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Chassis: SilverStone Fortress FT02B-W

Tom's Hardware's 2010 Gift Guide: Part 1, For System Builders
By

www.silverstonetek.com
$249
By: Devin Connors

When we think of attractive, functional, and highly-regarded desktop enclosures, SilverStone is one of the first brands to pop into our minds. After all, we know companies like Falcon Northwest and Maingear work with the chassis vendor to design the cases that house their own boutique builds. Though SilverStone's offerings tend to be on the pricey side, the company delivers quality, innovation, and style. Those are the qualities that impressed us last year when we picked its Raven RV02-BW, and it's why we went with SilverStone again this year, selecting its Fortress FT02B-W.

If the FT02 has a familiar look to it, that’s because it’s a close relative of the ever-popular Temjin series that dates back to 2005. And like the Temjin series, the Fortress employs a unibody aluminum construction as its foundation. This build type allows for great structural integrity, while also leaving a gap at the bottom of the case. This gap acts as the primary air intake. Three 180 mm fans line the bottom of the enclosure, each with its own screwless removable air filter for easy cleaning. Exhaust is handled by a single 120 mm fan at the top of the case, meaning airflow goes from bottom-to-top, not front-to-back. Kudos to SilverStone for paying attention during thermodynamics class.

The Fortress also borrows from another famous SilverStone case, the Raven RV01. If you know anything about the Raven, you know that it introduced a particular innovation in 90 degree motherboard mounting, a design feature that rotates the traditional back of the motherboard (where the I/O ports are located) to the top of the case. This allows the back-end of your video card to sit right on top of the bottom-mounted fans, and right below the exhaust fan, which SilverStone calls a great leap forward in case thermal management. An additional case door on top of the Fortress discreetly routes all of the outgoing cables to the back of the case, so even with the top-exit design, you won’t have HDMI and input device cables going every which way.

The Fortress comes with five vertically-mounted hard drive cages in the front of the case, all of which sit right on top of one of the 180 mm fans. Above those are five 5.25-inch bays and one 2.5-inch bay, perfect for an SSD. If you plan on using an aftermarket cooler that requires a backplate, SilverStone leaves a segment below the motherboard mount open for easy access and quick cooler installation.

Chock full of other great features, the Fortress FT02 also includes acoustic foam padding to dampen noise for the GPU and hard drives, radiator mounting (for liquid cooling), seven expansion slots, and two USB and 3.5 mm audio jacks on the top of the case. While our version of the FT02 is windowless, there is another SKU available with a window and the same price tag.

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