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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

Detailed Interior Features

Now 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.

Antec Solo II Mid Tower ATX 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.

Antec Solo II Mid Tower ATX Case

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.

Antec Solo II Mid Tower ATX Case

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!

Antec Solo II Mid Tower ATX Case

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.

Antec Solo II Mid Tower ATX Caseq

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.

Antec Solo II Mid Tower ATX 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.



 

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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