Introducing the SilverStone Fortress FT02

Ever since we reviewed the SilverStone Raven RV03, a lot of you have chimed in about their Fortress FT02 enclosure, with more than one even proclaiming it the best air-cooling enclosure ever; high praise to be sure. To be fair, we were impressed with the FT02 when we reviewed the DigitalStorm BlackOps, a monster of a boutique build that nonetheless ran remarkably quiet and cool given the massive overclock on its Core i7-950 and the pair of GeForce GTX 580s sandwiched together in precisely the way NVIDIA tells you to avoid. It didn't matter: the system was cool and quiet despite pulling nearly 700 watts under our testing load and undoubtedly capable of pulling more. The FT02 has been around for a couple of years now and SilverStone warns that it doesn't enjoy some of the conveniences modern enclosures do, but can it hold up?

Spoiler alert: it absolutely can. Those of you who found the exterior of SilverStone's Raven RV03 ostentatious, or just find many gamer-oriented enclosures ostentatious in general, it doesn't get much simpler than the Fortress FT02. But this is a luxury enclosure with a pricetag that has it competing squarely against the recently reviewed Thermaltake Level 10 GT, and like the Thermaltake case, SilverStone has made some unusual choices in the design of the FT02.

SilverStone Fortress FT02 Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor SSI CEB, ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
Drive Bays External 5x 5.25"
Internal 5x 3.5"/2.5", 1x 2.5"
Cooling Front -
Rear -
Top 1x 120mm exhaust fan
Side -
Bottom 3x 180mm intake fan
Expansion Slots 7
Front I/O Port -
Top I/O Port 2x USB 2.0 (user-replaceable with separately sold USB 3.0 bracket), mic and headphone jacks
Power Supply Size ATX
Clearance 12" (Expansion Cards), 165mm (CPU HSF), 330mm (PSU)
Weight 33.1 lbs.
Dimensions 24.25" x 8.35" x 19.57"
Price $249

Just looking at the specs a few things should jump out at you: it's big, it's heavy, it's expensive, and it...has three massive intake fans on the bottom? As you'll see it's another unusual design from the mad scientists at SilverStone, and while it's definitely a major step up from the newer RV03, like every other SilverStone enclosure I've played's a little bit special needs.

In and Around the SilverStone Fortress FT02
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  • Dustin Sklavos - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    It's hard to say someone is wrong when you're citing what I think are largely opinions and my own personal experiences with the FT02.

    An eighth expansion slot would be appreciated because as an X58 board owner, I personally did make use of the eighth slot in my 600T by spacing my second video card down to the bottom PCI x16 slot to improve airflow between cards. YOU may not have run into this issue, but I sure did.

    Placing the optical drives from the bottom up instead of the top down is frankly asinine. This case is under my desk, I want the ODD as close to the top as possible to be more easily accessible, and frankly to me it DOES look weird to have them at the bottom instead of the top. This is a problem with the design.

    Popping the top panel off of the case to access ports also defeats the purpose of even having the panel there to begin with. And I don't know about you, but the one on my FT02 actually does take a little force to remove. PLUS, those ports are recessed, making it hard to see them (at least from where I'm sitting) to even access them.

    I didn't use the PSU strap when I installed the PSU in the FT02 in testing and in my personal system; I use the screwed in "support ledge" which is honestly a bit wonky. But the PSU strap seems awfully clunky to begin with. Also keep in mind that while the screws are doing the work to keep the PSU in place, they're also having more stress placed on them than they would in a traditional case.

    And it's true the case does feel like a premium, $250 case. That doesn't really negate the fact that it's $250, which is NOT a mild amount of money to spend on an enclosure.
  • Bobben49 - Sunday, August 24, 2014 - link

    I have owned my original FT02 for 3 1/2 years and have not once missed crawling around on my hands and knees to plug in a new external device. My initial thought and my firm opinion now is that why in the heck did it take case manufactures 30 years to figure out that a vertical orientation is both thermodynamically and ergonomically vastly superior to the horizontal orientation of the motherboard in a tower case. What I wonder is why in heck would any manufacturer make a horizontally oriented tower case?
  • rpg1966 - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

  • Dustin Sklavos - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    SilverStone sent it to me. Let me get in touch with my contact and see if he can give me a link to where you can order it, but failing that I'm sure if you get in touch with their customer service they'll make it available to you. I know Antec's really good about that having dealt with them personally and off the record before; if SilverStone doesn't help you out, come back here and let us know. ;)
  • justaviking - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    "undoubtedly cable of pulling more"

    Undoubtedly you meant to say "capable of pulling more". :)
  • Stotty01 - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Great review however the overclocked results simply don't seem to make sense. Unless I am reading it completely wrong, which I doubt, you are suggesting that a stock Antec Sonata IV results in a cooler CPU temperature than a Silverstone Fortress FT02? Other reviews also seem to contradict this result.

    What is your control over your ambient temperature?

    Apart from sponsorship agreements, is there any justification for using the Zalman CNPS9900 MAX? Because it seems odd for testing thermals and noise ratios that one of the loudest and least efficient coolers would be chosen. Wouldn't it make a little more sense if on next revision, a quiet and efficient cooler was chosen?

    What was the fan settings set to and has there been any software or bios updates allowed that could have affected the aggressiveness of fan response?

    Personally, for testing cases I think it would be great if a fairly mainstream, efficient cooler was selected that was set to say 9 volt or equal to the PSU noise to completely eliminate such issues and provide a more useful comparison between cases. That being an isolated one based on their included fans and configuration.

    Also if there was a test for each with the GPU fan speed set to say 70% or 90%, we could also get an accurate idea as to how well the air is circulated to the video card without having to worry about the dynamic fan speed adjustments compensating for lower or higher temperatures which depending on model works off ranges and not necessarily absolute ratios?

    Your feedback would be appreciated.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    The HSF wasn't used because of sponsorship agreements; it was selected as a reasonable cooler that quite a few people use. All of the components are basically there for the same reason -- they represent a reasonable setup. Since we're doing apples-to-apples case testing, we have to use the same components in each case. Would a different CPU HSF change the results? Undoubtedly, but it would change the results on every case we've reviewed. You also need to factor in the noise levels with the performance, so even if a case doesn't run as cool, if it runs quiet that's a bonus.

    If you're going to buy the FT02, you might as well splurge on a good HSF, make sure to get blower-style GPUs (so not the HD 6990 or GTX 590), and perhaps even look into alternative 180mm fans that aren't as loud.

    Personally, I'm not as concerned with 5-10C extra on the CPU when it's still running at less than 70C as I am with 10-20C extra on the GPUs. Right now, I have a couple HD 5870 cards in my gaming system, spaced too close together, and under load the things get LOUD. A different motherboard and case would help, but for now I'm using what I have.
  • radium69 - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Hey don,
    Just bought the Xigmatek Elysium from incl shipping for 173 euro.
    It is a BEAST. Look at the size of that thing. I find it a real big black beauty.

    Maybe interesting for AT review aswell.
    It costs 160 Euro's normally in Germany, US might see good prices aswell.
    Hard to resist so I bought it just a moment ago. I fell in love :')


    When are you going to review this baby!?
    Johnnyguru did a review but I know you guys can do way better :)
  • Gascogne - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    I love my FT02 case. =D

    The only things I wish for is a smaller version of the FT02 since I only use one 5 1/4" and two 3.5".
    We will see what Silverstone brings us in the future. ^^
  • Zoeff - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    I've got the RV02-E, which is basically the same case but with a slight amount of raven styling. The only practical difference that I can see would be the screwless design on the 5.25" bays which as the reviewer mentioned is a bit odd considering the left side needs screws anyway.

    I agree with all of the downsides but I've managed to work my way around all of them. If you have a tower CPU cooler and a GPU that blows air out the top but you're put off by the price of the FT02 then I recommend getting the RV02-E instead (Make sure it's the E model). It's about 50 to 80 euros cheaper where I live, depending on the store. This made it an obvious choice for me.

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