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Written by Nate Swetland   
Thursday, 10 March 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
Antec Sonata IV Computer Case
Closer Look: Exterior
Detailed Exterior Features
Closer Look: Interior
Detailed Interior Features
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

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:

  • Motherboard: ASUS M4A87TD EVO AM3
  • CPU: AMD Phenom II 1090T with retail cooler
  • Power Supply: Antec Neo ECO 620c
  • Graphics: EVGA GTX260 c216
  • Hard drive(s): WD Raptor 10k & Seagate 250GB
  • Optical: Standard DVD/CD-RW

Antec_SonataIV_Interior_HDD_Installed.jpg

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.

Antec_SonataIV_Interior_PSU_Installed.jpg

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.

Antec_SonataIV_Interior_Mobo_Installed.jpg

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.

Antec_SonataIV_Internal_GPU_Installed.jpg

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.

Antec_SonataIV_Interior_FullyInstalled.jpg

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.

Antec_SonataIV_Exterior_CablesMessy.jpg

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.

Antec_SonataIV_Exterior_CablesTidy.jpg

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.



 

Comments 

 
# No problems!Olle P 2011-03-11 00:13
"...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."
That's your choice. Your motherboard doesn't even have a slot at the top position, so using that for the USB bracket would cost you nothing in terms of lost space.

"I still have cause for concern that air is not being circulated correctly throughout the Sonata IV."
I see no problem here. The air enter the case through the side vents, pass the drive cages and then turn backwards to the graphics card and rear vents (fan and PSU).

I think the provided PSU is overkill for the types of builds one can expect in this case. A PSU rated at ~400W would be perfect.
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# RE: No problems!Nate S 2011-03-11 08:43
I do see your point about the USB 3 cable, but having it strung directly across where your video card would be does not sit well with me. You would have lay it across the motherboard, and the less stuff touching my motherboard, the better. And, as I mentioned I chose to move it because I have no plans to add any more cards to my system any time soon.

I do understand that the air will be drawing in from the vents next to the hard drives, but there is basically a wall separating the hard drives from the rest of the case, so air flow to and from the drive cage will be very restricted. A fan mount on the vent would make a great improvement, in my opinion.

I agree with you on the power supply. 620W is a bit much, but it is a nice selling point for the case.

Thanks for the comments.
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# The cooling is fine.Olle P 2011-03-11 14:34
"...having it strung directly across where your video card would be..."
In your case it would be strung across the NB cooler, not the video card.

"...there is basically a wall separating the hard drives from the rest of the case, so air flow to and from the drive cage will be very restricted."
I think you overestimate the restriction imposed by that wall. I'm sure there's at least a half inch gap between that wall and the side panel for the air to pass. That's considerably less restrictive than a full frontal mesh.

As noted initially this case is designed for quiet operation. One of the basic rules for a quiet computer is to make it require little cooling, thus allow a minimalist cooling solution. More fans means more noise. Fans at the front have a direct path of noise to the user, and also open up a direct path from noise generated inside the case. Therefore these are to be avoided.
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# RE: The cooling is fine.Nate Swetland 2011-03-12 12:57
Having it run from basically the bottom right corner of the MB to the top PCI bracket, it would inevitably be run right next to the video card, but maybe not necessarily "on" it. the cable is not that long.

As far as the wall and the air flow, I don't like the idea of the HDD vent drawing air in, over the hot hard drives, through the wall, over the hot expansion cards, and then finally making its way to the CPU. The GPU will exhaust some of that air, but drawing the warm HDD air across my components is not a great function in my book.

The HDD vent is on the left side, and while each person has their tower set in a different spot, I have mine below me to my right, so a low RPM quiet fan running where that HDD vent is would add little to no noise. I get the quiet part of the case. The less moving parts, the better, but sometimes the silent hum makes me know my parts are being kept cool.

Thanks for your comments.
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# Hot drives?Olle P 2011-03-14 03:36
"I don't like the idea of the HDD vent drawing air in, over the hot hard drives, through the wall, over the hot expansion cards, and then finally making its way to the CPU. The GPU will exhaust some of that air, but drawing the warm HDD air across my components is not a great function in my book."

A HDD doesn't use much power once it's spinning. A few watts is all it use, and you better have an air stream across it to prevent it from heating up.

I know of no small/mid size computer case that use a totally separated cooling for the drives, and that's simply because the heat added is too little to be a problem.
The graphics card and motherboard will both add much more heat to the CPU cooling air anyway, and I've only seen one case that thermally separate the graphics card from the CPU.
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# ExpensiveChris H 2011-03-11 06:34
I agree that it offers little for how much it costs. The Antec 300 is cheaper and can be just as quite, but with more airflow. It's pretty decent looking case to boot as well.
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# What a terrible caseehume 2011-03-11 17:49
Another Typical Antec Tomb(tm). Reminds me of the NSK 4480II that was my first case purchase, back when I knew nothing but Antec's rep. That was a tomb as well, but it had better airflow than this.

How did Antec ever get a rep for building cases?

Thank you Colin for providing the measurements for heatsink and cable management. But I thought you were way too generous with the points you dispensed.

One last bit: no cpu window in the mb tray. The whole shebang looks like something from two generations back.
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# RE: What a terrible caseNate Swetland 2011-03-12 12:50
Antec has had some real home runs in the past, but maybe they were simply relying on their reputation with this one. I do agree, this chassis does seem a bit dated.

Thanks for the comments.
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# HeheKlyster 2011-03-12 12:33
I hate to say it, but I thought I'd read this through a wayback portal.
This case looks so old, I know its function is probably okay but the aesthetics leave a lot to be desired, so 90's
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# RE: HeheNate Swetland 2011-03-12 12:52
It is interesting that you see it that way. I thought the looks of the case was the best thing going for it. I was glad that it was simple and not too flashy, unlike many of the newer cases. But, the cosmetics are one of the things that are very subjective.

Thanks for the comments.
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# RE: Antec Sonata IV Computer CaseKlyster 2011-03-12 13:28
I suppose one persons eyecandy in another persons eyesprout, that is the nature of individualism.
Thanks for the review all the same and this isn't a dig at you rather than just an opinion, and only on the physical appearance.
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# RE: RE: Antec Sonata IV Computer CaseNate Swetland 2011-03-12 15:01
I am there with you. My comment was not meant to jab at you, either. Things of this nature work that way, you either like the way it looks, or you don't!

Thank you for your comments.
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# graphic card sizeoktay 2011-05-30 06:05
hi
my graphic card is 26 cm long
is it fit to sonata IV ?
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# RE: graphic card sizeNate Swetland 2011-05-30 08:33
Hello, thanks for the question.
Page 5 of the article points out that the distance between the hard drive cage and the back is 11 inches, which is a little less than 28 cm.

Your video card should fit in the Sonata IV.
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# Antec Sonata IVriky 2011-08-07 11:41
I bought Antec Sonata IV case..im satisfied!

If you wannt, you can install 1 or 2 add fans on the left side :-)
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# Don't even think about it for an SSD driveSimon 2011-08-10 03:26
I know that no one involved in the design of this case put the 2.5 inch SSD drive in where they say it's designed to go. It's almost impossible to install. I've been at it for an hour. Just awful. Oh well, they've got my money now but I'd rate this case 1/10 for this fault alone. Never buying Antec again.
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# RE: Antec Sonata IV Computer CaseDWi 2012-10-07 18:04
The Sonata II was okay, and was improved with the Sonata III, but I don't like the IV at all. I like having a 3.5" external bay for a card reader, and the IV doesn't include an adapter to fit one in the 5.25" bay.

They've wasted a lot of space on the HDD bays. While I have four HDDs installed in my Sonata II, I think most owners would only have two installed, at most. They only need one row/level of HDD bays.

As you have pointed out, there's a wall in between the HDD compartments and the rest of the case. There also used to be holes for a mid-case fan (for drawing air from the HDDs), that seems to be missing on the IV.

The only real plus I can see in the IV is that the right side panel is now removable. The 620W PSU isn't really a plus because it is overkill for this case. The USB3 port might be a plus for some people, but not at the cost of eSATA.

Thanks for the review. I hope Antec makes improvements for the Sonata V.
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