In and Around the SilverStone FT03 Mini

As I mentioned before, the FT03 Mini looks just like the FT03 except smaller. SilverStone uses thick aluminum panels on all four sides of the enclosure, sturdy plastic for accents like the I/O and buttons on the top of the enclosure and the bottom fan intake, and then steel for the structure of the enclosure itself. The result is that externally, there isn't a whole lot to remark on. It has four flat aluminum sides, and then the motherboard's I/O cluster and power supply are both mounted to the top of the case and accessible by removing the plastic top cover.

SilverStone has largely pioneered using a rotated motherboard mounting system in their enclosures, but it really makes sense with the FT03 Mini. The base of the enclosure is basically square, and right in the bottom center is a 140mm intake fan. The case also sits off of the floor high enough that only the shaggiest of rugs should prevent fresh air from coming in through the bottom of the FT03 Mini. Fresh air blows through the single chamber and out of the top of the case. It's a sound engineering design and you'll see it pays off in spades.

I've often compared SilverStone's cases to puzzle boxes due to the very specific way they come apart and back together, but nowhere has that comparison been more appropriate than with the FT03 Mini. End users ignore the instruction manual at their own peril; we're at the point where you'll need it just to figure out how to get the case open in the first place. I'm not inclined to mark SilverStone down for this, though, because the instructions are clear enough and because there's a definite logic to how the case tears down.

In order, you pop the top off of the case, then the two side panels snap off instead of sliding upwards (a welcome improvement on the FT03, which was easy to accidentally pop the side panels off of when you were moving it), then the back panel snaps off, then the optical drive cage comes out, and attached to that are cages for a 3.5" drive and a 2.5" drive. We have the disassembly sequence in our gallery if you're inclined to check it out.

The interior of the FT03 Mini is built out of black-painted steel, and the whole enclosure is really very sturdy. You're not liable to spend much time looking at the inside of the case, but I can't stress enough how important the logic of the case's assembly is. It comes apart and back together in a very specific order, which is vital for a design this unique. Once you understand SilverStone's logic, you'll find the case is remarkably well thought out.

Introducing the SilverStone FT03 Mini Assembling the SilverStone FT03 Mini
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  • Spunjji - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    Given that the power/cooling requirements of a Voodoo 3 barely register on the current graphics-card radar, I'm afraid I have to back up the "horrible ventilation" comment. Reply
  • GotThumbs - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    I'm sure Jobs would want you to take it as is...and be happy with it. Your such a good Ifanboy. Good boy.

    Oh...and "You're holding it wrong!". Words from a man who thinks everyone but him is an idiot. Maybe some are...but NOT the ones who can think for themselves.

    Best wishes,
    Reply
  • jonyah - Tuesday, June 05, 2012 - link

    Ya, cause the Cube was such a big success. Ugh. Thank god we can build quality machines with parts off of shelf. Reply
  • mmagnum77 - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    95% sure that's a SG05BB with nice fancy aluminum panels slapped on each side.

    Either way... I'm not complainin'. I've been prepping a i7 3770S + AMD 7970 ITX build on Newegg, gonna be hard to pass this case up.
    Reply
  • ViperV990 - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    As an SG05BB owner, yepp, the FT03-mini pretty much that.

    I hope the review will be amended with tests done with the GTX 670/680. I have a hard time figuring out just how much air the bottom intake can supply a 680.

    Another interesting tidbit about this case is that apparently you can fit a closed-loop water cooler in it easily.

    Personally, I'd probably prefer a version without the optical drive opening.
    Reply
  • slacr - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    In this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTdUpSukEt8 the Silverstone rep states this exactly, so it's not something they're hiding.

    I would also prefer one without the optical drive bay, i'm in the process of modifying my mATX FT03 by removing the drive bay and relocating the PSU to allow better air inlet.
    Reply
  • mmagnum77 - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    Just kidding about the 7970. Apparently I glossed over the 10" GPU clearance spec, sigh... back to the Lian Li PC-Q08B Reply
  • r3loaded - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    Why not the GTX 670/680? Both are quicker than the 7970 and use less power. The 670 is very short and costs less too. Reply
  • mepenete - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    This looks like an incredibly sexy (with the thermals/acoustics to back it up) case for an HTPC. I've been becoming more and more interested in Silverstone's case designs and this looks really promising. Simple lines yet still classy and not too understated. This would look excellent in a home theater cabinet.

    Great review as always.
    Reply
  • Samus - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    put a Geforce 670 in there and you'd have something ridiculous. Reply

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