A Closer Look - Outside
Removing the plastic and excess packing bits the Fortress FT03 emerges as a sleek structure. An unusual upright build caters to the minimalist with the only edges at the corners. Unable to capture by picture is the feel of the aluminum outer shell, while the touch of aluminum is not extraordinary the FT03 has a sand-blasted coat that really brings out the physical touch.
The exterior of the FT03 is certainly designed with the minimalist in mind. The sleek front only stops for a simple logo and the slim drive slot. The backside is purely flat conforming to the less is more approach.
When viewed from the side it is much of the same. SilverStone's approach to keeping the exterior as flush as possible is evident with all four sides. While one side does offer a small grated access hole it does not take away much from the sleek design. The access panel can be removed but serves are air intake as well as power supply exhaust.
Looking closer at the perforated access panel it is evident only after removing what the exact purpose is. With the access panel placed to the side the cutout was designated for intake to a carefully placed 120 mm fan. The fan will help bring cooler air into the case and directed to the top portion of a motherboard. The opening also serves as an exhaust port for a power supply.
Focusing on the front is the SilverStone logo at the top, and at the bottom is the slot for a slim drive. As mentioned prior, the sleek design is top priority.
At the top front we have the front panel input/output. The top does have a grated lid covering any exiting cables as well to add to the compact design. The front I/O has the standard on/off and reset switches as well as a microphone and audio out connection. A nice addition are the two USB 3.0 ports. While USB 3.0 is gaining ground, it is extremely nice to see the implementation.
Removing the lid reveals the layout of the motherboard exit plan. Because the I/O panel is facing up, as apposed to more standard rear facing, the motherboard will be mounted sideways. The PCI brackets are perforated but only allow for four slots, which will restrict the size of mainboard used for installation. Additionally pictured is the hot swap bay, the release tab will swing the enclosure upwards to allow for quick installation of a 3.5" hard drive.
Rounding out the exterior tour is the bottom. The Fortress FT03 is raised with four large rubber feet to help pull air in from the bottom. Addressing bottom airflow, it includes a large dust filter that covers the intake fan as well as the power supply area. The dust filter is held in place magnetically and is very easy to remove or re-insert. Optional 80 mm fans may be installed at the base to bring additional airflow. The design of the FT03 does constrain the power supply plug to be inserted from below and an extension cable is then routed inside the case.