Introduction

Antec is no stranger to us when it comes to power supplies, and we have tested many of the latest offerings from the Fremont, California based company. We recently had a short look at the Three Hundred case, a budget offering that still provides a good feature set. Antec asked us if we would be interested in reviewing some of their latest HTPC chassis, and we responded in the affirmative.

Anyone searching for an HTPC case probably has certain things in mind. First is a nice and sleek design that will fit in with the entertainment center in your living room. Placing it there comes with another problem: size. The ideal HTPC case should be small and designed to fit together with a stereo amplifier, game console, and/or DVD player.


We have three cases from Antec that provide very different approaches in terms of size and interior space. All of them come with a nice aluminum front bezel that helps create a high quality appearance. All of them also come with software that provides easily access to media data through a Windows application called iMedian. This includes a VFD (Vacuum Fluorescent Display) installed in each front of the chassis. The three models are:

  • Antec Micro Fusion 350 (includes 350W power supply)
  • Antec Fusion Remote Black
  • Antec Fusion Remote Max

The Micro Fusion is one of Antec's latest offerings in the HTPC sector and comes with a good 350W power supply. We tested this separately with our Chroma of course, and we are surprised by the build quality and good performance it delivered. Each of these three cases come with unique features and therefore target different users. We tested the chassis with the following components:

Test Components
CPU Intel Core 2 Duo E4500 (2.2GHz)
Motherboard Asus P5E-VM SE
Memory 4GB OCZ DDR2 PC2-8500 Platinum Series
HDD Western Digital 400GB
CPU Cooler Zalman CNPS7700
Power Supply Antec Signature SG-650W

We took readings while idle on the Windows desktop as well as at full load. To fully load the systems we started BOINC for the CPU and the Fur benchmark for the GPU (IGP chipset). All of the preinstalled fans are adjustable with settings of low, medium, and high speed. We will include results for all three fan speeds at both idle and load.

Antec Micro Fusion 350
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  • Chris Simmo - Friday, October 10, 2008 - link

    Just read on the iMon forums that the newer cases remote recievers have had that HID problem fixed. I still don't think they are reliable though Reply
  • joeythecat - Thursday, October 09, 2008 - link

    More comments.

    I have the silver Fusion which comes with a VFD instead of the LCD, and contrast looks much better. But like you said, driver support is horrible and my VFD consistently freezes or displays garbage, and I have to actually unplug the power cable to reset it, just rebooting the PC doesn't do it.

    And yes the IR receiver sucks. Although one nice feature is that it works with the MS MCE remote. But its easy enough to disable the IR from the software and not have to deal with it.

    Overall, I'm fairly happy with the case, but I wish I got the one WITHOUT the built in VFD so that I can put in a card reader instead.
    Reply
  • jajig - Thursday, October 09, 2008 - link

    Expanding on a couple of your comments with my thoughts:

    1) I have the same case and agree that iMon LCD is of poor quality. I wouldn't say it is as bad as you make out though. The contrast is adjustable; it took me about 10 minutes, but the display looks nice now.

    2)ir receiver is useless. For some people it is too sensitive and gets interference from other remote controls and for others it just doesn't seem to work.
    Reply
  • SirKronan - Thursday, October 09, 2008 - link

    AGAIN Antec misses a HUGE feature that should be included or at least a possibility! There's nothing more convenient than pulling that card out of your SLR and immediately being able to display your high resolution photos on your big screen after a trip. Antec again fails to even provide a SLOT for such a device. Only one 5.25 bay.

    The 120mm fans and superior design are wins, and I would love to have one of these, especially the Fusion, as part of my home theater, but I don't want to have to plug in my camera or use an external card reader. More sleek and simple is always preferred in home theater setups. Not everybody needs a card reader in their HTPC, but it's still a PC and a logical place for a convenient card reader.

    It doesn't have to even be visible. Cover it by a flap or put it on the side, as I have seen some cases do. All that space on the front, the MAX even has a flap, and still no option.

    /rant
    Reply
  • puddnhead - Thursday, October 09, 2008 - link

    "Huge?" you're kidding, right? They put the standard interface USB ports right on the front. Every media format in the world has a USB reader available for it like $3. I have this case, and I have two cameras, one xD and one SDHC. maybe i just have more manual dexterity than you but I have no problem plugging either of these into a converter & that into the USB.

    In fact, thank god they just put the USBs on here, instead of some ugly "11-in-1" set of ports for SD, xD, miscroSD, miniSD, CF, blah, blah, blah. I want this to look nice and sleek in my living room, not like some kind of crappy computer with plug sockets all over it that looks like it belongs in an office.
    Reply
  • RMSe17 - Friday, October 10, 2008 - link

    More manual dexterity? How about more childish behavior? The user makes a constructive criticism of the case, and what do you do? Regardless of your view on his opinion, how about acting civil? Reply
  • SirKronan - Friday, October 10, 2008 - link

    Maybe you don't want that feature, but I think a card reader dangling off the front of my home theater equipment, or a USB adapter sitting out a port is ugly, and inconvenient for something we use all the time. And like I said, it doesn't have to be visible. I've seen cases put it under a flap or even on the side.

    My wife likes to be able to bring the SLR home and stick the card right in the front without attaching anything, and I finally found a case that has them integrated. It still looks dang nice (1/4 inch black aluminum front bezel) and the card readers aren't an eyesore at all, as they are completely black, too. This is a convenience that we wanted, but that doesn't mean everyone does. I know another friend of mine returned his Fusion because of this, and I bought something else because of this feature. I wouldn't mind having at least an option to install one, either. Several Silverstone cases have a 3.5 inch external bay hidden behind a flap.

    Oh well. To each his/her own.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Friday, October 10, 2008 - link

    I was going to post the same thing you did. I can see not including a card reader on the Micro model, but especially the largest case with the door should have a card reader behind it. Using a USB card reader is a lot more of a hassle and looks far more out of place than a reader integrated into the system.

    Now I generally wouldn't use this with my SLRs as I shoot all RAW and process, but for family pictures and such would be useful.
    Reply
  • SirKronan - Friday, October 10, 2008 - link

    Yeah, I shoot in RAW for jobs I do for clients, too, but I use the same camera for family stuff too. (some day I'll be able to afford a second body!!) a It's nice to just stick the card right in and sit down with the family to view photos from a trip or a day at the park. My wife takes pictures at all her country concerts, too, and she loves being able to just slap it into the card reader and do a slideshow right on our TV. From there she can instantly burn the images onto a DVD, too. Card readers are much faster than plugging in the camera (up to 15MB/sec on reader vs. 5MB/sec plugging in camera). And Vista (with a free patch) gives you native raw support to at least preview images. Reply
  • ceefka - Thursday, October 09, 2008 - link

    In that case (no pun intended) I suggest you buy a USB adapter stick that can accept whatever card is in your camera and keep that USB adapter close to your HTPC. Reply

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