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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: Interior

A case's exterior is mostly about appearance blended with functionality suitable for interacting with the case on a daily basis. Power on, power off, plug in, plug out. For the quiet enthusiast and system builder, the interior of the case can be even more important. The features and layout inside the case can make the difference between a loyal fan and a disenfranchised customer.

Antec Solo II Mid Tower ATX Case

Well, the interior of the Solo II is covered in a black coating which matches the piano finish on the exterior. It didn't take more than a scrape from a screw, screw-driver or a bump from a component to mar the coating. I don't think this is a big deal, but it could impact your resale value if you like to upgrade frequently. The layout is only slightly different than most mid-tower ATX cases. As mentioned earlier, the PSU is located on the top, which slides the motherboard tray towards the bottom of the case. There is a rail across the top for mounting the PSU, but this can be removed.

Antec Solo II Mid Tower ATX Case

The side panels on the Solo II are heavier than normal since they are steel covered by a dense polycarbonate mat. The mass of the door combined with the polymer mat provide improved sound dampening for vibrations traveling through the air. This type of passive damping provides a fixed amount of noise reduction. So noisier components will still be proportionately louder than quieter ones.

Antec Solo II Mid Tower ATX Case

With the back panel removed we can see a huge cutout in the motherboard tray. I would almost dare you to find a cooler/socket combo that can't be installed with this cutout. I won't because the clearance between the tray and the panel is less than a half-inch. This isn't even enough for my main PSU cable! This is my first major complaint about the case. I don't know if this was intentional or an oversight, but I think the designers at Antec must have had some idea. There are very few cable management cutouts in the tray, and a mediocre cable wrapping system was attached to the 3.5" hard drive cage.

Antec Solo II Mid Tower ATX Case

The front panel on the Solo II can be removed by opening the left panel and lifting three tabs. The door swings open on two hinges. Once open the front door can be lifted straight off the hinges and completely removed. The dual fans and filters from the original Solo are decoupled in the Solo II giving independent access to either. The top fan and removable filter give access and cooling to the 3.5" hard drive cage while the bottom fan and filter provide cooling for the larger interior of the case.

Antec Solo II Mid Tower ATX Case

Each filter can be removed and cleaned, or even removed entirely. Underneath the filters are low impedance grills which will protect the fan without blocking the air flow. Taking off the filters will let more dirt into the case, but the less-restricted airflow will allow the case to run quieter and cooler. The fans from the original Solo have been upgraded from 92 mm to 120 mm. A larger fan moves more air for the same RPM. Thus you can install a larger fan, run it at lower RPM and still get the same magnitude of cooling.

Antec Solo II Mid Tower ATX Case

The top filter and fan are mounted on a door which hinges down to reveal the 3.5" hard drive cage and three hard drive trays. This is the only way to get drives out of the case when using the hard drive trays. So you have to remove a side panel, open the front panel, unscrew the thumbscrew holing the inner door and pull out the drive tray. That's way too much work for a case that is supposed to be builder-friendly! I worry about the construction of the "hinges" for the access door. It's really just thin metal strips bent into place. Only one rough jostle or slip here will ruin the hinges.

Underneath each drive tray are a set of elastic suspension bands which can physically decouple the hard drives from the case and minimize hard drive vibrations from rattling the case. More on these later. The last thing to consider is the thickness of the inner door. There's not enough room to include a normal fan with rubber grommets to reduce sound. If you want to go this route to minimize sound in the case you will be restricted to using the lower fan or a custom thin fan.



 

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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