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

    Hi everyone! This is my first post and would like to say that I really like, guys you're great!

    So right on the subject - I think that there is some general issue with testing methodology or accuracy of temperature measurements.

    OK, let see what are the temperatures reported by the SSD:

    Stock speed/ IDLE
    FT02 33 C (low fan)
    RV03 29 C

    Stock speed/Load
    FT02 35 C (low fan)
    RV03 31 C
  • veselinbg - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Difference 4 C, both Idle and Load.
    How is this even possible?! It's a HUGE difference for the same piece of hardware and same conditions (same ambient temperature, same mount method)?!

    Again, the SSD was mounted in a way, that airflow inside the case doesn't affect it's temperature. This statement is more true for RV03 then FT02, because RV03 doesn't have a 180 mm fan under hard drive bay. So for FT02 still there is a little chance to "catch" some of the airflow from third fan. But in thermal diagrams we can see that the SSD in RV03 is cooler then in FT02

    So I have to conclude that the ambient temperature was NOT the same when both cases are reviewed. Which means that all other thermal results (CPU, GPU, chipset etc.) are not relevant.

    Please, let me know what do you think.
  • Uritziel - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    I'm not sure if I'm understanding you correctly; however, I think the answer you're looking for is that the SSD in the RV03 is mounted behind the mobo, where it receives a fair amount of air flow due to one of the fans being offset. Reply
  • veselinbg - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    No, I want to say that in both cases Raven03 and Fortress02, the SSD was mounted under the motherboard tray and the airflow created by the fans affects it's temperature very little, if any.
    In FT02 a little amount of air is possible to reach the SSD, hence the SSD should be more cooler in FT02, then in RV03. But the thermal readings shows exactly the opposite results, which means that something is wrong.

    I intentionally choose to compare the thermal results of two Silversone's cases, because they are using same mounting method for SSD's.
  • Uritziel - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    While both cases can mount the SSD behind the mobo, it seems to me the similarity stops there. The RV03 has an air channel back there. The fans actually extend behind the mobo, and the air can continue past the SSD to exit via venting holes in the top.
    I'm not as familiar with the FT02, but looking at the top-down view in the gallery here, there seems to be no air channel behind the mobo. The fans don't appear to actually extend behind the mobo, and I see no venting at the top either. Also, does the FT02 also use the newer "air penetrator" fans (or whatever they're called) that the RV03 uses?
    I just recently put my RV03 build together, so I'm trying to help you make sense of the thermal discrepancy since Dustin hasn't responded to you yet.
  • veselinbg - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    I make my conclusions only by using images from the gallery.

    Please take a look here:

    Please show me where is that air channel?
    As I can see there is a metal folded plate which "hide" the SSD from airflow.
  • banthracis - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    It's stated that ambient varies from 71F to 74F so it's not a constant. If fact, unless the room is temperature controlled, I'd also assume the variance is greater as as these systems increase ambient over time.

    It would be much better IMO to measure delta's like bit-tech or normalize the data like HardOCP does, rather than simply give the temperature.
  • veselinbg - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Yes, I agree with you that thermal results as delta is more accurate.
    And I suspect that that big difference in SSD's temperature comes from different ambient temperature.
  • don_k - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Just to point out that a 4C difference on an SSD is simply down to ambient temperature or positioning of the SSD and even then, it does not matter.

    It's an SSD. It uses just a few W of power, it's not going to get hot in the first place.

    Worry about gpu/cpu deltas, not SSD temps.
  • banthracis - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    The point he's trying to make, is that if the SSD's should have been the same temp, yet are 4C off, then does this mean there was a 4C ambient temp difference?

    If so, that makes all the thermal tests results invalid for comparison, not just the SSD ones.

    So basically, vs the RV02 for ex, the FT02 could temps should be 4c lower than what's on those graphs, a significant difference considering how close temps are.

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