SilverStone's Raven RV04 and Fortress FT04 have had a very storied history making the transition from the CES show floor to the retail floor. We've already reviewed the Raven RV04 and found it to be a fantastic performer in practice but hung up on a couple of poor engineering decisions; since the Fortress FT04 shares the same basic internal framework, it's going to inherit those issues by default. There are differences in the outer framework worth mentioning, though.

The RV04's biggest problem was its front door. The unusual curve wound up being incredibly problematic in practice; the hinge wasn't going to snap, but the natural flexibility of the material meant it was difficult to actually line the closed door up properly. Switching to an aluminum fascia (and doing aluminum the right way) and giving the side vented lips instead of leaving them open improves the problem tremendously, but doesn't actually solve it. SilverStone has apparently had a difficult time getting this door machined properly, and honestly it should've been considered a lost cause, scrapped on the table, and radically redesigned. We just don't need the door. No matter what surface the case sits on, the bottom of the door will lightly scrape against it. It catches on short carpet, it catches on the white fabric used for the photography backdrop, it catches.

The rest of the exterior matches that attractive aluminum face, but the interior is, for better or worse, nigh identical to the Raven RV04. There are boatloads of features: a plastic rack (with included struts) for supporting graphics cards, an adjustable support for the CPU cooler in the bottom of the case, straps for better securing drives in the bottom bays, and one bay even has a plastic hotswap clamp and SATA backplane. And we still get the removable motherboard tray, and all the drive cages are removable.

So what's the problem? The problem is that all these features turn the interior of the FT04 into a mess, and they all require varying degrees of effort to employ. SilverStone cases are typically engineered differently than other vendors' designs; that's part of their appeal, and when a SilverStone design works, it works well. But the interior of the FT04 is haphazard; you could make a case for the graphic card and CPU cooler supports, but the lack of symmetry with the drive cages isn't just visually unappealing, it's work.

SilverStone Fortress FT04 Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX, E-ATX, SSI-EEB, SSI-CEB
Drive Bays External 2x 5.25"
Internal 7x 3.5", 4x 2.5"
Cooling Front 2x 180mm intake fan
Rear 1x 120mm fan mount
Top -
Side -
Bottom -
Expansion Slots 8
I/O Port 2x USB 3.0, 1x Headphone, 1x Mic
Power Supply Size ATX
Clearances HSF 165mm
PSU ~200mm with optical drive
GPU 338mm
Dimensions 8.62" x 21.5" x 18.98"
219mm x 546mm x 482mm
Special Features USB 3.0 via internal header
Removable drive cages
Analog adjustable speed intake fans
Support struts for CPU fan and graphics cards
Window or windowless models
Price $229

Component support remains essentially the same, and although two of the 3.5" drive bays are listed as "hotswap" on SilverStone's site, only one actually has the SATA backplane. The analog adjustable speed fans are, in my opinion, this case's killer feature beyond the thermal design. While the interior of the case is disorderly to a fault, we've already demonstrated that it's incredibly thermally efficient.

Building in the SilverStone Fortress FT04
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  • genghisquan - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    In terms of air cooling, their RV02 & FT02 are the best. These new RV/FT04 don't beat their predecessors. Even if the 4th series cases had as good of a cooling ability as their 2nd series, the layout of the 4th series aren't as neat and organized. Although the FT02 can fit more HDD/SSD, the placement of the drive cages is messy and inelegant. Reply
  • dealova - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    All above benchmarks, is lower BETTER ? Reply
  • cjs150 - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    SS have made cases that are brilliant for water cooling: TJ07 was king for big cases and TJ08 is very good for M-ATX cases.

    This also looks to hae real WC potential. Could the Front take a 2x180 radiator (yes they do exist), you might lose the bottom 5.25" bay but so what, that would cool a lot of hardware (2x180 is about 10-12% larger cooling surface than a 4x120 radiator)
    Reply
  • rpg1966 - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    Instead of separate temp and noise charts, can you please show a simple scatter chart with (say) temps on X and noise levels on Y, so that we can easily see the trade-offs each case has made? Reply
  • Touche - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    This. Fan speeds would also be nice.

    And your noise floor of 30 dB is way too high. It makes really quiet cases look worse than they are because they score the same as noisier ones that cool a bit better.
    Reply
  • 7amood - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    Guys, remember that this case is much smaller than FT01, 02 and I also think it is smaller than FT03.

    I think I will remove the hinges and make the front panel an easily removable panel. What's the name of this small plastic tool that makes easily removable panels attachable and detachable??
    Reply
  • meacupla - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    I think you might be confusing another case.
    FT03 is an mATX case with extremely small footprint. It's about 1/3 the volumetric size of FT04
    Reply
  • 7amood - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    OMG >.< you are right
    I ment to compare it with the RV not FT.

    btw you happen to know the name of this small plasticy tool used on easily removable panels??
    Reply
  • meacupla - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    I am guessing you are talking about a spudger. :) Reply
  • maximumGPU - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    Second this! Reply

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