver will be available with and without a window. Although the window looks a bit smaller than what was on the FT01, it is really just the very long side panel that is creating that perception. The Plexiglas itself is nice and thick and in the typical SilverStone fashion, it is fastened with stainless bolts from the outside of the case.


The front of the FT02 is quite bare. Not even LEDs or switches will be found here – only a simple SilverStone logo and five 5.25 inch drive bays. Although the bezels are brushed aluminum, the front panel appears to have a rough powder coat of sorts which creates an interesting but subtle contrast that looks good in our opinion.

Those interested in 3.5 inch external devices won’t be able to use them in the FT02 without an adapter of some kind. This was unfortunately the case with the FT01 as well as TJ07 but SilverStone sells an adapter called the FP51 for this purpose.


Although the FT02 has what appears to be a stylish stand, this small gap underneath the body of the case is an important feature which allows it’s large 180mm lower fans to breathe freely. We were pleased to see this healthy gap present as it makes the case very safe to use in carpeted environments. Simple rubber feet don’t always work well as the case would eventually sink a few millimeters into the carpet, potentially blocking the intake. So not only does it look great, but it serves an important function as well.


Moving to the top of the case, we get a view of the large mesh grille that extends across about three quarters of the case. This portion of the top is removable – simply stick your hand into the small opening and pull upward.

Like the Raven RV02, a well “breathing” top is important in order for the bottom to top convection effect to work correctly. We’ll take a look underneath the hood shortly.


Farther toward the front of the top panel is the I/O panel, switches and LEDs. All of the I/O ports are located behind a not-so-stealthy, "stealth cover". Although the case looks a little cleaner with the cover closed, it is constructed with plastic and is a little flimsy in our opinion – especially considering the high quality nature of the rest of the case. We would have preferred a pull-up metal cover similar to what is found on the TJ09. On the flip side, we were very pleased with the high quality look and feel of the power and reset switches. For those curious, the LEDs between the two switches glow a bright blue.

Two USB ports and headphone/microphone jacks can be found underneath the I/O cover. Although many cases include eSATA and Firewire ports today, we won’t hold this against the FT02 as they simply add clutter and are not used by most buyers.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

lemonlime

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 10, 2008
Messages
520
Location
Greater Toronto Area
Exterior Impressions - Page 2

Exterior Impressions - Page 2


Moving on to the back of the case, we’re greeted by what looks nothing like the back of a typical case!

At the back - or at least what should be the back - of the case, a large grille with a removable dust filter can be found. If you haven’t already guessed, this grille is in position to allow PSUs with bottom mounted fans to receive fresh air. If this is at all difficult for you to picture at this point in the review, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. We promise, it’ll all be clear once we crack open the case.

At the top of the back panel, we find an opening that doubles as a carrying handle and an exit for peripheral cables. The opening should be big enough to accommodate a huge number of cables.

Without further ado, let’s pop the top off of this thing!


Removing the top cover is fairly easy, although it does require a bit of wiggling around. Pulling on the opening near the front will result in the top “popping” from it’s locked position, however it also needs to be lifted from the cable opening as well, or it’ll get wedged and stuck when trying to lift it off. The removable top panel is a little on the flimsy side compared to the rest of the case, so care must be taken when removing it.


With the top panel off, we are greeted by what looks to be the rear of a conventional case. About the only difference is that the PSU opening and expansion slot openings are recessed a few inches into the case. Since this portion of the case has to be hidden, a significant portion of the case is unfortunately wasted space. Although this orientation appears ideal due to the convection effect and bottom to top airflow, it does give the case a larger than usual footprint.

As you can see, a good portion of the top is vented to ensure maximum effectiveness of both convection and forced bottom to top airflow.


The side panels are removed via thumb screws at the top of the case.


The 120mm fan at the top of the case is what SilverStone calls their “Golf Bladed Fan” and is also used in their new SG04 case. Rated at only 1200 RPM and 19dBA, it is tuned for silence and not high levels of airflow. In our testing, we found this 120mm fan to be very quiet. SilverStone doesn’t provide a CFM rating for this fan, or a bearing type, but if we had to guess, we’d peg it as a sleeve bearing model somewhere in the ~40CFM range. Although this fan is a quiet model, the massive amount of intake from the 180mm fans below makes a powerful exhaust unnecessary – especially considering the positive pressure within.

Next to the 120mm exhaust fan, we find three toggle switches marked “Front”, “Middle” and “Rear”. Each of these are for speed control of the 180mm fans below and are a very welcome feature. We’ll be taking a closer look at the various speed settings, performance and noise of these fans shortly.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

lemonlime

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 10, 2008
Messages
520
Location
Greater Toronto Area
Interior Impressions

Interior Impressions

With the outside of the FT02 out of the way, let’s take a closer look within.


After tilting our heads and getting our thermodynamics hats on, we let out a resounding “yeah, that makes a lot of sense”. In a lot of ways, the overall thermal layout reminds us a lot of a rackmount server – blow air across everything in the case. But in many ways, the FT02 does that and much more thanks to it’s upright design. As anyone who has seen a hot air balloon knows, hot air rises. And in a traditional computer case, rises and accumulates at the top of the case. That is why exhaust fans are almost always located higher up the case than intake fans. Forced air from the coolest part of the case – the bottom – creates a positive pressure within the case, and aided by the natural convection effect carries hot air upward where it easily leaves through the highly “breathable” top. As an added bonus, the fans are so large, that absolutely everything in the case receives active cooling. This is especially great for passively cooled motherboards and system memory.

This design works well with just about all PSUs as well, as they will all exhaust air directly out of the top of the case and will receive cool air from either the intake fans below, or from outside of the case. Most video cards that exhaust air outside of the case would also be ideal as a constant stream of cool intake air from below will feed them and posisitve air pressure around them will help to get warm air out of the case. In actuality, even single slot cards – like the 8800GT – will also benefit as the bottom to top airflow will simply carry hot air from around the card out of the case.

On paper, it seems like a perfect thermal layout. We’ll see how it works in practice in our “Performance Testing” section.


Taking a closer look at the 180mm fans reveals that they are almost identical to those in the FT01, but operate at a switchable 700/1000RPM, compared to being a static 700RPM in the FT01. The fans are 180mm x 32mm and unfortunately a very uncommon size. From a noise perspective, SilverStone rates them at 18/27dBA. We couldn’t find any information on the bearing type used in these fans, unfortunately.

You’ll notice that two of the three fans have plastic grilles on them. SilverStone likely did this as a safety precaution to prevent gravity and loose screws or ramsinks from causing undesirable things at the bottom of the case. A few extra millimetres of clearance can be had by removing these grilles, as is required to fit the extra long Radeon 5970.

On a positive note, we should mention that SilverStone now has three 180mm fans available, including a higher RPM model for those interested in maximum performance as well as LED models for those interested in flare.


Like the FT01, dust filters can be found at all intake locations on the case. If these filters are maintained and cleaned regularly, there should be almost no dust entering the case at all. Thanks once again to positive air pressure, air flows out of all of the little openings and crevices instead of being sucked into them, like in a conventional case. The filters are composed of a fine mesh screen that is easy to clean, but as expected, does hamper airflow slightly. Those interested in maximum cooling performance should simply remove them from the case.



As you can see, there is plenty of breathing space on the top of the case thanks to ventilated expansion slot covers, an exhaust fan and the PSU opening. A good sized CPU socket cut-out on the motherboard tray is also present so that buyers can swap out CPU coolers without having to remove their motherboards. A nice embossed SilverStone logo can be found just above the expansion slots.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

lemonlime

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 10, 2008
Messages
520
Location
Greater Toronto Area
Interior Impressions – Page 2

Interior Impressions – Page 2


From a wiring perspective, there is unfortunately quite a rat’s nest of cables protruding from various openings in the case. Toward the front, we have a rainbow of header connections, as well as a Molex connector for the hot-swap adapter. The biggest mess unfortunately comes from the fans. Due to the fan controller on the top of the case, there are three conductors per fan leading to the top of the case as well as to the power connectors. It just seemed like there were red yellow and black wires all over the place. SilverStone did twist-tie much of it down, but we couldn’t help but wish they had sleeved them and routed them a little more tightly throughout the case. Those who are really obsessive about cable management will definitely want to spend some quality time cleaning up the fan wiring.

As you’ll see in greater detail shortly, there are several openings that allow power supply cabling to be run behind the motherboard tray.

The hard drive caddies in the FT02 are identical to those found in the FT01. They are unfortunately plastic, which is not good from a thermal perspective, but thanks to their very close proximity to the massive 180mm intake fan, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The hard drive caddies themselves use rubber grommets and special screws to reduce hard drive vibration and noise. As mentioned earlier, a 2.5inch adapter is also available so that solid state drives and other small hard drives can be used with the caddies.

We should make note that removable hard drive trays were not included as part of the Raven RV02 case and are a very welcome addition to the FT02.


SilverStone’s nifty 5.25 inch drive locks are also a feature we were happy to see maintained in the FT02. They make optical drive installation a total snap – no pun intended. Simply push upward to unlock, insert drive, push down and you’re done. No more messing around with tiny screws is required!


On the opposite side of the case, we are greeted with a mess of fan cables – as expected – as well as some great cable management features to help keep things under control. Zip-tie friendly notches at the rear of the motherboard should make routing cables a clean affair. We’ll take a closer look at these features in the “Hardware Installation” section.


Behind the drive caddies, we find a single hotswap adapter installed. SilverStone includes only one CP05 hot-swap adapter with the FT02, but additional ones are available to purchase from most major retailers, including NCIX. Hard drives can be easily hooked up without them, but for proper hot-swap operation, they are required. The CP05 adapter has a pass-through Molex connector and not a SATA power adapter.


As you have probably already noticed, SilverStone has included noise-damping foam on the side panels and in select locations within the case. The foam is much more dense and feels “gummy” in comparison to what was found on the FT01. We’re not equipped to properly test the effectiveness of this foam, but it does make the panels feel heavier and dampens vibration in our highly complex suite of dampening tests – better known as tapping on the panel with a finger. Although it certainly doesn’t hurt, it is not nearly as effective as the triple layer panels found on the Antec P180 series enclosures.

Now that we’ve seen this case from every angle, let’s get some hardware into it!
 
Last edited by a moderator:

lemonlime

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 10, 2008
Messages
520
Location
Greater Toronto Area
Hardware Installation

Hardware Installation


Once we got everything installed into the case, we were greeted by what can only be described as a thing of beauty. The FT02 is nice and spacious and is a joy to work with.


Installing the PSU was probably the most difficult thing to do with the FT02, although had we read the instructions first, would have been an easier task. The small plastic clip and Velcro strap help to hold the PSU in place while it is screwed in. Once we got it secured, it felt nice and snug, even without the clip and strap, so we simply left them in the accessory box.


As you can see, our slightly longer than standard Antec Signature series PSU had no clearance issues whatsoever. The opening below the PSU is ideally located for cables to exit behind the motherboard tray.

We were also pleased to see that there is a small gap between the rear of the case and the 180mm intake fan that can be used to hide away extra cable leads.


With our Gigabyte EP35-DS4, the CPU socket lines up perfectly with the exhaust fan, which certainly aids in actively expelling hot air from behind the heatsink.


The biggest clearance challenge that the FT02 poses is with optical drives. Because the motherboard is so close to the drive bays, older and long optical drives may obstruct the lowest expansion slot, or the recessed slot covers as shown above. Thankfully, newer drives are short enough to avoid this issue.


We had no issues with video card installation, and would definitely recommend this case for multi-GPU setups thanks to the location of the intake fans.


The header and SATA connections pose a bit of a wiring challenge, but those who are patient can try to route these from lower tray openings or coil up extra slack behind the motherboard.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

lemonlime

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 10, 2008
Messages
520
Location
Greater Toronto Area
Hardware Installation – Page 2

Hardware Installation – Page 2


On the flip side of the case, we can see that a lot of cabling can be hid here. Notches can be found along the bottom of the motherboard tray for zip or twist ties.


Unfortunately, the CPU cut-out didn’t quite clear the backplate on our EP35-DS4, but is a nice addition none the less.
As mentioned earlier, the opening below the PSU is ideally located for cables to extend to the front of the case.


We found that empty drive caddies make an ideal location to hide unwanted leads and excess cabling. We stuffed quite a bit into the first bay including power cables, sata cables and even fan connectors.


With the side panel reattached, we were treated with a beautiful view of our hardware.


The I/O panel and video card ports are recessed so allow for connections to be made with the top cover on. Although a matter of personal preference, those interested in increasing airflow from the top of the case can also refrain from installing the I/O shield. Care must be taken when plugging in devices without one though.


Unfortunately, not all cables will work. As you can see, a VGA-DVI adapter caused our monitor cable to protrude far beyond the confines of the top cover. There really isn’t a solution for a problem of this sort unfortunately. Buyers will simply need to take a close look at their peripheral connectors prior to buying the FT02. It would be very disappointing to pay $200 for a case only to realize that you can’t attach the top cover. Innovative solutions often come at the cost of some practicality, unfortunately.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

lemonlime

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 10, 2008
Messages
520
Location
Greater Toronto Area
Testing Methodology

Testing Methodology

System Used:

Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 3.2Ghz (400x8 and 1.3V)
Memory: Corsair Dominator 2x 2GB PC2-8500 @ 500/1000MHz (2.1V and 5-5-5-15-2T timings)
Motherboard: Gigabyte EP35-DS4 (P35/ICH9 Chipset)
Video Card: HIS Radeon 4870 512MB GDDR5
Optical Disk Drive: Pioneer DVD Writer
Hard Drives: 128GB Patriot Torqx SSD and WD6400AAKS 7200RPM Hard Drive
Heatsink: Thermalright TRUE Black and Scythe S-FLEX 1500RPM fan
Power Supply: Antec Signature Series 650W​


  • All testing was conducted with an ambient temperature of 19°C and not permitted to deviate beyond +/- 0.5°C.
  • Full system load was achieved using a combination of Prime95 v25 and Furmark for 100% CPU and GPU load. Temperature readings were taken after about 30 minutes of full-load testing and stabilization of temperatures. Idle temperature readings were taken after about 30 minutes of inactivity at the Windows desktop.
  • C1E and power saving features were disabled in the BIOS.
  • GPU fan speed was fixed at 50% using CCC to ensure that fan profiling does not throw off results. CPU fan speed was also fixed at +12V.
  • CPU, Motherboard, GPU and HDD temperature readings were taken from CPUID’s HWMonitor 1.15.0. CPU temperature was taken as the “hottest core” as read in HWMonitor from the CPU itself.
  • To provide some comparison, we conducted testing in accordance with the above methodology on the recently reviewed Antec P183 as well as a case-less configuration on a “High Speed Tech Station”. The fans were left in their default configurations unless otherwise specified, but the 120mm fan was disconnected from the Tech Station to show a truly ambient environment where only the CPU fan, PSU fan and GPU fans are providing cooling to the system.

Please note that unless otherwise specified, the P183 cooling results are taken with the fans set to “High” and in their factory installed locations.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top