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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-35 Detailed Interior Features

While Antec did not go "tool-free" with the Dark Fleet series, they did provide two thumbscrews for use with installing internal 3.5" drives. From just looking at the case, it appears that Antec wants the user to only use the screws on one side of the drive cage. The back side of the drive cage doesn't appear to have appropriate holes for a 3.5" drive. I checked out what they have to say about this in manual, and in reality, they want you to use one screw on each side. If you line it up correctly, a single screw hole on the back side of the 3.5" drive bay matches up with a standard 3.5" drive. The two screws provided are to be installed one on each side. Unless you are continuously removing your hard drives, I recommend using normal screws, also provided with the case. Also, remember that if you screw the drive in on both sides, you will have to remove both sides to take it out.

One nice feature that Antec provided with their Dark Fleet series of cases for the installation and removal of drives is the "fleet-release doors" feature. The front panel opens up where the two fans are. Not only is this convenient for removing the fan filter for cleaning, but I have often gotten frustrated trying to remove a drive or install one after the rest of the components are installed. This is especially difficult with extra long video cards. Sometimes you will have to remove the video card prior to installing or removing the drive. Antec's "fleet-release doors" makes this a lot easier.

Antec_DF_30_Fleet_Release1.jpg

The Antec DF-30 Mid-Tower case is designed to fit motherboards ranging in size from ITX to full ATX. Six motherboard standoffs come pre-installed in the DF-30, ready for you to add in a micro-ATX motherboard. If you are using a full ATX motherboard, you will have to manually add in the three remaining standoffs. The motherboard tray itself is not removable, as we have seen in the past. I am not very concerned with this, as I have found that I don't often remove the motherboard tray even when it is removable. I am more concerned with ensuring there is a way for me to install or remove a CPU cooler without removing the entire motherboard, which there certainly is.

Antec_DF_30_Drive_Bays.jpg

Instead of traditional mother board holes or plug-ins for cable management, Antec provides an area behind the 3.5" drive bays for this purpose. This area is available on a lot of cases, but sometimes the motherboard tray extends all the way to the front panel, leaving this area relatively inaccessible. There are three small clips on the back side of the 3.5" drive bays where the cable ties provided with the DF-30 can be attached to the case itself. Once all of your components are installed, you can re-route any excess cabling to this area and secure it with the cable ties. Be careful not to run any cables over the support bar here, or behind the motherboard tray. There is precious little space there for anything and you will find difficulties closing the back side plate correctly if you have cables between the motherboard tray and the side panel.

Antec_DF_30_Cable_Management.jpg

My biggest complaint with Antec's DF-30 Mid-Tower case isn't a huge one, but isn't small either. The card slot covers at the rear of the motherboard compartment are punch-out style. I suppose the circular holes for water cooling hoses are too, though I will not likely ever experiment with them. It's the card slot covers that have me puzzled. The punch-out style covers have been going out of style for quite some time now. In fact, I can remember the last case I used that had them. It was in 2005, and the case cost me $25 at Newegg.com. In a case that costs $109.99 at Newegg.com now, I wouldn't expect this style of slot cover. I really had a lot of difficulty removing the slot covers in order to install my components. I wasn't able to simply push on them with my fingers to manipulate them out. I had to take a screwdriver and twist them to get them loosened, then maneuver them back and forth in order to finally get them out of the case.

Antec_DF_30_Back.jpg

The other issue associated with this style of slot covers is my lack of visualization. I didn't accurately guess which slot covers needed to be removed to install my video card, so I ended up having to remove three instead of two. This leaves an open slot above my video card as there are no screw in slot covers provided with the case. Also (and this one I attribute again to my fat thumbs), I cut myself on the sharp edges of the case twice while removing the slot covers. All in all, I did not have a very happy experience when trying to install my component cards.

When installing my system into this case, I used the NVIDIA GeForce GTX285 video card, which is a 10.5" card. It easily fits into the case with some room to spare. Antec states that the DF-30 will accept up to 11.5" video cards, and my measuring tape concurs. It will be a tight fit, however, and will be impossible if you try to install the video card behind a hard drive.

Antec_DF_30_Installed.jpg

Since my PSU has an intake fan on the bottom, I needed to install it upside down in the DF-30. While this did cause me some concern for cooling matters since my PSU intake will be pulling air from the case, my concerns were somewhat alleviated by the low-set vents on the windowed side panel. I installed a fan on the vent and the side panel still fit into place easily, even with my GPU. On many occasions, it has been impossible to install a fan on the vented window simply because it won't fit with my GPU. This is not the case with the Antec DF-30. This side-intake fan now feeds cool outside air directly in to where my PSU can capture it. It's not an ideal situation, but Antec has said that they do it this way to avoid any legal problems that have occurred when fires were caused due to things falling out of the case from the PSU and onto the ground.



 

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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