Introducing the SilverStone FT03 Mini

One of the first cases we reviewed back when we initially established our case testing methodology last year was SilverStone's FT03, a very unique Micro-ATX design guaranteed to be both an eye catcher and a solid performer. It lived up to both of those claims. DigitalStorm even proved the FT03 was capable of handling a tremendous amount of power when they outfitted one with an overclocked i7-2600K and a pair of GeForce GTX 580s. The FT03 was successful enough that it was only a matter of time until SilverStone experimented with it a bit.

Today we have the results of that experiment. The FT03 Mini is the FT03 condensed further still, swapping out Micro-ATX for Mini-ITX and requiring an SFX form factor power supply in the process. Users who didn't care for the look of the FT03 aren't going to find anything new here, but people who dug on the FT03 are bound to find a lot to like.

That SilverStone took the FT03 and shrunk it further borders on being downright adorable, but in the process they've made a few changes to the internal design based on both feedback on the FT03 and the practical concerns with shrinking the design down to Mini-ITX. The result is an enclosure that looks functionally quite similar to its predecessor, but features a radically redesigned interior that in many ways encompasses lessons learned from the FT03 but also from the FT03's surprise competition, the TJ08-E.

SilverStone FT03 Mini Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor Mini-ITX
Drive Bays External 1x 5.25" (slim-line, slot-loading optical drive required)
Internal 1x 3.5", 2x 2.5"
Cooling Front -
Rear -
Top -
Side -
Bottom 1x 140mm intake fan
Expansion Slots 2
I/O Port 2x USB 3.0, 1x Headphone, 1x Mic
Power Supply Size SFX
Clearances HSF 78mm
GPU 10" / 254mm
Weight 10.3 lbs.
4.7 kg
Dimensions 7.4" x 15.6" x 9.3"
189mm x 397mm x 235mm
Special Features USB 3.0 via internal header
Price MSRP $129

Like its predecessor, the FT03 Mini also comes in either black or silver, depending on what you're into. If you didn't like the whole icebox aesthetic before, the FT03 Mini isn't liable to change your mind, but SilverStone's design at least makes a good case (no pun intended) for aluminum as a construction material as the side panels are very thick and remarkably sturdy compared to the cases we've tested from Cubitek and to a lesser extent Lian Li. Let's get to the meat of the review now and see how it all comes together.

In and Around the SilverStone FT03 Mini
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  • robl - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    I liked the review, and I'm quite interested in the case. I also caught the comment and about a GTX 670, as that's what I'd use, and would love a follow-up article.

    It's impossible to review cases in all configurations that anyone would like (HTPC, PC for mom, gaming PC, workstation, etc.) However, with that said, I like the idea of perhaps 2 primary configs for testing cases. (a) sweet & simple, and (b) enthusiast/gamer.

    I'd love to see how this performs as a gaming machine. (and am concerned that if it is desk mounted, that a high end GTX whine/blower out the top may be really unworkable - hair dryer anyone?)
  • Mumrik - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    I like this thing. It's relatively attractive, efficient and quiet. I'd have liked it more though, if they had dropped that 5.25 bay and focused on making more room for 3½ drives. This is not a small ITX case, so I'd sort of expect it to have more (storage) server potential.
  • rm19 - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    I was interested in this case the moment it came out and I found out that Maingear makes one called the Potenza that comes in black and looks much less watercoolish. They offer a GTX 680 option with 450w power supply so it seems capable of being a compact beast.
  • chaoticlusts - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    Just had a look at that out of curiousity...that's *hideously* overpriced, though boutique pc's tend to be >_<

    A high end CPU+GTX 680 seems like asking for trouble with a 450w PSU, Nvidia recommends a 550W PSU minimum with the 680, add a high consumption CPU onto it and your asking for trouble with the strain that poor little PSU would be under, hopefully someone will release a higher than 450 watt SFX PSU soonish. Technically all those components consume below 450w under load but spike usage+accessories plugged in etc etc..your not leaving yourself much safe room. Granted I might be wrong, would be great to see some real tests ^_^
  • ikjadoon - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    Well, here's somewhat of a real test, but there is a bit of vested interest here, too, haha:

    So, an i7-3770K @ 4.6GHz + GTX 680 pull 350W from the wall.
  • Penti - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    Reminds me of the PowerMac G4 Cube, it's basically the same form factor of course the only major difference is the optical drive placement. Plus less cubey. Which of course it self is a throwback to NeXTcube and other odd form factor workstations. Fun to see ideas being developed. They seem to do a pretty good job, for something I have otherwise lost much of my faith in when it comes to often poorly thought out custom cases and self builds. This with a discrete add on graphics-card would be pretty sweet together with a 2.5" SSD for OS/Software and a 2.5" 7200 rpm drive for additional storage. Certainly pretty good where Mini-ITX is concerned and should have the power to drive a half decent mid-end GPU. SFX PSU should be able to drive a decent machine, most mid and low end cpus are enough for almost all work now days, if you don't need dual or quad socket workstations that is. Would love a low voltage/power version for use in builds and space confined machines like this though. Certainly something more possible then the included ATI Rage 16MB that the Mac cube used :)
  • ggathagan - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    Just finished building a system for a friend with this case, the AsusS P8H77-I, an i7-3770S, a Corsair H60, a Samsung SSD, a Sony BD combo drive, a 2TB 3.5" hard drive and an EVGA GTX670.
    It all fits, but I ended up putting the SSD in the same tray as the optical drive with double-stick tape.

    Haven't had a chance to stress the system, but after playing 30 minutes or so of Diablo III, the Asus monitoring software indicated a CPU temp of 39c and the system remained quiet.

    I had hoped to put a 120mm fan on top of the H60's radiator, but the drive tray wouldn't allow for it

    The ST45SF PSU works, but it's ill-suited for the MINI; too many SATA and Molex power connections, cabling is too long and the orientation of the SATA connectors make for difficult connections.
    This is what triggered putting the SSD with the optical drive

    I'll be interested to see what Silverstone does with their modular PSU.
    If they're wise, they'll offer a MINI-specific cabling kit, in addition to cabling for a more traditional case.
  • chaoticlusts - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    Out of curiosity have you tested how much power that system is drawing under load? I was considering if I got enough money later this year building a transportable system and this case looked appealing, a 670/similar power consuming GPU's would be great (top ends seem unrealistic) but I'm really curious if the wee little 450w PSU struggles trying to drive all that? With the cost of all those components I'd be worried about the PSU dying from being strained too hard

    Very happy to hear the noise/temp results though that's really promising :) (slightly cooler than my 2500K in a full sized tower with a coolermaster hyper 212+!.. Although it's OC'd a little)

    Really hoping the modular PSU the article mentions that's coming, arrives in 500-600w options just that little bit extra would provide some nice peace of mind :)
  • ggathagan - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    I never paid attention to the draw, as several website reviews showed the GTX670 drawing around 310-330w under load.
    The user has no interest in overclocking, so between those wattage figures and knowledge regarding the power consumption of the chipset and CPU, I wasn't concerned about the capacity of the PSU.

    If there's a free way of checking power consumption, I'm willing do it.

    I guess it depends on how you define "transportable", but this case would not be my 1st choice if you're thinking of a grab-and-carry case to take to LAN parties.
    If you're simply referring to a case that is easy to pack for someone who moves a lot, then you'd be fine.

    It's a solid case, all the internal parts are well anchored and the top latches solidly, but the four side panels are easily removed, so you'd want to wrap the outside with a couple of turns of painter's tape to keep it all together in transport.
  • HardwareDufus - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    Do you have any photos with all of the cabling installed? Would like to see how it appears in a typical home installation...

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