cases

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Silverstone Fortress FT02

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.

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.

 

 

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Lian Li PC-B25F

Sing it with us: “If you like aluminum chassis / and a whole lot of fans / if you want premium airflow / and have plenty of clams…” then, well, you might find that Lian Li’s PC-B25F mid-tower is what you’re looking for. At 8.2 inches wide by 19.5 inches high by 19.3 inches wide, it’s a mid-size mid-tower, but its aluminum construction makes it the lightest of the bunch. The PC-B25F is completely toolless, if you so choose: The motherboard standoffs are preinstalled (for ATX, anyway) and the mobo screws are all thumbscrews.

The exterior of the B25F is completely black, except for a circle of blue light at the bottom of the front panel. It’s the only light on the case (except the power and drive activity lights) and we like it that way. The B25F’s interior is unpainted, but we’re willing to forgive that, because shiny unpainted aluminum looks a lot better than unpainted steel. The motherboard tray includes the now-requisite CPU backplate cutout, as well as cable-routing holes, tie downs, and even a few PSU cable–routing clips.

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Cooler Master 690 II Advanced

The Cooler Master 690 II Advanced is the ambitious sequel to the 690, the popular mid-tower chassis of a few years ago. If you’ve seen a Cooler Master mid-tower lately, much of the 690 II’s internals will be familiar to you. The exterior of the case is all black steel and plastic trim, with black mesh running from the bottom of the front panel to the back of the top panel. It’s classic Cooler Master, from the 14cm front LED fan (with top-panel LED on/off switch), 14cm top fan, and 12cm rear fan, to the drive bays and filtered intake fans.

Unlike the original CM 690, the 8.4x20.1x20.8-inch sequel has a fully painted interior, with a CPU cutout and cable-routing holes and tie-downs on the motherboard tray. The case has four toolless optical drive clamps, but of a simpler design than CM’s previous push-button mechanisms. The 690 II’s six hard drive trays are familiar from every CM case of the past two years, though a two-SSD bracket included in the topmost tray is a new feature. And in addition to a top-panel eSATA port, the CM 690 II has a unique and ingenious “X-Data” port—full SATA power and data connectors at the top of the chassis. The port’s cover won’t fit over even a 2.5-inch drive, though, so it’s more for quick data recovery than permanent storage. But it’s innovative and we love it.

Continue reading this review after the jump.