After four hours of assembly, wire management and some final adjustments, the aesthetic value of our Fortress FT02 build came to meet even our most critical expectations. Not only did the unibody aluminium frame enhance its elegant exterior design over the Raven RV02, it also reminded us that enthusiast-grade hardware need not be encased in an overblown gaming chassis with egotistical embellishments. Besides, we can’t help but note the fact that the Fortress FT02 proudly received the iF (Internation Forum Design) product design award for 2010. In December 2009, a collection of international jury gathered in Hannover, Germany and judged over 2,486 products from over 39 countries to make their selections. Among all of these candidates, the forum chose to award the SilverStone Fortress FT02 with the design win. If there were any better way to express our enthusiasm about this chassis, it would be noted with the mention of this exceptional award.
Having previously reviewed the SilverStone Raven RV02 last summer, we are led to believe that the Fortress FT02, despite being a product of a different design series, is an unobtrusive aesthetic variant and an equally capable alternative. Unfortunately, both chassis designs share a host of similar issues. For instance, SilverStone had originally advertised both to fully support ATI's Radeon HD 5970 with a 12.2-inch footprint. After a lengthy course of real-world testing, we came to the conclusion that a minor 0.2-inch clearance shortage prevented our cards from being installed into the Fortress FT02 without first having to remove the middle 180mm fan grill. Another engineering oversight came up when we attempted to install a 5.25-inch DVD drive into the front bay with our two GeForce GTX 275s in SLI already in place and spaced apart. We suggest that SilverStone could have mitigated this issue by adding an eighth PCI/PCI-Express bracket for better compatibility with enthusiast-grade motherboards.
With the exception of these minimal design blemishes, SilverStone has still managed to deliver an elegant unibody aluminum chassis that never once compromises aesthetic simplicity for maximum airflow performance. SilverStone's talented R&D staff have meticulously engineered a positive airflow system that successfully prevents the accumulation of deadly dust bunnies, while lowering ambient temperatures and maximizing system health. They have also provided an upgrade path to a much more efficient 180mm airflow fan system that we highly recommend for this chassis. The Fortress FT02 is the fusion of many years of professional consumer research experience and innovation that strives to deliver a unique high-performance design with functional purpose.