Silverstone FT03 Mini

Posted by on Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 8:00am

Silverstone FT03-MiniToday, we are taking a look at a case that looks very familiar to us. And I am sure that if you have spent some time on these pages it will look familiar to you also. The case we have on tap is the Silverstone FT03 Mini. The two cases are pretty much a duplicate of one another except the Mini is about half the size of the original. And just like the FT03 which was based on elegance and fine line the Mini follows in the same footsteps. Available in silver and black, the Mini should fit right at home in the middle of the living room.

 

Introduction to Silverstone FT03 Mini ITX Case

Today, we are taking a look at a case that looks very familiar to us. And I am sure that if you have spent some time on these pages it will look familiar to you also. The case we have on tap is the Silverstone FT03 Mini. The two cases are pretty much a duplicate of one another except the Mini is about half the size of the original. And just like the FT03 which was based on elegance and fine line the Mini follows in the same footsteps. Available in silver and black, the Mini should fit right at home in the middle of the living room.

Silverstone’s take on the FT03 Mini

After releasing the ground breaking Fortress FT03 chassis in 2011, SilverStone engineers took on the challenge of making a smaller version to further increase the appeal of this unique computer form factor. Through intelligent planning and reengineering, the engineers were able to create the FT03-MINI, which improves on the simplistic design of the FT03 while reducing the size by 50%. Using 2.5mm thick, sand-blasted and anodized aluminum outer shells with no cable connectors and vents on all four sides to complement an efficient, organized layout, this chassis helps SilverStone to again set new standards in small form factor computers.

The interior of the FT03-MINI utilizes SilverStone’s unique stack effect cooling layout so a Mini-ITX motherboard is mounted in 90 degree rotation to take advantage of hot air’s natural tendency to rise. The FT03-MINI can accommodate graphic cards up to 10”, support one 3.5” and two 2.5” drives, and even entry-level liquid cooling can be installed to satisfy needs of enthusiasts. As the new small form factor chassis addition to the Fortress series, the FT03-MINI is truly a paradigm.
 


Specifications


Model No.

SST-FT03B-MINI (black)

SST-FT03S-MINI (silver)

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Material

Aluminum outer shell, steel body

Motherboard

DTX, Mini-ITX

Multimedia

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Drive Bay

External

12.7mm Slot loading slim optical drive x 1

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Internal

3.5” x 1 , 2.5”x2

Cooling System

Front

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Rear

--

Side

--

Top

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Bottom

1 x 140mm Air Penetrator fan, 1500rpm

Internal

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Expansion Slot

2

Front I/O Port

USB 3.0 x 2
Audio x 1
MIC x 1

Power Supply

1 x Optional standard SFX

Operating system support

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Expansion Card

Compatible up to 10” long

Limitation of CPU cooler

78mm

Limitation of PSU

SFX PSU

Net Weight

4.7kg

Dimension

188.9mm(W)x 397mm(H)x235.1mm(D)

Extra

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Features

  • Super mini footprint design with no cables and vents on four sides
  • Ample space for CPU cooling (78mm in height)
  • Elevated standoff for motherboard back side components
  • Includes 140mm Air Penetrator fan and support entry level liquid cooling
  • Support for two 2.5” SSD/hard drives and one 3.5” hard drive
  • Mini-DTX / Mini-ITX motherboard & SFX PSU compatible
  • Standard-length expansion cards support (10 inches)

Closer look at the exterior

Looking at the FT03 Mini, we have no idea why anyone would not like this case. The enclosure is clean, simplistic and very subtle. There are no vents, mesh or grills staring you in the face like some of the cases we have seen around here lately. We can’t say the case would fade into the setting while in the family room mainly because of the elegance in which it holds.

 

The Mini is made up to reasonably thick panels measuring 2.5mm. This is why the unit weighs in at 10.3 pounds. The panels of made of anodized aluminum sheets with a steel internal skeleton. The F03 Mini stands just a mere 15.5” off the ground while the original F03 was 19.2” tall.

 

A quick spin around the Mini we see there really isn’t too much to speak of. The only real side of interest is this one side below. It consists of the Silverstone logo and a narrow vertical slot that is meant for a slot optical drive.

Along the bottom of each side is an opening to allow air to flow into the case.

Two side of the top also have opening but they are more to allow the user to remove the top panel which we will talk about next. But the openings also act as an exhaust area as well.

The top of the case has a small plastic grated plate that allows air to find its way out. The plate has two USB 3.0 and two audio jacks. There are also power and reset switches. Removing the plate gives you access to the PCI expansion slots.

The bottom of the Mini has another plastic piece that acts like a shroud for the 140mm Air Penetrator fan. The assembly can be removed to expose the fan. The fan is rated at 1500 RPM. Mounting the fan on the bottom of the case allows the air to move upward and blowing over all the components of the system.


Closer look at the interior

To get this section of article started we had to remove the side panels. And in order to do that you have to first remove the top plastic plate and then three of the side panels can be easily popped off. The fourth panel which the motherboard sits on is not meant to be removed. Besides that the case is an open book.

There are several pieces that make up the inside of the case and each serves a different purpose. The first is a single tray HDD 3.5”. When mount in the case sits right behind the optical drive mounting system.

And speaking of optical drive mounting this is the metal tray which it drive sits in. and on the flipside is a bracket for mounting a 2.5” drive of any type.

And here we have another tray for mounting a 2.5” drive. We (not Silverstone) recommend this tray for mounting you O/S as it is not the easiest to access after the build is complete.

In the shot belong is the one plate that is not removable from the skeleton of the case. Its main purpose is to support the motherboard once installed.

Here is another shot of the optical drive tray still mounting in the case.

The wiring from the case hands from the top of the case because if you remember correctly the I/O of case is located at the top.


Build Images


Here we have our Silverstone slotted drive being prepped for installing into the dive bay mounting system.


Barely visisble is our Kingston SSD mounted underneath the optical drive.


Our ASUS ITX motherboard went in without a glitch. And we still had plenty of room to work with afterwards.


Our Silverstone 450 watt SFX was the choice for the power supply in this build. Silverstone has recently released a modular SFX that many would elect to go with in a build like this.


Another shot of the Silvestone power supply.


Here we have shot of everything installed except the GPU. Cable management is not difficult in this case but it could be time consuming. It will require its share of velcro or cable ties.


The reverse side of the build showing off the optical drive and power supply.


Now, we have our Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 installed with room to spare.


Done and ready to be fired up.


Conclusion

When it comes to elegance and in world of cases I would say that Silverstone is one of the best. I have reviewed each and every FT03 case to be released and I have yet to be disappointed. Yeah, we know there only has been a couple released to date. The style these cases can be used in several different environments but to us we see it mostly as the ideal HTPC tower. The FT03 Mini can be placed in the living room near the other components of an A/V systems and flow just well.

Besides the looks to the FT03 Mini the craftsmanship and quality is what we have come to accept from Silverstone which is second to none. The aluminum plates that make up the sides of the case are made of thick aluminum pieces and don’t scratch easy. Trust me they got tossed around during the building process of the review. And with the tower standing as tall (short) as it does there was not wobble like in another SFF case I am reviewing.

Working on the FT03 Mini is not too bad and this is mostly due to the three of the sides are completely removable to open the inside up a little. There were small areas we could nitpick like it will take you some time to get cable management to a suitable level. The unit will only support a SFX power supply without modding. The support for only three drives.  And one has to remember which side panel does where. Because the panels are not universal.

One item that can’t be over looked here is the overall size of the FT03 Mini. It is truly an ITX case if you look at it from a volume standpoint. At just over 17 liters, it is slightly smaller than Cooler Master Elite 120 Advance and a lot smaller than the Xigmatek Gigas which is actually a mATX.

If you want to transform the FT03 Mini from a HTPC and enter the gaming realm, it is fully capable of support video cards up to 10” long. Yes, that would include cards like the GTX 680 or many others.

The Mini can be had from online retails like Newegg for about $135.

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