SilverStone's Raven RV04 and Fortress FT04 have had a very storied history making the transition from the CES show floor to the retail floor. We've already reviewed the Raven RV04 and found it to be a fantastic performer in practice but hung up on a couple of poor engineering decisions; since the Fortress FT04 shares the same basic internal framework, it's going to inherit those issues by default. There are differences in the outer framework worth mentioning, though.

The RV04's biggest problem was its front door. The unusual curve wound up being incredibly problematic in practice; the hinge wasn't going to snap, but the natural flexibility of the material meant it was difficult to actually line the closed door up properly. Switching to an aluminum fascia (and doing aluminum the right way) and giving the side vented lips instead of leaving them open improves the problem tremendously, but doesn't actually solve it. SilverStone has apparently had a difficult time getting this door machined properly, and honestly it should've been considered a lost cause, scrapped on the table, and radically redesigned. We just don't need the door. No matter what surface the case sits on, the bottom of the door will lightly scrape against it. It catches on short carpet, it catches on the white fabric used for the photography backdrop, it catches.

The rest of the exterior matches that attractive aluminum face, but the interior is, for better or worse, nigh identical to the Raven RV04. There are boatloads of features: a plastic rack (with included struts) for supporting graphics cards, an adjustable support for the CPU cooler in the bottom of the case, straps for better securing drives in the bottom bays, and one bay even has a plastic hotswap clamp and SATA backplane. And we still get the removable motherboard tray, and all the drive cages are removable.

So what's the problem? The problem is that all these features turn the interior of the FT04 into a mess, and they all require varying degrees of effort to employ. SilverStone cases are typically engineered differently than other vendors' designs; that's part of their appeal, and when a SilverStone design works, it works well. But the interior of the FT04 is haphazard; you could make a case for the graphic card and CPU cooler supports, but the lack of symmetry with the drive cages isn't just visually unappealing, it's work.

SilverStone Fortress FT04 Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX, E-ATX, SSI-EEB, SSI-CEB
Drive Bays External 2x 5.25"
Internal 7x 3.5", 4x 2.5"
Cooling Front 2x 180mm intake fan
Rear 1x 120mm fan mount
Top -
Side -
Bottom -
Expansion Slots 8
I/O Port 2x USB 3.0, 1x Headphone, 1x Mic
Power Supply Size ATX
Clearances HSF 165mm
PSU ~200mm with optical drive
GPU 338mm
Dimensions 8.62" x 21.5" x 18.98"
219mm x 546mm x 482mm
Special Features USB 3.0 via internal header
Removable drive cages
Analog adjustable speed intake fans
Support struts for CPU fan and graphics cards
Window or windowless models
Price $229

Component support remains essentially the same, and although two of the 3.5" drive bays are listed as "hotswap" on SilverStone's site, only one actually has the SATA backplane. The analog adjustable speed fans are, in my opinion, this case's killer feature beyond the thermal design. While the interior of the case is disorderly to a fault, we've already demonstrated that it's incredibly thermally efficient.

Building in the SilverStone Fortress FT04
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  • koshling - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    Glad I gave up waiting about 6 weeks ago and bought an FT02 (which rocks) Reply
  • GokieKS - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    I've been a huge fan of SilverStone's cases for about as long as the company has existed, as I was a big fan of Cooler Master's ATCS cases prior too. But this really doesn't do much for me, in either aesthetics (which I believe SS to do better than just about anyone else in the industry) or features - it's the first case from the Fortress line that I haven't loved from the moment I laid eyes on it.

    What I really wish SilverStone would make is an updated version of the FT-01. The single-piece extruded aluminum design of the TJ-07/FT-01 still looks great today, cooling performance is quite good, and I dearly love mine and continue to use it despite it missing some features that are commonplace nowadays (CPU cutout, proper cable routing holes, USB 3.0 front ports, etc.) If they just released a new version with the features that you expect all decent cases to have in 2013, I'd buy one in a heartbeat.
    Reply
  • Theremings759 - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    my bf's sister just got a nine month old Lexus GX 460 SUV only from working part time off a macbook air... go to this web-site http://jobs63.com Reply
  • bobbozzo - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    Hi, it is difficult to tell from the pictures if the front intakes are filtered; please state whether they are or not in all case reviews.

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • bobbozzo - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    ISTM that a case this expensive should either come with PWM fans, or have another model available with them. Spending another $25 - $50 to buy a couple PWM Nexus or Noctua fans makes this even more expensive. Reply
  • bobbozzo - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    I should point out that many of the Noctuas come as a kit with multiple connection options in case you don't have any available PWM motherboard connectors, so SS could actually sell a single model for PWM / non-PWM. Reply
  • Touche - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    Ugh, this looks like such a mess. FT02 wasn't perfect but it had a lot positive points, but the new series is bad to mediocre in most of things.

    Any plans on reviewing Fractal Define R4 and/or XL R2?
    Reply
  • Touche - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    Sorry, R4 was reviewed. Reply
  • Touche - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    Doh, both are reviewed. Why isn't the R2 in the graphs? Reply
  • genghisquan - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    YES! I wish Silverstone would've improved the FT02/RV02 while keeping the essential layout and design...instead of making this 4th series. Reply

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