2003 Winter Case Review Part 1: MicroATX Case Madness

Antec - Minuet, Continued

The inside innovation of the Antec Minuet. As is normal with Antec products, we found the case to be complete and well designed and to offer more documentation than almost all of the other products combined.

A headphone mic and two USB ports, as well as a 1394/Firewire port, are front-mounted below the 5.25" drive opening on the Minuet. Antec chose not to utilize a cover to keep dirt and dust from entering these ports, so the ports are exposed and potentially very vulnerable, as you can see in the photo below. Antec is the only case manufacturer who offered a 1394/Firewire connection with a cable that permitted direct connection to the 1394/Firewire ports on the motherboard. This is something that more case manufacturers need to note, as Antec is the only one who offers this 1394/Firewire direct connection as an option. After all, who really wants to run a cable outside their case for connection of their front-mounted 1394/Firewire port ?

Another problem area with the Minuet that buyers must note is the fact that while the Minuet does support the use of PCI and AGP slots, only low-profile slots are provided ; full height AGP and PCI cards will not bolt down correctly to the Minuet’s PCI/AGP slot exits. While it is possible to remove the slot back plane cover from a PCI or AGP device in some instances to allow it to fit inside a low-profile case as the Minuet, depending on the position of the connectors and the card height, this may not be doable. Certainly, Antec intends users of the Minuet case to either be aware that either low-profile PCI/AGP cards are required, or that the user must alternatively purchase an integrated motherboard that supports all of the features that the consumer may want. This presented some difficulty in our testing configuration, as the ATI AIW9800 would not fit inside the Minuet case. In this instance, we utilized the onboard video provided by our Biostar NForce2 motherboard, rather than the 9800 AIW that we utilized in our other testing configurations.

Certainly, those users who are opting to use the Minuet in a PVR/DVR environment need to be aware of the drawbacks of this design, as this design may limit use of their PCI/AGP card of choice.

A close up of the front mounted I/O ports for the Antec Minuet. Notice the level of detail to the front bezel on the Minuet. Although Antec gets high marks for the bezel on the Minuet, they could have done a much better job of labeling the I/O ports on the front of the case.

Overall, the Minuet is a well designed and efficiency planned case. However, unless you are willing to use an integrated all-in-one motherboard solution or live with the restriction of low-profile AGP/PCI slots, you may be disappointed with this case. However, since many of the new integrated all-in-one solutions provide such robust video and audio offerings the need for PCI/AGP slots has been greatly reduced over time. Antec has built the Minuet as a forward thinking MicroATX case that will certainly cater to a great many users. While it is obvious that we would like to see a Minuet offering that supports standard AGP and PCI cards, the swing away drive cage, plus the included excellently written documentation are two pluses that cannot be overlooked. The Minuet may not be the ideal MicroATX-based case solution, but it certainly offers the best looking of the MicroATX cases that we reviewed. We have no problem recommending the Minuet for purchase as long as consumers understand the restrictions of the Minuet prior to purchasing it.

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