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These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording
system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to
LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no
audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent
a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.
Each recording starts with ambient noise, then 10 second segments of product
at various states. For the most realistic results,
set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then
don't change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.
Though it sports the same design as it did two years ago, today's SilverStone Fortress FT02 remains one of the best performing towers we've tested, and it is almost certainly the quietest for housing a high power system. It's a very deep case due to the rotation of the motherboard but the three 18 cm fans make the extra depth worthwile. Drawing air from the bottom, the 18cm fan vents point away from the user, limiting the audible noise. Thankfully, the latest version doesn't mess with the original's design, just adding USB 3.0 support and a minor improvement in the fans themselves.
The case has a refreshingly clean exterior compared to much of the competition, with smooth classy lines in its unibody aluminum shell. Build quality is good and system assembly is easy, particularly the 3.5" drives with the easily removable caddies, though five drives can be accomodated. Dust haters will enjoy the filtered intake fans, which outnumber and outsize the exhaust fans, creating a positive pressure environment.
For a premium case, the FT02 is a little short on extras. The location of the fan controller under the top cover near the back is inconvenient, and it has only two speeds; a front-mounted variable controller would be preferable. The SATA backplane module is a nice bonus but only one is provided. (Additional units sold separately). Finally, the ancillary power supply mounting system, consisting of a velcro strap around the body and a plastic wedge held on by two screws, seems like a stopgap measure rather than a real solution.
The Fortress FT02 is a compelling product, a nice balancing act that delivers excellent performance at low noise, wrapped in an elegant form. The street price of US$230 doesn't seem bad considering the construction, features, and performance, and the fact that there isn't anything comparable available except for other SilverStone offerings. If you don't mind a plastic and slightly angular exterior, the Raven series is a suitable alternative. The US$160 RV02 in an especially good value as its innards are identical to that of the FT02. The US$140 RV03 is less so, performing a bit worse as its smaller footprint forced SilverStone to equip it with only two 18 cm fans, though it does offer five additional hard drive placements.
Our thanks to SilverStone for the Fortress FT02 case sample.
Silverstone Fortress FT02 receives the SPCR Editor's Choice Award
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this article in the SPCR Forums.
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