by Rory Buszka on February 21, 2007 in Cases & PSUs
In a world of gratuitously flashy enthusiast PC cases, Antec sets itself apart by focusing on elegant design and a superb user experience. Their new SOLO case embodies these two ideals, offering a blend of style and substance as well as some thoughtful features aimed at convenience and low noise. Is this perfection in a computer case? Read on to find outâ€¦
The SOLO case arrived on my doorstep in a huge outer carton. It appears that Antecâ€™s well aware of UPSâ€™s tendency to not play so nicely with heavy packages, and Antec didnâ€™t take any chances with my review sample.
The Soloâ€™s retail carton is big, glossy, and heavy. For those who judge the quality of a component based on its weight, this box has a reassuring heft. Even the cardboard itself is of a high quality. Even so, Antec sent this review sample packed in a larger, air-cushioned external box that defied UPS to do their worst. The retail box boasts high-quality product images, informative specification tables, and an invitation to the consumer to â€œGo Solo.â€
Opening the box reveals a well thought out packing scheme. The top and bottom of the case are each supported by endcaps made from numerous layers of foam sheeting bonded together to create a block. This foam is much softer than the typical Styrofoam; in transit, the Solo practically rides on air. Extracting the case from its carton is a simple matter of turning the box upside down and sliding it upward; no extraneous parts or pieces fell out while removing the case from its box. Itâ€™s clear to see that Antec realizes that in the enthusiast market, the user experience begins from the very moment the box is opened.
The case itself is protected by a foam bag; â€˜undressingâ€™ the Solo further reveals a captivating piano-gloss black finish thatâ€™s remarkably free from â€œorange-peelâ€ effect, though not quite perfectly smooth. The only black parts of this case that arenâ€™t glossy are the drive bay covers, but even they are ringed by a strip of glossy trim. Brushed-aluminum accents on the front panel (much like the P180) provide a striking contrast that imparts a profound sense of elegance and style, and the Antec logo is stamped subtly into this aluminum at the bottom of the front bezel. This is one case that makes a bold styling impression wherever itâ€™s likely to be used, akin to dressing your system in a tuxedo.
|Model||SOLO||The product names in Antecâ€™s Lifestyle Series use musical terms, such as Minuet, Fusion, Sonata, and Overture. SOLO fits with that naming scheme.|
|Case Type||ATX Mid Tower||Most enthusiast cases use the ATX form factor, because most of the enthusiast motherboards that anyone would be interested in are also ATX.|
(H x W x D)
|17.5â€ x 8.1â€ x 18.5â€||This case is on the compact side, just large enough to accommodate an ATX board, though with enough room internally to accommodate longer video cards.|
|Cooling Provisions||1x120mm Tri-Cool (rear); 2x92mm (not included)||The twin 92mm fans in the front of the case are a break from the industry standard, but the combined effect of two 92mm fans is greater than a single 120mm.|
|Drive Bays||8 Total|
3x 5.25â€ External
1x 3.5â€ External
4x 3.5â€ Internal
|The 3.5â€ external bay is actually built onto a 5.25â€ sled, which means that it can be exchanged for a fourth 5.25â€ drive.|
|Material||SECC Steel||This case appears to use 0.8mm-thick steel for its side panels, which adds ruggedness and noise reduction properties. The front door of the case is plastic, with an aluminum layer bonded adhesively.|
|Expansion Slots||7||Not much to say about this â€“ itâ€™s an ATX case, and this is a requirement of the specification.|
|Power Supply||Not Included||This affords the system builder a bit of extra flexibility in selecting the best power supply for the hardware and budget constraints.|
|Weight||11.5kg without power supply||This is one hefty case, with its thick steel and additional damping layers adding to the weight even without a power supply, drives, and heavy cooling solutions installed. This case doesnâ€™t travel light.|
|Motherboard Support||ATX, Micro ATX||This case is just large enough to accommodate an ATX motherboard comfortably while remaining compact.|