The benefits of building a small PC are easy to understand, but what’s not always easy is finding an ideal case to store all of the components in. Well, for those looking for something a bit different, SilverStone has its Fortress FT03… an offering that must be seen to be appreciated. It’s a tower, yet small, and has huge aesthetic appeal.
With Valentine’s Day only a few weeks behind us, let me be romantic again for a moment by saying absence makes the heart grow fonder. Yeah, right! If this were true, I would be ready to make sweet, sweet love to the FT03 after it took almost a month to be delivered due to various delays.
Getting this case from SilverStone to my door proved to be a lesson in patience; a lesson that I am sorry to say I failed miserably. Now that it is finally on the table, I have extremely high hopes for this CES 2011 Innovation Award winning product and cannot wait to load it up with gear. Let’s go!
We were sent the FT03S model, with the S denoting the color. For those who are not into silver, a black version can be had under the FT03B model. The case has a very small footprint for two reasons; support for only micro-ATX, mini-DTX and mini-ITX motherboards and a unique internal layout that sees almost every component mounted in a different position compared to standard cases. This change allows air to be moved from bottom to top to take advantage of the natural movement of warm air.
Thanks to the way the interior is laid out, the exterior on all four sides is almost completely solid, which gives the case a very clean, simple look. The panels are made from very thick aluminum with cutouts at the top of the sides and back panels for cable management and at the bottom all the way around to ensure proper airflow into the case. The only breaks in the solid panels come from the slot for the slim optical drive on the front and a white, filtered vent cover on the lower left side for the power supply exhaust and lower intake fan.
The top of the case is made entirely of white plastic. Along the front edge are standard power and reset buttons and blue power and hard drive activity LEDs. To the right of that are 3.5mm analog headphone and microphone connections, flanked by two USB 3.0 ports that can be connected directly to the USB ports on the rear motherboard I/O.
The rest of the top is capped off by a plastic grill held in place by two catches on the back edge. This grill covers what is normally the back side of most cases. Removing it gives a clear view of the motherboard I/O area thanks to it being rotated 90 degrees, similar to other models in the Fortress series. Also visible is the 120mm exhaust fan, four vented PCI slot covers and over on the right side, a small door with a slide latch that provides access to a 3.5″ SATA hard drive hot swap bay.
The bottom of the case has four semi-hard rubber feet that extend just past the side panels and lift the case well off the floor while absorbing vibration. The ample clearance ensures that there is room for air to flow freely to the power supply and two optional 92mm fans, which are all covered by another filtered vent cover held in place by magnets. Rounding out the bottom is a recessed AC power connection, further helping to preserve the clean outer look.
Finally, there is the usual treat bag of hardware, which includes two reusable cable ties, a plastic 2.5″ hard drive or solid-state drive mounting plate, a bag of screws and motherboard standoffs and a triple 3-pin to 4-pin Molex adapter to power the included fans.
With such a simplified exterior, this section may be shorter than that of most reviews but you may want to grab a sandwich before moving on. The interior is up next!