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Silverstone Fortress Series FT02

Silverstone’s Raven cases introduced a special vertical air circulation we have never seen on PC cases before. The new Fortress Series FT02 case also uses the new vertical air circulation.

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Introduction

When it comes to picking computer cases, some computer enthusiasts get very picky at the type of case that will fit their needs. With the latest hardware on the market, there is no doubt a BIG problem with the enormous amounts of heat being produced. There are plenty of ways of fixing this problem. One is by providing enough ventilation through the hardware to dissipate the heat, elongating the life span of your hardware. The second option would be to get an aftermarket cooler on the hardware, but that would still not fix the hot air problem inside the chassis. The next option would be to get low power and heat rated hardware, but this is not always available to us computer enthusiasts, because we always want the best and the fastest. So what else could be done to help with the heat problems? Well, by completely redesigning the way our hardware sit in our computer cases. This is what Silverstone did with their first RAVEN chassis and it has totally revolutionized heat dissipation in the chassis industry.

Today we are looking at Silverstone’s new high-end full-tower computer chassis, the Fortress Series FT02, which implements both the excellent ventilation principle, as well as the new redesigned interior, which allows us to install our video cards vertically instead of horizontally. You might ask, well how would this help in dissipating heat? Well, it’s very simple. We all know that heat loves to rise to the top while cool air stays on the bottom. By turning the video cards and other hardware from horizontal position to sit vertically, the air can easily slide out through the expansion slots instead of creating heat pockets between the cards. But that’s not all, the new Fortress Series FT02 also switched the sides where the motherboard tray is located at, and it also allows the power supply to be mounted vertically for easier heat dissipation. There are plenty of other amazing features that the Fortress Series FT02 chassis has, but let’s leave that to the following pages where we can also check them out in the pictures.

Product Name Price
Silverstone Fortress Series FT02 Full-Tower Chassis $239.99
In-Win Maelstrom Full-Tower Chassis $141.43

Features

Special Feature
Revolutionary 90 degree motherboard mounting from RAVEN RV01
Innovative 4.5mm aluminum unibody frame from Temjin TJ07
Three 180mm fans for unprecedented positive pressure and stack effect cooling
Supports liquid cooling radiator mounting
Motherboard back plate opening behind CPU area for quick cooler assembly
Supports 11” wide ATX motherboard
Foam padded interior for advanced noise absorption
Remark ATI Radeon HD 5970 in FT02

We can see lots of features that other case manufacturers do no include in their chassis. It took quite some time before other manufacturers started to implement the acoustic foam feature as well as quick tool-less installation that actually works. Silverstone has an excellent tool-less installation method, especially for the hard drives and the optical drives. Plus, Silverstone has also provided a single hot swapable hard drive bay for easy and fast installation of hard drives. Multiple adapters can be installed later to the other available hard drive bays.

Specifications

Let’s take a look at the specifications of this chassis:


Model No.

SST-FT02B (black)
SST-FT02S (silver)
SST-FT02B-W (black + window)
SST-FT02S-W (silver + window)

 Material

4.5mm aluminum unibody frame, 0.8mm steel body

 Motherboard

SSI CEB, ATX (maximum 12” x 11”), Micro ATX

 Multimedia

 Drive Bay

 External
5.25″ x 5
 Internal
3.5″ x 5 , 2.5” x1

 Cooling System

 Front
 Rear
 Side
 Top
1 x 120mm exhaust, 1200rpm, 19dBA
 Bottom
3 x 180mm intake fan 700/1000rpm, 18/27dBA
 Internal

 Expansion Slot

 7

 Front I/O Port

USB2.0 x 2
Audio x 1
MIC x 1

 Power Supply

1 x Optional standard PS2 (ATX)

 Expansion Card

Support 12” or 12.2” (with fan grille removed)

 Net Weight

15kg

 Dimension

212mm (W) x 497mm (H) x 616mm (D)

 Extra

So we can tell from the first images in this review that there are multiple versions of the Silverstone FT02 chassis. The first two models are black and silver which are the FT02B and the FT02S respectively. The paint finish used on these cases look very nice, as you will see in the following pages. Then there are two more models the FT02B-W and the FT02S-W, which are also black and silver, however they also have a window on the left side of the chassis. The reason the windows are located on the left side is because the motherboard has been switched from one side to the other, so to look at your hardware, you will have to look at it from the left side. The thick aluminum unibody frame and the included acoustic foam on the sides of the chassis will help tremendously with the cancelation of the annoying fan noise, hard drive noise and optical drive noise inside the system.

Closer Look: External

Click Image For a Larger One
 
The Silverstone Fortress Series FT02 chassis comes packaged and in the same type of box as any other Silverstone case. We reviewed the Temjin Series TJ-10B chassis a few months ago and it came in a very similar package. Overall the package is extremely heavy duty, and even with such a heavy case as the FT02, we did not see any damage to the package when we received it. The inside is filled with Styrofoam and the case is protected from any scratches with a thin furry like bag/cover. The plexiglass window is protected by a protective transparent cover from both sides. Overall, I am very pleased with the packaging of the Silverstone FT02, and the overall design of the box with the graphics and the information is very informative if someone would be looking at it at a store.

Click Image For a Larger One
 
As we mentioned on the previous page, the Silverstone Fortress Series FT02 comes with a beautiful black finish. While this is nice, it is also easy to notice finger prints and other moisture on the case, so take good care of it and wipe it down after installing all the hardware to keep it looking nice. For the first look, we can tell that the front 5.25-inch bay covers are a bit different than the paint used on the actual chassis. In real life, it is only a bit different, and not as noticeable as we see it here on these pictures. But, overall, I really like the outside design of this case, and it looks very solid and professional.

Click Image For a Larger One
 
Here are a few more pictures of the bare chassis. On these two pictures we can see something interesting. First of all, we cannot see where the motherboard’s I/O shield plate would go, and there are no expansion slots for the video card and other hardware. This is because in the Silverstone Fortress Series FT02, everything got turned by 90 degrees. So now the I/O shield plate, the expansion slots, and the 120mm fan that we usually see on the back of the chassis are now located on the top on the FT02. The large mesh we see on the back of the chassis is actually designed for the Power Supply. The Power supply can easily pull in cool air from the back of the chassis, and then blow out the hot air on the top of the chassis. This is very well designed, because the hot air will rise and if the cool air is pulled in from the bottom, then there won’t be any hot air being trapped in a circular pattern that will heat up the PSU even more.

  Click Image For a Larger One

The top mesh is a nice cover for the top of the FT02. It helps cover up the messy cables and all the other parts of the system. It took some time to figure out how to remove the top mesh. At first I was not sure if I have to loosen up something before it comes off, or what exactly do I have to do. After a few minutes of looking at the case as a fool, and checking the manual, I figured out that at the hole provided towards the front of the case on the top can be used to hold on to the top of the mesh cover. So you just hold on to it, and it will easily pop off when you pull on it. Very simple and tool-less design that holds on really tightly. I like it a lot. On the first picture from the two, we can see the back part of the chassis that is sticking out. that hole provides space for the cables to pass through that later will be covered up by the mesh, but I also noticed that it can also serve as a good area to hold on to the case when you are transferring it. I did not see any warnings about it, so I assume it can be used as a handle. Beware with the front hole though because if you pull on that one with the mesh on, the mesh will come off and you might see a broken chassis with your valuable hardware in it. So I would recommend holding on to the back of the chassis on the handle bar and then on the bottom in the front. That seemed to be the best way for me to transfer the case, because it’s quite heavy.

 

Click Image For a Larger One

Finally, let’s take a closer look at the exterior design of the FT02 on the top. The first things we see on the right are the power on and off switch, a reset button, a HDD LED and a Power LED. Then we also see something in the middle. This is actually a slider that we will take a look at on the next page. This is where the USB and other ports are located. Moving towards the middle, we can now see the expansion slots. The expansion slots have holes on them for the hot air to pass through. I personally think that this feature is important on this case but not on the standard cases. The reason is because in this case the heat will rise to the top so the heat will be able to escape through the top. Plus there are 3 massive 180mm fans inside the chassis that blow from the bottom up and  it will just push the hot air through easily. With a standard case, the heat might rise, but even with the expansion slots having holes on them, there won’t be too much use for them unless there is a positive air pressure inside the case. Next to the expansion slots, we see a 120mm fan and the area where you are going to install the I/O shield plate the comes with the motherboard. Right next to the fan, we see three switches. These are switches for the fans inside the chassis. They allow the fan speed to change from a lower RPM to a higher RPM. Please refer to the specifications on Page two for exact RPM and noise measurements. And finally, the last thing we see towards the right is the area where our PSU will be located.

Closer Look: Internal

Click Image For a Larger One
 
So let’s open up the FT02. To do that, first you need to remove the top mesh as we showed you on the previous page. Next there will be 4 thumb screws located on the top of the chassis on each four side of the beveled area/frame of the chassis. Once the right side panel is removed, we can see the insides of this beast. You will also notice that Silverstone also provided acoustic dampening on the right side panel. This helps tremendously in dampening the internal noises in the system.

Click Image For a Larger One
 
That’s not all! Silverstone also included acoustic dampening inside the chassis and on the left side panel as well. The interior of the FT02 has a beautiful black finish, and three massive 180mm fans that are connected to the top fan controller. The fan controller allows you to change the speed of the fans from low to high RPM settings. Please refer to the specifications page for the RPM and dB information on each of the fans. The motherboard tray is unfortunately non-removable, however, Silverstone did cut out a hole for the CPU coolers backplate so the motherboard would not have to be removed in case you are changing CPU coolers. Please note that the 180mm fans have a removable fan filter that can be pulled out easily for cleaning. And just from these pictures, we can see that we can install up to five 3.5″ based drives, and five 5.25″ based drives.

Click Image For a Larger One
 
Here is a different view of the FT02 with the opened side. On the back we see the area where the power supply gets installed. It has a mesh with a fan filter prepared for easy access to cool air. The back fan filter can be easily removed as well from the back of the case. The second picture shows how the hard drives get installed in the drive bays. Even though the hard drives fit quite tightly in these slots, it is recommended to screw them in with the provided screws for security and to prevent unwanted vibrations. The slot on the far left has a hot-swapable feature, where you can just slide in the hard drive and you don’t even have to worry about the cables. You just have to make sure to plug in the appropriate cables before you take advantage of this feature.

Click Image For a Larger One
 
Let’s take a look at the other side of the chassis. The way the left side is opening up is the same way the right side opened up. When we remove the side panel, you will notice that the left side panel also has acoustic foam installed. You will also start noticing very clever cable management. The left side panel does not come with any windows and you will notice that this is the other side of the motherboard tray. Other standard chassis use this side as the mounting side for the motherboard while the Silverstone FT02 is totally flipped. Let’s take a look at the following pictures to see how this all looks with the side panel out of the way.

Click Image For a Larger One
 
The back side of the FT02 comes with plenty of holes where cables can be tied to. This is excellent because the Silverstone FT02 has lots of cable management holes prepared all around the motherboard where the cables can be hidden for better air circulation. One thing I do not like however, is that there is not much space provided for thick cables especially when they start running over each other. So you have to make sure to organize the cables really well. You will also notice over time that the cables that were organized previously will leave a very hard mark on the acoustic foam on the left side panel. This happens because the side panel starts pushing at the cables over time, just like when you put a heavy item on your carpet and over time it will leave a mark that cannot be reversed.
There are several accessories included with the FT02. probably my favorite accessories will have to be the cable management straps and the Fan Molex to three 3-pin fan connector adapter. There are plenty of screws included as well as a SSD mounting bracket and a user’s manual.

Click Image For a Larger One

And finally, let’s take a look at the last two pictures. These pictures pretty much show that the top cover can be moved back, this reveals two USB ports and one microphone and one headphone jack. Let’s take a look how the hardware looks once it is installed in this system, and how well this chassis performs on the next pages.

Testing methodology

To test this system for Acoustic Noise and temperature, we have used several methods to acquire the information. Since I do not own a device that measures accurately the dBA level of the case, we have come up with another good way to measure the delta of the noise that is being produced by the case. To do this we have taken out our camera (Canon Vixia HV30) and set up a XLR Audio-Technica AT897 shotgun microphone 1 meter away from the case. We have used an XLR converter from Beachtek to make sure the noise being picked up by the camera is clean without any noise.

(System being built – not the complete system)

To acquire the delta measurement for the noise, we have changed the volume settings on the camera to show 0dBA when the system was off. Once the system was turned on, the amount of dBA the noise went up was measured and recorded.

To test for temperature change, we have used the built in software to measure the NB, GPU, and CPU temperatures under idle and load. The results were recorded.

Here is the system we have used:

Test Platform

Processor

AMD Athlon II X2 240e 2.8Ghz

Motherboard

Gigabyte GA-MA790FXT-UD5P

Memory

4x 2GB DDR3-12800 @ 1600MHz

Hard Drive (internal)

640GB Western Digital Blue SATAII

Video Card

XFX GeForce 8800GTS G92 Alpha Dog Edition

Power Supply

Silverstone Strider Series 850W PSU

Case

Silverstone Fortress Series FT02

In-Win Maelstrom

Operating System

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

 

Results

Here are the temperatures. The first temperature is at Idle and the second temperature is under load. The ambient room temperature was 23C.

  CPU GPU North Bridge
Silverstone Fortress Series FT02 – High Fan Speed
27C/32C 36C/49C 32C/33C
Silverstone Fortress Series FT02 – Low Fan Speed
28C/33C 37C/51C 32C/34C
In-Win Maelstrom 28C/33C  37C/52C  32C/32C

The good performance of the Silverstone FT02 is very visible in the results. The GPU temperature has dropped by 3C just by using the Silverstone FT02 over the Maelstrom. The Maelstrom does uses a massive fan on the side panel and it is a high-performance air circulation case, but the FT02 has showed us that even that can be improved by redesigning the interior of the chassis. Very impressive!

The Acoustic Noise:

Silverstone Fotress Series FT02 – Noise Test (Delta)

Fan Speed Set to Low: 6dB

Fan Speed Set to High: 14dB

Fan Speed Set to Low with Case Open: 13dB

Fan Speed Set to High with Case Open: 25dB

While this is not the most accurate way of measuring the noise inside the PC, it definitely gives us a good idea of the amount of noise being produced. We can see that the acoustic foam does help a lot with the noise inside the PC, but I still found the fans on high setting a bit louder than what I like. I really do think that the High fan speed is only necessary when the latest hardware is being used in the system and the user is overclocking. Other than that the user can enjoy a very quiet operation on low fan speed settings.

CONCLUSION

The Silverstone FT02 was very enjoyable to work with, and its construction was phenomenal. It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen a very well constructed chassis. The FT02 is one of them. Not only was its design special by having the motherboard tray turned by 90 degrees, but also by including acoustic dampening and powerful 180mm fans This chassis stands out from the crowd. It has to be one of those unique cases that no other manufacturers have.

While most of the things I have to say about the FT02 are nice things, I do have a few things I don’t like. Installing a internal dual or triple radiator for water cooling would not really work well. If I were to install the radiator on the bottom of the chassis, all the heat would be blown through the hardware as the radiator gets cooled off. The only possibility for good internal water cooling would be by installing a single 120mm radiator on the top of the chassis where the current 120mm fan is located, but that might not be good enough for extreme overclockers. Another option would be by having an external water cooling setup, but installing that and routing in the tubes would be another smaller problem.

A couple smaller cons would be the space between the motherboard tray and the back of the motherboard tray for cable management, and the noise of the fans on high settings. But both of these problems can be dealt with as well. Overall, I really like the case, and I would really consider it for my next high-end system with multiple high-performance video cards.  

OUR VERDICT: Silverstone Fortress Series FT02
Performance 9
Value 9
Quality 9
Features 9
Innovation 10
We are using a new addition to our scoring system to provide additional feedback beyond a flat score. Please note that the final score isn’t an aggregate average of the new rating system.
Total 9
Pros Minor Cons

Fantastic build quality, and excellent features.

The motherboard tray is turned by 90 degrees for optimum air circulation that will prevent heat pockets from being created between expansion cards.

Massive 180mm fans for excellent air circulation.

Acoustic foam dampening for lowering the overall noise inside the system.

Access hole for easy cooler installation on the CPU that requires a back-plate.

Great cable management features.

Fan controller for the massive fans.

Positive air pressure.

SSD ready!

I would have loved to see thumbscrews for the expansion slots.

No e-sata connector

You will have to get a bit creative with water cooling to get it to work well and not dump back the hot air into your system.

A bit expensive

There could be a bit more space between the motherboard tray and the left side panel.

A bit heavy


Summary: The Silverstone Fortress Series FT02 chassis has a very well built quality, and it is full of fun features. Its main 90 degree motherboard design shows a big temperature drop over standard cases. The Silverstone FT02 well deserves a 9 out of 10 score and Bjorn3D’s Golden Bear Award!

 

Product Name Price
Silverstone Fortress Series FT02 Full-Tower Chassis $239.99
In-Win Maelstrom Full-Tower Chassis $141.43

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