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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

Antec Dark Fleet Final Thoughts

Antec_DF_30_LED.jpgThe Antec Dark Fleet DF-30 Mid-Tower case was fun and interesting to work with. A lot of new features have been included in the Dark Fleet series that are new and different from anything I had worked with before. Especially to my liking was the "fleet-release" doors on the front of the case. These doors provide easy access to the 3.5" internal drive bays making the installation of new drives, or the removal of old ones even easier. The doors also give access to the removable fan filters when they are in need of cleaning. The "fleet-release" doors were designed around the fans that Antec uses in the front of the case. Each fan, and thereby each door, has a fan control knob protruding from it so that the end-user can easily adjust the flow of air and noise level of each fan based on their needs.

I was also pleased to find that the Antec DF-30 comes pre-installed with four case fans. From past experience, I almost always have to buy extra case fans when I buy a case, but with the DF-30, they are provided. Not only do the front two fans have controllers, but the top 140mm fan and the rear 120mm fan also have controls, albeit only a switch for "hi" or "lo" fan speeds.

The Antec DF-30 has an interesting look to it that I really liked. The LEDs on the fans gave the case a nice glow and looked really cool. There were some purely cosmetic features, such as the 5.25" drive bay covers, that added to the look of the case.

There were some things about the Antec DF-30 that I think need to be looked at again, as well. The punch-out style card slot covers have got to go. It is rare to find these in cases now, and the reasons are clear. They are hard to work with, and once they are removed, it is permanent. If we can't get rid of the the punch-out card slot covers, then some screw-in slot covers should come with the case in the event that your add-on cards might change eventually. Also, I was a little concerned about the heat issues with the upside-down mounted power supply. The GTX285 creates a lot of heat, most of which is now directed right into my PSU. I am glad for the vents on the windowed side panel, and I immediately installed another 120mm fan to offset the hot air coming from the GPU.

Overall, I very much enjoyed working the Antec DF-30 and, while $110 doesn't make it a cheap case to buy, the features that are offered put it solidly in a mid-range enthusiast level of workability. The DF-30 will be replacing the case I currently have housing my i7-920 machine, the Lian-Li PC-K56W, as it provides me a lot more features and much better cooling. It also costs $50 more.

Antec DF-30 Conclusion

The Antec DF-30 offered, for me, the superior performance that comes with the Antec name. Antec holds a top place when it comes to computer cases, and with good reason. While I did cut myself twice installing my system into the DF-30, the features outnumber that slight pain and I must give Antec high marks for this case. Any case that comes pre-installed with four adjustable fans deserves some recognition. Without much addition, the DF-30 offers great cooling ability to any level of computer user.

The appearance of the Antec DF-30 Mid-Tower case immediately appealed to me. The completely black enclosure was elegant and futuristic and contrasted perfectly with the blue LED lighting provided with the case fans. The front of the case was completely unmarred by writing except for the Antec logo at the bottom. That includes any sort of indication on the I/O panel for which port is which in the case of the audio ports. Other than that, however, the I/O panel blended nicely with the case. The purely cosmetic 5.25" external drive bay covers added to the austerity of the DF-30, almost looking like barred doors, impeding the entrance or exit of any vital component.

The Antec DF-30 is very sturdy. The hard plastic front cover is extremely well secured to the body of the DF-30. Antec thought ahead, however, and used their "fleet-release" doors to help avoid any need to remove the front faceplate. The punch-out style card slot covers are outdated and need to be removed, and the windowed side-panel didn't fit securely into place. I must have spent a good 15 minutes trying to get it properly slotted before I realized that it just didn't fit correctly.

As a case with the purpose of giving mid-level enthusiasts an adequate amount of space, cooling, and other features, the Antec DF-30 performs very well. The four LED lit fans that come with the case come with knobs and switches to adjust the fan speed. This, along with the vented (although unfiltered) side window will provide plenty of air flow for a gamer or enthusiast. For those who need to remove their storage frequently, the "fleet-swap" 2.5" drive bay on top of the case provides an interesting new perspective. The "fleet-release" doors also provide easy access to drives.

The Antec DF-30 sells for $109.99 at NewEgg.com. That puts it squarely between the Antec Nine Hundred and the Nine Hundred Two. While $109.99 may seem a little high for a case, when you take into account the features offered by the DF-30, including six internal 3.5" drive bays, three external 5.25" drive bays, and, most importantly, four adjustable fans, the Antec DF-30 falls right in with the other cases. Most of those other cases, by the way, are manufactured by Antec as well. So while I can't say that the Antec DF-30 is a killer deal, it does provide an excellent amount of features for a fair price.

Pros:

+ Elegant, Futuristic Appearance
+ 4 Adjustable Fans, Plenty of Cooling
+ Relatively Quiet, even with Fans on High Speed
+ Plenty of Room for Drives
+ External SATA bay for 2.5" notebook drives or SSDs
+ Vented Side Panel
+ Cable Management Compartment

Cons:

- Punch-Out Style Card Slot Covers
- Side Panel doesn't Fit Properly
- No Cable Management Holes in Motherboard Tray

Ratings:

  • Performance: 9.0
  • Appearance: 9.25
  • Construction: 8.0
  • Functionality: 9.5
  • Value: 8.5

Final Score: 8.85 out of 10.

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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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