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Silverstone Fortress FT02 ATX Case

Silverstone Fortress FT02

January 17, 2009 by Lawrence Lee

Product
SilverStone Fortress FT02B

ATX Tower Case
Manufacturer
Market Price
$230~240

The SilverStone Raven
featured an innovative design with quiet, yet massive 18cm fans blowing upward
through a motherboard tray rotated by 90 degrees so that airflow would follow
natural convection. It also had an unusual and arguably tacky molded plastic
exterior that put-off many users and increased its physical dimensions. The
second iteration of the Raven (RV02)
was slimmer, shorter and had much more subdued aesthetics as well as an extra
fan and fan controllers. Our single serious quibble was that the revised hard
drive cage barred normal access from inside the case once the motherboard was
mounted, and required the HDD to be pulled out through the front.

The SilverStone Fortress FT02, despite the name and an all-metal chassis, is
essentially identical to the Raven RV02. The main functional difference is that
the hard drive bay has reverted to the RV01 design with drives mounted sideways
using plastic sleds, with optional SATA backplanes at the rear. It also borrows
the dampened side panels of the original Fortress
as well as the sturdy uni-body aluminum frame and understated appearance originated
by the Temjin TJ07.


Another huge carton.



The Fortress FT02B (black) is a large, deep case suitable for
gaming and water-cooling, but its aesthetics seem to target the over 30
crowd, very subdued compared to the conspicuous Raven.


SILVERSTONE
FORTRESS FT02 SPECIFICATIONS
Model
No.
SST-FT02B
(black)
SST-FT02S
(silver)
SST-FT02B-W
(black + window)
SST-FT02S-W
(silver + window)
Material 4.5mm
aluminum unibody frame, 0.8mm steel body
Motherboard SSI
CEB, ATX (maximum 12” x 11”), Micro ATX
Multimedia -- Drive
Bay
External 5.25"
x 5
-- Internal 3.5"
x 5 , 2.5” x1
Cooling
System
Front -- Rear -- Side -- Top 1
x 120mm exhaust, 1200rpm, 19dBA
Bottom 3
x 180mm intake fan 700/1000rpm, 18/27dBA
Internal -- Expansion
Slot
7 Front
I/O Port
USB2.0
x 2

audio x 1

MIC x 1
Power
Supply
1
x optional standard PS2 (ATX)
Expansion
Card
Support
12” or 12.2” (with fan grill removed)
Net
Weight
15kg Dimension 212mm
(W) x 497mm (H) x 616mm (D)
Extra --

The FT02 is available in four flavors: black/white with or without a side window.
The RV02 is about 1" taller and 1/4" deeper, and 2.5 kilograms lighter
as it has a plastic exterior without any aluminum. The fans inside are the same,
so it should be fairly quiet.


Accessories: manual, screws, strap-ties, tri-fan molex adapter, radiator
mounting brackets, 2.5" drive adapter and power supply strap.

THE EXTERIOR

The outside of the case is fairly conventional with few notable
characteristics.



The front is plain brushed aluminum like most SilverStones.





USB and audio ports are hidden by a sliding plastic cover on the top.
Status LEDs are located to the left, fairly inconspicuous compared to
the Raven.






The top cover pulls off its four friction snaps with a sharp tug, revealing
nothing we haven't seen before; except for the molding, the layout is
identical to that of the RV02.





Like the front, the rear lacks extra adornments, just a large vent for
the power supply with a removable filter. There is a convenient handhold
at the top, but there's nothing at the front of the case to grasp on to.





The bottom of the U-shaped frame acts as the case's "feet."
The ~1" clearance underneath the intake fans is the same as the RV02
so this should not affect thermal results. If the system is placed on
carpet it might suck up less fluff and miscellaneous debris.

THE INTERIOR

To get the side panels off, the top cover must first be removed.
The panels are held on by two thumbscrews at the top, but the grip at the bottom
is subpar and may cause resonance problems if high vibration hard drives are
installed. A more elegant solution is that used in the Antec NSK-3480, where
both top and bottom portions of the side panels have a gripping hook which ensure
tight fit using just gravity, with no need for screws; the top cover panel locks
the side panels in place. (Details
here
, in the review of the earlier NSK-3300, which used the same case.)



Each panel has a full-sized sheet of thin damping foam.





Except for the hard drive mounting system, the interior is identical
to that of the RV02. It has three 18cm fans with easily removable filters.






Plastic sleds make hard drive installation and removal a snap.




Plenty of holes at the back for tying down cables and the like. There
is one SATA backplane on the right; additional ones can be purchased separately.

TESTING

As the case interior is almost identical to the RV02, and there are no changes
to the exterior/frame to affect thermal performance, we opted not to run the
FT02 through our usual, rigorous testing procedures. For thermal results, see
our Raven Two review;
there should be no appreciable difference between the two.

Though the fans included are the same as the RV02, we tested the baseline noise
of the case, as the padded side panels, lack of a side window and case feet
could create changes in acoustics.

BASELINE NOISE

Noise measurements were made of the case with the stock fans mounted normally
and spinning inside at various speeds. The air cavity resonances inside a case
amplify fan noise, as do any vibrations transferred from the fans into the case,
so these measurements can be regarded as the baseline SPL levels for the case.
Adding components can only increase the noise.

SilverStone Fortress FT02B Baseline Noise

Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle left/front of case
12cm fan
18cm fan front
18cm fan mid
18cm fan back
FT02
RV02
9V-750rpm
low
low
low
19
19
full speed
low
low
low
21
20
any speed
high
low
low
23~24
23
any speed
low
high
low
23
N/A
any speed
low
low
high
23
23
any speed
high
high
low
27
26
any speed
low
high
high
26~27
26
any speed
high
low
high
27
26
any speed
high
high
high
30
28~29

Like the Raven Two, the perceived noise was moderate even with all fans at
full speed. The overall character was smooth and benign. The only consistent
difference between the baseline noise of the RV02 and FT02 seems to occur when
two or more of the intake fans are set to high speed. The FT02 measured about
a decibel higher, possibly as its 180mm fans face an aluminum floor while the
RV02's fans faced the carpet of our anechoic chamber. In any event the difference
is probably not possible to hear without a very close A/B comparison. A single
dB is within our margin of error due to the many variables of acoustic testing.

AUDIO RECORDINGS

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 7~10 seconds of ambient noise, then 8~10 second
segments of product at various states. For the most
realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is barely
audible, back the volume control off a touch to make it just inaudible, then
don't change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.

Comparative Case Recordings

FINAL THOUGHTS

The SilverStone Fortress FT02, being so similar to the Raven
RV02
, is an excellent base for a premium gaming PC. Though it doesn't
support EATX, the motherboard tray is big enough to accommodate oversized ATX
boards, and there is enough clearance for high-end video cards like the Radeon
HD 5970. The rotated motherboard that allows for low-to-high airflow, the same
direction as natural convection, but this is not really the biggest strength.
The configuration allows for three very large fans to be positioned deep in
the case, as far from the user as possible. No other configuration can produce
as much or thorough airflow while still shielding the fans from a direct path
to the user.

Even if you forgo third party VGA heatsinks and stick with the stock cooling
unit, the rotated layout and high airflow make a difference in internal case
air temperature and therefore the speed and noise of the VGA heatsink fan. With
direct outside air access, any power supply with a single large fan will run
as cool inside the FT02 as on an open test bench. Finally, unlike most cases,
the included fans are quiet and sound very smooth. The included tri-fan molex
adapter makes it easy to hook up all three fans directly to the PSU. If the
low speed position of the fans doesn't give you a sound level that's quiet enough
for you, it's easy to connect the fans to motherboard headers that can give
you greater speed reduction (and low noise).

A fusion of the Raven Two and original Fortress,
the FT02 combines everything we liked about the RV02 with a uni-body aluminum
frame, giving it a classier, less frivolous look, especially compared to the
original Raven. Sometimes
a simple, sturdy appearance creates a stronger statement than purposefully adding
gimmicky elements in an attempt to draw the eye. The hard drive mounting system
was the only true failure of the RV02 and thankfully it was thrown to the wayside
in the FT02, replaced with the far more useful, side-sled backplane scheme from
the first Raven.

The FT02 has a $60 price premium over the RV02. In essence, the only differences
are hard drive mounting and appearance. The overall presenation is more subdued
and classier, in our view, and unibody frame obviously strengthens the entire
structure. (It's not as if Raven RV02 is weak, however.) Unless you're planning
to purposely abuse the case, there is little practical value in the aluminum
unibody. Still, the FT02 is a nicer case overall, quite suitable for the silence-loving
gamer — a user category that would have been considered absurd at SPCR
until the last year or two. It feels like progress.

SilverStone Fortress FT02B
PROS



* Very good cooling design

* Smooth, quiet fans

* Useful 2-speed switch on 18cm fans

* Very low baseline noise

* Excellent HDD mounting system
CONS



* Very deep

* Price

Our thanks to SilverStone
Technology
for the FT02B case sample.





The SilverStone Fortress FT02B wins an Editor's Choice Award

* * *

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