Assembling the SilverStone FT03 Mini

As I stressed over and over again in the previous section, assembly of the SilverStone FT03 Mini is a very specific process and you really do have to follow the instruction manual to the letter. With that said, however, I was surprised at just how easily the build came together. There were places I struggled with the FT03, but the Mini was a remarkably simple affair for a Mini-ITC case, all things considered.

When you get started, you want to tear down the case completely per the instructions, because you'll be putting it right back together the same way. The motherboard tray includes the standoffs needed for Mini-ITX, and the board itself goes in easily enough. I also cabled the motherboard at this juncture, but wasn't able to pre-install power cables; our test PSU wasn't modular, although SilverStone is actually going to make a modular SFX power supply available in the near future that should be ideal for cases like this one.

The next step is installing the power supply, which suspends from the top of the case. Since it's an SFX power supply the weight isn't a major issue (and the frame of the case can definitely handle it), but SilverStone seems to have been a bit miserly in the number of screws they included with the FT03 Mini. There are five points to screw in the PSU, but there were only enough screws available to do the four corners. You can see the specific way the power cables are supposed to tuck into the enclosure, though, and this was a good time to get them connected where possible.

Where things do get tricky is the optical drive tray and associated 3.5" and 2.5" cages. There's an additional 2.5" cage mounted to the motherboard tray that can be removed but we opted not to use it, instead employing the "stacked" trays for the 3.5" and 2.5" drives that sit under the optical drive tray. The problem is that it's never 100% clear how these trays come together, but the key is to look for the three notches that the 3.5" tray uses to slide into the bottom of the 2.5" tray. Once you've installed a slimline drive (or not), you can replace the optical drive tray. Mount the 2.5" tray to the bottom of the optical drive tray, then mount the 3.5" tray to the bottom of the 2.5" drive tray using the notches. Everything screws into place. Take care to orient the drives properly to make cabling as easy as possible.

Finally, installing expansion cards is actually one of the easiest parts. The case is designed to accept the expansion cards last, and I was able to squeeze our Zotac GeForce GTS 450 Eco into the FT03 Mini without too much trouble. I will say that I'm still not a fan of having to remove a cover from the expansion slots before removing the slats from the slots themselves to install the card, but I'm also not sure if there's any other way to really handle it, especially with a case like this one.

With all the doors snapped back on in the proper order, the FT03 Mini is ready to go. There's even a small notch under the case's I/O for routing the power cable out the top of the case. It might seem a little sloppy to have all of the cabling spilling out from a single point in the top of the case, but that's how the original FT03 worked and as I mentioned before, you'll already know if the FT03 Mini interests you just by looking at it. That it comes together pretty easily is almost secondary to that fact.

In and Around the SilverStone FT03 Mini Testing Methodology
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  • Spunjji - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    Given that the power/cooling requirements of a Voodoo 3 barely register on the current graphics-card radar, I'm afraid I have to back up the "horrible ventilation" comment. Reply
  • GotThumbs - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    I'm sure Jobs would want you to take it as is...and be happy with it. Your such a good Ifanboy. Good boy.

    Oh...and "You're holding it wrong!". Words from a man who thinks everyone but him is an idiot. Maybe some are...but NOT the ones who can think for themselves.

    Best wishes,
    Reply
  • jonyah - Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - link

    Ya, cause the Cube was such a big success. Ugh. Thank god we can build quality machines with parts off of shelf. Reply
  • mmagnum77 - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    95% sure that's a SG05BB with nice fancy aluminum panels slapped on each side.

    Either way... I'm not complainin'. I've been prepping a i7 3770S + AMD 7970 ITX build on Newegg, gonna be hard to pass this case up.
    Reply
  • ViperV990 - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    As an SG05BB owner, yepp, the FT03-mini pretty much that.

    I hope the review will be amended with tests done with the GTX 670/680. I have a hard time figuring out just how much air the bottom intake can supply a 680.

    Another interesting tidbit about this case is that apparently you can fit a closed-loop water cooler in it easily.

    Personally, I'd probably prefer a version without the optical drive opening.
    Reply
  • slacr - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    In this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTdUpSukEt8 the Silverstone rep states this exactly, so it's not something they're hiding.

    I would also prefer one without the optical drive bay, i'm in the process of modifying my mATX FT03 by removing the drive bay and relocating the PSU to allow better air inlet.
    Reply
  • mmagnum77 - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    Just kidding about the 7970. Apparently I glossed over the 10" GPU clearance spec, sigh... back to the Lian Li PC-Q08B Reply
  • r3loaded - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    Why not the GTX 670/680? Both are quicker than the 7970 and use less power. The 670 is very short and costs less too. Reply
  • mepenete - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    This looks like an incredibly sexy (with the thermals/acoustics to back it up) case for an HTPC. I've been becoming more and more interested in Silverstone's case designs and this looks really promising. Simple lines yet still classy and not too understated. This would look excellent in a home theater cabinet.

    Great review as always.
    Reply
  • Samus - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    put a Geforce 670 in there and you'd have something ridiculous. Reply

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