Antec Solo II
Antec surprised us by sending a member of its silence-oriented Sonata series as its second choice for our mainstream gaming chassis round-up. Can a design with solid front and side panels stand up to the ventilation standards set by the company's own Eleven Hundred?
Uncovered external drive bays differentiate the Solo II from Antec’s regular Sonatas, while low-sitting front panel connectors indicate that this particular model is designed to sit atop, rather than under, a desk.
Solo II Quattro...Ports
Two USB 2.0 ports supplement the USB 3.0 connectors we were looking for from the cases in this round-up. Though the shields on our review sample were slightly bent, we had no trouble pushing them back into place by inserting a thumb drive.
A lighted ring surrounding the power button serves as the Solo II’s power-on indicator.
Behind Antec’s Solo II
Unlike Antec’s game-themed designs, the Solo II features both a top-mounted power supply and a seven-slot expansion panel. While that may win over traditionalists, we also sympathize with the folks concerned that the power supply is situated at the hottest part of the case.
Anticipating those complaints, Antec placed a vent above the power supply, recommending that PSUs with bottom-mounted intake fans be installed with the fan on top.
Inside The Solo II
A 120 mm exhaust fan pulls air from every hole in the chassis, without the benefit of directional control. Optional intake fans can partially alleviate this, though their air is limited to whatever flows through tiny slots around the face panel’s edge.
Noise reduction is the Solo II’s primary goal, though Antec is confident that its submission will also survive the rigors of our thermal tests.
Also seen from this angle, four 5.25” drive rails are clipped to the case’s floor for easy storage.
Solo II Cable Management
A top-mounted power supply doesn’t need room to run its main power cable behind the motherboard tray, which is good since the Solo II has little room there.
If you have long cables, you'll probably have to stuff some of them in the space above the optical drive bay up top in the traditional, somewhat-messy fashion.
Multiple Hard Drive Mounting Options
Three 3.5” drive trays employ silicon grommets to prevent vibration from rattling the chassis. Those same trays also have secondary holes to accommodate 2.5” drives.
If you want even more vibration dampening, the hooks on the sides of the drive cage hold rubber bands. Twisting them 90° lets you insert drives between them to create a suspension-style mounting for only two drives in the same space.
A Hinged Face Plate
Drive access isn’t encumbered by a door, but that doesn’t mean the Solo II lacks one. Instead, the entire face swings open, making it easier to insert 5.25” drive rails and clean the dust filter.
One of the Solo II’s dust filters is mounted on a door that swings down to allow drive tray access.
Drive grommets have to be repositioned to smaller holes if you want to install 2.5” drives.
Gaming-themed features of Corsair's 400R include two front, two top, and two side fan mounts. Half of them are populated by fans that Corsair includes. That combination should be good enough to cool all but the most extreme graphics card configurations.
Though the 400R has only two USB ports up front, they're both SuperSpeed-capable. Corsair also retains the FireWire port typically missing from modern cases, and features a button to control the case's included LED fans.
Behind Corsair’s 400R
Overclocking is the best way to overcome performance bottlenecks, so Corsair outfits the 400R with four grommets to accommodate high-capacity external liquid cooler tubing.
A number of motherboard and graphics card combinations end up hanging a third (or fourth) card one slot beneath the motherboard’s bottom. So, Corsair also adds an eighth expansion slot there.
A large protruding section of the right side-panel creates copious room for cable storage space behind the motherboard tray.