|Antec Two Hundred Mid-Tower Computer Case|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cases|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Monday, 21 September 2009|
Page 6 of 6
Antec Two Hundred Final Thoughts
When I think "Gaming Case", two things come to mind, Looks and Airflow. On the high end, the top cases from every manufacturer sport either drop-dead gorgeous or eye-popping outrageous designs. The Antec Two Hundred has very humble aspirations, befitting its place on the lowest rung of Antec's gaming product line. That doesn't mean it has to be ugly; it has a genuinely attractive front panel, and the rest of the case doesn't detract from that.
The airflow picture is one of possibilities, rather than capabilities. There are five fan locations, but only two fans are supplied. That's actually a plus, for those like me who want to hand pick the case fans, especially if the components inside the case are going to support a real gaming experience. You WILL need to add some intake fans to this case if it gets populated with almost any form of graphics card suitable for gaming.
I've talked recently in my video card articles about the impact of the fourth dimension, time, on product development. The Antec Two Hundred offers up another object lesson. It's the latest release from Antec, but because it's their budget offering, it's not the latest and greatest. Or is it...? Name one other Antec gaming case that has a CPU cutout on the motherboard tray. Three Hundred, Nine Hundred, Nine Hundred Two, Twelve Hundred...no. Only the lowly Two gets this feature, because it's the latest design. Now, this is a simple feature to implement; it's not rocket science, it doesn't require any additional parts, and it's hardly a brand new innovation. But it takes time for new features to bubble up into the product line.
The front-loaded hot swap 3.5" SATA hard drive bay is another example. Although it does require some additional parts, it's not an overly expensive proposition. Once again, name me another gaming case..... and not just Antec cases this time.
There's a theory that applies to consumer products which are technology-driven: always buy the latest, it's always going to be better than last year's model, and it is likely not going to cost any more. DSLR cameras are a perfect example of this; there's no way the price difference between last year's model on clearance sale and this year's model is going to make up for the difference in performance and features. Lenses are generally another story; in fact some vintage lenses are highly sought after for their performance, even though they may lack modern features like vibration reduction.
So, enough with the theories, let's look at reality. The Antec Three Hundred currently sells for approximately $5 more than the Two Hundred; an insignificant amount. The Three Hundred is a higher spec product, but it's at a point along its product lifecycle where more of a discount is being applied somewhere in the supply chain. Its MSRP is $15 more than the Two Hundred, but street pricing is much closer. The Three Hundred isn't necessarily an upgrade, though. Missing is the CPU cutout in the motherboard tray and the external hot-swap SATA drive bay. Those are features that are potentially critical for some buyers, and they're only available in the Two Hundred at the lower price. The two products have a different look to them, primarily the front panel, so that might be a factor for some, but feature-wise; the Two Hundred wins hands down.
Progress and competition; I know they're relentless and amoral, but there's no pretending that they don't drive the world.
Antec Two Hundred Conclusion
Presentation of the Antec Two Hundred is about halfway between a basic brown box and the 3-D sculpted glossy art projects that come with the high end cases. Using only two color printing, I think Antec came up with an attractive and striking design for the box. Obviously, it's impossible to show a retail customer exactly what the case looks like with this kind of packaging, but the line art shows the basics. The interior packing is two Styrofoam end caps, and a plastic bag wrapped around the case. A corrosion fighting chemically treated paper insert comes packed inside, as well as the accessories and manual in a zipper bag. The box arrived slightly damaged; the usual puncture by sharp object during transit, but the case inside was unharmed.
The appearance of the case is worthy of admission into the gaming arena. It's a bit subtle, but there's still a sharp edge to the design that says, "I'm here to compete." The flat side and top panels highlight the faceted front surface with its combination of mesh and geometric structure. As the lowest cost case in the Antec Gaming series, it puts up a good front, although the back panel lets the side down with its bare primer finish.
Construction is of good quality. Everything fits, the powder coat finish is even and unmarked, the plastic surface finish blends well with the metal panels, not too many sharp edges, and it goes back together easily after you pull it apart. Have I seen better construction? Yes, but always at higher price points. The build quality is good, not great, but I'd be a fool to complain.
Normally I discuss Value and Functionality somewhat separately, but they're so intertwined in this product, I have to address them together. The bottom line is that Antec chose to provide the maximum opportunity for functionality, rather than providing the functionality itself. The airflow scheme is a good example: five fan mounting locations are provided, but only two fans. The layout of the HDD bays is simple, that's true, but it provides for the best possible airflow and a handy space to tuck all the cables away. The performance you get out of this case is going to depend on what you put into it. That's an unabashed shout out to the Old School, who had to work with primitive designs, and still managed to eke out top-level performance. This case makes it easier because the basic elements are there; you don't need to start the build process with metal-working tools. You do need to think about what enhancements may be necessary to accommodate the level of gaming performance you plan to install inside. I think that's half the fun, though. I build systems because I enjoy it, not because I have to, and I appreciate the blank canvas offered here for a rather minimal investment.
As of late September, Newegg is offering the Antec Two Hundred for $49.95. In this price range, every five to ten dollars buys you the next level up. For instance, the Antec Three Hundred is only $ 54.99 at Newegg. Its retail price may be higher, but the street price has been driven down by time and competition to nearly the same price as the Two Hundred. Look at my Final Thoughts though, for why I would buy the Two Hundred anyway.
While the Antec Two Hundred doesn't have the bling of a high-end gaming chassis, it doesn't have the cha-ching either. There is nothing that would prevent you from building a top-performing gaming rig with this case. You will have to invest more time and effort into the project, but for some of us, that's the fun part. I have no problem recommending the Two Hundred for almost any gaming setup; think twice before spending more.
+ Exterior hot swap SATA HDD bay
- No PSU air vent on bottom
Final Score: 8.9 out of 10.
Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.
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