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Silverstone Fortress FT01

More Exterior

Below the drive bays is one of two (yep, two) power buttons, as well a funky blue power LED light with a smaller red hard disk activity LED in its centre. The second power button (it’s optional which one you use, or whether you use one as a power and one as a reset switch) is on top of the case built into a recessed plastic mount for the front panel.

While the front panel isn’t spectacularly featured, the lack of eSATA especially notable in its absence, you still get two USB 2.0 ports, a Firewire 400 port and the usual microphone and headphone jacks with support for AC-97 or HD-Audio on-board sound.

The side panels of the FT01 are each made of a single sheet of unmolested aluminium, although it’s a slightly different alloy than used for the uni body chassis construction and feels a little rougher as a result. It’s certainly a world away from the messy side panel of the Cooler Master HAF 932 we looked at last week, and I’m sure some modders are looking at this and already thinking of what to do with the FT01’s blank canvas.

Both panels are nicely machined to the fit with the curve of the uni-body chassis, and are held in place by three standard Phillips head screws on the rear panel - a bit of a disappointment since we consider easy access thumb screws to be pretty much standard issue on any high end enthusiast case.

Silverstone FT01 Insides and Outs Silverstone FT01 Insides and Outs
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Instead, Silverstone has fitted the top screws into a pullback latch system that locks the side panels into place, although we found this process more than a bit a fiddly in practise, and that the latch system on its own wasn’t enough to properly secure the side panels into place.

It’s worth mentioning at this point that the FT01 is available in both silver and black (with matching mesh), and is also available with a pre-fitted windowed side panel, at an additional cost of course. While we like to show off the insides of our PC as much as the next enthusiast, we think the FT01 looks great just as it is, although the side panel certainly doesn’t look to shabby either.

Interior

After popping off the side panels we immediately see some encouraging signs of good attention to detail with noise deadening foam fitted to the inside of both side panels. As Rich found a while back, this stuff really can make an audible difference to the noise levels of your case but the foam used in the FT01 is much thinner than the Be Quiet! kit and we’re not sure how effective it’s going to be in keeping down case noise. Still, it’s an inclusion we don’t see very much of, and it shows that Silverstone has taken the time to consider the FT01’s extras rather than just shipping it with bare side panels.

The FT01 has a fairly modern layout, with the PSU in the base of the case rather than in the roof, with its own ventilation slot cut into the uni-body chassis. Fitting the PSU was a little tricky though, with a rubber clad lip protruding out from the motherboard tray designed to secure the PSU and deaden vibration making us have to apply a fair bit of pressure to get the test set up’s PSU into place. This lip seems like an odd inclusion, as the PSU is already secured by four exterior screws and rests n the bottom of the case, and it just seems to get in the way and make fitting the PSU a whole lot more hassle than it should be.

Silverstone FT01 Insides and Outs Silverstone FT01 Insides and Outs
Click to enlarge

The ventilation system fo/r the FT01 is based on positive pressure (where more air is pulled into the case than is exhausted), with both the top and front mounted low RPM 180mm cooling fans acting as intakes and only the rear 120mm fan acting as an exhaust.
This should ensure an excellent supply of cool air into the case, but we’re a little concerned about the ability of the case to remove heat – a single low RPM 120mm fan seems a little puny to take sole responsibility for exhausting all the hot air from the case, especially as there’s no other ventilation slits to allow air to escape.

Both the front, roof, and base fan mounts come with removable dust filters, but sadly all three are of pretty poor quality, and the roof filter is rendered all but useless by some pretty terrible design oversights. The front fan’s dust filter was audibly rubbing against the fan blades under normal operation, and the PSU fan noisily rattled against its dust filter thanks to us having to cram it into the mount.

In fact, we had to actually prop the PSU clear of its dust filter with a few metal strips in order to complete our testing without making a god-awful racket. It’s all very disappointing, especially after our very favourable impressions from the FT01’s exterior.