If you read my review of the SilverStone Raven RV04 (and you should go back and do so since it's going to be a fairly regular reference point), everything here is going to be very familiar. Assembly of the FT04 is essentially identical, although "features" turn into oddball hiccups here and there. As I said, there's really a lot of unneeded complication in this internal design that makes it unnecessarily difficult to work with.

It starts with the removable motherboard tray. Ordinarily I'd be gung ho about a removable motherboard tray, but in the FT04 it's essentially unnecessary. You're going to need to remove the primary drive cage to install 3.5" drives into it anyhow, and that's the only internal component that really obscures the motherboard tray itself. I think it's unfair to actively cite the removable motherboard tray as a point against the FT04, but I do think it's also emblematic of the essentially overengineered nature of the case as a whole. With all that said, getting the motherboard in is still pretty easy; SilverStone has six of the motherboard standoffs preinstalled, and the rest is gravy.

The instruction manual suggests you wire up as much of the case as possible before moving on from this point, and I agree. Installing drives really is the stuff of nightmares, though. You have the remove the top panel of the case to install a 5.25" drive and the power supply; that's not the problem. The problem resides with 3.5" and 2.5" drives. 2.5" drives must still be lined up inside the two bottom cages of the case and screwed into the bottom. That means removing the cage surrounding the mounts, which is held in place with five screws. 3.5" drives can be installed in the bottom cages, but it's almost easier to just remove the primary 3.5" cage and install them in there.

Of course that presents its own set of problems. Drives are screwed into the cage, but the cage itself is held in place with three screws, none of which are particularly easy to remove and replace. There's a thumbscrew that goes into the top and has to be removed with either your fingers or pliers as there isn't clearance for a conventional screwdriver. The two screws that go into the bottom plastic lip of the cage are easy enough to remove but require some doing to replace so you don't drop them into that tray. These are minor nuisances but minor nuisances are really the Achilles' heel of the FT04/RV04 assembly. It didn't need to be this complicated.

Finally, while the power supply installs easily enough, expansion card installation is again needlessly complicated. And again, it's a small nitpick that is adding up with the rest of them. If you look on the right side of the photo, you can see that the right-hand lip of the case hooks around and there are holes in it to slot a screwdriver through. That's appreciated, but again, I'm not sure it's entirely necessary. Other case designs have gotten on fine with not having the lip extrude so far you'd need to cut holes in it. Now you're working with both hands around this small but vaguely irritating obstruction when the simpler solution would've been to either cut an indentation into that entire area or just allow the lip to simply be shorter than it is.

If it seems like I'm nitpicking the FT04's assembly to death, it's only because these nitpicks accumulate over the course of assembly. I found myself progressively more annoyed with decisions that made no sense to me, when the interior of the case could've been substantially streamlined without losing thermal functionality. I do want to be clear, though: this is the primary drawback of the FT04.

Introducing the SilverStone Fortress FT04 Testing Methodology
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  • genghisquan - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    In terms of air cooling, their RV02 & FT02 are the best. These new RV/FT04 don't beat their predecessors. Even if the 4th series cases had as good of a cooling ability as their 2nd series, the layout of the 4th series aren't as neat and organized. Although the FT02 can fit more HDD/SSD, the placement of the drive cages is messy and inelegant. Reply
  • dealova - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    All above benchmarks, is lower BETTER ? Reply
  • cjs150 - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    SS have made cases that are brilliant for water cooling: TJ07 was king for big cases and TJ08 is very good for M-ATX cases.

    This also looks to hae real WC potential. Could the Front take a 2x180 radiator (yes they do exist), you might lose the bottom 5.25" bay but so what, that would cool a lot of hardware (2x180 is about 10-12% larger cooling surface than a 4x120 radiator)
    Reply
  • rpg1966 - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    Instead of separate temp and noise charts, can you please show a simple scatter chart with (say) temps on X and noise levels on Y, so that we can easily see the trade-offs each case has made? Reply
  • Touche - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    This. Fan speeds would also be nice.

    And your noise floor of 30 dB is way too high. It makes really quiet cases look worse than they are because they score the same as noisier ones that cool a bit better.
    Reply
  • 7amood - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    Guys, remember that this case is much smaller than FT01, 02 and I also think it is smaller than FT03.

    I think I will remove the hinges and make the front panel an easily removable panel. What's the name of this small plastic tool that makes easily removable panels attachable and detachable??
    Reply
  • meacupla - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    I think you might be confusing another case.
    FT03 is an mATX case with extremely small footprint. It's about 1/3 the volumetric size of FT04
    Reply
  • 7amood - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    OMG >.< you are right
    I ment to compare it with the RV not FT.

    btw you happen to know the name of this small plasticy tool used on easily removable panels??
    Reply
  • meacupla - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    I am guessing you are talking about a spudger. :) Reply
  • maximumGPU - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    Second this! Reply

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