I always had a soft spot for small cases that allow you to potentially pack everything into it as you would a mid-tower or full-tower case. By this, I mean that you can stick in a really powerful video card and any Mini-ITX motherboard you want. At first glance you would expect this FT03 Mini to have much potential, especially after seeing the original FT03, but SilverStone's work with the reduction of size is top notch and will allow all of the major components to go in easily. So what if you are stuck with a stock CPU cooler or one that is very low profile. In my opinion this is about space savings and sleek looks. If you want to overclock for the stars, this may not be the chassis of choice, but for a rig with a small footprint or as an HTPC, the SilverStone FT03 Mini has you covered.
Speaking of covers, I really like the snap off panels. The only issue I found with them is that the pressure needed to remove them is quite low and you may pop a panel or two off just moving this chassis around and for that reason I wouldn't want to consider this for a LAN box, more of a case you set into place and leave it alone besides for maintenance reasons. The way the drive bays attach and the drives mount to them, it gives the chassis a feel of a model where you have to add things in sections like the build section went as you add layer and layers until you are left with a sleek and sexy looking chassis sitting at your desk.
I had my doubts on the cooling of this chassis. Even though the stack effect has been proven in other SilverStone cases, most of those have a ton more room to be effective than in the FT03 Mini. Once I powered up the chassis there is a slight hum from the fan that uses a 3-pin connection to be powered and unless you have an adapter, this will need powered from the motherboard. Running the fan at full blast was audible as I mentioned, but even with all of the blockages of the PSU and wiring from it and the front I/O, I was surprised to see how well the single 140mm Air Penetrator fan did in this chassis.
There is no way I can convince you that pound for pound the FT03 Mini costing near $150 is a frugal investment. In this instance I have to look outside the box to make sense of this pricing. While the chassis is small in stature, that doesn't mean that it is lacking in many respects. In fact, their ability to install a 10 inch video card, the USB 3.0 and the adapter, along with all the redefining of the interior components and use of 2.5mm thick aluminum for the exterior doesn't come cheap. In the respect of SFF chassis design that is based on a Mini-ITX system, this has to be the most well laid out and thought through designs I have ever had the pleasure of using my Zotac build in.
If you are in the market for an SFF chassis, you desire a small footprint, but better than average cooling and plenty of options to keep you content, the SilverStone SST-FT03B is the best of what I have seen and in my opinion is worth every penny of the asking price.
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