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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

Closer Look: Exterior

Nothing says elegant, sophisticated and snooty like a grand piano, right? Just teasing, I actually enjoy a classical performance. And the Solo II reminds me of a guy in a tux playing a shiny black grand piano. In a mirror. The classy look maintains consistency with the Antec's Sonata line of cases and represents the needs of it's users. The Solo II is not just a hunk of metal and plastic merely meant to hold more plastic and metal. The Solo II is meant to be used where site and sound are important, or where the absence of such is desired.

Antec Solo II Mid Tower ATX Case

The entire exterior is black, but the front panel provides a foil with it's flat black in contrast to the shiny sides, top and bottom. The front is kept unembellished sporting only two 5.25 bays and an unassuming line of ports and buttons. The bezel is anodized aluminum, and in theory this was probably a nice idea to add some accent. But in practice, even a small amount of spotting gives the case a cheap feel. I think this is because fingerprints on the shiny panels are obviously fingerprints on a shiny panel, but fingerprints on the bezel look like staining, wear, or something else. Really this is just a cosmetic nuisance. When the case is clean everything looks sharp!

Antec Solo II Mid Tower ATX Case

The backside of the Solo II reveals a few interesting features. There is a top-mounted PSU, black interior finish, 7 expansion ports and a 120 mm fan. With the PSU mounted to the top the motherboard and expansion ports are shifted towards the bottom of the case. In rare instances this means less room for a bulky card, it is an intentional consequence as will be shown later.

Antec Solo II Mid Tower ATX Case

In my experience a top-mounted PSU causes the case to feel heavier since it is top-heavy. On top of the case at the back sits an intake just above the PSU. I'm sure this may be helpful for some PSUs, but in my case there's no air flow through this vent and it's mostly a hole for noise to escape.

Antec Solo II Mid Tower ATX Case

The bottom of the case has the same piano-black finish as the top and sides. The feet are made of a soft silicone which helps to dampen sound from transferring from the case to the desk. This may not seem very important, but my last case had hard plastic feet which transferred the hard drive clicks to the desk like a sounding board. Soft feet make a huge sound difference!



 

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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