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SilverStone Fortress FT04 Full-Tower Chassis Review

SilverStone Fortress FT04 Full-Tower Chassis Review

SilverStone delivers the latest in the Fortress case series. Let's have a look at the SST-FT04B-W and see what Chad thinks about it.

@chad_sebring
Published Thu, Feb 27 2014 8:49 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:32 PM CDT
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: SilverStone

Introduction

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We all know that if you want the best of the best of what SilverStone has to offer, there are only two real choices for gamers: the Temjin series, and the Fortress series. While I have seen around three variations within the Temjin series, for the Fortress series, it is time to start to even that case count. The last and only chassis from the Fortress series that we looked at was the FT03 Mini, and let me tell you, what we are about to see today has nothing to do with that SFF chassis that we saw then.

This time things have been super-sized and enlarged back into the full-tower lineup, as well as seeing the latest and greatest of what the engineers at SilverStone are able to pack into this design. Things to look out for are the removable motherboard tray, CPU and video card support systems, modularity of the drive bays, ducted airflow to the video cards, and a layout that is unlike anything any other manufacturer on the market is currently offering.

Others advantages lead us to a pair of AP180 fans placed in the front that will supply a mini hurricane worth of air flow, modularity in the fan mounting there, and a styling unlike previous Fortress releases, while still keeping within the lines of its heritage.

The Fortress FT04 comes in four variations, in silver or black, and then again in both versions with or without a window in the right side panel. As you can tell already, there is a lot that we are going to be taking in, and hopefully we will see if SilverStone is designing for success with modularity enough to contend with cases that have been to the labs lately, which seem to really be pushing the envelope of what a chassis in 2014 should bring to its owners.

I personally liked the concept I saw over a year ago at CES, but with the real deal in our hands, it is time to get busy and find out what this full-tower chassis has to offer.

Specifications, Availability and Pricing

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The SST-FT04B-W we received (or in other words, the black Fortress FT04 with a side window) uses a mix of aluminum, steel, and plastic components to construct this chassis. The full-tower chassis offers an all aluminum front door that has been extruded and bent to wrap to the top and bottom of the chassis in one smooth curve. The top of the chassis also offers an aluminum cover that carries the same texture and body lines that the front has. It also offers a removable dust filter for the PSU in the top due to its reverse ATX layout.

The right side of the chassis is where we get the large window to see the system, while the back offers the PSU above the eight expansion slots, with the rear I/O and exhaust location at the bottom. The left side of the chassis is a flat expanse of painted steel, as it covers the wiring that is run behind the removable motherboard tray.

Inside of the chassis, you can house anything from Micro-ATX motherboards up to SSI-EEB motherboards. Behind that front door of aluminum, there are two 5.25" bays above a pair of AP180mm fans that can be swapped out for a trio of 120mm fans. Next to the fans there is a duct at the top to direct airflow at the video cards, while at the bottom there is a hot swap bay for 3.5" drives, and a rack on top that will hold five 3.5" drives as well.

Moving a bit more to the right on the floor offers you another hot swap bay, and in both hot swap bays, they offer the ability to have an SSD mounted in with screws through the floor of the chassis. On top of that second hot swap bay, we also find an adjustable CPU cooler support to help take the load off of the socket with some of those monstrous choices out there for air cooling your CPU.

As with many things that SilverStone releases, when they believe they have something good, it is going to cost you a fair bit more than most other offerings out there. However, with processes like extruding aluminum, and bending it to match the contours of the chassis, the cost involved in the R&D of the chassis, along with the additional bits of kit that we find inside of this Fortress, we do see where a lot of the pricing is based.

While it is a tad pricey, you won't find another chassis quite like this. Finding one is relatively easy too, as everywhere we looked; stock was ready for a sale. With the current pricing listed below, and the fact we know they are easy to find: It is time now to dive in and see just what we do get for our money.

PRICING: You can find the SilverStone Fortress FT04 for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The SilverStone Fortress FT04 (Black) retails for $229.00 at Amazon, and the SilverStone Fortress FT04 (Silver) retails for $280.98 at Amazon.

Packaging

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On what appears to be black diamond plate as the backdrop, we get the SilverStone name and logo at the top, with the chassis naming just to the left of the image at center. Off to the left, there are nine features listed above a QR-Code, and the site address if you need to do more research.

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This side starts off with an introduction as to what makes a Fortress chassis, and what makes this one special. That if followed with nine languages displaying the features and regional QR-Codes for each that we saw on the front.

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At first glance, the back is very similar to the front, but this time we see the interior of the chassis labeled with numbers one through twelve. Off to the left, each number is described to help explain what you are seeing in the image.

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This side will display the specifications chart on the average chassis, but for some odd reason FedEx decided this was a great spot for the sticker and packing slip.

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Inside of the cardboard, the chassis has very thick Styrofoam end caps due to the weight of this chassis; they needed to be a bit tougher to do their job correctly. They also wrap the chassis in a thicker mil plastic than usual to protect the aluminum and painted steel, and both the inside and outside of the window have plastic clinging to them as well.

All of it worked great, and with a little wear and tear to the packaging, the chassis still arrived for testing in terrific condition.

SilverStone Fortress SST-FT04B-W Full-Tower Chassis

SilverStone Fortress SST-FT04-W Full-Tower Chassis

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The front of the FT04 offers a thick extruded aluminium panel that runs from top to bottom. Outside of the texture applied to it, it is concave in the center with two body lines at either side. The only other thing to see on the front is the large snowflake logo applied near the top.

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Magnets hold the aluminum to the steel, and behind it we find a pair of removable bay covers, two fan control dials that are chromed, and a large dust fitter covering the pair of white AP180 fans installed to drive air through the chassis.

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The top of the chassis is also aluminum, and carries the lines and curves the front panel has. There are power and activity LEDs at the left, and to the right is the PSU dust filter.

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The right side of the chassis offers venting at the left, with part of the front I/O at the top with 3.5mm jacks and a pair of USB 3.0 ports. The rest of the side is painted black steel, and has a large widow cut into it, to view the system when you are finished with the build process.

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It may seem like this is upside down, but with the reverse ATX layout, that is exactly what you get. The PSU at the top and the expansion slots above the exhaust. Another thing to note, is that at the top of the chassis there is a pair if thumbscrews to remove the top.

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The left side of the chassis offers a flat expanse of the steel panel from left to right, that is until we run into more of that venting that allows that pair of AP180 fans to get all the air they need, and redirect some of the noise away from the user.

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As we move in much closer to the top right corner of the same side of the chassis, we find the power and reset button sitting at the top, almost unnoticeable.

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Under the chassis there is a bar at the front that supports the chassis really well, and has rubber pads applied to it for grip. There are various holes in the floor for drives, as well as ones holding screws currently, to allow removal of most of the interior. The back then offers a pair of chunky feet to support things there.

Inside the SST-FT04B-W

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At the top left corner, with the panels out of the way, we see the pair of 5.25" bays that will require screws for mounting devices. Just to the right, there is an oblong bump that has a screw hole, and this is where the GPU support system mounts to take the weight of the cards.

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Moving just a little bit down the front of the chassis, we see the first of two 180mm fans, but this one has a ducting system that breaks up the airflow a bit, and directs it to the rear of the video cards, and even has a duct to help blow along their sides too.

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At the bottom, we now see the five-bay rack for 3.5" drives mounted to the top of a hot swap bay for 3.5" drives. The upper cage can easily be removed from here; however, the lower section requires access to the bottom of the case.

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Moving right across the floor, we now see the second hot swap bay option, although you have wiring for only one of the two. On top of this bay we have SilverStone's CPU support bracket that can adjust right and left, as well as the padded surface rising to take the weight off the socket.

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Looking up from that bay, we now see the motherboard tray that offers wire management in stages for various sized motherboards, and offers a few places to tame the wiring. The tray is clearly marked for the standoffs, and has a ruler pressed into two sides of it for reference.

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The rear of the chassis offers eight removable expansion slot covers, but they are all held in with tiny screws. However, they do put holes in the frame for direct access to them. The exhaust is left empty, as when two AP180 fans are let loose, there is no real need for more case fans.

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The power supply is hidden behind the same rail that offered us the 5.25" bays at the front. After loading the PSU through the top, only with the door off, will you see the impressed SilverStone name dressing up this otherwise plain area.

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There is at least 25mm of room, and in some places even more behind the tray. Consider the motherboard tray will come out, so tend to that bit before managing any wiring and locking the tray to the chassis. There is also an area to the right to stack wiring, and a hole at the top for PSU wiring to get back here.

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One thing that is a lot to deal with is the amount of wiring that is involved with this chassis. We have all the main connections like the front panel wiring, USB 3.0 connector, and the audio connection, but we also have long loops of fan wiring from the controllers, and it is white and sticks out obviously.

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Along with the back of the top panel, the front panel, and the floor of the chassis, inside of both the door panels SilverStone has also applied sound deadening material to as much area as physically possible.

Accessories and Documentation

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Between the feet, in the Styrofoam cap, there is an area cut out which houses the box containing all the goodies that go along with this chassis. We will be showing all of this in detail as we continue.

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The video card support system consists of four components, sans the mounting screws. There is the large bar in the middle that attaches to the top of the chassis with its left end, and the bar is left to hang near the edge of the cards. The three "fingers" are what gets screwed into the bar, and will support the weight of the card and prevent them from "sagging".

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Here, we have six textured pieces that are structurally supported from behind to be very rigid. These will allow you to take out the pair of front fans, and by using these, turn those bays into 120mm fan bays, and have room for a trio of fans or a 360mm radiator.

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The bag-o-screws contains the screws for the VGA support, a group of thumbscrews for the ODD bats, and it finishes with standoffs and a socket to drive them. The bottom offers a huge pile of screws for the PSU, 120mm fans, motherboard, 3.5" drive usage, and also a pile of screws for 2.5" drive mounting.

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We are also given four wire ties to help manage things behind the motherboard tray. We also see a wire hook with a tiny two pin connector above and below it, and these will allow you to take out the use of the fan control knobs, and make the fans run at full speed at all times when the system is powered.

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The manual starts off with pertinent information about the specifications, the parts check list, and various views of the chassis before the instructions begin. While everything in the chassis is addressed as to how it removes or how to install components in the FT04, the text is very short next to the renderings and is of little help to the beginner builder out there.

It is thorough enough with the information that is provided, and with the full detail of the wiring, motherboard compatibility, and components limitations inside of the chassis, that it can get you through the build.

The Build and Finished Product

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Since it only requires the removal of four small screws, we went ahead and pulled the tray to make mounting the motherboard much easier. At this point, you can also add the CPU cooler or the water blocks, but we are ready to continue.

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After removing the thumbscrews at the back, the top slides to the back and lifts off to expose the deep channel that is the ODD bays and PSU rack.

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If you plan to use bay devices and an average sized PSU, keep in mind space is limited. Also keep in mind that the bottom of this trench is open, so if you aren't careful, things may be poking out of the bottom.

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With the build now finished, we take a spin around the chassis again. We can now see the DVD drive, but once that door is shut, all you get to view is the textured aluminum sleekness of the front door.

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We removed what wasn't needed (and left things that we thought were more important.), like the hot swap bays for storage space, so we can use the CPU support. The rest of the interior is very clean with minimal wiring exposed, and the GPU support works well and took the angle out of the PCB easily.

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The PSU went in fine, and remember it goes in fan side up. The video card went in easy enough, and the holes came in handy for setting the screws. Also, with the dust shield installed, the motherboard tray lines right up with it when slid back into the frame.

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Too much wiring. While we were able to tame the wiring a bit and have a good looking finished product up front, the amount of wiring left over is almost ridiculous. Fans are cool and all, but did we need three feet of wiring to go what is essentially five inches? Also, the door did go back on without any hassle.

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At this point, we just took a step back to soak it all in and recall just what the FT04B-W was, and is, in a chassis. It is slick looking when the build is completed, and the view through the window shows off all your hardware and the clean wiring, but none of the mess you don't want to see.

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Once we power things up for testing, we see that the power LED is now illuminated blue. While we did miss it in this image, the HDD activity light is also blue, and just as bright. If the fans are set low, this is a very quiet chassis, but when let lose at 12V, that is a whole other story.

Final Thoughts

Let's get back to where we left off, and likely one of the more decisive factors in a chassis, the noise level. With the fan controllers set in the lowest position on the dial, after a few seconds you can hear the fans drop in noise level to a very manageable 33 dB. However, when we turned those dials to high (oh, and these dials are also marked backwards, or the switch is wired wrong, but anyways), the sound level jumps to a serious cooling level of noise, in the 55 dB area.

There is a serious benefit to that amount of noise though. With all of that noise, comes a massive amount of air flow, so much so that while testing, this case was circling air around the entire room. Good thing there is an easy to remove and clean dust filter, as this will also be working as the house dust filter at this level. The last perk to all of this is that all of the thermal readings of the components were some of the best we have seen in quite a long time.

While the layout is unique, and most things worked out really well with the build and in most of what we need this chassis to do, there were some things that just seemed odd. First off is all the wiring. I get that you can fit a Mini-ITX motherboard in here, but come on man, seriously? Who needs this much wiring for a Mini-ITX build? And what is with white sleeve in an otherwise all back interior? It just did not make much sense to us. With the PSU sharing room with the ODD bays, drive may not be such an issue. However, running tubing to a bay reservoir may become very challenging, and our PSU isn't as big as what you would need to support an overclock, and say three GPUs that this chassis will easily fit.

There is some real genius going on with some of the modular features and support systems, but it seems like this case sort of offers water cooling compatibility, and then you lose the benefits of the AP180mm fans. The last thing that ended up being an issue is the magnet system used on the front. I get that you don't want to go too strong to make us work to open it, but the system in place here allows the heavy door to swing wildly any time you want to move this chassis, so I guess LAN builders are out.

I am a fan of the style, where I can easily see some people not digging on the way it all came together aesthetically, but I would use this chassis if there was a need for it on an upcoming build. The main reason is that you do have the ability to run slow and silent for most of the day to day stuff, and while benching or gaming, throw on a headset and let the fans rip, delivering airflow I have never seen before. The mix of steel and aluminum trim really keeps the weight down from what this chassis could have been if constructed from that thick aluminum, and it works out well with all the creative solutions on the inside of the chassis.

Would I rush out to buy this chassis? I don't think so. I mean when it comes to cases that are near what this chassis offers, we have cases like the Enthoo Primo to ponder over, or something like that new H440 which may be smaller, but offers much more to the water cooling enthusiast in me. For anyone air cooling, or who likes to use AIOs with a single 120mm radiator, there is no other case on the planet that will deliver the mini hurricane of air flow that SilverStone delivers in the Fortress FT04.

PRICING: You can find the SilverStone Fortress FT04 for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The SilverStone Fortress FT04 (Black) retails for $229.00 at Amazon, and the SilverStone Fortress FT04 (Silver) retails for $280.98 at Amazon.

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After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM, cooling, as well as peripherals.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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