SilverStone Fortress FT03-MINI Case Review
By Gabriel Torres on June 4, 2012
The SilverStone Fortress FT03-MINI is a very small case targeted to Mini-ITX and Mini-DTX motherboards, yet it supports video cards up to 10” (254 mm) long (making it compatible with some high-end video cards such as the GeForce GTX 680, but high-end video cards from AMD are longer than that), and CPU coolers up to 3.1” (78mm) tall. It has a very unique tower design, based on the original FT03’s (aptly nicknamed “trashcan” by some users), which allows one 140 mm fan to cool down the whole system. Let’s take a look at this exquisite product.
The Fortress FT03-MINI is available in black or silver. We reviewed the silver model.
All four side panels of the reviewed case are made of aluminum. The internal chassis (i.e., frame) is made of steel. The top and bottom panels are made of plastic. The side panels are fastened to the chassis using plastic latches, so they come off simply by pulling them out of the case. The panel located behind the motherboard tray, however, is attached to the chassis through screws located on the motherboard tray. As you can see by the small slit available, this case supports only a slim optical drive.
In the Fortress FT03-MINI, the motherboard is installed with its rear panel facing up, so expansion cards such as the video card will have their rear part also facing up. This helps ventilation, as hot air tends to rise; several video cards have an exhaust system at their rear panel.
The case has a plastic panel with a huge mesh at its top, which is easily removed by simply pulling it out. There are two USB 3.0 ports, using an internal connector, and the traditional audio jacks.
Removing the top panel, you have access to the motherboard rear panel. As you can see in Figure 3, this case has two expansion slots, with vented covers, and expansion cards must be screwed to the chassis from outside.
Because of its reduced size, this case only supports SFX12V power supplies.
At its bottom panel, the SilverStone Fortress FT03-MINI has a 140 mm “Air Perpetrator” fan (SilverStone HA1425L12SF-Z, which is actually made by Honghua), with an air filter. This fan pulls air from the bottom and pushes it through the motherboard compartment. It spins at 1,500 rpm and uses a three-pin fan power connector.
As previously explained, three of the four side panels come off the case by simply pulling them out. The “front” of the case is where the bay for the slim optical drive is located. If we follow this orientation, the motherboard tray is located to the left. The case supports one 3.5” and two 2.5” storage devices. As already mentioned, it supports video cards up to 10” (254 mm) long and CPU coolers up to 3.1” (78 mm) tall, and there are two expansion slots.
In Figure 8, you can see the case with its drive bays removed.
The main specifications for the SilverStone Fortress FT03-MINI case include:
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
We were really impressed by the SilverStone Fortress FT-03-MINI. Its look and feel is top notch, and you will be able to build a small yet powerful computer using it. The only negative is its price, but we have to take into consideration that it uses thick aluminum panels, which are expensive.