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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  • TheYeti - Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - link

    But seriously, positive pressure cases always out perform negative pressure cases in cooling tests. Fans will often increase air pressure by 2 psi, or 12%. vs the same pressure drop you might get 25% more cooling, maybe even more since the intake fans are supplying the exhaust fans, not fighting them for air.

    The trade off for positive pressure cases has always been the noise that they produce. I like the way that was managed by letting the carpet eat it up.
    Reply
  • shenjing - Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - link

    Come go and see, will not regret it Oh look

    http://www。ifancyshop。com
    Reply
  • dac7nco - Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - link

    some of these guys have legit beefs with the review. I may know 1 person in 50 who still uses a Zalman CPU cooler, and they would probably be rocking a C2D or AM2 CPU. As to snapping the "roof" off of the case to access USB3 ports... look at yourself in the mirror and recommend that. I've built systems with this case and Pus/Pull Megahalems you wouldn't believe had fans at all. Yes, I hate the dreadlocks out of the rear: being able to daisy-chain displayport ala SCSI will clean that up a LOT.

    A tip: I've found that rigid toslink (optical audio) cables don't clear the closed roof well... look for "thin".

    Daimon
    Reply
  • dac7nco - Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - link

    Edit: and your love for Lian Li's side-mounted optical bays is bizarre. Those are an abomination, which I'm sure you fancy, but have never used. New to this, eh? Reply
  • hurrakan - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    I've been planning to get this case for my next build.

    scan.co.uk seem to have a new version with USB 3:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/silverstone-fortres...
    Reply
  • bramdb - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    I just emailed SilverStone sales with a request to give me a price for the part. My request got forwarded to RMA EU (I live in Slovakia).

    Here's the result:
    part (no G113032): 20 euro
    shippping: 19 euro
    VAT on both: 7,58 euro
    total cost: 47,48 EURO

    outrageous!

    I expected it to be somewhere around 10 euro for the part (they're already making a profit like that) and another 5 or so for the shipping (this thing fits in a bubblewrap).

    This is the last time I bought a Silverstone case with this kind of aftersales on such a high-end product.
    Reply
  • Gonemad - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    I guess vertical (90º rotated, whatever) cases like this are not something extraordinary, but I guess they are not exactly common either. I've been under a rock in the past 6 months and didn't see many of them, nor I know anybody that owns one. So I ask this, isn't it a bit of a concern the PCI-E socket being forced in a specific direction (I am trying to say short-circuit sliding here) specially if the case is under a desk where it may be close to people with 'happy' feet?

    Y'know, won't some bumping and nudging cripple the graphics cards, especially our 2-pound gaming rigs? Yes, mine is screwed tight and all, but running it on vertical still looks dangerous to me. Bending it on the side, OTOH, never appealed to me either. I'm still looking for a good design in desktop fashion, where the card sit its weight straight on the slot...

    On another view, USB ports are closer and more usable than ever. Instead of being tucked in the back, they are on top, which is great for cases that will be on lower shelves. I liked the design, and I'll look into it...
    Reply
  • Bobben49 - Sunday, August 24, 2014 - link

    I've been running vertically for 3 1/2 years and have never had a problem with card slippage even with double wide dual-fan video cards. The FT02 are very well manufactures so that the cards line up perfectly and the steel of the superstructure is stiff and thick enough that it does not warp down and the screws holding the card ends don't strip their threading. The thing weights over 30 pounds empty and is built solid as a tank. Reply

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