High End Case Roundup: In Win, Lian-Li, & SilverStone

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Aptly named, the SilverStone Fortress FT02 actually does resemble some kind of stronghold when you step back and look at it; the chassis is long, boxy, and entirely silver, and other than the mesh grill on top, one on the rear, and the huge clear pane in the side panel, there are no openings to indicate any penetrable weakness--even the topside ports are hidden by a little door.



The Fortress FT02 is built this way for a reason, actually, and that reason is to keep sound from escaping. The two large side panels are lined with sound-dampening foam that help keep any fan noise to a minimum.

  

The finish has a sparkle to it that you’re more accustomed to seeing on a car paint job than a computer case, which is impressive because parts of the case are metal while others are plastic, and you really can’t tell them apart without touching them. The look is finished off by subtle curves at the bottom of the front and rear panels as well as at the top of the sides.

The front of the case is host to five 5.25-inch drive bay covers, a SilverStone logo, and nothing else. The rear has a metal mesh grill that is covered by another removable and washable pane of mesh, and it also sports a carrying handle at the top.

     

There are power and reset buttons (with LEDs) on the top of the case, as well as two USB 3.0 ports and headphone and mic jacks. You’d think the top of the chassis, with its large mesh grill, would lift off to reveal a few fan mounts, but you’d be wrong. Those fans are actually mounted on the bottom of the Fortress FT02--three large 180mm fans, to be exact--and they’re the primary intake fans. There’s an inch or so of clearance between the case’s “foot” and the bottom of the chassis, which is where the fans pull in air.

  

They blow air across all the components and exhaust at the top of the case, because, well, heat rises. This design works even better because the whole motherboard sits at a 90-degree angle from where you’d normally expect it to be. Thus, the I/O ports, expansion slots, built-in fan controls (switches between high and low for the three large fans), and PSU input are all accessible from the top instead of the rear of the Fortress FT02. There’s also another 120mm exhaust up top to aid in expelling hot air from inside the chassis.
 

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Why cant we load pictures ladies and gents?

TcM

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In Win H-frame is an dust collector or not ?

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That H-Frame is a cool looking design. I would actually want to use something like that. Sadly, when I went searching for where to buy it, NewEgg had it listed as discontinued.

The Lian-Li is 'clean' looking, but I don't like how the system is laid out, nor how the heat would travel through it. Essentially, to me, it seems too 'closed up' and I don't like the HDD's position at the top of the case which doesn't appear to have an output heat vent.

The Fortress FT02 Looks like it has a nicer setup than the Lian-Li, but when I look at your thermal testing, it shows that the Lian-Li was actually the 'coolest' running case of the three. I was surprised. I also wished that you had included a thermal test with the H-Frame having the exhaust fan even though it wasn't included in the default setup. That would have been interesting data to know as well.

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Closed up is good. The separate compartments allow for much better cooling.

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H-Frame might be good for a silent, completely passively cooled build, maybe even water, but thats about it.

I dont remember a Lian Li case I didnt like. Maybe the train one... The disc tray at the side would be better for me, as I love a clean looking front, but dislike doors.

I really dislike the Fortress series. I know people like them, I just do not

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The H frame is a cool design on paper, never something Id own personally due to dust alone. I agree that on a passive cooled only build it could show some potential, still id pass it up.

Lian Li always makes a decent chassis of outstanding quality, and for how its setup. It looks like they took a design cue from the 800d, having separate zones to keep the noise and heat down is a nice thing. As always the finish is of great quality. I like the ROM drives on the side, nice little touch. Cable routing could be a little better on the mobo side.

The silverstone is a nice chassis, that could be hit or miss depending on how/where its setup. Though I understand WHY, I am not sure how I feel about the GPUs exhausting straight up the top like that (I can imagine a space heater like effect after a few). None the less, silverstone and lian li both have always made some fine chassis, you cant go wrong with either lian li or silverstone.

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Shadizzle, I initially shared your concern about the GPU heat on the Fortress, but with three huge fans on the bottom of the case moving air upwards, it wasn't ultimately an issue.

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Hey... for you guys worried about dust: I take my machine outside and use my electric leaf blower with a flexible extension hose attached to it to blow all the dust out of my system. I do that about once every couple weeks or so. It's amazing how well 100mph wind will blow the dust right out. Keeps it really nice and clean in there.

When I'm doing it, I hold any fan I'm blowing out with my finger, otherwise it'll make it spin like crazy. I also wear a dust mask while I do it because it will blow out quite a bit of dust. Or... at least it does for me. :)

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I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love Lian-Li cases! I was impressed with the H frame when it was announced, how hard is it to get one? I remember it and the D frame were being made in very limited numbers.

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The Lian-Li case looks the best to me, but the price is astounding.

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