Just like its predecessor, the frame of the Fortress FT02 is constructed out of a single piece of aluminum. More specifically, the FT02 features an elegant U-shaped unibody frame that not only provides unique styling, but also functional purpose. It gives the chassis a design trait reminiscent of Apple’s Power Mac G5, with the exception of the two carrying handles and the front mesh panel. In this respect, the FT02 is an example of elegance through simplicity, offering a smooth aesthetic exterior that can only be fully understood by an Apple product designer. An added benefit of its aluminum construction is the added strength – the Fortress FT02 will not bend or flex when handled, assembled or transported. SilverStone’s expert product designers intended this particular this chassis to provide a sublime effect to its owner – no unnecessary complexity or sharp edges – just a smooth, streamlined, rock solid enclosure with subtle curves and ample space to house some powerful hardware within.
Like the Raven RV02, the top of the Fortress FT02 has a removable mesh top. But in contrast, the newer top is much sturdier and reinforced with a firmer snap-on design that becomes evident when detached from the rest of the aluminum body. The mesh top also lacks those unnecessary sharp edges found on the one included with the RV02. SilverStone’s engineers have also placed more emphasis on airflow ventilation with the FT02 design as it appears to have more honeycomb-shaped ventilation holes than the RV02. As a ventilation bonus, it also lacks the unnecessary T-shaped aesthetic support beam down the middle of its mesh design.
Meshed top panel designs on the Fortress FT02 and Raven RV02
For what it’s worth, SilverStone's new design places 90-degree airflow ventilation as a top priority in its second-generation Fortress case. Based on our prior experience with the Raven RV02, one of the greatest benefits of an ATX motherboard rotated 90-degrees is that its I/O port connectors can be hidden directly under the mesh top, out of sight and free from clutter. The cables can then be easily organized and routed out the back of the chassis in a single bundle. With the addition of a few cable ties, they can go virtually unnoticeable.
At the top-front region of the aluminum body are the Power and Reset buttons, complete with integrated LED’s for determining power and hard drive activity. SilverStone has also implemented a new sliding shell panel alongside these buttons to reveal additional I/O connections integrated into the chassis. These include two well-spaced USB 2.0 ports and the customary 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks with motherboard connections for both AC97 and HD Audio. Yet, it appears that the company has decided to ditch the IEEE 1394 FireWire connector present on the Fortress FT01. Even so, we are surprised that the engineers did not include room for an eSATA port, particularly in the interest of many new hot-swappable storage devices releasing to market with the standard.
Another important design aspect of the aluminum body is the clearance area between the very bottom of the chassis and the bottom of its three internal fans. This 1-inch clearance zone not only serves as a valuable design aesthetic to the overall contours of the chassis – it also allows the chassis to be placed on carpet, for instance, without blocking positive airflow to the internal fans. Moreover, this thin sheet of curved aluminum gives the impression that the body of the case is “floating” on a magic carpet, or even rolling on a conveyor belt. The entire curved unibody sheet of aluminum molded around the rectangular chassis serves to define a sense of strength and durability for a design that would otherwise have sharp edges and a boring appeal.