Maximum PC Staff Apr 01, 2010

Silverstone Fortress FT02

Built Fortress tough, with a Silverstone price tag

Going on name alone, one would expect the Silverstone Fortress FT02 to be an updated version of our Best of the Best mid-tower case, last year’s Fortress FT01. And while it shares a few of the FT01’s traits (like a unibody aluminum frame, acoustic padding, and some stylistic cues like black metal mesh), the vast majority of its DNA comes from the Raven RV02. In fact, it’s the homo sapiens to the RV02’s chimpanzee.

The rotated motherboard placement and right-panel window mean the Fortress FT02, like the Raven RV02, looks strange at first glance.

There was some debate in Maximum PC ’s offices as to whether the FT02 is a mid-tower at all. It’s certainly got mid-tower width and height—8.3 inches wide and 19.5 inches high are in line with the rest of the mid-tower market—but its depth, at 24 inches, makes it practically a full-tower on its side. In fact, it’s virtually identical inside and out to the RV02, and inherits many of its traits, from the three filtered 18cm fans that blow air from the bottom of the case up to the top, to the rotated motherboard configuration that brings the normal rear panel to the top of the case. The SSD mount that attaches to the left side of the optical bays has carried over from the Raven, as well.

Generous cooling power and intuitive cable-routing make us wonder why nobody thought of this motherboard-orientation thing before Silverstone.

The few changes the Fortress FT02 brings to the table are positive ones: an aluminum unibody chassis rather than a steel one, and a steel body rather than plastic. Gone is the frustrating hard drive cage in favor of five slide-out trays—it’s about time. The FT02 fits 12.2-inch graphics cards, such as the 5970, if you remove the center fan guard, or it can support a dual radiator for water-cooling, but this is an either/or proposition—adding a radiator drops the maximum card length to 10 inches. And while we approve of the rotated motherboard positioning, which makes case wiring much easier in addition to transferring the weight of hefty GPUs from the motherboard to the case, we still don’t like the idea of hanging a power supply from the top of the case. It’s not going to fall on anything important if all four screws, the retention strap, and the retaining clip fail, but it still makes us a little uneasy.

We still like these individual speed switches for the bottom fans.

All told, however, the FT02 is a hell of a case. It’s sturdy, extremely attractive, great for cable management, has good airflow, and supports water-cooling radiators or long videocards. But it’s $250 and nearly the size of a full-tower. But then, the slightly smaller FT01 isn’t much cheaper.

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Silverstone Fortress FT02

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