With the right side door removed we gaze into what looks like an extremely cramped and busy computer case. Now where to begin…
The motherboard tray is easily removed allowing us to install the motherboard along with CPU and cooler. It's also possible to install the CPU cooler at any point thanks to the oversized motherboard tray cut-out which provides access to the underside of the motherboard.
Still, with the FT04 being such a cramped case we would much prefer to install the CPU cooler with the tray removed from the case. For demonstration purposes we installed the large Thermalright Macho Rev.A, one of the favourite coolers of our recent cooler roundup.
The Macho Rev.A is about as big as you will want to go in the FT04, as it makes getting hard drives in and out of the primary drive cage quite difficult, while the SATA power and data cables get in the way once installed.
With the primary components installed onto the motherboard we slotted the tray back into the case and installed the hard drives. The FT04 has been photographed with six Western Digital Red 4TB hard drives installed. Clipping the two drives into the lower cages takes just seconds and with the hot-swap bay wired up there is little more that needs to be done.
The primary drive cage which can house five drives is mounted long ways within the case which means in order to install or remove drives you must first remove the drive cage. This is a very annoying design for a couple of reasons.
With all the SATA data and power cables neatly plugged in there isn’t really any slack in the cables, which means removing the drive cage with all the drives still connected isn’t really possible. Having to remove up to five SATA data and power cables every time you want to install or remove a drive isn’t exactly practical, in fact it’s bloody annoying.
Unfortunately that's not where issues with the drive cage end. When using the Asrock Fatal1ty X79 Champion motherboard we found that the 24-pin ATX power connector was blocked, forcing us to unplug all the drives so that we could remove the cage and plug the power cable in.
Don’t expect to be able to change the memory modules either without first having to unplug all your drives and remove the cage.
We don’t understand the decision to use this design considering there is room to mount the drives sideways. This would solve all these problems by providing more usable space within the FT04 while allowing easy access to the primary drive cage, after all this is how the bottom two drive cages are mounted.
Moving past the frustratingly annoying 5-bay drive cage we decided to mount the power supply next. This required the removal of the top cover which was easily done by unscrewing a pair of thumb screws.
With that done we dropped in an OCZ ZX Series 1250w which was easy enough, though again we had the not so enjoyable task of hooking up all those 3.5” drives in the primary bay. The issue being that the SATA power cables hit the Macho Rev.A CPU cooler which not just looked messy but also obstructed air-flow.
Dropping in a pair of Radeon graphics cards went smoothly and with 360mm of room even the very longest cards will fit with room to spare. This aspect of the case is quite nice as the top 180mm fan feeds cool air directly to the graphics cards.
Overall working with the Silverstone FT04 wasn’t as enjoyable as we had hoped. In the past we have loved building with the Raven cases and even the FT03 was a lot of fun. The FT04 on the other hand just seems really impractical with no real reason behind some of the design choices.