Thermaltake Level 10 And SilverStone Fortress 2: Contemporary Cases?

Fortress 2 Internal Design

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.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • burnley14
    I like the Fortress 2, especially the 90 degree rotation from typical setup. The Level 10, on the other hand, is an ugly monstrosity. Anyone willing to pay $700 for something that ugly needs therapy.
  • philologos
    The Fortress 2 is very likely the case for my first home-build. It's a bit more than I'd like to spend, but it satisfies my need for air-cooling performance and classic styling.
  • Crashman
    burnley14I like the Fortress 2, especially the 90 degree rotation from typical setup. The Level 10, on the other hand, is an ugly monstrosity. Anyone willing to pay $700 for something that ugly needs therapy.
    I just saw a girl driving a rusted-out Mazda with a new set of 18" Enkeis, painted rotors on the front, and painted drums on the back. The rocker panels between that fine work...rusted away!

    So, I'm sure someone will spend $700 for the Thermaltake Level 10. In fact, I know someone who would.
  • I recently bought à fortress case for my most recent build (i930 + hd5970) and this is by far THE best case i've ever had the pleasure of building a pc from/in. Yeah it's pricy and wether it's worth it, but personally, i really, really like it! It cools very wel, and the very large 5970 actually fits :)

    and irl it's quite a handsome case!
  • mados123
    The Level 10 deserves to be in MOMA next to the G4 cube for its innovation in design.
  • micr0be
    i think level 10 is a amazing .... just replace some side windows with glass and uv got a rig that looks as good as crysis .....
  • huron
    As amazing as it is, I'm sure there will be some people shelling out that kind of $$$ on a case - probably the same people who post in the forums that they have a budget upwards of $3500 and want someone to build it for them...
  • warmon6
    while i like the look of the level 10 case, i dont like the high price tag that comes with it.
  • HKH
    Am I the only one who finds the Lvl 10 Case pretty decent looking?
  • acadia11
    The cost savings made no sense, to me, in the Level 10, keeping it under $1000 is stupid, to someone spending $799 on a case, makes no difference if it cost $999 for a more quality product. In fact, people, who are willing to spend money like this care more about quality than cost. I decided not to get the case, because, in my mind $800 on a case alone better buy me perfection, and they tried to get cheap with it to save a couple of hundred bucks, as though the difference between $800 and $1000 really mattered that much to my wallet, Imean it's not like cases normally hover anywhere in this price range. With an expensive uber product you set themarket, period. And they dropped the ball on knowing the demographics here.