It is time for me to make a delegated decision on which micro ATX case I will use in my next build, I have decided I am going to try to cram as much power into a small case as possible so cooling is an issue. Luckily I have narrowed it down to 3 cases which will not only do the job but are full of great features as well.
The build will consist of i5/i7 at stock settings and one of the latest high end video cards (all these cases cater for extra long video cards) I prefer to have one very powerful card to two weaker ones.
So here are the runners up, well start with the more adventurous and work down to the more standardised desktop case.
1) The SilverStone Fortress FT03
Like the good cooling flow (the heat rising up from the bottom) , small footprint, a bit more funky with its weird design looks fantastic, but it will not fit in my current desk.
Like the big fan at the front, separate PSU holder, once again from SilverStone a very good cooling case, more typical style as well, but do not like the upside-down motherboard idea (hot on graphics card, unless someone can tell me its better?)
Like the very high build quality, dual 120 mm fans, customisable hard drive holders, once again more typical styled case nice look to it, has a top 120mm exhaust fan but the airflow is less directional and only one USB 3.0 port
Well! hopefully someone can help me out, please add your thoughts on the matter, Its hard to decide as all of them fit my needs perfectly, I am just looking for anything that might cause trouble with a particular case design so I can rule one or two out.
I can comment on the FT03 as i have the very same build as you're looking to put together.
Running an i7-875K, 8GB DDR3, MSI TwinFrozrII 6870. The CPU is cooled with an ALC Cool-IT Eco, and i have even added an additional 25mm shroud between the radiator and fan so there is plenty space for the larger all-in-one cpu watercoolers (like the Corsair H70) - obviously if this is something that interests you.
CPU temp stays below 55-60degC (Prime95), and I'll run furmark on the GPU tonight to see what i can cook it at.
As it stands i'm very tempted to add an additional 6870, Aria.co.uk have them for a little over £140. I believe the recommendation in this configuration is to remove the lower 120mm fan and replace it with 2 x 80mm so as to direct the air between the two cards a little better.
There is plenty room for longer cards too, if you're looking to go Nvidia GTX580 or Radeon 6970. Just a word of caution. if you want to put in a GTX590 or 6990 you will have to remove the 120mm fan and replace with 2 x 80mm by the looks of it!
If i can be any more help let me know. This is a great case, you will not be disappointed.
Thank you for your detailed response, I do plan to buy the most top end ATI card available, but noise is a bit of an issue and I Imagen two 80mm fans will not sound the greatest.
How do you think having the air flow from the bottom to the top with the aid of the heat rising affects the cooling?
As I do prefer the traditional style computer case but this silverstone looks like a very good case! so its changing my mind, of course the SilverStone is the most expensive as well.
I will probably leave the CPU stock as I find i have plenty of power and the bottleneck is the graphics card. I already have a micro ATX board with old gen i5 750 and ATI radeon 5770 but I am looking to upgrade the whole system once Intels next gen comes out.
I remember seeing the initial designs for this case near the beginning of last year, then when it was officially announced around the summer/autumn I spent the following couple of months constantly checking every supplier i could think of for when it would be available! The case is definitely a looker, i picked up a black one by the way.
If noise is one of your main concerns what i will say is that the FT03 fans make more noise than my Antec 900 fans did (on medium/low speed settings. I would recommend either swapping out for fans with speed switches (Antec Tri-cool's are one option), or installing something like the Zalman FAN MATE 2 which will let you manually adjust (by a dial) the speed of two fans. Either way you can find the balance for you between cooling and quietness.
See this review on Anandtech (apologies if you already have), they pretty much say the same thing:
I should be able to keep the noise down seeing as i don't need to overclock so do not require to much cooling, can anyone comment on the other cases? trying to get opinions about the other two as well, i like the other silverstone with that big fan in the front, can anyone tell me about having the graphics card upside-down, is it better or worse or not much difference?