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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  • Flunk - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    Ridiculously hot and noisy. I have an SG03 and while it's a great case and good fun the thermals are annoying. Reply
  • Synomenon - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    Did you guys get to test it with a liquid cooling kit such as the Antec Kuhler 620 or Corsair H60? It would be great if you could update this review later on with a build utilizing one of these liquid cooling kits AND a GTX 670 / 680. Reply
  • jigglywiggly - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    why are you guys reviewing a fridge Reply
  • gonks - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    I thought it was a trash can Reply
  • nikotttin - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    Hi there,

    How is the cabling going with this case? I see that the electric plug is facing upward. Same goes for the GPU ports.

    Does this mean that the plug and HDMI cables are going out through the top of the case? If so, this is not very elegant in a living room.

    Thanks for the clarification.
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    It has a cover, and a slot at the top rear of the case, so they'll come out the back, but at the top. Well, they actually come out of the top, but the cover.. covers them up. Reply
  • marvdmartian - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    The biggest problem I saw, is that the PSU is on one side of the top divider (which contains the power & reset buttons, and the USB ports), and the slot for all the cords is on the other side of it. Which means you're going to lose 6-8 inches of power cord, just routing it around that obstruction.

    IMHO, it would have been a better idea to either shorten that divider (so the power cord could be routed in a shorter direction), or a second slot provided. The second choice would be a fairly easy modification, though, if one were so inclined to do so.
    Reply
  • Bobsy - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    I have the same concern. Are there any pictures of this case with cables plugged in, so that we can see what it looks like for real? Cables coming out the top seem to be a show-stopper for me - I say "seems" because Dustin does not mind, so surely he found a way to set it up properly. I would like to know how this can be done.

    Thank you.
    Reply
  • nikotttin - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    see:

    http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1642182&...
    http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1642182
    Reply
  • jabber - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    ...I have no idea of the orientation or what way goes where etc. Reply

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