Silverstone Fortress FT01: Positive Pressure Case

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The FT01 is available in four different body variants: Black, aluminum, and with or without a window. The appearance is clean and understated — a mature look that doesn't grab attention. It's Silverstone's traditional look, in contrast to the unusually sculpted over-the-top Raven. The body is 100% aluminum and is quite thick.

The acrylic window seems showy compared to the rest of the case.
There is a large intake at the bottom of the front panel, with a relatively unobstructed stamped fan grill.

The expansion slot area is well vented, but the only other exhaust vent is the rear 120mm fan.

Much of the case's appearance seems to have been dictated by utilitarian concerns. Fan vents are clearly visible on the front and the top, with no attempt made to conceal what they are. This is good news for airflow, but it also means there is little to block noise between the fans and your ears. The standard selection of USB, Firewire, and Audio ports are easily accessible in an inset on the top of the case.

As mentioned, the case is designed for a positive pressure cooling system. Most of the airflow is produced by a pair of large 180mm fans, both of which blow into the case. The most important of these is mounted directly over top of the CPU socket blowing down. The second intake is mounted at the front of the case, in front of the internal drive bays. A single 120mm fan mounted in the convention place on the rear panel helps keep the primary exhaust path (and thus the fastest moving air) behind the CPU cooler. However, this single fan is unlikely to keep up with the amount of air forced in by the intake fans, so it is expected that a significant amount of air will be forced out of the case through the remaining exhaust vents, namely those in and beside the PCI slot covers.

This use of the remaining vents as exhausts rather than intakes is what characterizes the case as a positive pressure case. Under the circumstances, this has two main advantages:

  1. It prevents "feedback loops" where hot air exhausted from the case is re-circulated by a nearby vent that is sucking air into the case.
  2. It prevents dust from being sucked in through unfiltered intakes. Both of the intake fans feature plastic air filters that should help catch dust before it gets into the case.

The intake fans are both impeded on the intake side, where they are more susceptible to losing airflow; it is easier for a fan to push air through a grill than to suck it through. However, the fans are large enough that they will still produce a significant amount of airflow even when impeded.

Most of the top panel is eaten up by the top intake and the accessory sockets.
Don't plan on leaving anything on top of the case!

Airflow for the power supply is completely separate from the rest of the case assuming a conventional unit with a bottom-mounted fan is used. The power supply is mounted on the floor of the case, drawing air though the bottom of the case and exhausting it immediately out the back. The bottom is raised on plastic feet by about 1.5cm. The intake is filtered, but dust buildup in the PSU could be a problem given its position.

PSU intake on the bottom.

Power button and power LED are simple and centrally located.

USB, Firewire, and audio ports inset on the top panel.

The case features the usual front ports: Two USB, a Firewire, mic-in and headphone out. eSATA has not yet made an appearance, but this should just be matter of time now that the standard is being adopted. The ports are located in an inset on the top panel, where it would be most conveniently accessible in the usual tower-on-the-floor setup.

One oddity is the position of the reset button just to the front of the ports (see photo below). Presumably, it is positioned this way for convenience, but it also seems a little exposed. It is inset below the surface of the case, but it still wouldn't be hard to push accidentally while fumbling with the USB ports.

The reset button is conveniently located on the top panel in front of the USB ports.

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