Conclusion: A Classic That Needs a Little Love

The real grudge match here winds up being between the SilverStone Fortress FT02 and the Thermaltake Level 10 GT. In most metrics the Level 10 GT is a slightly better performer, but it's also a newer case, and depending on your perspective, it may not be the most aesthetically pleasing enclosure you can buy. The FT02 is, at least in my opinion, something I'd be much happier having under my desk and indeed I made exactly that choice.

What makes the FT02 so interesting is the same thing that makes all of SilverStone's cases interesting: it really isn't for just a random smattering of high performance parts, a one-size-fits-all jack-of-all-trades like many more standard ATX cases (which admittedly the Level 10 GT is a gussied up version of) are. I moved my main system from the Corsair Graphite 600T to the FT02 and saw a massive improvement in thermal performance at a very minor cost of acoustics, but my system has the benefit of a Cooler Master Hyper 212+ with a push/pull fan configuration installed on the 130-watt processor. What the graphs also don't show is just how slowly graphics card temperatures climb under stress in the FT02: the limiting factor with a GPU cooler, assuming you use the recommended blower-style ones, is going to be just how fast the cooler can pull heat off of the GPU itself. Airflow is not an issue here. If you choose your components and cooling with the FT02's design in mind, odds are good it's going to perform exceptionally well.

That said, SilverStone's design is already a little long in the tooth by technology standards, and there are some rough edges that a revision could do a lot to fix. The FT02 is in dire need of an eighth expansion slot as well as increased clearance between the expansion slots and the 5.25" bays, and what they may want to do is attempt side-mounted optical drive bays similar to some of Lian-Li's designs. I'd like to see more ports available in the top port cluster, too: SilverStone cases tend to be too spartan with connectivity, and right now my only USB 2.0 port that isn't covered by the top panel is connected to a janky card reader. More space behind the motherboard tray could never hurt, and in the process better mounts for 2.5" SSDs would be appreciated. Finally, a slightly better support system for the power supply other than a strap and a chintzy plastic foot would be steps forward. There are ways to refine this case, even if they mean making it a bit bigger.

And then there's the pricetag. At $250 we're hanging out squarely in the middle of Premiumville, and I'll be candid: you can get close to this level of performance for much cheaper. What you'll have more trouble getting are the aesthetic, the overall level of quality in the design and build, and the combination of silence and performance. I'm a big enough fan of the FT02 that I'd still recommend it over SilverStone's own RV03 as well as the Thermaltake Level 10 GT, so long as the end user is willing to work with the design to get the best results. This is not a water-cooling case by any stretch of the imagination, but while it's not the best air-cooling case either, it's awful close and remains one of the best-looking and most functional.

Noise and Thermal Testing, Overclocked
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  • veselinbg - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Exactly!!!
    Thank you!
    Reply
  • banthracis - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    I did find the FT02 vs RV03 temps odd since bit tech has the FT02 on low beating the RV03 on high.

    Also, over on HardOCPs FT0 thread, Tony Ou, Silverstone's sales rep mentioned that in their internal testing that the RV03 should get very close to the FT02, but implies it shouldn't be better.
    somewhere in this thread
    Reply
  • veselinbg - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    I'm sorry this is my short post version, because Anand didn't allow me to post all the text at once Reply
  • Devoted - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Hi Dustin, and congrats on another great review.

    I'd like to know if you'd be able to test the FT02 with a graphics card with a non-reference cooler, like a Twin Frozr from MSI or a WindForce from Gigabyte... Since these coolers don't push air outside the case, I'm curious if the vertical aiflow orientation will be detrimental to their performance.

    I've been reading conflicting results allover the 'net, both from people who have consistently good results and from other who claim the GPU's temp steadily climb until it's over the card's threshold...

    Anyone has any opinion/data on this? I'm considering moving from an Antec P182 to a FT02, but I'll also be getting a new graphics card, so I'm cautious about this...

    thanks!
    Reply
  • runavaio - Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - link

    I've used for a year and a half a FT02 housing a very hot GTX295, without problems, despite it being the dual pcb earlier design.

    A few months ago I switched to a GTX570 and so far, so good, despite this one is a zotac non-reference design with a central fan. Probably not the best choice for this case, but for me, it is a lot cooler than my old gtx295.

    With neither of them I have had cooling trouble, nor feared for the temps, always cool and as quiet as those cards can be.

    Just this week I have also updated from a Q9450@3,55ghz with noctua C14 to a 2600K@4,6ghz with noctua d14, awesome difference!

    I always wanted to set up a water-cooled rig, but I have settled for a very good air cooling solution.
    Reply
  • Devoted - Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - link

    Thanks, just the kind of I needed...

    I'm considering going from a Q6600 to a 2500K and from a 8800GTS to a GTX570 SOC, and maybe change the case later on... we'll see..

    I've been entertaining the notion of watercooling for quite some time but I always end up going for aircooling, too.
    Reply
  • danjw - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    I would really like a review of the P193 v3. I haven't found any English language reviews of it. Reply
  • sakanade - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Nice review.

    Could you elaborate more on swapping the usb2.0 panel for a 3.0?

    Where did you get one that fits the FT02?
    Reply
  • sakanade - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    I mean the cables...

    sorry
    Reply
  • burningrave101 - Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - link

    You can contact Silverstone RMA here in the USA to order the USB 3.0 upgrade kit and last I called about it it was $12 shipped. Reply

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