At full speed, there's simply no stopping those powerful wind tunnel generators that SilverStone calls Air Penetrators. The two fans direct blasts of air essentially unimpeded straight towards the CPU and GPU areas and as a result, the FT04 emerges as the best chassis for cooling hardware that we've ever tested. That said, the fans generate a serious amount of noise at full speed, so much so that even with a decent pair of headphones on you'd likely still find it distracting. The door does deflect the sound away from you to some degree, but not enough to prevent the sound from becoming a nuisance.
Click to enlarge - The empty optical drive bays come in handy for stashing cables
It's thankful, therefore, that at the lowest speed the FT04 also performs brilliantly. At this speed, the fans are very quiet, with the angled vents also being more effective and the internal foam keeping other hardware noise sufficiently muffled. Even with this much lowered noise output, CPU temperatures are still lower than every other non-SilverStone chassis, while the GPU doesn't suffer too much either. The older generation FT02 is still a touch better in this regard, however, as its bottom-to-top cooling arrangement has its fans almost touching the GPU intake vents.
Although we didn't test at any middle ground speeds, we noted that it was only the upper 15-20 percent of fan speeds where things went from noisy to unbearably loud, and given the performance at low speed we don't doubt that there's easily an effective balance that can be struck between noise and cooling. With a design that keeps airflow blockages to an absolute minimum and a pair of SilverStone's ever effective Air Penetrators, there's likely to be very little that this chassis can't handle.
Click to enlarge - Airflow from the front is practically unrestricted
The Fortress FT04 is a big step up over the Raven RV04. Even though they share the same internal design, externally things have improved massively, with the new aluminium front and roof bolstering the case's aesthetics, build quality and overall premium feel. The chassis also has a well implemented feature set, especially with the addition of a hot-swap bay adaptor and noise proof foam. There's still more room for improvement though, as while the airflow design is hard to fault, the rest of the chassis could do with some simplifying, especially in the areas of drive mounts and cable management.
While we've grown quite fond of the FT04, we have to admit that we're not entirely sure who it's for. There's a strong chance that if you're forking out close to £200 for a case this size, you'll also be looking to water-cool your system, and that's something that many other cases will do better, as liquid cooling options here are limited at best. As effective as the chassis is at its quietest, it still won't match a decent water-cooled PC for temperatures at similar noise levels. That said, for air cooling, there's simply nothing that can beat it, and this coupled with great build quality and a mostly sensible design is easily enough to earn it our seal of approval.