I would like to thank CaseKing.de
for supplying the review sample.
CaseKing is one of the few companies out there, which will not just sell anything. They only offer hardware that performs well and is of high quality. The shop carries quite a few exclusive parts and devices from all around the world and it is also the official distributor for a long list of well known manufacturers. Their assortment has grown substantially in recent years, while great service and support is still a very important part of the shop philosophy. The website may be in German, but due to great demand, an English version is in the works.
CaseKing has kindly sent us the Silverstone Fortress in black. The enclosure features the same type of uni-body construction as the much larger TJ07 but manages to stay within the confines of a very compact mid-tower chassis. Silverstone offers the case in black or silver, with the choice of a solid side panel or a windowed one.
||Silverstone Fortress SST-FT01B (black), SST-FT01S (silver), SST-FT01B-W (black + window), SST-FT01S-W (silver + window)
||Enthusiasts tower chassis
||8.66 kg / lb
||211 mm (W) x 486 mm (H) x 494.5 mm (D)
||3.0mm ~ 6.0mm uni-body aluminum outer frame and aluminum body
||Black or Silver
||Front: 1 x 180mm intake fan, 700rpm, 18dBA, Rear: 1 x 120mm exhaust fan, 900rpm, 18dBA, Top: 1 x 180mm intake fan, 700rpm, 18dBA
||5x 5.25" Exposed , 7x 3.5" Hidden
||USB2.0 x 2; IEEE1394 x 1; Mic x 1; HD Audio+AC97 x 1
Silverstone ships the Fortress in a very massive box. It is quite wide for such a compact chassis. You will find an image of the enclosure on the front, while the rear gives you a side view of the internal layout, as well as a list of features. One side holds the same information in multiple languages, while the other side is filled with the specifications.
The Styrofoam spacers are absolutely massive. These are the largest, which I have ever seen with a case packaging. The Fortress is further protected by a heavy duty plastic bag.
Anyone looking for a lot of extras within the chassis will be sorely disappointed. There is a single fan cable adapter and a bag of screws inside the enclosure and a slim manual helps you with the installation.
A Closer Look - Outside
The Fortress has a very similar construction to the TJ07, which is still Silverstone's most robust offering. This is also one of the main selling points of the Fortress and the reason why the company has put a price tag of just under 200 on it.
The front of the Fortress is very clean and features straight lines. Silverstone has taken a solid piece of aluminum bent it across the top, front and underside, while carving a few grooves in the sides to add a few details to the overall design. The rear is black as well, with the power supply placed on the bottom of the chassis. Not much else out of the ordinary here.
Both sides of the Fortress are completely solid. There are no air vents or any form of active ventilation.These panels are held in place by thumb screws and a plastic, spring loaded lock. They are constructed of aluminum, just like the rest of the enclosure.
Taking a closer look at the front of the chassis, the bottom area is taken by the large front intake fan. The fan grill is made of a metal mesh with a large Silverstone logo on the center of it. This emblem is quite nice, but may be a bit too large for some. Moving up, the top part is intended for the five 3.5 inch bays. There are no 3.5 inch bays in the Fortress and there seems to be no adapter for such devices either. This is a feature which most, much cheaper enclosures manage to include and a fairly annoying oversight from Silverstone.
The rear of the chassis may be divided into three areas. The bottom holds the power supply, while the middle is taken by the seven mainboard expansion slots. The top area is taken by the usual rear fan, which is covered by a traditional fan guard. All the way up top are two large openings to route water cooling tubes through the rear of the chassis.
The top is taken by another large fan, covered in a hiqh quality metal mesh once again. The I/O is also located here, embedded at an angle into the top of the chassis. This design is great and should make it easy to plug cables in, even when the case is placed under a desk.
A Closer Look - Inside
To gain access to the interior of the chassis, you are required to remove a total of three thumb screws holding each panel in place. The top such screw actually locks a plastic spring loaded clip, which actually has the sturdiness to hold the entire panel by itself. So if you keep your case at home and frequently swap parts, you can keep it shut without any screws. The side panels are made of aluminum and feature a thin foam lining on the interior. This is intended to act as sound dampening material, but the consistency and feel of the material is very loose and soft, unlike the usual sheets you can buy seperately. The doors themselves can be bend with a simple push and actually ship a bit out of shape. It is really disappointing to see such a construction on a fairly expensive enclosure. Turning the case over and removing the other side panel, there are some good news and some bad.
First the good: Silverstone has included a single plastic bracket which holds a standard SATA power and data cable. This makes the bay hot swappable. The bad news: There is only a single one, so you will have to go out and spend some more money to equip all bays with such a functionality. The mainboard tray also lacks a cutout so that you may remove a cooler backplate without having to take out the entire board. Other, much cheaper cases, feature such a very handy opening.
The front HDD bays - a whooping seven of them - can be accessed seperately by pulling out the plastic trays. These lock in place with a simple plastic mechanism, not requiring any screws to do so. The front fan, which cools the hard drive bays, is guarded by a dust filter, which can be pulled out for cleaning. The optical drive bay uses large plastic locks. These should hold the drives in place quite nicely and seem to be installed very well, without any form of loose parts or play in the locked position.
The rear bottom of the chassis holds the power supply. It has a dust filter as well. It is great to see that Silverstone has managed to cover all intake fans with such filters, greatly reducing the dust intake. Above that are seven mainboard expansion slots. These are placed in such a manner, that you are required to use the holes on the edge of the case frame to reach them. This means that you better have a long and slim screw driver at your immediate disposal. Thumb screws whould have been a bit better in this area. Above that is the 120 mm exaust fan, with a traditional fan guard as protection.
The top I/O connectors are color coded, which should make it even simpler to plug them into the right headers on the mainboard. The top exaust fan also features a large guard and pushes air out the top of the Fortress chassis.
Strider 750W Power Supply
The Strider power supply is Silverstone's enthusiast model, offering solid performance with modular cables in the medium price range. It is only topped by the Decathalon series, which features the same modular system, but with a single, powerful rail instead of the seperate ones found in the Strider. The compact package has an image of the PSU and also clearly states the power capability of 750W. Considering that the series starts at 350W and goes all the way up to 1200W, there is bound to be something in there to fit your needs.
You will find some screws, Velcro cable ties, the power cables and two manuals. One of which is specifically for the Silverstone Strider 750W while the other is a general one with all the PSU offerings of the company.
||4 Pin CPU
||PCI-E Aux Power
|ATX 20+4 Pin
||4 & 8 Pin
||4x 6 Pin & 1x AUX
A Closer Look
The entire PSU comes pre-assembled. This means that all cables are attached right out of the box. Considering the large amount of connectors, I doubt you will need all of them. The Strider is quite heavy, fairly large and features an embedded Silverstone company logo on the underside.
The fan looks quite miniscule when compared to other units which feature a 135 mm unit instead. It does cool the unit in a quiet manner, so you won't have to worry about the noise level of the part. The air grill on the rear of the unit does not bear any surpises. The PSU accepts between 115V or 240V so there is no manual switch required. The connectors are partially of the standard variety, as the 24-pin ATX, CPU power, PCI-E and Molex use identical plugs on either end of the cable. Only the SATA branches have been united into one large plug. Each of the connectors is clearly labeled by a diagram.
There are three small dials, giving you the option to fune tune the PSU. If you do not know what these are for, I would suggest to leave them alone. The unit works fine right out of the box, so for most users there is no need to tune the Strider in any way. The other side has a sticker which holds all the data about the unit's capabilities.
Installing the mainboard within the chassis is done with the use of traditional mainboard spacers. There is no removable mainboard tray and the chassis is quite compact, if you fill up the case with multiple graphic cards and such, you may find yourself urning for more space.
The power supply is also secured with screws. You have the choice of installing the fan facing up or downward within the Fortress. I have chosen downward, as this gives the unit access to cold air, while the dust filter should keep the majority of dirt out of the Strider.
The hard drive still requires four screws to hold it in place within the plastic tray. You may then slide it into place and close the front to lock it down. While such a system is good for SATA drives, it may not be the best for IDE units. You are still required to use a screwdriver and the large plastic trays may block some of the air flow from the front intake fan. The fact that you are stuffing seven drives into spaces usually intended for five does not help either.
To remove the front cover, you are required to take out two screws. It is made of aluminum just like the rest of the case and looks much like the one you find on most other high-end enclosures from Silverstone. Once the cover has been pulled out, simply slide in the optical drive and push the plastic contraption to lock the unit in place. It holds surprisingly well and the drive is held in place perfectly fine. This is actually the very first system I have used, with clamps that grip on the installed device so hard that it can no longer be moved around at all.
Once everything installed, the case does become a bit crowded. There is no easy way to do cable management, so if you pack the case full of hardware, expect to see the cables to go with the guts. The smaller brother of the TJ07 is naturally lacking the height, being a mid-tower case, but also is much shorter, further reducing the space within the unit.
Once you turn on the case, there is not really a lot to tell that the unit is up and running. All the fans within the system are very quiet. The Fortress looks very clean and the hue of black goes well with the plastic covers of any external drives.
The LG DVD drive has been placed in the top slot. Like I mentioned before there are no 3.5" bays, so you will have to spend some more money buying the appropriate adapter for such devices. The red power LED is quite weak but gets the job done nicely.
Value and Conclusion
- The Silverstone Fortress in black or silver can be had for 179.90 at CaseKing.de, while the version with a window costs you an additional 10 . The Strider 750W power supply will set you back 129.90 at CaseKing.de. For our US readers, the chassis costs $ 219 - 229 US Dollars, while the power supply has a price tag of around $ 145 US Dollars.
- Single piece bottom, front and top construction
- Can take seven hard drives
- Very clean and well constructed appearance
- Dust filters on both intake areas (PSU and front of chassis)
- Pushes lots of air - 2x 180 mm units included
- Large exaust cooler up top really helps with temperatures
- Quiet operation
- Screwless optical drive bay system holds extremely well
- Hard drive trays for easy installation
- Sound dampening materials
- Additional water cooling holes in the back
- Embedded & angled top I/O
- Side panels not reinforced, may bend easily
- Everything except the external drive bay still requires screws
- Mainboard tray without an opening under the CPU area
- Only one hot swap SATA adapter extras cost 5 a piece. Equipping the entire case, further raises the price 30 .
- No possibility to install external 3.5" drive without additional cost
- An incredibly sturdy frame has its price
The Silverstone Fortress bears a name with the meaning of being exceptionally robust and withstanding the onslaught of everyday use. The thick bent aluminum piece spanning the bottom front and top certainly honor that name and its meaning. At a price tag of just under 200 one should not expect anything else. The case manages to cram seven hard drives into a very compact chassis, where others manage just four or five such bays. On the other hand the Fortress lacks a 3.5 inch bay, which means that such an adapter will set you back another 15-20 - increasing the overall price of the enclosure. Such adapters are usually included with cases of this price range. Silverstone has gone all out on providing a good looking case with a sturdy exterior, while the side panels need to be handled with a certain degree of care, so they won't bend out of shape.
The interior of the Fortress manages to impress in some areas, but also does away with interesting functionality we are used to seeing in enthusiast enclosures. On one hand you get the afore mentioned space for an above average amount of hard drives and an excellent locking mechanism for the large drive bays. On the other hand the Fortress lacks essentials or simply teases you with possible functionality. The screws for the mainboard expansion slots are hard to reach without the proper tools and the screw-less systems turn out to require screws in some form or another. Considering the price of the Fortress it is clearly aimed at the enthusiast crowd, but it lacks any possibility to install a large radiator and does not have a cutout in the mainboard tray to offer easy removal of cooler backplates without having to take out the entire mainboard itself.
This leaves us with an interesting case, which tries to sport the very successful genes of the TJ07 in a new, compact shape. These smaller dimensions also means less space to work with and less possibilities to truly innovate. All things considered, the Fortress manages to surprise in many areas, with a few small glitches here and there. So if you you are eying the TJ07, but think it is too large, take a look at the Silverstone Fortress - it may be just the case you are looking for.