Design & Layout Continued
So if the motherboard's rear inputs and outputs are shuttled to the top of the case, then what sits at the back of the chassis? Let's have a look.
A fan grill, of course, complete with a removable filter for easy cleaning. Your power supply, which also sits vertically, is mounted on the other side of the grill, and if it's designed like a standard PSU, it will either pull cool air in from the outside or expel hot air out the back, depending on how the PSU's fan is oriented.
Spinning around to the front of the case we find the LG Blu-ray reader AVADirect installed in this system, with a faceplate that's a near identical match to the silver paint job on the Fortress. Underneath it we have a multi-card reader, giving us access to another USB port, and below that are empty drive bays, one of which sports AVADirect's badge.
The bay covers and faceplates are finished with a brushed aluminum aesthetic that add a touch of elegance to an already attractive looking system.
As you'll see in a moment, three giant fans rest at the bottom of the system, and each one is hooked up to a fan controller that can be switched to High and Low modes. Neither one is particularly loud, but it's worth pointing out that flipping the switches to Low isn't an exercise in futility, which is a complaint we had with Maingear's X79 SHIFT Super Stock system. AVADirect's rig can be fairly quiet, if you want it to be, in part because the GeForce GTX 680 graphics cards aren't obnoxiously loud.
The other reason is because both side panels sport a coat of sound dampening material. Normally we'd sweat bullets at such a design choice on a high-end system, fearing that the added heat would negate any acoustic benefits, but with so much cooling potential, both from the large fans at the bottom and the vertical design, we're totally at ease with having padding on the side panels.
We've given a lot of credit to Silverstone's Fortress up to this point, but once we ripped open the side panels, what we saw was all AVADirect. These folks clearly know how to build PCs, as this is one of the tidiest wiring jobs we've ever seen. The few cables that are visible are tucked neatly out of the way, creating not only a show-worthy interior that you'll want to display to your friends, but also lends itself to an unobstructed environment for airflow to do its thing, which in turn leads to cooler running components and potentially longer lasting hardware.
If there's a downside to this impeccable attention to detail, it's that the wires are so tightly routed that it can be a bit of challenge servicing the machine or upgrading components. It's not impossible to add hardware, it's just a little tricky managing to unplug cables so precisely positioned with little leeway. Of course, if you're dropping six grand on a system like this, the last thing you'll need to worry about for a long, long time is upgrading or adding hardware.