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


View All Comments

  • sweetca - Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - link

    Thank you so much! I laughed so hard and ended up choking on the M&M I was eating. Reply
  • ACEkombatkiwi - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Great review as all ways but I hope you cleaned up those cables :)

    It is one of the few cases that can fit a HWlabs Black Ice SR-1 560 internally without heaps of modding.

    Where did you get those USB 3.0 connectors from that is the only reason I had against this case for a build that is coming up.
  • Rick83 - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    I actually see a USB 3.0 version being sold in Europe.
    Not sure about overseas.
  • Bobben49 - Sunday, August 24, 2014 - link

    I just got a USB3.0 version from Amazon on July 28th 2014 to build my wife's new system in. They are currently in stock listed as "Silverstone Tek FT02B-USB3.0. . ." Reply
  • DLeRium - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    While I realize review data may be old, this is a CLEAR competitor against Antec's P183 or P182. I forget if you guys even did a P183 review, but this is clearly one of those ATX cases that come to mind.

    P183/Define R3/HZXT H2/Silverstone FT02 are very commonly debated cases on forums and stuff.
  • radium69 - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    When are you going to review the Lian Li a70F case?
    I've heard it's great value and a lot of nice features.
    Just need a little push to open up my wallet :)

    It's quite an old model, but it looks very sleek. Especially if you take the LED fans out and replace them with normal black ones.

    Pricing is around 180 euro's in europe, can't get a hold of it though.
    The A77 is her bigger brother and looks very nice also!

  • don_k - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Seconded for a Lian Li review :)
    Kevin you can get the A70 from for 170EUR + shipping. They have most Lian Lis in stock. I actually have the A77F - it's a thing of beauty, words don't do it justice.

    To mention just one thing, humongous full tower case that weighs just about 9Kg (20lbs)..
  • JarredWalton - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Talk to Dustin, not me! ;-)

    I think we've pinged Lian Li before, as well as Fractal Designs. I'll tell Dustin to try again on both, though.
  • R3MF - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    i have this case too, and it was worth the money.

    i agree with more room behind the tray, and side-mounted optical drives.
  • Sunburn74 - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    The writer is wrong on anumber of accounts. These criticisms of his opinions come from someone who has owned the case for about 9 months now.

    The writer says it is in dire need of an eighth expansion slot but doesn't say why. I yet to have found myself deficient in expansions and I have a dual slot gpu, a single slot sound card, and a single slot tv tuner card.

    There is an issue with the top 5.25 bay and the last expansion slot, but its something that can easily be avoided by populating your 5.25 bays from the bottom up. It still looks aesthetically pleasing and is perfectly normal.

    The FT02 doesn't need more ports in the top cluster. The fact that the vertical orientation puts all the difficult to reach ports normally in the back of your board right on top, makes it unnecessary to have an all inclusive top cluster at all. I'm even surprised you went as far as to add a USB 3.0 front port, when whever I need to use my 3.0 slot, I can pop the mesh and I have as many of them right there.

    The PSU strap is fine. Its only purpose is to hold the psu in place whilst you screw it in on the initial install. Once you've done that, the screws do all the work. The writer fails to understand that.

    The case costs 250 but its fit and finish and appearance is in line with the "premiumville' cases the writer mentions. No case is perfect, but at the 250 its just as clean and beautiful looking as the more expensive 800d and the lian li x2000f both of which I was considering at the time.

    The real issues with the case are as follows:

    The 2.5 mounting system is pretty lousy for running SSD raid setups. I ended up just sticking both my ssds into one of the 3.5 drive bays without any screws. They are ssds and do just fine, but it'd be nice if there were a cleaner solution. You can purchase SSD mounts but they don't work very well with silverstones railing system for some reason (i tried).

    The dust trays are easily accessible and relatively effective, but nonetheless a ton of dust will build up on the fans and cause them to get slightly noisy over time. The sata bays take a bit dust hit too despire the presence of filters. The internal mobo and etc will however remain very very clean.

    The back psu air supply is questionable and has cord reach issues with certain PSUs (corsair psus in general).

    Overall I don't see myself replacing this case for 3-4 years (this coming from a guy who replaced his case at a clip of every 5-6 months due to one issue or another). My internals are clearn and the case is quiet. Its also a stoic monolith in my room. On a scale of 1-10, I'd give it a 8.7 after 9 months of ownership.

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