Silverstone Fortress FT03 mATX Tower: Redux

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Silverstone Fortress FT03 Tower: Redux

May 7, 2011 by Lawrence Lee

SilverStone Fortress FT03
microATX Tower Case
Street Price

When the SilverStone Fortress FT03 microATX tower first arrived at our door we were giddy with excitement. It was something different, a departure from the typical towers and cube-style cases we've seen over and over again. Not only did it have a unique look, its basic design seemed solid, building off the rotated motherboard orientation made famous by the Raven series and the Fortress FT02.

The Fortress FT03.

However, after hands on experience taking it apart, assembling a system inside, and testing it, we were met with disappointment. Though the idea behind the FT03 was sound, the end product had a variety of problems both minor and major with regard to fit and finish which were shocking to see in a SilverStone chassis. To make matters worse, the thermal and acoustic performance was nothing to write home about. Ultimately we concluded that the case's main strengths were its shape and what could be fit inside. It had enough CPU heatsink and graphics card clearance to rival traditional microATX and full-sized ATX towers, but its small footprint made it more versatile.

Looking back, we felt that perhaps due diligence wasn't quite done on our part, at least when it came to the actual testing of the case. For consistency, a Noctua NH-C12P top-down cooler was part of our original system configuration, the same heatsink we used previously in our Lian Li PC-V354 microATX case review (the NH-C12P was the best 12 cm fan cooler that would fit). Given that one of the FT03's main selling points is its CPU cooler clearance, a tall tower heatsink would've been a better choice, particularly as the airflow in the case is designed to flow from the bottom to the top and a tower would've fit right in with that scheme. With that in mind, we decided to re-test the FT03 using the NH-C12P's side-blowing, tower cousin, the NH-U12P, to see how much a difference this would make. For full details on the case including layout and assembly, please read our original FT03 review.

Our original test configuration with a Noctua NH-C12P heatsink and an Asus EAH6850 DirectCU graphics card.

With the Noctua NH-U12P, the center fan pressed right up against the heatsink so we had to place the CPU fan on the opposite side. This gave it a partial push-pull configuration.

Due to the angle of the frame holding it, the fan actually made contact with the cooler, forcing the corner of one of the fins upward. The NH-U12P measures 71 mm deep, so anything larger won't fit without removing the center fan.

Test configuration with a Noctua NH-U12P heatsink and an Asus EAH6850 DirectCU graphics card.

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