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Written by Hank Tolman   
Monday, 26 July 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
Antec DF-30 Dark Fleet Mid-Tower Case
Closer Look: Dark Fleet Exterior
DF-30 Detailed Exterior Features
Closer Look: Dark Fleet Interior
DF-30 Detailed Interior Features
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

DF-30 Detailed Exterior Features

The 5.25" drive bays on the Antec DF-30 Mid-Tower case all have hinged drive bay covers that swing out to give access to the drive bay. The drive bay covers swing open easily and give the case a kind of futuristic style look. There really is no function for the covers and they are purely cosmetic. The drive bay covers are very easily opened, or can be removed entirely. While I don't access my DVD drive very often, I took the drive bay cover off the top bay just so I wouldn't have to mess with it if I need to get to the DVD drive.

Antec_DF_30_Drive_Bays_Ext.jpg

The Antec Dark Fleet Series, and specifically the DF-30 here, has a new feature that I haven't seen before. There is a hot-swappable 2.5" drive bay located on top of the case. This is a very interesting addition to a case. Though it is intended for an SSD, I am not really sure if SSDs have come to point of hot-swapping yet. With the relatively high cost of SSDs compared to other means of storage, it seems that fast transfer speed of the SSDs might be better used as a static part of the computer assembly. I don't think many will be using an SSD as a thumb-drive at this point. Many people might find the drive bay to be quite convenient, however. Either way, I think that this is an awesome feature. Since I use the same SSD for multiple builds during testing, this will be a convenience for me.

Antec_DF_30_SSD_Installed.jpg

The external SSD bay is flanked on each side by the Power and Reset buttons. Below those, just above the 5.25" drive bays are two USB ports. Also on the front I/O panel are the microphone and headphone ports. They sit to the right of the USB ports. Which one is which is a mystery, as they are unlabeled. To the left of the USB ports are the Power and HDD LEDs. The Power LED is the far left hole and the HDD is the right hole.

Antec_DF_30_Front_IO.jpg

Both of the 120mm case fans located at the bottom of the front panel of the Antec DF-30 have a couple of interesting features that you don't always find in a case. Just the simple fact that the DF-30 comes included with two intake fans on the front panel is a rarity. The fans have a small knob protruding from the front of the case at the bottom right hand corner of the fan cage assembly. The knobs are for controlling the velocity of the fan. Since these two fans are the only two intake fans on the case (unless you install another on the vented side-panel window), being able to control the speed of the fan is a quite useful feature. Not only will it allow you to control the amount of air that is taken into the case, but it will allow you to control the amount of noise your computer generates. The fans are also very quiet. I had to get down close to listen for a change when trying to find out which way to turn the knob to increase the flow. Just so you know, clockwise turning of the knob increases, counter-clockwise decreases the flow of air.

Antec_DF_30_Front_Fans.jpg

Another handy feature associated with the two front panel fans is a removable air filter. I have seen a number of case manufacturers starting to use air filters for intake fans in a lot of cases. The filters here on the DF-30 are easily removed for cleaning, allowing you to limit the amount of dust and foreign material that gets into the case. This can save a lot of heartache in the future when a seemingly well-ventilated system starts to overheat due to the accumulation of dust. The third intake area on the DF-30, the vented side window, does not provide an air filter, which is somewhat unfortunate.

Antec_DF_30_Fleet_Release.jpg

The 140mm top fan and the 120mm rear fan on the Antec DF-30 Mid-Tower case also provide the end user with the ability to adjust the fan speed. These exhaust fans, however, only provide the option of high or low speed operation. It would be nice to see an adjustable knob for these fans as well, but even just the option of high or low speeds is more than you will find in a lot of cases. It is important to note here as well that the speed controllers on all four of the included case fans are hard-wired into to the fans themselves. This means that, should you have to replace one or more of the fans at some point in the future, you will have to find a fan with the controller imbedded. I looked on Antec's website in their cooling section to see if they offer replacement fans for the Dark Fleet series of cases, but I didn't see any. Hopefully they will offer replacement fans soon, and at a reasonably affordable cost.

Antec_DF_30_Back.jpg

As with the Antec DF-35 case reviewed here at Benchmark Reviews, I too had trouble fitting the side panel into place on the DF-30 model. This isn't surprising, since the only real difference between the two cases is the "Fleet-Swap" feature on the DF-35 that will cost you a little more money and the white fans and LEDs rather than blue. Anyway, the windowed side panel doesn't quite fit all the way into place on the DF-30 and there is a small gap between the edge of the panel and the back of the case.

Now it's time to explore the inside of the case.



 

Comments 

 
# RE: Antec DF-30 Dark Fleet Mid-Tower CaseDavid Ramsey 2010-07-26 21:19
Ah, so that's where the "cable management" is! I notice the manual for the DF-35 is now available at the Antec site, although it wasn't when I was writing my review.
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# Score should be lowerRobert Johnson 2010-07-26 23:30
Anytime a chassis side panel does not fit properly you should deduct more points than you did. This is a clear sign of poor manufacturing and quality control. The failure to include cable management holes is completely unacceptable in today's time. Antec is going to lose more market share to CoolerMaster if they continue such poor attention to detail
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# RE: Antec DF-30 Dark Fleet Mid-Tower CaseDavid Ramsey 2010-07-27 08:16
I miss cable management holes, too, but these relatively compact cases there's really not enough room to make useful ones. That said, I'd certainly be willing to live with a version of these cases that's 1" longer and 1" higher to make room for them! I especially miss a hole at the top for running the EPS-12V connector.
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# RE: Antec DF-30 Dark Fleet Mid-Tower CaseHank 2010-07-27 08:29
I took the case down in construction for the side panel and for the card slot covers. The side panel fits, it just looks like it is about 4 mm longer than it needs to be. I had to give points, though, for the good construction points that I liked, such as the fleet-release fan doors and the 2.5" drive bay on top. In the end, the construction still received the lowest score.
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# RE: Antec DF-30 Dark Fleet Mid-Tower CaseRobert17 2010-07-27 20:31
Note too that although the hot-swappable top Sata mount may seem relatively unappreciated by many, it should become a standard feature as SSD's become more affordable. An average enthusiast will utilize the same case for a few years, upgrading other components ahead of the case, so this feature would be a bonus for all case manufacturers to consider.
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