Introducing the SilverStone FT03

Case testing is back at AnandTech with fresher, stricter, and much more thorough testing, and we're kicking it off with a doozy. We had a chance to meet with SilverStone back at CES, and their reps generously allowed us to "call dibs" on what was easily one of the most interesting enclosure designs at the show, the FT03. Since then it's been sitting cheerfully in my living room awaiting assembly and testing while we put together our testbed and settled on proper testing methodologies, and now the wait is over. The mad scientists over at SilverStone have produced a number of unique and memorable enclosures, but the FT03 may be their craziest one yet.

It's only fitting that we kick off our new slate of case reviews with an enclosure from the same manufacturer who produced the subject of our last review. The SilverStone GD04 HTPC enclosure review was the subject of some consternation from you, the readership, as well as our rep at SilverStone. This was a case I chose for my own personal use (and continue to use to this day) based largely on its recommendation from SilentPC Review, and my primary issue with it was noise.

My conversation with Tony Ou, the SilverStone rep I met at CES, was like a high tech rendition of "who's on first." He was upset because he felt like I gave the GD04 short shrift for griping about the noise levels, citing that once a fan controller is installed the case has exceptional thermal characteristics while being remarkably quiet. I agreed, but pointed out that I felt it shouldn't need the fan controller to begin with. But we left the conversation appreciating one another's points, and I took to heart just how impressive SilverStone's engineering really is. (If you had any idea how many different fan configurations they tested in the GD04 before settling on one capable of cooling a pair of Radeon HD 4870X2s and a 140-watt AMD Phenom, blood would shoot out of your noise.)

Today that conversation bears fruit. I've consistently felt that SilverStone was like the ASRock of the enclosure market, off in their own world engineering all kinds of crazy hardware, utterly unfettered by conventional design logic. The results are always exciting, and the FT03 is one of their most impressive designs yet.

SilverStone FT03 Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor Micro ATX, Mini ITX
Drive Bays External 1x Slimline Slot-loading Optical Bay
Internal 2x 3.5” or 2.5", 1x 2.5", 1x 3.5" hot-swappable
Cooling Front -
Rear -
Top 1x 120mm exhaust fan
Side Removable vent
Bottom 2x 120mm intake fans
Expansion Slots 5 (4 main, 1 accessory)
Front I/O Port -
Top I/O Port 2x USB 3.0 (routing cable), headphone and mic jacks
Power Supply Size Standard ATX
Clearance 180mm (PSU), 13.77" (Expansion Cards), 167mm (CPU HSF)
Weight 14.77 lbs.
Dimensions 11.18" x 9.25" x 19.17"
Price $169.99

Just to give you a preview of coming attractions, I'll point out that I have a boutique build in-house that uses a Corsair H70 to cool the CPU and two GeForce GTX 580s...all in this enclosure.

In and Around the SilverStone FT03
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  • Metaluna - Thursday, April 28, 2011 - link

    The consensus over at SPCR is that the white plastic grilles make it look like a cheap clothes hamper :).

    Kudos to Silverstone for trying something unique. Sadly not every radical concept works out, but I hope they keep trying.
  • Egglick - Thursday, April 28, 2011 - link

    I agree that the white plastic vents look terrible on the silver model. If you look at the Black version though, it's a huge improvement.
  • bman212121 - Monday, May 2, 2011 - link

    And one day you accidently overheat your computer when you mistakely throw your clothes on top of it...
  • darkvader75 - Thursday, May 19, 2011 - link

    I agree that it should be either clear plexi right there or just drilled holes in the alluminum
  • Th-z - Monday, August 8, 2011 - link

    That's the removable dust filter.

    AnandTech, you guys should mention any dust filter feature in your case review.
  • ckryan - Thursday, April 28, 2011 - link

    This is far and away one of the most interesting case designs out there. Unique cases are not plentiful and Silverstone at least has a couple to offer. I like cases that are a little different, ones like the Lian Li A05 which reverses airflow and motherboard placement to focus cool air one the processor. In that way, the FT03 is not alone, but it's not a huge crowd either. With enough money to spend on the extras, the Silverstone seems like it would make a fantastic system. Too bad slim line ODDs are the devil.
  • michael2k - Thursday, April 28, 2011 - link

    Not really that unique. Vertical square orientation, upward ventilzation, etc.
  • mados123 - Thursday, April 28, 2011 - link

    Exactly. That was one of the earliest designs that I saw from Apple where my jaw dropped due to its creative thermodynamics and use of Acrylic.
  • nubie - Thursday, April 28, 2011 - link

    They took an idea that has been floating around in my head and made it work.

    Vertical cooling and square footprint (or nearly). Also access to all ports without going behind the PC.

    I can't afford it, but it is nice to know it is out there.

    Fantastic, very forward thinking. I hope this spawns more (Lian Li are you listening? Maybe Power Cooler too for those like me: short on the green stuff.)
  • SilthDraeth - Thursday, April 28, 2011 - link

    I am guessing that was a strange attempt at a pun, or you were still hung up about noise levels!


    Back to reading the rest of the review now...

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