Silverstone cases are often lauded by enthusiasts and HTPC makers alike, and for good reason. The last time we checked one out it was the Fortress FT03, the direct predecessor of the case we are reviewing today. The FT03 was unlike anything we had seen before. It received the Catrachadas Outstanding Award for its ability to accommodate full-length graphics cards and for its superior cooling performance in a small space.
It was interesting that the FT03 was different from previous Fortress models, and despite the high price tag, the chassis did well as Silverstone followed suit with the FT03-Mini, an even smaller Mini-ITX version.
Two years later, the much anticipated Fortress FT04 made it onto the market. At first glance, this latest version is similar to the FT01 that was released in 2008. The FT04 is similar in size to the FT01, with a slight increase in size that we assume can simply accommodate drives and longer graphics cards more conveniently.
The Fortress FT04 was designed to maximize cooling while also generating as little noise as possible. The scope of delivery includes two massive adjustable 180 mm Air Penetrator AP182 fans, which are kept dust-free with the help of a new HiFlow fan filter and improve the flow rate by almost 40% compared to the predecessor.
To help contain unwanted noise, Silverstone has lined much of the interior with foam padding, a method borrowed from previous designs, while new, rear-angled front air vents help keep potential leaked noise away from the user.
Further features of the FT04 are CPU and graphics card support, a removable motherboard compartment and an externally accessible fan filter assembly. The design is rounded off by a one-piece front door and cladding made of extruded aluminum, which give the FT04 a similar feel to the premium Temjin series.
However, not everyone is of the opinion that the FT04 is a premium product. Many complain about the overuse of plastic, steel case, limited top ventilation and lack of a 90-degree motherboard tray. However, most of the complainants did not actually see the FT04, although we can see where they are from.
The FT01 was an all-aluminum job, so it weighed in at just 8.66 kg, while the FT02 featured an aluminum front and panels with a steel body that allowed for a weight of 15.3 kg, despite being a massive 64.9-liter Suitcase was. Fast forward and we have the FT04, which only has an aluminum door with a steel body for a weight of 11.5 kg.
The real problem, however, is the use of plastic. It was nearly impossible to find plastic on the FT01 and FT02 bodies while the FT04 was covered with the material. In many cases nowadays plastic is used. It can be durable, easy to shape, and most importantly, cheap.
So is this a big deal and does it spoil the FT04? Read on to find out …
FT04 External design
From the front, the Silverstone Fortress FT04 certainly looks like a tower with a height of only 546 mm.
While the design is rather bland compared to many of the high-end cases we reviewed recently, boring isn't necessarily bad, and in this case we think the result is a clean and tasteful looking computer case.
The FT04 has similar curves to the original FT01 and we really like the look of the aluminum front plate.
It's actually more of a door as it opens to the left, revealing a pair of 5.25-inch drive bays, as well as a pair of fan speed controls that can be used to adjust the speed of these massive Air Penetrator AP182 fans. With the small controls, the user can set the speed of each fan individually and thus set it between 500 and 2000 rpm.
The fans are colored white and sit behind a large HiFlow fan filter that can be easily removed with two press clips.
On either side of the front door are the rear angled front vents that allow the Air Penetrator AP182 fans to draw in air and distract noise from the user. The ventilation slots on the left side of the door are attached and house the hinge system. At the top are the on / off and reset buttons.
The opposite side slots are attached to the case body and therefore remain attached to the body when the door is opened. This allows for easier access to the 5.25-inch drive bays as well as the removable dust filter. In addition, Silverstone was able to install a small I / O panel on top of the ventilation slots. This control panel contains two USB 3.0 ports and two audio jacks.
On the inside of the aluminum door is a foam pad that lines most of the door to absorb noise and vibrations. The pad itself is 4 mm thick and black.
The right side of the case is covered by a removable steel door that has a fairly large acrylic plastic window. As mentioned earlier, the front panel connectivity is also on the right side of the case, although it is part of the front panel.
If you turn the FT04 around you will see the left side door, which is just a flat steel plate painted black. The panel is 400 mm long and 500 mm high and is lined on the inside with more 4 mm thick sound-absorbing foam. Both the right and left doors are the same dimensions and are secured with a pair of thumbscrews.
On top of the FT04 is another aluminum plate that is similar in design to the front door. On the back of the top is a removable plastic fan grille (160 mm x 165 mm) with a dust filter. This fan grille allows cool air into the case, which is sucked in by the power supply.
On the back we have a rather unusual design. As before, the power supply is mounted on top of the case. What is unique, however, is the upturned motherboard compartment in which the I / O control panel is located at the bottom of the housing with the expansion slots above. There are a total of 8 expansion slots (many full towers include 11) while there are no holes to route external water cooler hoses.
There is space for an optional 120 mm fan, which is covered by a honeycomb grill. Although there is no dust filter, this is usually set as an exhaust fan so no filter is required.
Finally, there are four feet under the FT04 that raise the case 20mm above the floor. The front feet are shaped to copy the design of the front door while the rear feet stand alone. There are also round screws under the case that secure the internal drive cages. However, it is possible to unscrew them so that the cages can be removed. We will show you this on the following page.