Solid construction, great looks, plenty of dard drive bays. Quiet, effective thermals.
A tad expensive, a bit cramped for side-mounted SATA ports. Only one SATA hot-switch plate.
Silverstone is well-known for releasing a few solid chassis every year, usually rehashes of its Temjin full-tower line. But this year has already brought two excellent cases that mark departures from the tried-and-true: the full-tower Raven RV01 (reviewed in our March full-tower roundup) and the mid-tower Fortress FT01.
The Fortress FT01 is a solidly constructed aluminum unibody case that just screams attention-to-detail. Mid-tower cases often lack the amenities of their full-size cousins (compare Silverstone’s own Kublai line with its mighty full-tower Temjin series), but the Fortress handily escapes that trap.
After the chunky, plastic, stealth-bomber-like trappings of the RV01—which we dug, don’t get us wrong—it’s nice to see Silverstone back to the classy brushed-metal look it’s known for. The Fortress’s side panels and front bezels are black brushed aluminum, while the rest of the machine has a dusty matte-black finish, with a bit of wicked-looking mesh covering the intake fans.
, plural. Silverstone’s big idea here is filtered positive air pressure that keeps the warm air moving out and keeps dust from getting in (mostly). Two filtered 18cm fans pull cool air into the case—a fan in front pulls air over the hard drives and along the videocards, and a fan on top brings cool air over the RAM and north bridge. Warmed air leaves via the 12cm rear exhaust fan as well as through vents in the back panel and PCI slot covers.
Inside, the FT01 boasts five tool-free optical slots, with the push-button locking mechanism familiar from the Raven, as well as seven slide-in hard drive trays mounted perpendicular to the optical drives. The FT01, like the Raven and TJ10, includes just one CP05 hot-swap SATA cable; more will run you about six bucks each. The FT01’s front connectors, found in a pop-up compartment on top, are Silverstone’s usual: two USB ports, one FireWire, and audio jacks. The only LED to be found is the one that lights up the power button. Like we said, classy.
Although the FT01 is a mid-tower, we had no problem installing our test setup—and we verified that both the GeForce 8800 GTX and GeForce GTX 280 will fit. We do have a few gripes, however. First, there’s not a whole lot of room between the motherboard and the hard drive bays, and folks with side-mounted SATA ports will find plugging them in awkward, though not impossible. The black interior paint, though high-quality, was applied a little liberally; we had trouble screwing in the motherboard standoffs at first.
Although the FT01 has cutouts in the motherboard tray for cable routing, the foam padding on the inside of the side panels leaves little room for cable management without squashing some foam. For the money, Silverstone should include at least two CP05s, too. Finally, the filter for the top intake fan is hard to remove due to a clip holding the front-panel wires to the top of the case.
The Fortress FT01 is a great-looking, well-constructed case with plenty of features for the computer enthusiast. And barring a few modest complaints, there’s a lot to love about it.