Silverstone Fortress FT01by Christoph Katzer on November 10, 2008 5:00 AM EST
- Posted in
Silverstone produces high-end chassis, and the build quality of the FT01 is virtually impeccable. There are no sharp edges or other areas of concern. Building the main body of the case out of a single piece of aluminum also creates a more rigid structure, allowing Silverstone to eliminate that pesky crossbar that often detracts from a clean interior. This case is sleek and very simple, and something people more inclined towards conservative appearances will appreciate. Those who love flashy cases on the other hand will want to look elsewhere. The overall looks and mostly screw-less design are very nice, and Silverstone did a great job designing this case.
That's not to say that we don't have a few complaints, but most of these are minor. We like the top-mounted ports for the most part, even if the depression will collect a bit of extra dust. Moving to the interior, the difficulty of accessing the dust filter on the top fan and the potential for conflicts with SATA connectors on certain motherboards are areas that could be improved with small changes.
Most of the internal design works well, but particularly on high-end configurations with multiple hard drives and graphics cards it is easy to end up with a cramped configuration. Users of extra long graphics cards will want to remove the top hard drive cage, but if you plan on such a system, we generally would recommend looking at larger full-tower cases. Also, note that the case is only capable of handling up to ATX size motherboards, so if you might want to use an EATX motherboard you will need to select a different chassis.
The case features a mostly tool-free design. Installing hard drives requires the use of screws on the hard drive cage, but cage itself slides and locks into place without any additional screws. Optical drives mount easily without the use of any screws or tools, although you can add screws if you prefer. One area where you will need to use screws is the expansion card slots. However, we don't really have any problem with this, as securing heavy graphics cards using potentially flimsy plastic clamps is less than ideal.
Airflow is another area that brings a few potential concerns. For example, the hard drive mounting structure is nice, but it blocks a lot of airflow from the front fan. The hard drives to stay at a reasonably constant 30°C; that's good for people running large RAID sets or similar configurations, but it's overkill for anyone running a single hard drive. Temperatures in the rest of the case are very good, with the CPU only increasing a few degrees at full load. The large 180mm fan directly above the CPU definitely helps here, but the graphics cards seem to struggle a bit more since they don't have any direct airflow. Silverstone intends for the front fan to cool down the graphics cards as well, but the hard drive cage and cables that run through the area make it difficult for this to work in practice. The result is that the cards need to be cooled with leftovers from the top fan, and this may not be sufficient for a top-end system running at full load.
That may explain why reversing the direction of the top fan hurt temperatures so much; as it stands, it seems like very little of the airflow from the front fan reaches the main body, so the top fan really needs to be an intake fan in order to provide fresh air for the CPU and graphics cards. In fact, during our stress test modified than configuration actually resulted in a system crash after 30 minutes. If you only use a couple hard drives, we would recommend removing the extra hard drive mounting cages to improve airflow from the front fan.
The dust filters in front of the two intake fans are a nice addition, and they are definitely necessary as 180mm fans can move a lot of air. Even during our short time of testing, we noticed quite a lot of dust buildup in the filters, as well as on the chassis grille. Some of this can be wiped off easily, but you'll probably want to clean the filters at least every couple months.
The noise dampening foam on the side panels is an extra that may or may not benefit you. If you are building a quiet system, it should help reduce noise levels from internal components, particularly hard drives and motherboard fans. It doesn't make as much of a difference on allowed system like our test configuration, however, and the added thickness of the foam interfered with routing cables behind the motherboard tray.
Prices start in the U.S at $199 at Directron, with other locations charging closer to $250. In Europe the prices start at 170€, which is about the same price as in the U.S but includes tax. For a sharp looking full aluminum tower like the Silverstone FT01, around $200 is a good investment for a chassis that should last a long time. The case is more than capable of running a triple-SLI setup, although that's probably not the primary market. If you run a lower configuration, you should be able to get much lower noise levels and temperatures.