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Antec Solo-II Computer Case Enclosure E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cases
Written by Dan Ferguson   
Tuesday, 06 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

Computer Case Final Thoughts

I've noticed in creativity and brainstorming sessions that the most rudimentary ideas surface almost immediately. While usually effective, these are not always the most effective. It seems like the truly inspired ideas don't surface until the rudimentary ones are vetted and optimized. Once things get difficult is when creativity finds wings and really good ideas begin to surface.

When it comes to quiet computing I think the obvious ideas are still in the vetting process. There are alot of standard techniques that keep getting reused without much thought and some simple ideas overlooked. I'm not picking on Antec here, I see this across the board. I think what we have is a great start, and I hope to see designers put in a little extra thought on the next generation. If you have any ideas I'd love to hear them in the comments. I'll even give a few to get us started:

  • ALL rubber case (that one's FREE haha)
  • Extra rubber grommets for misc component mounting
  • Insulation around the hard drive cage
  • Fewer holes in the case (dedicated, custom airflow paths can reduce noise)
  • Sound dampening inserts (heavier is better)
I'm sure you have better ideas, so let's hear them. But keep in mind that designers are working in a box. On one side is a money wall requiring upgrades to be economic. On the other is the desire to be as quiet as possible. The front might be the need to meet the needs of hybrid users like gamers and system builders, and the back could be the requirements of visual style. Trying to hit the sweet spot, staying just inside all the boundaries is a tough job, but if we put our brains together we can help designers make better decisions.

Antec Solo II Mid Tower ATX Case

Antec Solo II Conclusion

When it comes to sound, the Solo II only slightly better than it's predecessor the Solo. A 120 mm True Quiet exhaust fan helps to keep noise down and temperatures lower. The build goes slower than other mid-sized towers due the layout, but the layout allows just enough room for performance components. Due to the small-footprint and the capacity for high power parts the interior runs hot. Although Antec tried to make the drives easy to access, a minimum of three panels must be removed for 3.5" drive swaps. Drive mounting could be greatly improved with a sideways or modular drive cage.

Piano-black glossy sides gives the Solo II a classy look that will be appreciated in even the most professional setting. It's prone to the usual fingerprints, but that's only a big problem on the front bezel. The black anodized aluminum looks great when clean, but fingerprints drastically detract from the commanding, unembellished appeal. The intake ports on the side leave the front and sides clean while still offering some pattern to make things visually interesting.

First, the bad. The interior coating scratches quite easily, the hinges on the interior drive bay door are weak, and the front door comes off far easier than it goes back on. The internal bays are hard to access, there's not enough clearance under the motherboard tray, and the cable management hooks cause hurt more than they help when cables aren't excessively long. Now for the good. Spring-loaded, captive thumbscrews on the left panel make it easy to access. The frame and panels are solid and sturdy. A fan speed switch is conveniently located on the back. The front panel buttons and connectors are well-constructed and have just the right amount of resistance. The USB 3.0 ports use a connector meant for the motherboard header.

Layout options are limited, but the essentials will all fit in the small-footprint. With two 5.25" bays and three 3.5" bays there's room at the bottom for extra large video cards and/or a 2.5" hard drive. Fan filters are removable and optional. The top has an intake for better PSU cooling, but just allows noise to escape when a simple PSU is used. For 3.5" drives, the trays include soft silicone grommets for noise-reduction. For better sound damping the trays can be removed and two drives instead mounted in suspension bands. Only tension keeps the drives in place, so caution or modification is required. In addition to grommets and suspension bands, noise levels are kept low by polycarbonate sheets and a 120 mm True Quiet fan. Two additional 120 mm fans can be installed up front if the extra noise must be tolerated for cooling needs.

As of February 2012, Antec's Solo II case sells for $129.99 (Newegg). That sounds a bit steep considering the quiet-computing competition and other features that can be purchased for that amount. Antec made some modest improvements over the original Solo, but the price still seems a little steep considering how much of the platform remains the same. What you're buying: small-footprint, elegant and unassuming appearance, compatible w/ performance parts, quiet. What you're not buying: tool-less installation, extra fans / large fans, modular construction, oodles of space. The main competitor here will be the Silencio 550.

The Solo II made some modest steps forward, but has some shortcomings that make it hard to work with. It's still a good candidate if you like how it looks, want something quiet that can still pack a punch inside.

Pros:

+ Room for large video cards
+ True Quiet 120 mm exhaust fan
+ Silicone noise-damping feet
+ Sound damping panels
+ Multiple quiet-mounting options for hard drives
+ USB 3.0 on front panel
+ Small footprint

Cons:

- Low clearance under motherboard tray
- Suspended hard drive can dislodge
- Very little damping in front panel
- On the expensive side
- Drive cage difficult to access

Ratings:

  • Performance: 8.75
  • Appearance: 9.50
  • Construction: 8.00
  • Functionality: 9.00
  • Value: 7.00

Final Score: 8.45 out of 10.

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