In and Around the SilverStone FT03 Mini

As I mentioned before, the FT03 Mini looks just like the FT03 except smaller. SilverStone uses thick aluminum panels on all four sides of the enclosure, sturdy plastic for accents like the I/O and buttons on the top of the enclosure and the bottom fan intake, and then steel for the structure of the enclosure itself. The result is that externally, there isn't a whole lot to remark on. It has four flat aluminum sides, and then the motherboard's I/O cluster and power supply are both mounted to the top of the case and accessible by removing the plastic top cover.

SilverStone has largely pioneered using a rotated motherboard mounting system in their enclosures, but it really makes sense with the FT03 Mini. The base of the enclosure is basically square, and right in the bottom center is a 140mm intake fan. The case also sits off of the floor high enough that only the shaggiest of rugs should prevent fresh air from coming in through the bottom of the FT03 Mini. Fresh air blows through the single chamber and out of the top of the case. It's a sound engineering design and you'll see it pays off in spades.

I've often compared SilverStone's cases to puzzle boxes due to the very specific way they come apart and back together, but nowhere has that comparison been more appropriate than with the FT03 Mini. End users ignore the instruction manual at their own peril; we're at the point where you'll need it just to figure out how to get the case open in the first place. I'm not inclined to mark SilverStone down for this, though, because the instructions are clear enough and because there's a definite logic to how the case tears down.

In order, you pop the top off of the case, then the two side panels snap off instead of sliding upwards (a welcome improvement on the FT03, which was easy to accidentally pop the side panels off of when you were moving it), then the back panel snaps off, then the optical drive cage comes out, and attached to that are cages for a 3.5" drive and a 2.5" drive. We have the disassembly sequence in our gallery if you're inclined to check it out.

The interior of the FT03 Mini is built out of black-painted steel, and the whole enclosure is really very sturdy. You're not liable to spend much time looking at the inside of the case, but I can't stress enough how important the logic of the case's assembly is. It comes apart and back together in a very specific order, which is vital for a design this unique. Once you understand SilverStone's logic, you'll find the case is remarkably well thought out.

Introducing the SilverStone FT03 Mini Assembling the SilverStone FT03 Mini
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  • ikjadoon - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    This might help...but it's just one shot. :(
  • terragb - Thursday, May 24, 2012 - link

    They are using a CPU water cooler in that shot which makes it look like there is much more space than there is with an air cooler.
  • terragb - Thursday, May 24, 2012 - link

    Hey friends,

    So I know I'm a bit late to the party but I'm actually using the FT03-Mini right now with an i7-3770 and a GTX 680.

    For the record, assembly with a 680 becomes a completely different situation. Yes, there is physically enough room inside the case for the 680 but actually getting it in place is very difficult. I had to follow a completely different assembly order than recommended and actually had to unscrew the front grill/port cover/mounting bracket from the GPU to squeeze it in and then screw the front grill back in place with it lodged inside the case.

    I have pictures of the build that I need to find time to upload but I'll try and answer questions if anyone has any.
  • mcbowler - Friday, May 25, 2012 - link

    So how do you like the set up? This seams ideal to me.
  • terragb - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - link

    I'm really happy with it. I really like the unique vertical orientation of the case. I'm still seeing how hot the video card runs since its definitely a little airflow starved given the GPU intake fan is only a few millimeters from the side panel of the case.
  • ggathagan - Saturday, May 26, 2012 - link

    That's odd.
    Is the 680 a reference-based design or does it have a custom cooler like the MSI Twin Frozr?

    I used an EVGA GTX670, which is the same size as their 680 as both are reference design. I didn't have to do anything to the GPU.

    Yes, it's tight, but you can get the GPU in after everything else is installed and running.
    I did some testing with the built-in graphics before installing the 670.
    When I installed the card, I didn't have to do any more than take off the panel with the optical drive slot.
    And it didn't take any kind of forcing.
    That GPU size struck me as almost being made for the case.
  • terragb - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - link

    Its an allegedly reference Galaxy GTX 680. Honestly if it were only a few millimeters shorter it would have fit in without all the effort.
  • Salem - Friday, June 15, 2012 - link

    I'm about to order everything, but when it comes to CPU cooler, I just realized there doesn't appear to be any room for the radiator from the Corsair H60 on the bottom while having a 10" video card like the GTX680 or 670. Does this sound right to you? How are you cooling your CPU?

    I have a spare Noctua C14, but there's no way that'll work in this thing.
  • methudman6 - Friday, May 25, 2012 - link

    Where the heck can I buy this in the US? I can find only one Canadian retailer online called Sundial Micro.
  • ggathagan - Saturday, May 26, 2012 - link

    Sundial is where my friend bought his.
    They're in California, not Canada.
    CA as domain name is Canada. As an address, it's California
    Got it quick, and the whole process was trouble-free.

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