Most cases flow air from front to back, but SilverStone knows that heat tends to rise. Borrowing several features from its previous gamer-inspired Raven model, the Fortress 2 turns ATX convention on its face. The rear panel is now found on top, with an I/O-panel-to-top-panel cable clearance of 2.75” being the only significant drawback of this design.
A row of super-thick 180 mm fans limit the Fortress 2 to video cards 12.0” or shorter, though removing the center fan’s grille allows an ATI Radeon HD 5970 to be squeezed in. The same limit applies to motherboards. While 13” Extended ATX (EATX) motherboards won’t fit, SilverStone points out that oversized enthusiast models and dual-socket SSI CEB motherboards will. The Fortress 2 even has an extra eight holes for SSI CEB motherboards that use bolt-through CPU coolers such as this one, plus an access hole designed for the support plates of enthusiast-market CPU coolers.
Under the top cover, a single 120 mm fan is responsible for exhaust above the CPU, while slotted card brackets allow for airflow around cards. Dimples on the exhaust fan create small vortices that act like ball bearings to reduce wind resistance, which is also why golf balls use them. Also, notice the row of three fan-speed selectors, which are wired directly to the larger intake fans.
The first of three giant fans blows directly into a five-drive backplane to keep hard drives cool, while the other two are devoted to the platform devices. An included set of brackets allows a triple-120 mm liquid-cooling radiator to be placed above the fans, but the brackets reduce maximum card length by 0.32” in addition to the thickness of the radiator.
Removing all five drive rails reveals that the included rack isn’t really much of a backplane, since only one of the bays has a hot-swap bracket. In a move that undermines the Fortress 2’s premium market, SilverStone forces builders to purchase additional brackets separately. Even more unfortunate is that the hot-swap bracket doesn’t support SAS drives—even though dual-compatibility brackets have similar manufacturing costs.