|Antec Solo-II Computer Case Enclosure|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cases|
|Written by Dan Ferguson|
|Monday, 05 September 2011|
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Detailed Interior FeaturesNow we'll look more closely at the internal components of the Solo II. As mentioned earlier, it takes quite a bit of work to get the 3.5" hard drives trays out of the front of the case. These trays are the safest, most reliable way to mount the drives in the case.
The drive is secured by four screws so it won't be slipping or sliding away. To reduce vibrations the drive is separated from the tray by soft silicone grommets. These do a decent job at reducing vibrations from transferring through the drive tray and into the case shell where they will be amplified. But the tray-mounting method still requires the hard drive to be secured to the tray. And by default this is done using rigid metal screws through which noise can still be transferred. That's why an alternative method is provided for mounting the drives. Also note that the grommets and screws can be moved for mounting 2.5" drives.
Remove the three hard drive trays and you can mount two drives using the suspension bands. These bands almost entirely decouple the hard drive from the case to totally eliminate vibrations through a solid interface. The drives will still make noise, but it will be much quieter when restricted to traveling through the air. This is a great concept, but this implementation has one critical flaw. If you tip your case backwards (which I do ALL the time) then your drives can simply slip out of the bands and drop right into the motherboard area! This is a well-known problem that should have an easy fix, but Antec has left that up to you. Was it really to hard to offer a perpendicular band to secure the backside of the hard drive? Or better yet, turn the hard drive cage sideways. A sideways cage gives quick access to the drives and will keep them from dislodging when suspended.
Now, you may have already noticed that the Solo II has an empty space below the drive cage which was not present on the original Solo. This was probably the MAJOR reason for releasing a second version of the case without adding many major modifications. The original Solo had four 5.25" bays (one of which could convert to 3.5") and four 3.5" bays. When was the last time you installed 8 drives?! So you had 8 bays but not enough room for a large video card. Antec lopped this mess down to two 5.25" bays and three 3.5" bays leaving room at the bottom. With this new-found space you can install an additional 2.5" drive AND...install a large video card!!! I have been asking for this layout in a mid-tower for awhile! Thank You, Antec!
There are a couple other things added to be friendly to new technology. The USB 3.0 cable for the front panel on the Solo II terminates in a connector that can be plugged into an actual USB 3.0 motherboard header. No more routing a cable out the back of the PC to plug into an external port.
Another happy upgrade found on the Solo II is a 120 mm True Quiet fan. Compared to normal fans this thing doesn't even whisper. You can still hear the air going into the case, but the motor is basically silent. When any amount of power is used all I can hear now are my PSU fan and my Raptor. The Raptor is muted enough that I have to lean down to notice, but the PSU is still a screaming monster. I'm already going to have to upgrade to something better. There's enough space above the PSU that you could fit a quiet intake fan just for the PSU, so I'm already considering what to do there. Oddly there didn't seem to be any consideration for any water-cooling techniques aside from a self-contained unit like Antec's Kuhler H2O . I suppose aesthetics were more important in this case.
My first build did not go quickly. It's a small-footprint case trying to squeeze in standard to large components. Since there wasn't room behind the mobo-tray, most of the wire mess ended up behind and below the hard drive cages. I could have been much neater, but I was more concerned about time than looks. The cable management hooks mounted behind the drive cage was a nice idea, but mostly just got in the way while routing cables. Oh yeah, make sure and save yourself some time by tightening the pre-installed standoffs. You don't wanna squeeze the motherboard in there twice because your standoffs were loose! Things would have gone quicker if I had used a modular PSU or a PSU with smaller cables. In the end it was worth the pain for me to squeeze parts in for the small footprint.