Silverstone Fortress Review

RHKCommander959 - 2008-12-18 20:13:00 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: RHKCommander959   
Reviewed on: January 28, 2009
Price: $219.99

Introduction:

SilverStone is a company that was founded in 2003, and prides itself on being one of the best in the computer components market, producing cases, power supplies, cooling supplies such as heat sinks and fans, storage devices, and other accessories. The company’s focus is to deliver high quality products that are designed well, and satisfy the end user.

SilverStone Technology’s philosophy is based on our recognition that merely having innovative expertise within the industry is not enough. Our objective is to ensure that our expertise is delivered to all products with consistency, in response to user’s needs, and with maximum user satisfaction. SilverStone Technology thrives on challenges of rapid technological advancements and creating aesthetic standard for the industry.

The SilverStone Fortress FT01 is a new uni-body all-aluminum case redesigned from the highly popular Temjin TJ07. The new design is smaller, and aimed for the high-end Mid ATX market, with room for even large video cards – readily fitting 10.5” cards, and can accommodate 12” workstation cards with part of the hard drive rack being removed. Lined with sound-dampening foam, and cooled with large quiet fans - this case is great for the silence enthusiasts. The Fortress tested today is the windowed version.

Closer Look:

The case is packed inside a very glossy, beautiful box filled with details and features of the case, with pictures of the case at various angles are posed around – giving a good representation of what to expect inside. The box is held together with copper staples and tape, and received minor scrapes during shipping.

 

 

 

 

The case is well protected inside, being spaced far away from the sides of the shipping box with foam, and protected from scratches and dust with a plastic bag.

 

 

We shall see how well this case stands up to its name!

Closer Look:

With the case out in the open, five aluminum removable drive bays are visible and no 3.5” external drive support. Beneath lays the power button and blue power L.E.D., along with mesh and snowflake badge covering the front 180mm fan. The uni-body is similar to that employed in the Temjin class. However, the Fortress has a channel cut into the frame on each side in contrast to the smooth front of its predecessor. The front is reminiscent of the Temjin, scaled down and designed to be less busy - since the front panel is moved to the top it is in ways more elegant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The side panel features a large sheet of acrylic, which is bolted in place and gives a nice view of the system. The opposite side is textured, and perfectly flat.

 

 

The rear is feature rich, starting at the top with two grommets for an external water-cooling solution. A rear 120mm exhaust fan with chrome grill, and vents running the length of the grilled expansion slots. The power supply is mounted at the bottom with options for pumping air out of the case, or from beneath for better temperature/efficiency from the power supply. Both side panels are held in place by three thumbscrews, and a latching mechanism, which have loops so they can be locked for security.

 

 

The bottom of the case features two large feet that are padded with rubber, along with the power supply vent. The top of the case has the second 180mm intake fan, and a tray with reset button, USB, Firewire, and audio in/out.

 

 

Closer Look:

The large fans and drive bays are the main visual pieces when the sides are off. The 5.25” drive bays feature tool-free mechanisms for installing drives, and are only located on the main side so that it is easier to install and remove drives. Users do however, have to remove the covers with a Phillips screwdriver, from both sides. A long screwdriver must also be used to remove and install devices in the expansion slots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To open the Fortress, a latching mechanism is in place on each side that has a loop to allow the system to be locked. Three thumbscrews also hold each of the side panels in place.

 

 

Each panel is lined with noise-reduction foam to help silence the system even further. The windowed panel is held together with nine screws.

 

 

The rear of the case is all about exhaust. The expansion slots double as vent grills, also adjacent is a mesh grill that runs their length. The 120mm fan pulls air out, while the positive pressure caused by the two 180mm intake fans force air out the grills. The power supply can be configured in two ways: the regular way is to have the power supply suck in air from the case, helping ventilate the system. But causing the supply to take in warmed air, the other setup is to have it pump fresh air in from the bottom, which keeps it running cooler and thus possibly more efficient and healthy.

 

 

The hard drive bays are located near the front intake fan, and are perforated to allow air to enter and cool off any hard drives installed. The removable housing units for the drives are equipped with rubber grommets to absorb vibration, and are tight enough that screws are not likely needed. The unit itself is tool free and simply latches into the case.

 

 

Included with all FT01’s are a single add-on unit called the CP05, which is designed for the hard drive bay and allows easy installation and hot-swappable capabilities. More can be purchased and installed if desired.

 

 

The hard drive bay is removable, and allows for full-sized 12” workstation video cards to be installed. It may also improve system temperature. This case is easily modified thanks to the screws that were used in place of rivets. There are also holes behind the hard drive bay, and a large hole near the power supply for cable management.

 

 

Each 180mm fan has a removable filter to prevent dust from entering the system. The front panel filter is easily accessible and removed, while the top filter cannot be removed without first removing the entire fan, which also requires removal of the latching mechanism for the side panels. Perhaps a bendable filter would have been a more viable solution? The front panel module is located near the top 180mm fan, and has a tie wrap to hold the wires in place to prevent tugging, which can cause damage to the module.

 

 

 

Both the rear and top fans have grills to keep fingers and cables out of the fan blades. All fans operate at a stealthy 18db and use very little power to operate.

 

 

 

Continue on to see how the Fortress fares against the competition!

Specifications:

 

 

Brand
Silverstone
Model
Fortress FT01 SST-FT01B-W
Style
ATX Mid Tower
Dimensions
494.5mm(L) x 211mm(W) x 486mm(H) (19.5"x8.31"x19.15")
Motherboard Compatibility
ATX/MicroATX
Power Supply Compatibility Standard ATX
Material Chassis: 3.0mm ~ 6.0mm Aluminum
Net Weight 8.66kg ~19.1lb
Extra CP05 hot-swappable sATA module, SST-CLEARCMOS cmos clear-switch module
External 5.25" Bays 5
Internal 5.25" Bays
0
External 3.5" Bays
0
Internal 3.5" Bays
7
Expansion slots
7
Cooling system
2x180mm Filtered Intake Fans ( 700rpm @ 18db), 1x120mm Exhaust Fan (900rpm @  18dba)
Front Panel
USB, Audio In/Out, Firewire

 

Features:

 

 

 

All information courtesy of Silverstone@http://www.silverstonetek.com/products/p_spec.php?pno=FT01&area=usa

Testing:

The SilverStone Fortress will be tested while idling, and fully loaded. The points of measure are the processor, video card core, hard drive, and the Northbridge chipset. The case is tested for minimum temperatures idling while booted in Windows Vista Ultimate, while the maximum temperatures are measured with Prime95, ATITool, and HDTune running. The fan for the processor is set to 100%, and video card fan is left to the default profile, which throttles fan speed based on heat. The SilverStone Fortress faces up against the Raidmax Windstorm, NZXT Zero 2, Hiper Osiris, and an open-air configuration. All of the setups have three case fans, except the Windstorm (6) and open-air (0).

 

Testing System:

 

Comparison Cases:

 

 

 

 

 

Overall the Fortress did great! The CPU temperatures were neck and neck with the Windstorm, while not as good as the other cases. GPU, Hard Drive, and Chipset temperatures reverse the tide however, bringing the Fortress back into competition. The case is designed with positive-pressure airflow in mind: two large 180mm fans spinning silently pack air in, while vents allow excess to tumble out as another 120mm fan pull remaining air pressure out and keeping noise to a minimum. All in all, the case performed as good as, and in some results better than, cases with twice the number fans, all the while operating virtually silent.

Conclusion

The FT01 Fortress from SilverStone was an awesome case in terms of silence, great looks, and good cooling. The add-on modules round out the case, and help it stand out beyond the competition. I personally suggest having a hot swappable CP05 module per hard drive, as it makes installation, maintenance, and routing the cables much easier. There are no sharp edges in the case, and all of the fans are safely behind fan grills– except when the hard drive bay is removed. The 5.25” drives tool free feature is also very nice and sturdy. The case is spacious enough; even users with motherboards that have 90-degree SATA connectors at the side of the motherboard shouldn’t have a hard time hooking everything up. Every bit of attention was paid to making the case silent, with good temperatures: vents along the back of the case, as well as the hard drive bay, rubber grommets for the hard drives, rubber padding on the case feet, and large silent fans. This is a very customizable and durable case that should fit most people’s needs.

The only problems are that the top filter is extremely difficult to remove, and that it can be difficult removing the expansion slots without a long Phillips screwdriver. But the trade-off is for more structural strength. This case offers up good looks excellent build quality and does not use the typical high CFM high noise fans to get the job of reducing cabinet temperatures down. It may come with a price tag that some may feel uncomfortable with, but you get what you pay for.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: