bit-tech.net

SilverStone Fortress FT03-Mini review

SilverStone Fortress FT03-Mini Review

Manufacturer SilverStone
UK price (as reviewed) £102.79 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed) $129.50 (ex tax)
Preferred Partner Price: £82.72 (inc VAT)

SilverStone is an ardent supporter of the mini-ITX form factor and small form factor cases in general. A quick glance at its website revealed 12 dinky cases before we even got to HTPC-style chassis, and this is more than any other case manufacturer except maybe Lian Li. It's certainly not afraid to step into the unknown either, with rotated ATX designs something of a speciality for the premium case maker. Its Fortress FT03 may have struck some as the kind of waste paper bin to frequent the offices of highly-paid professionals, but build a PC into one and you can step back and admire the sheer elegance and out-of-the-box thinking behind the design.

It was no slouch in the cooling department either, matching the Antec P180 Mini and at lower noise levels. Why settle, then, with a redesign when it comes to dropping down from the micro-ATX FT03 to mini-ITX when the concept has proven itself in the world of small form factors? If you want a smaller case, just make it smaller and that's exactly what SilverStone has done with FT03-Mini.

SilverStone Fortress FT03-Mini review SilverStone Fortress FT03-Mini ReviewSilverStone Fortress FT03-Mini review SilverStone Fortress FT03-Mini Review
Click to enlarge

It's one of the smallest cases we've ever tested, measuring just 40cm high and no more than 24cm deep. However this does mean some compromises with perhaps the main one being the fact it's limited to SFX PSUs. Thankfully, SilverStone has a two fairly beefy ones for sale in the form of the modular SST-ST45SF-G or captive SST-ST45SF, both rated at 450W - more than enough for an overclocked Z77 system and a single GPU, which is all you can fit into the FT03-Mini any way.

Cooling is provided by a single 140mm SilverStone Air Penetrator fan, equipped with a dust filter - both located at the base of the case. Other external features worthy of note are the side-mounted external slot-loading slimline optical drive bay - a useful addition that was a disappointing omission on the Fractal Design Node 304 we looked at recently. The front panel - well actually it's a top panel, sports two USB 3 ports, mini jacks, power and reset switches. These are surrounded by a removable plastic mesh, underneath which is a small recess that provides a much-needed place to route cables from the PSU and expansion slots so they're not sticking out the top of the case like a bad 1980's hairstyle.

SilverStone Fortress FT03-Mini review SilverStone Fortress FT03-Mini ReviewSilverStone Fortress FT03-Mini review SilverStone Fortress FT03-Mini Review
Click to enlarge

You're initially left wondering how on earth to access the interior. There are no latches or thumbscrews - instead you simply pull off the front panel, which then allows you to remove the side panels, with the rear panel/motherboard tray remaining fixed in place. Each panel is held in place using several push-clips that slot into holes on the chassis. It can be tricky to replace them, as they look very similar and are rotation-specific too, but the result is a super-clean exterior that you'd be proud to have on your desk.

Specifications
  • Dimensions (mm) 189 x 235 x 397 (W x D x H)
  • Material Aluminium, plastic
  • Available colours Black, silver
  • Weight 4.41kg
  • Front panel Power, reset, 2 x USB 3, stereo, microphone
  • Drive bays 1 x external slimline optical drive bay, 1 x internal 3.5in, 2 x 2.5in drive bays
  • Form factor(s) Mini-ITX
  • Cooling 1 x 140mm (fan supplied)
  • CPU cooler clearance 78mm
  • Maximum graphics card length 254mm
  • Extras Dust filter