Installing our Micro ATX motherboard into the FT03 required moving things around as I was dropping it in along with removing the fan that blows over the motherboard temporarily With our Noctua heatsink on top I was a little worried we wouldn't have the clearance needed to fit it all. As it turns out, it fit fine other than the fan that we removed wouldn’t fit back in. Ideally running a small sealed water cooling loop would give the best clearance here but people have been able to fit almost all of the largest heatsinks on the market into the FT03 as long as you plan on removing that fan. How many small form factor cases can say that?
Our GTX 580 fit right into place with plenty of room to spare for even longer GPU’s like the HD 6990 for example. I love that there is room for a second card for Crossfire or SLI if you want. I would recommend going with a card that vents out of the PCI slots, internal venting cards might push the thermal limits of the FT03 with its unique cooling layout. Above the GPU there is another fan mount that will blow down right onto the GPU to keep things cool, this will help keep today’s high end gpu’s running cool and is a nice touch for Silverstone to include.
I was a little skeptical about the mounting location for the power supply packed in down at the bottom. With our smaller power supply, I had no issues at all fitting it all in. The small footprint of this case also meant that there was room to run all of our cables properly for good wire management. I would still highly recommend going with a modular power supply, simply because you don’t have a lot of room to fit the extra cables without jamming them back behind the motherboard.
With everything together I was curious about three things, noise levels, cooling, and portability. Right away I was happy with the noise levels of the case. Our power supply actually put out more noise than anything else under use. Silverstone’s decision to pack that 120mm fan in place of two 80mm fans was a good choice and helped considerably with the noise levels.
Cooling performance of the FT03 was actually much better than expected. This paired with our PCI slot venting GPU, and great performing CPU cooler and we had no issues with temperatures while testing. Running a CPU cooler than blows down over the motherboard also helped replace the fan that Silverstone had originally installed that we had to remove to fit everything.
My last concern with the Fortress FT03 was with how easy it would be to carry around to LANs. Its small footprint and capacity for a larger motherboard is perfect for LAN use. But the unique design used had me a little concerned. I ran into one issue when moving the case around that did concern me. There really isn’t a great way to hold the case. Two of the side panels lift up and come off and the third pops off if pulled on. On top of all of that (literally) is a plastic top piece. Although the case looks amazing, it was a little bit nerve racking when moving it around. I would love to see a similar model but with a carrying handle right on top or a carrying case. The best option for this is to go with Silverstone’s Sugo carrying case that also supports the FT03. This basically packs the FT03 into a duffle bag and gives you room for cables and whatnot. I wouldn’t recommend LAN use of the FT03 without it.