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Written by Dan Ferguson   
Monday, 05 September 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
Antec Solo-II Computer Case Enclosure
Closer Look: Exterior
Detailed Exterior Features
Closer Look: Interior
Detailed Interior Features
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Antec Solo II Computer Case Review

Manufacturer: Antec, Inc.
Product Name: Solo II Computer Case
Price As Tested: $129.99 (Newegg)

Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article has been provided by Antec.

Stark, quiet and commanding; like a monolith, the Solo II has an immaculate appearance which belies its sophistication. By listening and responding to the demands of their customers, Antec has perpetuated the viability of the popular Sonta series of quiet computing cases. They've realized that the quiet computing segment contains gamers and system builders with needs beyond pure aesthetics. With a few system tweaks and upgrades (can you say large video cards?) Antec has targeted the intersection between elegance and functionality. At Benchmark Reviews we appreciate when our collective voice reaches the manufacturers. In this article we'll see exactly what Antec "heard" and whether or not they listen as well as their competitors.

To be fair, it helps to know who Antec is trying to please. There are so many options that can be included on a case, but the size of our wallets sets a limit on how many features a manufacturer can include and still stay in business. The Solo II is part of the Sonata series of cases geared towards quiet computing. There are many reasons for wanting a quiet case, and typically the desire for aesthetics encompasses both sound and appearance. At a minimum we know that the quiet case must reduce or eliminate the noise generated by its internal components. The technical details here will determine the basic types of features to be included on the case. Mostly this involves reducing sound as it travels through solid parts as well as through the air. Suspending hard drives with rubber, rigid, massive cases, and quiet-operating components are all typical fare.

Now, the first generations of quiet cases were designed around what was then the standard for hardware, but hardware evolves. The last revision of quiet cases hit some roadblocks by using the standard tricks without accounting for an updated hardware roadmap, and this caused quite a bit of screaming among early adopters. Video cards did not fit. Motherboards did not fit. Cables did not fit. The enormous pressure to keep costs low also resulted in some shoddy quality on basic parts like panels, buttons and mounts.

Antec Solo II Mid Tower ATX Case

So our target crowd now includes previously dissatisfied as well as new gamers, system builders, early-adopters and general quiet-computing enthusiasts. Their demands? "Make my high performance machine look like a black tie event and sound like a tiptoeing ninja!" To be clear, this means it must 1) hold performance parts (video card, CPU coolers, motherboard, etc), 2) look like it should be the CEO's computer and 3) be really quiet with respect to the parts being used. Cost is not one of the top requirements, but cannot be forgotten. With this background in mind we'll evaluate how well the Solo II delivers.

Antec Solo II Features

FEATURES & TECHNOLOGYUSER BENEFIT
Understated, Clean Appearance
- Anodized aluminum bezel
- Piano black pane
  • Gamers/Enthusiasts: high-end features without a large, aggressive footprint
  • System Integrators: blends into office environments
1.0 mm SECC + polycarbonate top & side panels
  • Gamers/Enthusiasts: stability for constant transportation
  • System Integrators: silent durability for corporate use
Dedicated top PSU intake
  • Fine mesh filters out dust and is easily cleaned
  • PSU stays cool even under load
Removable, washable fan filters
  • Gamers/Enthusiasts: maintain a clean, dust-free interior
  • System Integrators: quick, convenient maintenance
Dual hard drive mounting system with easy-access front drive cage
  • Gamers/Enthusiasts: easily upgrade / replace drives
  • Gamers/Enthusiasts: compatible with 2.5" and 3.5" drives
Enlarged CPU cutout
  • Flexibility to switch CPU heatsinks with faster heatsink installation
Expanded GPU space
  • Gamers/Enthusiasts: ready for the longest graphics cards
True Quiet 120 mm rear exhaust fan
  • System Integrators: quiet cooling suitable for business
2 front panel USB 3.0 ports with internal connector
  • Ready for high-speed devices and the latest motherboards
No internal sharp edges
  • System Integrators: faster, safer system building
3 year warranty
  • Peace of mind

Computer Case Specifications

Case Type
Mid Tower
Motherboard Standard ATX, microATX, Mini-ITX
Drive Bays External:
- 2 x 5.25"
Internal:
- 3 x 3.5" / 2.5" using tray mounts OR
- 2 x 3.5" with suspension mounting system
- 1 x 2.5" (dedicated)
Cooling 1 rear 120 mm TrueQuiet exhaust fan with 2-speed switch (standard)
2 front 120 mm intake fans (optional)
Maximum Graphics Card Size 15.0" (381 mm)
Expansion Slots 7
Front Panel 2 x USB 3.0
2 x USB 2.0
Audio In/Out
Product Weight 20.2 lbs (9.1 kg)
Product Dimensions 17.3" (H) x 8.1" (W) x 18.5" (D)
(440 mm (H) x 205 mm (W) x 470 mm (D)



 

Comments 

 
# Nice case.pinobot 2011-09-05 23:35
But, i don't understand why they don't put the harddisks on top that would give you a little more room (or to the bottom together with the psu). I just ordered a swapbay for my harddiks, 3 harddisks go in the space of 2 5.25 bays. Talking about bays, why so few bays, you can just as well make 5 external bays, you can always internally put a dustfilter in front of it.
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# RE: Suspended drives slipping outflemeister 2011-09-06 02:56
Did you try twisting the elastic fabric a few times to increase its grip on the hard drive? Like in the third photo down on this page:

##silentpcreview.com/article8-page2.html

I did this in the original Antec Solo (the revised version with the same elastic fabric as the Solo II, not the very first one that used poor quality elastic bands), and it works to keep the drive in place. Not fool-proof, but certainly better than not twisting the cord.
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# RE: RE: Suspended drives slipping outDan Ferguson 2011-09-07 13:12
Yeah, twisting the bands definitely helps, but like you said it's not a sure thing. I think having an extra band, string or something to secure the drive end should have been included in the design.
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# ????Pigbristle 2011-09-06 03:20
Quote: "A fan speed switch is conveniently located on the back"

Are you having a laugh???
Do you know how many people have there rigs under desks?

So now when I switch from watching a movie to playing a game, I have to get down on my knees & thumble around the back feeling for a switch?

And the worst part, moving this switch to the front probably wouldn't have cost anything more to the manufacturing.
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# RE: ????Dan Ferguson 2011-09-07 13:15
Yeah, there was some sarcasm there, I forgot to elaborate. The switch really isn't that bad if the case is accessible, but a pain if it's tucked inside a desk.
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# RE: RE: ????Pigbristle 2011-09-08 16:55
I've noticed a lot of case reviewers do the same thing.
They review the case on a table with 360o access, forgetting that a lot of consumers who actually buy these cases, have them on the floor or under desk.
It just seems so obvious to me, I mean, would you put the start switch on the back? No! , so why put the fan controller on the back???
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# Other competitionComputer Ed 2011-09-06 04:40
I would disagree about this cases main competition. I would see Fractal's Define R3 as the big driect competition to this and from what you have shown actually beating it pretty good.
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# RE: Other competitionThomas 2011-09-11 06:29
Not really. Fractal Define's R3 is one of those cases that simply go through a checklist of features yet don't execute any of them very well. It includes lots of hard drives but the mounting is not especially good for a silent enclosure; it includes bitumen material to thicken the chassis but the steel is woefully flimsy; it includes quiet fans but they use sleeve bearings. I have one right now and its definitely not in the same league as Antec's quiet computing cases with the 1mm thick steel and polycarbonate sheets.

From what I can see, this Antec Solo II is executed well for a system w/ 500W PSU (aka not for really 1337 gamers), the major problem is the asking price where its only a few dollars less than the Antec P183. Cable management with top mounted cases has always been easier with bottom mounted cases and cables are easily enough tucked away with zip ties/modular PSUs...it doesn't really matter *how* you tuck it away because this case doesn't have a side windows.
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# RE: Antec Solo-II Computer Case EnclosureRobert17 2011-09-06 04:40
Thanks Dan. This unit seems a bit pricey for the feature set. And you are correct. Not that swapping drives happens every day, but they are probably accessed more that the PSU which seems easier to swap. Which brings me to your suggestion question.

I've wondered for some time why PSU manufacturers haven't offered PSUs with various configurations, i.e., having modular cabling that extends from perhaps the "top" of bottom-mounted units. Routing PSU cables has been a "one size fits all" affair for too long. And for quietness? A spray-on bedliner for pickup trucks that reduces noise as well as protects the bed has been around for years. Why not utilize it, or something like it, in computer cases as well.

My two cents. Spend it wisely.
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# RE: Antec Solo-II Computer Case EnclosureAdam 2011-09-06 09:24
Love the look of this case and some great design ideas, actually quite tempted by it.
Shame about that cable management though.

Thank for the review, but one question (that's probably pretty stupid), what's with the CPU heatsink orientation?
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# RE: RE: Antec Solo-II Computer Case EnclosureDan Ferguson 2011-09-07 13:32
The Contac 29, as well as other sinks, use a cheap mounting method for AMD sockets which gives it a 90 degree orientation from normal.
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# RE: RE: RE: Antec Solo-II Computer Case EnclosureAdam 2011-09-09 12:19
Well that's odd/lazy. Did they expect every case to have a top vent in it?

Must bugger up the ram slots something terrible as well, bad enough with some correctly positioned coolers let alone sticking right over the top.
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# It literally sucksehume 2011-09-06 18:07
Rear fan, pulling air in. The case sucks.

The thing reminds me of the Antec NSK 4480 II I bought as my very first case. Why they were still selling that dinosaur in late 2009 I don't know. This is better, but the air going into that case is going to hiss through the openings around the back of the face plate.

Well, no one who reads these reviews will be a customer for this case, but I'll say it now: Don't. Get. This. Case.
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# ?wyterabbit 2011-09-08 13:20
The rear fan is an exhaust fan, it doesn't pull air in.
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# Love & Hatealaembodo 2011-09-20 15:15
I'd go for this case. I like it. It's neither over the top styling like a Thermaltake, nor is it lit up like the 4th of July like a LED ornament. I like the understated & clean look. There's also no non-functional esthetic plastic cladding on it. I also don't need 5 hard drives and a water cooling rig. For me, $129 isn't an issue. I can easily add 120mm fans to it and find a way to do a clean wiring job in there. I also don't need to change PC components every 2 months.
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# Use a Fanless PSU!Dogwood 2011-10-13 16:59
It's worth noting that the vented top-mount power supply orientation is perfect for a fanless PSU. I'm looking at a Seasonic SS-400FL; there's also a SS-460FL. If 400 or 460 watts is enough, then fanless is tempting -- in which case the top-mount lets the heat silently escape the case instead of venting into it as a bottom-mount would. I suppose a fan-cooled PSU might be mounted upside-down so as to draw cooling air from outside?

This looks like it will be a great case for an air-cooled system that don't produce excessive heat. With the new 23- and 25- and 28- nanometer parts coming out (Ivy Bridge, Southern Islands, etc -- which use less power) the Solo II can hold plenty of computer power for most purposes.
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# I ordered one from J&R for $110 totalDogwood 2011-10-13 17:11
I just ordered an Antec Solo II at J&R. It's listed at $119.99, including shipping. I found a promo code that gave me an extra $10 off, "JRGOOG"; the listing said this discount code expires on 10/15/11. As I write this, I see Provantage also has the case listed at about $112; presumably they add shipping to that. So the $110 delivered is likely to be the best price this can be had at until maybe it becomes mature -- note that you can find the first Solo now for as low as $80 or $90.

##jr.com/antec/pe/ANT_SOLOII/
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