When we saw the SilverStone Raven RV04 a few months back, we found it to have excellent air cooling capabilities but disappointingly poor build quality and an especially poor plastic door design. Indeed the entire outer shell of the case needed work.
Enter the case we're looking at today, the SilverStone Fortress FT04. It's essentially the same case but with an aluminium exterior rather than a plastic one. As its price approaches the £200 mark, and it costs £70 more than the Raven chassis, we're hopeful that there have been more than a few changes for the better.
Click to enlarge - Aesthetics and build quality are much improved over the Raven RV04
Thankfully, the door has indeed seen some major improvements. The actual front panel is still made from solid plastic, but the door comprises a remarkably good looking sheet of thick, flowing aluminium – a material that SilverStone always knows how to handle. Unlike the RV04, there's no issues opening or closing it and SilverStone has seen sense and installed magnets to hold it shut. It does ride very close to the floor, which could be a problem for anyone wanting to use it on a thick carpet, and it creaks at the extremity when opening it, but it's still a very well crafted piece of metal.
The entire chassis also feels sturdy and well built, while big square rubber pads on the case feet make for plenty of grip and prevent it from wobbling. Compared to the RV04, the FT04 simply feels like more care and effort has gone into its construction. Our sample came with a large perspex window on the right side panel, which might not be to everyone's taste given that it reveals a fair portion of the front drive cage. But, the case can also be had without windows and in silver as well as black.
Click to enlarge
The door is now backed by foam as well, designed to absorb sound from the dual 180mm Air Penetrator fans installed in the front panel. The fans this time around are completely white, which we feel makes for a nice contrast with the black shell. The sides of the door are also no longer open as they are on the Raven version, which also improves the aesthetic. Instead, vents on either side give the fans room to breathe. These are angled away from the front, so sound should in theory be deflected away from the user.
SilverStone again demonstrates utter faith in the cooling capabilities of its Air Penetrator fans, as it provides only an empty 120mm rear exhaust fan mount. The fans are separately controlled again, although this time by variable speed knobs rather than three speed switches. An odd oversight, however, is that the marker on the two knobs doesn't align properly with the 'H' or 'L' symbols that indicate the highest and lowest speed settings respectively.
Click to enlarge
The two fans are again protected by a big plastic dust filter that uses what SilverStone terms HiFlow technology, designed to minimise the impact on airflow. A second clip out dust filter can be found on the roof guarding the PSU intake area. It's a better design than the Raven's somewhat flimsy slide out one and the same can be said of the FT04's roof generally, as it is also hewn from an attractive and thick black sheet of aluminium. The remainder of the case is constructed from steel.
The side mounted USB 3.0 and audio ports provide relatively easy access and mimic the Raven's design. However the plastic 5.25-inch drive bay covers could use some improvement as they're fiddly to get in and out of position.
Dimensions (mm) 219 x 482 x 546 (W x D x H)
Material Steel, aluminium, plastic
Available colours Black, silver (windowless options available)
Front panel Power, reset, 2 x USB 3, stereo, microphone
Drive bays 2 x external 5.25in, 7 x internal 3.5in, 4 x internal 2.5in
Form factor(s) SSI-EEB, SSI-CEB, E-ATX, ATX, micro-ATX
Cooling 2 x 180mm or 3 x 120mm front fan mounts (2 x 180mm fans included), 1 x 120mm rear fan mount (fan not included)
CPU cooler clearance approx. 165mm
Maximum graphics card length 337mm
Extras Removable dust filters, independent front fan controllers, CPU cooler support beam, expansion card support beam, removable motherboard tray