SilverStone Fortress FT04 Review

October 18, 2013 | 08:00

Tags: #air-cooling #air-penetrator #aluminium #atx-case #e-atx #e-atx-case #rotated-motherboard

Companies: #silverstone


Both side panels are hinged and consequently really easy to work with. The steel on them is also very solid, although the plastic window creaks under pressure. As with the front door, the insides of the side panels, roof and floor are al lined with noise absorbing foam wherever is realistically possible, which is a new feature over the Raven. The roof can also be slid off to make way for the PSU.

The internal layout hasn't changed from the Raven RV04, and as such it's rather different to most other cases on the market. The rotated motherboard tray is fully removable, so installing large E-ATX systems, for example, will be little hassle, especially with the large CPU cooler cutout and six pre-installed motherboard mounts. The PSU sits in the top of the chassis, and anti-vibration strips help to contain its noise. The PCI expansion brackets are replaceable with screws provided. Finally, optical drives are installed in the usual location, while internal storage goes in the front drive cage or on the chassis floor.

*SilverStone Fortress FT04 Review SilverStone Fortress FT04 - Interior *SilverStone Fortress FT04 Review SilverStone Fortress FT04 - Interior
Click to enlarge - The FT04's motherboard tray is rotated and PSUs are installed in the roof

Both the lower 3.5-inch drive mounts can be used with SilverStone's hot-swap bay adaptors, one of which now comes installed by default. Given this, it's a shame that both lower bays do not have one, but one is still better than none. Drives no longer rattle around in these bays as they did before, and if anything we actually found drives difficult to remove when used with the hot-swap bay. Both of the lower cages can be removed, and the one nearest the back again sports a support beam for those CPU coolers which are particularly beastly. Similarly, a plastic support for VGA cards is also included in the accessories bundle.

We found mounting SSDs to the Raven RV04's floor irritating, and sadly this is the only standard option for SSDs in the FT04 too. With patience and nimble fingers, you can install them without removing one of the hot-swap drive bays, but otherwise they'll need to come out to give you room. Either way, the case will have to go on its side whenever you want to install or replace an SSD. While it does keep them out of the way of airflow, it's hardly the most user friendly solution.

*SilverStone Fortress FT04 Review SilverStone Fortress FT04 - Interior *SilverStone Fortress FT04 Review SilverStone Fortress FT04 - Interior
Click to enlarge - The CPU cooler support stand (left) and the main hard drive cage with internal padding (right)

The main drive cage has room for five more 3.5-inch models (an adaptor for 2.5-inch disks would certainly be welcome), and foam on its insides will stop drive vibrations in their tracks. It's positioned such that air from the front will easily flow across any drives here, and the whole cage can be easily removed should you not need it.

GPU airflow is again optimised by a plastic bracket fixed in place behind the top fan, which splits airflow in line with the PCI expansion slots.

SilverStone readily admits that the case is not designed to house a water-cooling system. A trio of 120mm bracket adaptors are supplied to turn the two 180mm front mounts into an area capable of holding a 360mm radiator, but there'd still be some DIY required to fit it and SilverStone recommends the Magicool dual 180mm radiator instead.

*SilverStone Fortress FT04 Review SilverStone Fortress FT04 - Interior *SilverStone Fortress FT04 Review SilverStone Fortress FT04 - Interior
Click to enlarge

With the front panel, hot-swap bay and fan control, there's quite a lot of wiring to deal with before you've even installed anything. SilverStone has again opted not to use grommets on its routing holes, which we still feel is a poor choice given the large window. The area behind the motherboard tray could do with a few more millimetres of space, and an EPS12V extension cable would likewise be a valuable addition, as ours was fully stretched in order to reach the motherboard connection. Nevertheless, we had no other issues tidying things up or reattaching the side panel, thanks mainly to the unused optical drive space. Without this, things could get a little cramped, especially in a system with multiple drives or graphics cards.
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