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SilverStone FT03-Mini Set to be the Mini-ITX Case to Beat

Although the form factor has its limitations, I continue to be fascinated with Mini-ITX systems. The newest Mini-ITX premium case is the SilverStone FT03-Mini. It has a similar but more compact form factor to the Micro ATX SilverStone FT03. I never ended up purchasing the FT03 but the FT03 Mini is on the top of my list. This morning, the FT03-Mini models showed up in stock at Newegg.

As with some of SilverStone’s other cases, the FT03-Mini comes in both black (model FT03B-Mini) and silver (model FT03S-Mini). It’s not an extremely small Mini-ITX case at 188.9 mm (7.44 in) wide by 235.1 mm (9.26 in) deep by 397 mm (15.62 in) tall. The case is somewhat tall but it has to be in order to accomodate up to a 10-inch graphics card.

Another potential limitation of the FT03-Mini is that it only takes an SFX power supply. Options are fairly limited but two excellent options do exist. Personally, I am completely sold on Seasonic power supplies and Seasonic makes an excellent SS-300SFD 300-watt SFX power supply, but only if you do not need 6-pin or 8-pin PCI-Express power connectors for your graphics card. The other option is the SilverStone ST45SF 450-watt SFX power supply which also happens to have a $10 rebate through the end of May. The SilverStone ST45SF is your option for using a graphics card that requires additional power since it provides two 6-pin and one 6+2-pin PCI-Express power connector.

For my intended use with a low power processor (no more than 65-watt TDP, low power graphics card without PCI-Express power needs, and Mini-ITX board, the Seasonic would be fine. If you want a higher power draw graphics card such as any mid to high-end Radeon or GeForce card, the SilverStone is the better choice. Remember that Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge processors only run at their TDP when under load. Under most uses, they don’t use that much power.

The above image from the SilverStone FT03-Mini page gives an idea of what the internal layout looks like. For cooling, the case features a single 140mm Air Penetrator fan at the bottom of the case pulling air in from the bottom. The case also has an air filter to minimize dust. The case also supports two 2.5-inch SSDs or hard drives and one 3.5-inch hard drive. As you can see from the front pictures, there is also a space for a slot loading optical drive. I already have the Sony AD-7690H-01 8X SATA Internal Slim DVD+/-RW Drive which I will be using in the case. You could just as easily use one of the available slim Blu-Ray drives.

At the very top of the case, in the center of the grill, there are two USB 3.0 ports, one audio out jack, and one microphone jack. The Mini-ITX board itself sits in a vertical orientation so the cables come out below the grill and out the back of the case at the top.

All in all, I think this is the most striking Mini-ITX case available right now. This is not a good case if you need external drive bays or similar but, if that’s your primary concern, you are probably looking at full size ATX cases anyway.

If portability is needed, the SilverStone Sugo Pack provides a great padded case to transport your case in. I plan on picking this bag up as well.

Both the FT03-Mini in black (listed as model FT03B-Mini) and FT03-Mini in silver (listed as model FT03S-Mini) are in stock and ready to ship from Newegg. Hopefully both will soon be available from Amazon.com as well.

Update: Both the FT03B-Mini and FT03S-Mini are now listed on Amazon.com and should be in stock shortly. Links have been updated to reflect this.

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