by Ryan Perry on December 9, 2011 in Mid-Tower
Antec is known for making a variety of quality cases to suit different needs, with its Sonata family aiming to deliver clean styling, functionality and silence all in one. The SOLO II becomes the latest entry to that family, and in some ways, it’s very different than other silent cases on the market. It’s time to find out if that’s a good thing.
So, those side panels are pretty boring, right? Wrong. It’s a little hard to see, but Antec has laid down a 1mm thick polycarbonate layer on the inside of each to help absorb internal noise instead of wrapping them in plastic as the previous model had done.
In order to remove the front panel, the left one needs to be removed first. Then it’s a simple matter of pulling out on the tabs that run down the front of the frame to release the panel and allow it to swing open. It can then be pulled up and away cleanly leaving all connections on the frame.
With the panel out of the way we get to have a look at the removable plastic fan filters that pop off by pulling out on the tabs. These filters will help guard against dust that may be pulled into the system if any optional 120mm fans are installed.
Loosening another captive thumbscrew above the top filter allows the filter and door to swing down in order to access the three elevated hard drive bays, each with a tray that slides out the front.
In most cases the 3.5″ drive cage is found at the lower front portion of the case, but in the SOLO II they have been elevated to about the midway point. This allows the now open space to become home to a 2.5″ drive that mounts vertically onto the motherboard tray. There are four raised mounting points that would make an ideal place to mount a solid-state drive given that there are no moving parts to transfer vibration to the case.
The elevated drive bays in the SOLO II are anything but ordinary and offer different options for mounting hard drives. 3.5″ and 2.5″ drives can be secured onto soft, silicone mounts through the bottom of the trays with the included hardware. For extra sound dampening, users can suspend 3.5″ drives in flexible bands to eliminate the transfer of vibrations to the frame all together.
Above the drive cage are the 5.25″ drive bays. Devices can be installed in this location by using the included rails that are neatly stashed…
…on the bottom of the case. With the exception of drive rails there’s nothing else to look at here unless you want to have a peek at the front panel connections.
The main section of the motherboard tray has a couple of features. Supporting mini-ITX, micro-ATX and ATX form factors, the first is a cable management area that runs along the lower right edge of the motherboard where front panel and data connections can be run. There is also a very large cut out around the CPU area to help with installation and removal of aftermarket coolers.
On the back panel are the PCI slot covers secured in place using standard screws and a better view of the exhaust fan mounted on silicone pegs to, you guessed it, absorb vibration. As mentioned before, this fan also has a two speed external controller for those who really want to tone things down.
Towards the top of the case is a cross brace that provides extra rigidity while supporting the weight of the power supply. At the very top is another polycarbonate layer and the tabs of the mesh cover that need to be straightened in order to remove the vent for the power supply.
A shot of the interior from the opposite side shows off the cable management hooks on the drive cage to help keep wires tucked up tight. This will likely be very handy considering there is only a little over 1/4″ of clearance between the side panel, meaning all but the thinnest cables are likely to cause clearance issues.
Included with the SOLO II are the usual motherboard standoffs and screws to secure the power supply and 5.25″, 3.5″ and 2.5″ devices. There are also a few zip ties as well as a brief overview of the case, a warranty notice and a contest letter enticing users to register their product. There is no manual included with the SOLO II but it can be downloaded from Antec’s website.
Some of these features really have me itching to throw some gear inside of the SOLO II. When completed we’ll look at how well it stacks up against other “silent” cases as well as more enthusiast-oriented offerings.