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FT01 is a high-quality all-aluminum mid-tower case from SilverStone, targeted to the very exigent user. Its superior quality is achieved by using a “unibody” chassis, i.e., the top, front and bottom panels of the case are made by a single aluminum sheet (very thick, by the way) that was bent using automotive-level press machines, a concept that was introduced by the Tejmin TJ07 case from the same manufacturer. Let’s explore all the features from this case.
Fortress FT01 is available in two colors, black or silver, and with or without a transparent side window. We reviewed the black version with a transparent side window.
In Figure 3, you can see its front panel – this case has no door. It has five 5.25” external bays and this case does not come with any 3.5” adapter, so you can’t install directly floppy disk drives or memory card readers to this case (SilverStone sells this adapter separately, called FP51).
This case has three fans, one of them (180 mm with 170-mm blades, 700 rpm) located on the front panel, cooling down the hard disk drive bays. This fan has a washable dust filter, accessible from inside the case (we will talk more about this component later). Fortress FT01 doesn’t come with a speed controller for its fans, but all fans use three-pin power plugs, allowing you to install them on your motherboard and thus monitor their speed.
The small panel containing the audio and USB connectors is located on the top of the case. This case comes with one FireWire port and two USB ports. The two USB ports are far away from each other, allowing you to install two “fat” USB devices at the same time. A case with this construction quality deserved one eSATA port.
The rear panel from FT01 can be seen in Figure 5. The power supply must be installed on the lower section of the case. This case has seven expansion slots, one 120 mm fan on the rear (900 rpm) and two holes for the hoses of an external water cooling solution, which use rubber covers to protect them, so you won’t need to drill or break anything on this case if you want to have such solution.
Fortress FT01 has some interesting details on its rear panel: it uses meshed slot covers, which improves the airflow inside the case; it has a special place (a special hole between the rear fan and the mesh on top of the expansion slots) for installing SilverStone SST-CLEARCMOS product, which is a button for clearing the CMOS memory – usually this product needs to be installed on an empty slot, so you save one slot here –; and two hooks for you to install padlocks to avoid unauthorized people from opening your case or for installing a warranty seal. These hooks also act as levers to remove the side panels.
The side panels are fastened to the case using thumbscrews, which is always nice.
Now let’s take a look inside Fortress FT01.
[nextpage title=”Inside Fortress FT01″]
Before talking about the internals of FT01, we should talk about the side panels. They are made of aluminum and SilverStone added foam on them to reduce the noise level produced by the PC.
In Figure 8 we can have an overall look inside SilverStone Fortress FT01. Even though we can remove the right panel the motherboard tray is permanently attached to the chassis.
The top fan, like the front fan, measures 180 mm (170-mm blades, 700 rpm) and also has a washable dust filter. As already mentioned, all fans use a three-pin power connector and no speed controller is available.
This case doesn’t come with any screwless mechanism to hold daughterboards. We think that a case with this quality should have come with thumbscrews here.
SilverStone is promoting this case as a “positive air pressure” product, which means that the amount of airflow entering the case is greater than the amount exiting. SilverStone has posted a very interesting video on YouTube showing the airflow on Fortress FT01.
[nextpage title=”Inside Fortress FT01 (Cont’d )”]
The reviewed case has a dust filter for the power supply, which must be installed with its fan facing down. This filter, however, must be unscrewed to be washed, contrary to what happens to the other dust filters available on this case, which can be easily removed using your hands.
In Figure 11 we show the dust filter from the front fan, which is accessible from inside the case only.
If you have very long video cards (12,” i.e., 30 cm) you can remove the top hard disk drive cage, see Figure 12. In this case you lose four hard disk drive bays.
Now let’s take an in-depth look at the disk drive options from the reviewed case.[nextpage title=”The Disk Drive Bays”]
This case has five external 5.25” bays and, as already explained, you need to buy an adapter if you want to install a floppy disk drive or a 3.5” memory card reader, as this case doesn’t come with the necessary adapter. The 5.25” bays use a very good screwless mechanism.
This case comes with seven 3.5” hard disk drive bays, divided into two cages, the top one with four bays and the bottom one with three bays.
Each bay is in fact a small drawer, as you can see in Figure 14. The hard disk installation does not require any screw (the drive enters very tight in the drawer), but you can add screws if you want. Each drawer has four rubber rings to prevent the noise produced by the hard disk drive from propagating to the rest of the chassis, what would amplify this noise.
The top hard drive bay comes with a hot swap connector, allowing you to install a hard disk drive without the need to attach cables directly to it. This case comes with only one connector, so if you want other bays to have this feature you will need to buy additional connectors from SilverStone (called CP05).
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
SilverStone Fortress FT01 case main specs include:
- Style: Mid-tower
- Application: ATX and smaller form factors derived from this one.
- Material: Aluminum.
- Power supply required: Doesn’t come with the product.
- Available colors: black or silver.
- Side panel: Solid or with transparent side window.
- Dimensions: 19 9/64” x 8 5/16” x 19 ½” (48.6 cm x 21.1 cm x 49.45 cm) (H x W x D).
- Net Weight: 19 lbs (8.66 Kg)
- Gross Weight: 26 lbs (11.82 Kg)
- Bays: Five external 5.25” bays and seven internal 3.5” bays.
- Expansion slots: Seven.
- Fans: One 180 mm on the front (700 rpm), one 180 mm fan on the top (700 rpm) and one 120 mm on the rear (900 rpm).
- Extra features: Hot swap connector.
- More Information: https://www.silverstonetek.com
- Average price in the US*: USD 210.00
* Researched at Froogle.com on the day we published this review.[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]
SilverStone Fortress FT01 is a mid-tower case targeted to the exigent user that wants a high-quality all-aluminum case. Here is a summary of what we found about this product.
- Top-notch quality.
- Amazing number of hard disk drive bays that will please even very high-end users (seven).
- Anti-vibration mechanisms for the hard disk drives.
- Hot swap connector for hard disk drives.
- Washable dust filters for the front and top fans.
- Outstanding cost/benefit ratio.
- No speed control for the fans.
- Could have an eSATA port.
- Comes with only one hot swap connector, so you will need to buy more if you want to use this feature on more than one hard drive.
- Expensive for the mainstream user.
In summary, we think this is a terrific product for the exigent user that is willing to pay more to have a top-notch case. The quality from FT01 is really outstanding and we’ve only seen this kind of quality before on aluminum cases above USD 300. Average users, however, may want to look into different products, like Lian Li PC-7F, which is also an all-aluminum product but costing USD 70 less.