|Antec Sonata IV Computer Case|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cases|
|Written by Nate Swetland|
|Friday, 11 March 2011|
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Detailed Interior Features
Just like with the exterior features, the interior of the case can look good at first, but once you start inspecting it closer, the good and bad features can begin to show. During the install, small problems can become large headaches later on, but there can be nice touches the manufacturer can add to the case that make the installation and upgrade of components a breeze. In the next section, components will be installed, and we will find out just how well thought out the Sonata IV is. The components I will be installing are:
The first components I installed were the hard drives. I have to admit that it took me a couple seconds to figure out how the drive cage worked. THere are two brackets for each drive, one on top, and one on bottom. The top bracket is held by a front facing thumb screw, and the bottom bracket is secured with a top facing thumbscrew. Removing these thumb screws allows the brackets to slide out independently. Once the brackets are removed, you need to secure each one to the sides of the hard drives. Each bracket has silicon-grommet screws that fit into the pre-drilled holes on the drives. These grommets reduce noise and vibration from the hard drives. I first tried to attach the brackets to allow the drive connections to face the motherboard side of the case to aide in wire management, but the way the brackets are designed, this does not work. Once the brackets are on, you simply slide the drives into their spots and secure them with the thumb screws. The drives can only be installed in two orientations; both are shown in the above photo. If you are interested in where the 2.5" drive goes, they can be attached to the left side of the top hard drive cage. There is a set of 4 holes for the screws to go through, and the drive actually sits on the motherboard side of the cage with the screws facing into the cage itself. One last thing I wanted to point out was the lack of sanded edges on the metal. During the hard drive install, I scratched my hands several times on the rough edges.
Shown in this photo is the included Antec Neo ECO 620c power supply installed in the Sonata IV. With having so many connectors, there is a lot of cables attached to the power supply, so that is a lot of cabling that will need to be managed and hidden. The power supply can be installed in either orientation, as there are sets of mounting holes for both. The bar underneath the power supply provides valuable structure to Sonata IV, but it also prevents the power supply from being put in after the motherboard, as it will only go through underneath the bar, not through the side. Luckily, the Neo ECO 620c has a bottom facing fan that pulls air into the power supply, and then pushes it out the back, adding a bit of exhaust airflow to the case, and drawing a bit of air away from the CPU.
Shown above is the motherboard installed in the Sonata IV. Lucky for me, the risers were already screwed into the motherboard tray. After snapping in the motherboard's I/O plate, I then proceeded to route the USB and HD audio header cables used for the front I/O panel under the motherboard. This task proved to be rather difficult, as there is not much room between the bottom of the case and the motherboard itself. After a bit of patience and pinched fingers, everything else fit fine. You may also notice that I rerouted the USB 3.0 cord to the bottom of the case. Having it strung directly across the motherboard did not seem like a good idea to me.
Once the motherboard was installed, I moved on to the EVGA GTX 260. The distance between the hard drive cage and the rear where the PCI slots are is just over 11 inches, so there was plenty of room to fit my video card in there. I did not have to twist or angle it like I have had to for other cases in the past. I had no issues installing the GPU at all, but I did notice that because I moved the USB 3.0 cord to the bottom of the case, it leaves me with two blank PCI slots above the GPU, so one is wasted, and I lose one at the bottom as well. I think that is a fair trade, because I currently have no plans to add more expansion cards, but it is something to look out for.
Once all the components are installed in the Sonata IV, I began to run the power cords and connect everything to the components and then to the motherboard. The GPU was easy enough, as there is plenty of room to run the cord through the two small holes in the motherboard tray. The 24pin motherboard power however was a real struggle. I managed to barely squeeze it through the top hole, but not without a lot of effort. The holes for the cables to run through truly could be a bit bigger, and possibly the addition of another opening would be a big help also. Hooking the SATA and power cables up to the hard drives was easy enough, and the power cords were plenty long, but being that the drive connections can only face one way, the cables can get a bit messy. Having right angle plugs is a big help in this case. One of the power supply plugs is a straight plug, but it managed to fit in there well enough. One last thing I wanted to mention about this photo is the optical drive. It is shown installed in the photo, but there was a small problem with installing it. Take a look at the next couple photos to see what I mean.
After everything is installed, the wires can be a big mess. Because the included power supply is not modular, you cannot simply disconnect the cables you aren't using, and they have to go somewhere. The photo shown above is what it looks like behind the motherboard tray of the Sonata IV. It is a mess.
After a bit of work, the cables tidied up pretty well. I like how Antec included a small cutout at in the Sonata IV at the top of the motherboard tray where the majority of the cables will be routed through. There are a couple places where a zip tie can be fastened to, to help the cables be better secured. As I mentioned before, the openings where the cables go through the motherboard tray are a bit too small, so fishing wires through there can be a real chore. I first tried to fasten the extra cables to the bottom right of the motherboard tray, but found that with only .75 inches of clearance between the motherboard tray and the right panel, stuffing the extra cables below the optical drive was the best way to get them out of the way. An extra .25 inches would have gone a long way here.