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  • maximumGPU - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    Great review.
    It doesn't seem to perform a lot better than the AIR 540, not at the same noise levels at least.
    So taking into account all the quirks and the high price wouldn't that make the 540 immediately the better choice?
  • meacupla - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    AIR 540 is not without its own set of faults.

    One gripe I would have, if I were to buy it, is that it has no mounting holes for caster wheels, which is kind of essential for a cube case that you can load a ton of hardware into.
    And another is why are the 5.25 bays vertical?

    I wonder why silverstone didn't go for an updated FT02 design? That case was extremely well thought out and only needed minor tweaks for E-ATX, 8x PCI slots and more HDD racks.
  • 1Angelreloaded - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    The 540 Air isn't large enough for casters, this isn't a 2x2x2 foot cube like a UFO from MM, and you are right about the 5.25 bays but if you are wiling to do a little leg work and Mod the case you will find it is simply amazing. Start by turning it on it's side, window up, if you need casters attach them to the bottom or what used to be the side panel, well you have a start at least. Reply
  • meacupla - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    You must be thinking of large casters...

    I've fitted 2" plate casters on my fractal define define mini and it doesn't tip over, despite its small footprint.
  • Samus - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    It still seems like the FT01 is still their best "regular" case, which I believe was their first positive-pressure case which really made them stand out as a manufacturer. It was basic, and had some flaws (like no back-plate access on the motherboard tray, and no good implementation for SSD/2.5" drives) but it wasn't overengineered like the newer cases...I mean the story with this FT04's door is ridiculous.

    But if you ask me, the FT03-mini is the best computer case ever made. You could pack the most powerful consumer-class CPU, a 550-watt SFX PSU, a GTX 770, optical drive, water cooling and an SSD + 2GB 2.5" + 4GB 3.5" hard drive inside a case less than 2 sq.ft. big.
  • kwrzesien - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    It's funny, I have a FT01 (Silver - and I love it) and have recently considered the FT03 and FT03-mini for a small aesthetic build to go in the home study / office sitting on a full-wall built-in cabinet and shelving system. It's not too deep but there is plenty of height which fails most cases. And you're right, you can put everything you need in that little case and it even hides the back (top) cable connections, problem solved! Reply
  • althaz - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    No, the FT02 (with USB 3) is their best case. In fact, it's THE best case. Ever.

    I may be biased because I'm somewhat in love with it (it's the case my current PC resides in), but it's silent, performs superbly, looks good and makes life incredibly easy (the back of the motherboard points to the top of the case, so it's super-convenient to plug/unplug things).
  • GokieKS - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    If the FT-02 didn't have the issue with non-blower GPU HSFs and optical drives in top 5.25" bay blocking PCI/e slots, I might agree with you. I also wish it was all aluminum and thus lighter, but that's a more minor quibble. Reply
  • althaz - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    I haven't used a non-blower GPU for years. I'd forgotten there was an issue with the top 5 1/4" bay.

    That said, I didn't say it was perfect (it's still my favourite), it needs:
    More space behind the motherboard, more than one hot-swap bay (all the 3.5" bays should be hot-swapable), should be easier to assemble and...actually, that's about all I'd change.
  • maximumGPU - Saturday, August 31, 2013 - link

    it doesn't exactly have an issue with non-blower GPU, it's just that it performs best with blower style.
    My current GPU in an FT02 has a non- blower heatsink, yet temps are great.
  • GokieKS - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    As someone whose primary desktop workstation is housed in an FT-03 Mini and whose gaming PC is in an FT-01, I sort of agree with you. I love both of them to death, but there are way too many quirks to building a system with the FT-03 Mini for it to be the best case ever made. All those components you listed? You *might* be able to stuff all of them into the case, but you will have to choose the components very carefully, and more likely than not make some slight modifications to the case to get it all to fit, and all the while probably cursing somebody (either SilverStone or yourself) because there is next to no chance you will get everything installed properly on the first try. Even my fairly simple (no dGPU, no ODD, H60i CLC, 1 SSD and 1 3.5" HDD) build required way more time, effort, and fiddling than any other computer I've ever built - and I've been doing it for 15 years.

    But will all that said, I wouldn't trade it for anything else - unless they update the mATX FT-03 to remove the plastic air vent which mars the otherwise beautiful design.
  • kkwst2 - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    Yeah, I looked at the FT-03 and the Mini, but decided there were too many compromises. I settled on the tj08-e and have been extremely pleased. Took a bit more time and planning than a large case, but was able to get an SSD and 2 3.5 HDD in easily. Certainly not as distinctive as the FT03, but that's not really my thing. But I do appreciate the compact tj08. Reply
  • JDG1980 - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    First of all, thanks for doing this review - it was incredibly frustrating to have nothing written in English on the FT04 even a month after its public release.

    You mentioned the bottom of the front door snagging on carpets and your photo backdrop. Does this still take place if the case is on a smooth surface like a desk? Like many other users, I run my PC on a desk, so if it works OK there this isn't a deal-breaker.

    I said this before on the RV04 review, but I think your mediocre performance on the single-GPU test was due to using an inappropriate graphics card. I understand you need a consistent test bed system, but the ASUS GeForce GTX 560 Ti DirectCU II TOP is about the worst card design possible for a direct airflow case: it has fins running perpendicular to the flow direction. Many newer DirectCU cards have the fins parallel to the long side of the card, and I suspect this would give substantially lower temperatures. An even better choice might be the Arctic Accelero S1 Plus aftermarket cooler; it has widely spaced fins which run the right way for direct airflow, and can be run fanless. I strongly suspect a FT04 or RV04 could handle a card with up to 150W TDP, maybe even more, using just the Accelero S1 Plus and the intake fans, with no dedicated GPU fan. I'll post again if I get a chance to test this. It's important to remember you are building a system, not just throwing together a collection of miscellaneous parts. There should be some synergy in your build.

    Regarding the difficulty of assembly - I have a hard time really caring too much. I suspect this looms larger for testers than for actual enthusiasts, because testers have to build and unbuild all the time! If I get excellent thermals and acoustics, and the fit/finish/appearance is satisfactory, then I don't really care if I scrape a few knuckles during the build.
  • DanNeely - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    Ease of assembly is probably a lot more of a spectrum than an either or. While it's not a major concern for a box that I'll probably only swap GPUs and possibly SSDs over its 4 year life; given the choice between two cases with similar performance, pricing, and acceptable aesthetics I'll probably go for the one I don't swear at.

    For systems I build for friends/family not swearing at it while I'm working is a more important consideration. Boutique system builders probably put ease of assembly high on their list of criteria for picking a case.

    And lastly, especially for higher end cases, there's an element of "if they screwed up one thing (ease of build), what other surprises am I going to run into later". For $200+ I expect the manufacturer to get everything right; when spending that much there really shouldn't be any compromises. Cheaper cases get more slack since on a budget system something has to give.
  • JDG1980 - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    I agree that such things are less forgivable at a $230 price point than at $110, but it seems to me that *all* cases involve compromises. I'm not sure there is such a thing as a perfect case on the market at *any* price. A case that's excellent for air-cooling (the FT02, for instance) will be only mediocre on water, and sometimes vice-versa. A massive full tower won't appeal to someone trying to build a compact system. Reply
  • RdVi - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    Mine does not scrub the door on a flat surface.

    I agree that ease of assembly doesn't bother me a lot. Yes, it soured the process a little, but while I have a fair amount of experience, I have to concede that I'm just not good with fiddly things so most others interested in this case will probably find it easier than me. However, on the other end of the spectrum, I reworked the cabling once the build was complete due to buying a new PSU, turning the case on its side and then upright was somewhat of a challenge - it's heavy. Not that I struggled too much, but I did worry about not doing it right. And you had to hold the damn door shut every time you did.

    As for the fit and finish, on my black model the only disappointment was the colour difference between the door and the top. I have to say that I don't really notice it so much now, and if you have the case on a desk, you won't see it when you're sitting anyway. It's not that bad, but I didn't expect there to be any difference between those two pieces. The plastic vents I expected to be different and luckily they actually look a bit better than I was bracing myself for, they don't stand out as being too different to the door or side panel to me.
  • arthur449 - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    I feel like, in the past, SilverStone has gone from a adapting a larger case to smaller cases (FT02 -> FT03), but in this situation they started with a smaller case (TJ08 / PS07) and tried to stretch it to a larger one. Reply
  • Ubercake - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    Even though I like a lot of things Silverstone does with their case designs, this seems to be a step back. An exhaust fan at the bottom? If not, the only exhaust appears to be through the top-mounted PSU hovering just above GPU2.

    I like the reverse design only when there are fans blowing up from the bottom like in other Silverstone cases.
  • JDG1980 - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    There is no bottom-mounted fan. I think the idea is that since the front fans have high static pressure, the hot air will be expelled out the vents in the back without needing an additional active cooler. But you could mount a 120mm fan on the back vent if you didn't trust that. Silverstone claims on their FAQ for this case that adding a 120mm fan increases CPU cooling performance, but actually makes the GPU run hotter. We don't know what they tested with, though. Reply
  • pdjblum - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    Just do not get why you refuse to list the materials in the specification table? It is nice to know if it is all aluminium, all steel, steel and aluminium, steel and plastic, and so on. It is not fun hunting around the prose trying to sort it out. I just don't get how the material is not a critical specification. Reply
  • 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.
  • 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 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.

  • 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?
  • 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
  • genghisquan - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    In terms of air cooling, their RV02 & FT02 are the best. These new RV/FT04 don't beat their predecessors. Even if the 4th series cases had as good of a cooling ability as their 2nd series, the layout of the 4th series aren't as neat and organized. Although the FT02 can fit more HDD/SSD, the placement of the drive cages is messy and inelegant. Reply
  • dealova - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    All above benchmarks, is lower BETTER ? Reply
  • cjs150 - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    SS have made cases that are brilliant for water cooling: TJ07 was king for big cases and TJ08 is very good for M-ATX cases.

    This also looks to hae real WC potential. Could the Front take a 2x180 radiator (yes they do exist), you might lose the bottom 5.25" bay but so what, that would cool a lot of hardware (2x180 is about 10-12% larger cooling surface than a 4x120 radiator)
  • rpg1966 - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    Instead of separate temp and noise charts, can you please show a simple scatter chart with (say) temps on X and noise levels on Y, so that we can easily see the trade-offs each case has made? Reply
  • Touche - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    This. Fan speeds would also be nice.

    And your noise floor of 30 dB is way too high. It makes really quiet cases look worse than they are because they score the same as noisier ones that cool a bit better.
  • 7amood - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    Guys, remember that this case is much smaller than FT01, 02 and I also think it is smaller than FT03.

    I think I will remove the hinges and make the front panel an easily removable panel. What's the name of this small plastic tool that makes easily removable panels attachable and detachable??
  • meacupla - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    I think you might be confusing another case.
    FT03 is an mATX case with extremely small footprint. It's about 1/3 the volumetric size of FT04
  • 7amood - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    OMG >.< you are right
    I ment to compare it with the RV not FT.

    btw you happen to know the name of this small plasticy tool used on easily removable panels??
  • meacupla - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    I am guessing you are talking about a spudger. :) Reply
  • maximumGPU - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    Second this! Reply
  • maximumGPU - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    meant this as a reply to rpg1966 Reply
  • random2 - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    Images once clicked on are still decidedly not crisp. Once in the expanded image we are given an option to see original size. What a difference that makes in image quality. Can we not just have this original image linked to directly from the images in the article? Reply
  • RdVi - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    I built a system using the FT04 around 3 weeks ago and have to agree. Now that it's done, it's marvellous. The building process was a pain though.

    The door for me isn't a problem since the case is sitting on a timber floor. It muffles the noise well and feels solid. I hardly ever change the fan speed or use the ODD so the door makes sense more so now than any other case I've had in the past (for example, Antec 1200... you had to open the door to get to the power button(!) and I used ODD drives all the time back then). However, in building the thing on a side surface, the door was annoying. I couldn't open it standing up, but whenever I turned the case onto it's side the door would fling open.

    The SSD drives were the worst for me - simply because of the connectors. You can't use a 90 degree sata header, which is all I had... so I had to plug the 90 degree end into the motherboard (blocking off another port) and use the flat side to go into the drive. Even then, it had to bend up to clear the sound deadening foam... the same with the power connector. I unded up stripping the foam back in that area, but both connectors are still being pushed upward slightly. This is because I used a 7mm drive (Sandisk Extreme II). Keep this in mind if you're using a slimmer SSD. The solution would be to make up a spacer and use longer screws. My drive came with a spacer, but it only had DS tape on one side of it and I didn't have longer screws so I couldn't use it. Also, reaching the SSD drive with a power connector was a bit of a stretch for me, I had to use the power connector with 5 sata connectors.... just to connect one drive at the very end of it and no wiggle room to maneuver another connector to connect to the adjacent (in the other bay) 3.5" drive (I ended up using the hot swap cable).

    The holes above the expansions slots didn't annoy me at all. I found it far better than my old case that had a protruding support (not so much, though) and no holes, but used thumb screws as the solution. I still felt like I had to get those screws tight. The FT04 was great for installing expansion card.

    I took out the larger 3.5" drive bay, as well as the plastic cable routing shroud in front of the top fan. The shroud was odd - I had to remove the fan and then unscrew the tiny screws, one of which was cross threaded and will not be able to be put back in. I just didn't like the idea of restricting and channelling the fan when I have more than enough options to get the cables out of the way already.

    All in all I had a few things I had to do twice... I originally wanted to put the SSD at the front, closest to the fans so I could see it and have the bay below the CPU cooler in place so I could use the brace. The brace didn't seem necessary in the end and to have the SSD facing upright so the logo wasn't upside-down (ok, so I'm a bit OCD) meant the connectors would foul on the fan. So I had to swap that around with the 3.5" drive at the front.

    Anyway, it's done and works great and is nicely silent. My only gripes?
    - I didn't really want a window case... but that's ok, the acrylic seems thick enough to not sacrifice noise and I have put the case on the right side of underneath my desk - the window faces the solid desk side.
    - I honestly find the 180mm fans too noisy at anything over 20% of max - so don't ever bother adjusting them. My CPU and exhaust fan are pwm controlled, and in testing, I have to move the speed up a lot before they will spin less. It's moot by that point since they're much louder than the 120mm pwn fans.
    - My 3.5" HDD often rattles in the bottom hot swap bay.... There's padding in the big drive bay, but none in the bottom. I'll have to come up with something to stop the vibration which seems tricky since there's not much free space on the sides between the drive and the bay. It's only a 5400rpm 3TB WD green... also.
    - With the case on the floor, the PSU fan is fairly exposed compared to the rest. If you have a loud PSU, you might hear it over everything else. I was trying to recycle my 5 year old corsair HX1000 only to find that the fan had a slight tick. I didn't even notice it in my noisy old build, but much of this was because the PSU was at the bottom of the case drawing air from underneath through a fine filter. The filters in the FT04 are very open, which is great for maintenance and cooling, but that along with the PSU fan facing the top, made any noise noticeable to me. I got a Seasonic XP-660 Plat with hybrid fan mode... it's never turned on the fan even with 1hr of Prime95 and furmark simultaneously. Excellent PSU.

    I hope someone got something out of this, since I had to basically buy this case blind after waiting months for reviews in english. If anyone looking to buy has any questions, feel free to ask. It's a brilliant case once setup - provided the the door isn't on a soft surface and you have to open it a lot.
  • maximumGPU - Saturday, August 31, 2013 - link

    That was helpful, thanks!
    i was debating whether i should get this as an upgrade from the FT02, and i was waiting for the ATech review. and i agree that silverstone's 180 mm fan have epic cooling but are have a disappointing sound profile. Wish some competitor would produce better similar sized fans.
    i think i'll stick with the FT02 for a few more years now.
  • JDG1980 - Saturday, August 31, 2013 - link

    Thanks for the information - I'm considering a FT04 and this was really helpful. Just to clarify, in your experience, the front door won't snag if the case is on a hard, level surface?

    It's disappointing to hear that the SSD mounts give too little space for cable routing with 7mm-thick drives, considering that most newer SSDs are this thickness. Getting rubber spacers and longer screws shouldn't be too hard, but it really ought to have been included in a case this expensive.

    The HDD rattling bothers me more than anything else I've heard so far... most other premium cases in the last 3 to 5 years have proper grommets/damping for HDDs, so this seems like a major step back.

    Do you think the cross-threaded screw on the plastic cable shroud was a quality control issue, or intentional?

    For my build, I had planned on using one SSD (for a boot drive) and one large HDD, the latter to eventually be removed when I can afford a decent NAS. I intended to remove all the drive cages except the one with the CPU cooler support (since I always get nervous with large tower coolers in a tower case). I wonder if removing the hot-swap backplane and mounting the HDD in a fixed location would remove the vibration.
  • RdVi - Saturday, August 31, 2013 - link

    Yes, for me the door has never scrubbed on a flat surface. The outer edges of the middle concave face clear the ground by about 2-3mm at the bottom.

    As for the SSD, I think the one they used in this review would have been 9.5mm, thus, no issues. However, opening up my case an having another look I can see that it was mainly the power cable that was the problem. With my HX1000 I found using the second from the end connector on a chain of 5 meant the cables could be bent straight out from the connector easily. With my Seasonic, all cables are are bit less forgiving, and the second last connector wouldn't reach anyway. The last one has a hard down 90 degree angle with no wriggle room. I just had to peel back the foam and wedge it in. It's tilted upward by about 2mm above the sata connector (which looks flat). Hey... it's working for now and let's just hope the power connector on the drive remains ok when I remove it down the road. Really, you definitely should space the drive, I just wanted it done for now.

    The 3.5" drive is not fixed properly in the cage using either of the hot swap bays (only one has hot swap capability).... There are no holes to screw it into place, just metal tabs on the sides near the back, but the front is still a little bit free to move. On the hot swap one without the CPU support, there is also a protruding wide metal tab on the top. I put the hot swap belt (used to pull out the drive?) over the top of the drive so this would press down on it and in turn the drive. The front has a latch with a plastic header that comes down in front of the drive to stop it sliding out of the bay, but this doesn't do much. Initially the sound was worse than it is now. I secured that latch by screwing it tight and now the HDD just has that churn/grind sound when loading. On my past case where the drive was suspended by elastic chords, there was no noticeable sound. I'm thinking I might just wedge some thin foam or rubber into the front of the bay between the drives sides and the bay.

    The cross threaded screw was an oddity. The hole was actually screwed out to a larger size which I assume is the same size as the fan neighbouring screws. But... within that hole there was a thin ring of remaining metal with the smaller hole drilled out from it. This small hole was the one that seemed to be cross threaded, unsurprisingly since it was within a larger hole. I have no idea how this could happen but I would assume that it's a QC issue and probably won't be on other cases.

    There were no instructions in the manual on removing the cable routing plate in front of the top fan or on how to use the hot-swap HDD bays. As for the CPU support, I don't have a large CPU cooler and the wide space and shape of the fins meant that the support just didn't work on my cooler anyway. I am using the GPU support and it does work. My GPU is slightly bent the other way from being in my old case with no support. Now it has the chance to bend back the other way... but not too far thanks to the support.

    My build needs were much the same as yours, I definitely did not need the large drive bay and really saw no need to have anything in front of the intake fans. I went with the FT04 because to me the format works a lot better than the FT02. I need maximum desk space and I have a desk which I have removed the side drawers from, so I have a lot of space underneath. Most cases are 550-600+ long, so protrude from under the desk quite a bit due to the centre divider. The FT02 was just too big... hell, before the FT04 came out I considered getting it and turning it on it's back with the top as the new front - since I'd rarely need to use the ODD. The only problem there was cabling not being long enough since it would come out at the bottom of the front.
  • Sancus - Saturday, August 31, 2013 - link

    You know, it would be really great if you guys would do a re-test review of the FT02. It would be really interesting to see the full fat numbers for it, as that testbed didn't exist in 2011(the last time you guys reviewed it). It would also get the numbers into the Bench for direct comparison with other modern cases.

    Given that it still seems to be a highly competitive case, I think it deserves to have its performance revisited in the context of current builds!
  • maximumGPU - Sunday, September 01, 2013 - link

    excellent idea. Reply

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