Silverstone Fortress 2 FT02 Tower

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ft02Today, I would like to thank the guys and gals at Silverstone for sending us their newest case. We know it is bound to please any who want quality, class, simplicity and space. The FT02 is the rebirth of the FT01, which was also called the Fortress. Consisting of two different technologies from the legendary cases, RV01 and TJ07, the FT02 has a uni-body construction and 90 degree rotated motherboard design to give you the best of what both cases had to offer. It also has a few things the other two did not have and we will be talking about those in this review.

 

Introduction to the Silverstone FT02

For the short time Silverstone has been around, they have joined an elite group of manufacturers known for the most sought after PC gear. In the case of Silverstone, it means cases, cooling, power supplies, and optical drives. Their cases and power supplies are what many of us want in our systems. Not too long ago, I reviewed the SG06, an awesome little small factor factor case able to house the most powerful of today's graphic cards. The quality we saw in the case was just a small showing of what Silverstone is capable of producing.

Many products from Silverstone have been mid and full size cases. We read many rave reviews of the RV02, the second revision of the Raven case. Unfortunately, did not got a chance to review it, but I drooled each and every time I read a word about it. If you have been around for a while, you may remember the TJ line that consisted of the TJ07, TJ09 and TJ10. We can go on and on about all the wonderful cases that have come from Silverstone.

Today, I would like to thank the guys and gals at Silverstone for sending us their newest case. We know it is bound to please any who want quality, class, simplicity and space. The FT02 is the rebirth of the FT01, which was also called the Fortress. Consisting of two different technologies from the legendary cases, RV01 and TJ07, the FT02 has a uni-body construction and 90 degree rotated motherboard design to give you the best of what both cases had to offer. It also has a few things the other two did not have and we will be talking about those in this review

Silverstone on the FT02

"Combining two of SilverStone's most distinctive computer chassis breakthroughs - the unibody construction of the Temjin TJ07, introduced in 2005, and the 90-degrees rotated motherboard mount of the RAVEN RV01 from 2008 - the Fortress FT02 advances both chassis construction and thermodynamics in a dynamic, streamlined design. With the Fortress FT02, SilverStone engineers have combined the rigidity of unibody construction with the unparalleled cooling layout of the RAVEN chassis, adding a hot-swappable hard drive cage and an acoustically padded interior for maximum versatility. The result is increased structural strength, increased storage capacity, and whisper-quiet operation. Available in black and silver colors, its elegant outer shell is perfectly accentuated by the U-shaped unibody aluminum frame that not only provides unique styling, but also functional purpose. The bottom gap from the frame to the main body actually serves as the main air intake area for its three massive 180mm fans, making it even suitable for use on carpeted surfaces. For professionals and enthusiasts looking to build a silent workstation or gaming machine with maximum performance, there is no better than the SilverStone Fortress FT02."


Packaging and contents

I will take a few seconds to go over the box the FT02 comes in. First of all, it is probably the tallest box I have ever seen for a case. The height goes to show you that the FT02 is either very tall or very long. With the case sporting a 90 degree motherboard design, we will venture to say the box is tall because the case is long. The front of the box shows off a picture of the FT02 from a front angle. The picture is of a silver windowless model, the model we will be reviewing is black and has a window. The rear of the box gives all the specifications and features of the new Silverstone.

Specifications

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

--

Features

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


 

Closer look at the outside of the FT02

The FT02 comes in four versions: black, silver, windowed and windowless. We were lucky enough to get the black windowed version for our review. Each is made of 4.5mm think aluminum uni-body frame supporting an .8mm steel body. Like the first RV01, there is some plastic on the case as well. Our windowed unit weighs in at about 33 pounds or 15 kg and stands about 19.5 inches tall or 497mm. So, the case is short and stout but long measures24 inches deep.

The u-shaped front is very simplistic. Meaning to me style was the main focus of this case. The only lines on the front are the five 5.25 bay panels sitting atop the case. The only other thing visible on the front is the Silverstone logo at the bottom. Note the lack of ventilation openings. We will show you just where the cool air enters.

This will be the first time for me to make the following statement. The top of this case is the most busy side of the unit. What we have here is the top complete with the vent panel in place. The panel works like that of the ventilation side of a power supply as it allows air that is used to cool the inside to exit. The front half of the top consists of a small sliding panel that hides the USB, eSATA and audio ports. Clever and neat and you don't have to worry about damaging any doors. To the left is the reset and power button between them is the activity and power LEDs.

Behind all this is a small opening that looks like a handle but isn't. Placing your hand here and pulling likely will release the top panel and expose what you would normally see on the rear of a traditional PC case. First in line is the PCI expansion slots followed by a 120mm cooling fan and then the power supply mounting area. Missing is the water-cooling inlets that we see in a lot of cases. Obviously you would have problems mounting a water-cooling rad to the top of this case. The top, middle and rear fans can be controlled from this area as well.

The right side (not the left) has a rectangular window. In the photo you can see the protective film that protects the window during shipping. Each side panel is secured to the case using thumbscrews at the top of the case. The left panel has nothing going on.

Next, we have the rear of the case. We are not used to seeing such a thing when looking at the back of a case. Here lies a ventilation opening for the power supply. In the second photo we show the cover removed. To safely remove the top panel another hand must be placed here to pop off the top.

There are no feet on the FT02, just these two rubber strips to keep the case from sliding. The main portion of the case is raised off the floor about one inch and this is where air is allowed to enter the case with the help of internal fans.


 

Closer look at the inside of the FT02

Before we get started we will show you images of the panels that can be removed from the case. This is the windowed panel. You can see the sound dampening material. And also here is a better look at the top panel detached from the case.

Now we get a good look at the interior of the FT02. The first thing that drew my attention was the all black interior. A much wanted feature of most people looking for a case today.

The motherboard area of Silverstone cases may have changed but the front of the case is still arranged in a natural fashion. The 5.25" bays are five deep with four of them consisting of four quick release mechanisms. Pressing the top or bottom of the gadget will release or secure any optical drive. Underneath is five 3.5" HDD carriages. This makes the insertion and removal of hard drives painless. Unlike the Zalman MS1000 we reviewed this unit does not have a SATA back pane except for the first carriage.

The bottom of the case consists of three very large 180mm cooling fans. Each guarded by dust guards. Each of these fans are rated at 700 to 1000rpm @ 18 to 27 dBA. What makes the FT02 a cooling fortress is these fans are rotated like the motherboard. Nothing is blocking the airflow as it blows upwards. No GPU or other components prevent the fortress from doing it's job.

The motherboard tray consists of several opening to allows for easy switching of motherboard coolers. The other openings are for cable management.

The rear vent and more shots of the sound dampening material.

Here we have the back of the motherboard tray. You may not realize it from the photos but the FT02 has plenty of room here to route and store all the power supply cables. Even a SSD drive can be mounted to the back of the drive bay using the included brackets.

The last thing we want to show you is the top. In order we have the PCI expansion slots, 120mm cooling fan, and vertical power supply area.


 

Installation

We spent a short time working with the FT02 and everything fell in place perfectly. We began with the mounting of the motherboard. We felt we could mount the board and then place the cooler on later. We were able to do so but it was not a easy thing to do. As the opening in the tray was barely enough to get the Zalman back plate mounted. This was because the alignment of the holes in the motherboard were not working too well with the case.

The mounting of the power supply was a breeze. We were not afraid to use a non-modular PSU with this case as there was plenty of room to hide the unused cabling. You will have be able to just bundle the cable up but spread them apart to not have a big mess.

We tried mounting the optical drive into two different bays. The top one that did not have the tool-less mechanisms and one of the other bays that did have the mechanism. Let me tell you it was much easier with the second option and a lot less of a pain. Mounting in the top bay caused us a few problem as you will need an angled SATA plug in order to mount a drive there. In the lower bay no issues whatsoever.

Here we have the mounting of the hard drive which was a breeze. All it took was the screwing of it into the plastic bracket and sliding it into the bay. If you insert it into the first bay you don't have to worry about connecting any cables to the drive itself.


 

Conclusion

Did I like the FT02 aka Fortress 2? Yes. The case was a dream to work in. I thought that dealing with a case that boasted a 90 degree turned motherboard would result in issues during the build process. I was totally wrong. The time that I spent building the system up was no longer than that of any other high end case. There was plenty of room to work with. At no time did I feel that I was working in a cramped space. The innovative design of the turned motherboard makes tasks so much easier to perform when building. Each and every cable that needed to plugs into the motherboard or video card are all clean and neat as they are kept short and tucked away between the motherboard tray. We did not have to try too hard to achieve decent cable management. And because of the turned motherboard air flow is uninterrupted as there is nothing blocking the air from rising up and out of the case.

Putting the space aside what makes this case as good as it is would be looking at it from the outside. From every angle this case looks great. The simplistic look gives the case a look of elegance. Silverstone has built a representation on this. Look at the TJ series or their home theater case. It does not get any better. The steel exterior flows well in any environment. Are you a professional? Gamer? Or someone that wants quality components then this case is for you. The steel exterior gives the look and feel of brushed aluminum which makes the case sturdy on the outside. The aluminum frame gives it a stable and solid structure while keeping the case relatively light if you want to call thirty pounds light.

The easy mounting of the optical drives and hard drives is great. We would have liked to see that all the hard drive bays have SATA connections like the first one. It would make the connecting of hard drives easier and quicker. The lack of a tool-less retention brackets in the top 5.25" makes you wonder why Silverstone went this route.

There are many reasons why I would recommend this case to someone. Top notch quality would be at the top of the list. There are only a hand full of companies that can boast about such quality as this. Chances are that those other companies that can boast about such characteristics will charge you an arm and a leg to get it. The FT02 will cost you about $250 from a reliable seller.

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