At Computex earlier this year, Antec showed us a prototype of the Skeleton. We recently received a sample of the final product. The whole chassis looks different now, which is good. Let's first start with a quick discussion of the case functionality. Who would need or want something like this? Frankly, I don't. I like small and sleek cases, preferably stored under my desk where I don't see or hear the PC. However, this case may be great for people that frequently change motherboard jumpers, and add or reconfigure other items. Some might even like the appearance of the case, which is a highly subjective area; many of us think it looks rather ugly, but as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

If you're mostly interested in the functionality, the outward appearance is rather irrelevant. Form follows function and that is an important part of this chassis. It looks somewhat like a lunar station with its half-moon structure and the large 250mm fan in the top. The front has the usual buttons and jacks: power, IEEE1394 FireWire, two USB ports, an eSATA port, and headset and microphone jacks. On the left side we find the reset button as well as a small status LED embedded in the plastic frame.

All of the cables hang out the back of the case, since there is nowhere to hide them. In the center of the chassis is a mounting plate for a large ATX motherboard, and as we will below you can slide the tray out of the chassis. The back has a thin clear acrylic frame installed that helps provide support for expansion cards (i.e. graphics cards). Below the motherboard in the back is the tray for the power supply. The sides feature a metal plate perforated with hexagonal shapes, and like the motherboard tray the PSU tray is removable. The fan in the top can be turned on and off with a small switch at the back, and a second switch allows you to control the LED lights.

Installing the components is fairly easy. You can slide the whole inside of the frame out the back by removing two screws on each side in the back. The power supply mounts in a small cage that can also slide out off the main frame. You can use a variety of power supplies, with an 80mm fan or 120mm fan, though a model with an 80mm fan would make more sense in this case since there are fewer obstructions to block airflow. After installing the main components, the motherboard easily slides into the frame and you can tighten the screws.


Houston? We have a problem.

Unfortunately, we couldn't install our three NVIDIA GeForce 8800 Ultras since we could not slide the motherboard tray back into the chassis. As you can see above, the first and last graphics cards collide with the upper part of the chassis. However, if your graphics card does not have a bulge like the 8800 Ultra you will not have this problem. In addition, we were able to slide the motherboard tray into the chasses without the cards and maneuver them into the slots inside of the chassis (though this required more effort than usual). The installation of all the other components went without problem.

Antec delivers a very sturdy case with the Skeleton and it's already available in the U.S. Europe still doesn't have any in stock, and the one shop that lists the Skeleton is asking €340 ($465) for it. The U.S prices are a little more moderate, starting at $140. Whether you find that price acceptable or not is for you to decide. However, there is another issue to consider. An open case like this does not have any EMI protection, which means in the worst case you will have problems with radio and/or TV reception when the system is on, particularly if it's near your stereo/television. Despite that, the case is something new in a market full of normal, dull cases. The exclusivity alone will attract some customers; there are certainly users who frequently swap components or simply like the unique design who will be interested in getting their claws on the Skeleton.

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  • Crucial - Tuesday, October 14, 2008 - link

    Why would you need that in an advertisement fluff piece? Reply
  • TA152H - Tuesday, October 14, 2008 - link

    This is the perfect case for people that never quite get around to putting all the sides of their case. You know, you don't want to close it until you get that new hard drive in, or replace the fan, or put the extra memory in. Of course, sometimes (often?), I never do anything with it, despite always having these intentions. Am I alone in this? Maybe not; this case seems to make me feel a little less stupid, since it might be made for those of us who have this failing.

    I am guilty of this just as often as I put the sides on. But this is better, since it allows convention to work better since the top is also, mostly, open.

    It may not be so attractive, but it's more attractive than my computer cases that I never quite get around to closing.

    Also, it would use less power than a normal case, for the simple reason you need less fan power to get air out of the case. But, you'd have to use low noise components, since it's not only failing to block EM radiation, it's also not blocking noise.

    I don't think it's for everyone, but I think it is for someone. That's really all any case can hope for.

    I like the idea, and think it will be a success.

    Reply
  • piasabird - Tuesday, October 14, 2008 - link

    My first thought is it is just too large. I cant see putting this on top of a desktop ever. Instead of making really large computers we need smaller computers.

    The other thing is if you have children poking their fingers in to touch or move the wires all I can see is Zap or electrocution of children.

    Also in a well designed case, you can pull air through the case and cool off the Drives. In this case this does not seem possible. Then fan noise can not be blocked in an open case. Also Vibration noise can not be reduced in an open case. What you will not get though is the amplification of these items when inside a case.

    While this case design is interesting as a showpiece you need room for it and it is not children friendly.
    Reply
  • djc208 - Tuesday, October 14, 2008 - link

    A 500W PSU and a triple SLI setup. Does that actually run properly, or was that just to show a PSU installed? I've read the 1000+ watt monsters aren't necessary but that seems a little small. Reply
  • Christoph Katzer - Tuesday, October 14, 2008 - link

    Finally one who actually saw that. Just wanted to show how you install a PSU. I tried PSUs with 80mm and 120mm fan to check if there is enough space for airflow. I am running that triple SLI with the PCPower 860W AT Edition. Reply
  • 7oby - Tuesday, October 14, 2008 - link

    Seems to be a cheap copy of the Amiga Walker :-)
    http://www.blachford.info/computer/walker/walker.h...">http://www.blachford.info/computer/walker/walker.h...
    Reply
  • Clauzii - Tuesday, October 14, 2008 - link

    Thanks for the link :)

    Quite a trip back in time :D
    Reply
  • Christoph Katzer - Tuesday, October 14, 2008 - link

    I don't see much similarity between the both... What has the one concept to do with the other? Reply
  • 7oby - Tuesday, October 14, 2008 - link

    I did put a smiley, which means my posting shouldn't be taken literally.

    For those who've been in IT business for more than 15 years, it's verly likely they came in touch with the Amiga the one or the other way. At that time a x86 PC was always a cuboid either staying on the one side (desktop) or the other (tower). There wasn't even such thing as a midi tower let alone HTPC case. Only companies such as Atari, Apple, C=/Amiga were designing other shaped computers.

    Since a cube has the largest volume among cuboids with a given surface area, you could call that in a certain sense efficient. And companies who design efficient solutions are innovative even besides the aesthetic aspects. Showing other companies have innovative before.

    To sum it up: I think my post will put a smile on some geek's faces.
    Reply
  • TA152H - Tuesday, October 14, 2008 - link

    Actually, most professionals never came across an Amiga - it was a toy machine. Atari's were typical keyboard and computer design. Macs have always been strange shaped, and always slow and overpriced. We used to call them MacIntoys. Amigas were also pretty boring in terms of shape as well. A prototype doesn't mean the same thing as a production machine.

    x86 computers came in many shapes and forms (although none of them would be considered exotic). The PS/2 line alone had several different shapes, from the small Model 50/70, and the 55/56/76, the mid-sized desktop Model 90 (the machine I used mostly at the time) to the larger desktop cases like the 77. There were also towers, like the 60/80 initially, and the 95 which was shorter and wider. The 95 would be a mid-tower by today's standards. The point is, they made all the sizes they needed, and there were multiple sizes so you could get what you really wanted.

    The cases of a PS/2 were FAR superior to the junk you can buy today. Most of the geeks here would struggle to even lift a PC/AT or PS/2 Model 80. They were much more advanced back then too; the PS/2 Model 70 could be taken about without a screwdriver, and didn't even have a single ribbon, cable, etc... in it. You could take the entire computer apart in less than a minute.

    I collect antique computers and have PS/2s that were never used, and some PC/ATs, so I am not going on memory only. I had to lift a PC/AT the other day, and still am surprised at just how heavy it is. The keyboards were also very heavy.

    Stuff now is high-speed junk. It's fine because we replace it before it goes bad, most of the time, but my Tandy 3000 I bought for around 5K in 1986 still runs fine today, and I did things that you would never think of doing with today's computers. Back then, you actually had to have some skill to overclock. It was not as simple as changing BIOS settings and then pounding your chest like you've done something. You'd have to unsolder the crystal, and buy another one, and solder it in, and hope you didn't screw anything up. On some old machines, before the PC, to do upgrades, you'd have to cut electrical connections, and run wires and solder them in for certain upgrades. Uggggh. But, my Tandy 3000 went through this a few times, and still never complains, and has been running overclocked (10 MHz) by 25% almost since the beginning.

    New machines are fast, and they are cheap, but, in terms of quality, they are much lower. It's a good tradeoff though, since computers only have a limited useful lifespan for most people. Also, they are much easier to move. The weight of old computers is unreal.

    Reply

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