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  • gevorg - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    "I also think Antec is having the same problem with the Solo II they had with the Sonata IV: it's priced right out of competition. At $129 it just doesn't make sense."

    It makes sense to people who value silent computing. With the right part selection you can have a powerful computer that is also very quiet and that what makes Solo superb even at $200 price point. Comparing Solo to Sonata is like comparing apple to an orange. Key word: part selection. A proper review with anechoic chamber measurements would show a clearer picture.
    Reply
  • zero2dash - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    @ $120 the Solo II is (IMHO) grossly overpriced.
    @ $200 it's highway robbery and anyone who would buy a Solo at that price point deserves to get ripped off.

    If I have $200 and it HAS to be spent on an Antec case, I'd get one of the 18x variants. Otherwise, I'd go with another brand name.
    Reply
  • knedle - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    I agree, I have Antec NSK2480 for years and I didn't buy it because it was fancy, featured some neat mounting system or whatever else.
    I bought it because it looked simple, and was made of thick steel, that helps to make my computer quiet.
    Nothing else counts for me, and that enclosure is doing great job for me... Oh wait, I had to turn off all the blue LEDs on it, because I hate them. ;)
    Reply
  • pvdw - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    Anandtech just doesn't have the facilities for a proper sound related review of hardware. For that SPCR is a better place to go. If quietness is a priority then that's the place to go for reviews. I've found that their case reviews are better than those here. I'm sure they'll review this case and I look forward to hearing their input.

    BTW, I have the Solo, and it's a great case! It has it's little foibles, but it's significantly cut down on noise in my office.

    As far as tool-less design is concerned, remember that a case like the Solo is geared towards noise reduction. It's possible that some of the tool-less designs lead to extra vibration. Or maybe Antec were just cutting corners.The suspension straps are just the best at reducing HDD vibration transfer.
    Reply
  • gevorg - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    "Anandtech just doesn't have the facilities for a proper sound related review of hardware. For that SPCR is a better place to go."

    If Anandtech can't do a proper review, they shouldn't jump to silly conclusions that Solo "at $129 it just doesn't make sense". Not everything is made for overclockers, storage servers and HTPC.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    I stand by my conclusions.

    Just because we can't invest in a custom built anechoic chamber that produces noise level results which border on academic for 90% of end users, I'm somehow not qualified to be doing these?
    Reply
  • davegravy - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    Acoustic Engineer here.

    Results can be significantly skewed by not measuring in an anechoic environment due to room modes. We're talking on the order of several dB.

    Your measurements may still be useful for comparison purposes, provided your transducer location and the location of equipment under test is EXACTLY the same for each measurement. In this case, one should not compare Anantech's results with other published results.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    That's basically it. I'm confident that my results are comparable within their own ranks. Reply
  • dhanson8652 - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    I think this is a fair review. I have no major problem with this review and I've been a SPCR regular for almost a decade.

    Suspension was a big deal with traditional 7200 RPM drives back in the day. With SSDs taking over it becomes less and less of an issue. I'd be fine with suspension taken out of the Solo if it dropped the cost and that was reflected in a lower price for the consumer.

    The biggest negative you didn't mention is the power button / reset switch is pretty cheaply made. See the picture in page two of this thread http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/viewtopic.php... I've seen ham-fisted users bust the power button on a Solo and I've had to fix them so it's not an issue I'll quickly forget.

    The one thing that I didn't know before reading this review is that the support bar is removable. There have been some on SPCR that have cut the bar away in the original Solo so having it easily removed/replaced without damaging the cases resale value is a plus.

    On the topic of intake the lack of intake fan, considering Yate Loon 120mm fans are only $3 retail (less for someone like Antec to buy in bulk) It'd be very easy to up the included fan count by one if they are going to keep the price that high. As is die hard SPCR types don't use front fans.
    Reply
  • leoc - Saturday, December 28, 2013 - link

    The really important difference between this review and the SPCR one isn't the precision of the noise recordings. It's that when SPCR found the stock Solo II struggling under load with a mid-range GPU they went ahead, put in a 120mm intake fan and retested. Apparently the Solo II was not only much cooler but quieter with the second fan while under load. Now it would be very fair to slate the expense of what's arguably a $15 hidden extra on the price of a $130 case, but it's faintly absurd not to confirm that the case works well in a two-fan configuration. I understand the desire to review the item as delivered and not to consider esoteric modifications, but throwing in a 120mm Nexus is not exactly drilling holes: it's a ridiculously straightforward and obvious option when self-building a desktop PC for superior noise *or* cooling performance. Reply
  • lwatcdr - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Which is funny because from SPCR "Our biggest concern is not physical, but fiscal — the Solo II's MSRP price of US$129 is substantially more than its competitors which offer more drive support, fans, and features."
    In other words that sight that you feel does a better job found the same thing.
    Reply
  • CloudFire - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    I can't really seem to get excited over any of Antec's cases lately, I've had a 900 years ago before they had much competition on the market. I don't see how this can compete with the Corsair Carbide 500R at the same MSRP, or even the 400R at the 99$ mark. Not to mention the NZXT Phantom w/same MSRP which provides much more room, fan controller, aesthetics (personal preference of course), and impeccable cable management options. 129$ seems way too expensive for a case like this imo. Reply
  • earthrace57 - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    I kind of think Antec is eating its own lunch with this case. The P183 or even P193 are similarly priced, but you get much better performance with similar acoustics. Reply
  • zero2dash - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    Try to get an R3 for review so people can see what a real $100 case can give you; silence AND cooling with better internal cable management and better general configuration. I'd put my Arctic White R3 up there with the higher end Lian Li's I've owned (including the V1000 BW Plus II) as the nicest case out there.

    I love my Three Hundred but I can't even consider or recommend anything Antec does for $100+ when there are Lian Li's and several Fractal Designs (including the R3) at the same price point. Antec is the case to beat at sub-$100 (the Three Hundred), but as for $100+, no thanks.
    Reply
  • int9 - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    Can't be repeated enough. Define Mini would be another interesting choice... mid-tower cases are feeling quite boring these days IMO. Reply
  • Samus - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    wow, this is a complete copy of the Silverstone FT02. damn Antec, three years late, and you didn't even consider a larger, single intake fan?

    i don't get it, at $129, its priced between something equivilent in quietness and cooling, and something that is exceptionally higher quality. i think most people are going to pick a sub-$100 case that is basically an equal to this, or a $200 case that is everything this isn't.
    Reply
  • Exodite - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    Does the USB 3.0 front panel connector use the standardized motherboard header or rely on external connectors, like Lian-Li uses?

    The first would be much preferable.

    Anwyay, some points off the top of my head.

    * The top vent means that I could actually use this case with my fanless PSU, since it has to be mounted with vents upward for convection to work.
    * Space for longer graphics cards is appreciated.
    * While I enjoy the suspension mount system in theory the reality is that the bands dry up and wear out very quickly and the noise suppression characteristic is negligible beyond what the silicone grommet mount already allows.
    * I'd rather see just the two USB 3.0 ports on the front panel and replace the two 2.0 ones with powered eSATA and/or a card reader.
    * Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the use of the same power and reset key as the original invalidates every improvement made to the chassis. You'd be using a pen to rummage around inside the front panel to start and reset your computer in a couple of months anyway.
    Reply
  • Malih - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    it's a bit frustrating that from the latest case reviews there's not a single Coolermaster case, I'm curious whether they send any case for review.

    Anyways, thank you for this review, After reading the review I finally figured the type of case that I'm going to buy for my upcoming build: something silent, although not necessarily the Sonata.

    I'm gonna have to look through other reviews for best silent cases.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    Unfortunately they don't. I've been trying to get one of the HAF enclosures in, but no luck. I'll keep pressing them, but I have to wonder if they were unhappy about my review of the Storm Enforcer. Reply
  • FH123 - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    As the happy owner of an Antec Solo, I'm dubious about this update, mainly because they've shrunk the drive cage. I understand the need to accomodate longer graphics cards, but you pay a lot for that. I run a Core 2 Quad Q9650 and stock Radeon 5850 as a gaming and multimedia rig in my living room. Neither cooling nor the length of that graphics card is an issue with the original case. As someone else said, parts selection is probably important. I am able to run my system with a single Noctua fan at 900RPM (slower than the original), which is connected to a tower CPU heatsink via a rubber fan duct. There is no separate CPU fan, yet the CPU will run at stock speed, undervolted, and merely hit 55C under StressPrime. Alternatively stock voltage allows a moderate overclock from 3.0 to 3.6GHz and a top temperature of 68C under StressPrime, with the fan ramped to 1300RPM. The stock Radeon 5850 mostly vents out the back. Admittedly this is probably the limit of what the case will do with such limited airflow.

    I strongly disagree about the suspension mounting. Among the drives I've had were some Seagates that had a loud seek noise and Samsungs with a quieter seek noise, but a much higher rumble. The suspension mounting completely eliminates the rumble of the Samsungs and transforms them into the quietest drives I've had. The rubber grommets, while no doubt better than nothing, are unable to do this. The downside of the suspension mounting is that you shouldn't tilt the case while carrying. By the way, the suspension mounts in my case are made from elasticated fabric. I've owned it for 4 years. These do not dry up. I believe there were problems only with early Antec Solos, which had rubber bands instead.
    Reply
  • Exodite - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    Seems my previous attempt at a reply got eaten so I'll try again.

    Re: Samsung HDDs.

    I've used both a 400GB T133 and a 2TB F4 Ecogreen in the original SOLO, both on suspension and using the silicone grommet mounts.

    When using Samsungs tools to set AAM to 'Quiet' or whatever the lowest setting is, and avoiding tightening the screws through the silicone grommets too much, I can hear no audible difference between the two mounting systems.

    This from a guy who find his Noctua C-14 intolerable on everything past 750 RPM.
    Reply
  • ya_bewb - Sunday, January 08, 2012 - link

    I have two Solo cases, like Exodite, I can''t hear any difference between the silicon and the bands. I've since settled on just using the silicon mounts, which prevent any metal on metal contact. I agree with the reviewer, the bands are unnecessary, and in version 2 they should have dropped them and added another 2.5" drive bay with the space savings.

    I have one of my current drive bays empty because the video card power connector juts into the space in front of it, so I have to agree with that change in the version 2. If you want to build a quiet mid-range gaming PC it is difficult with the original solo, just too crowded for the video card.

    People have complained about the power switch and neither is broken in either of my cases, maybe I'm just lucky.

    Lastly, the Fractal Define R3 is a comparable case but after seeing one in person the build quality doesn't seem as good as the Solo...and I'm not a huge fan of the drive bay door on the front. Even so I'm considering it for my next rig, as well as the solo 2 and a couple of other cases. The Solo may be more expensive due to the paint job, it is a good looking case.
    Reply
  • alandpost - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    (from a happy multiple Solo I builder)

    The reviewer has rather missed the point.

    The HD suspension really does make a difference, particularly in reducing vibration from 3.5" drives. If you've got whining blowers on big graphics cards, you might not notice.

    The lack of noise is the partially the result of the indirect air intake, not just the sound dampening panels. Also, if the build quality of the Solo II is similar to the Solo I, it's a solid brick of steel that doesn't rattle or hum as much as many other cases.

    Thermals would improve with slow, good-quality intake fans, without becoming noisy. In fact, the lower temperature might slow down the fan on the graphics card.

    The moaning about HD installation just sounds childish to me. We're talking about an operation that takes thirty seconds.

    Also, it seems that the reviewer is unaware of the original Solo case, which has been out since 2006 or 2007, and has been a standard choice for quiet builds ever since.

    I agree that the Solo II is not the best choice for a 500W system -- something like the InWin BUC will move way more air -- but how many such builds actually exist? For the build tested, the "load" numbers are also not typical of any load you'd actually use, running both prime95 and furmark.

    For a modestly powered build, the only drawbacks I can see in the Solo II are the small HD cage, and the price.

    For reviews more in tune with the issues of quiet computing, head over to silentpcreview.com
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    I don't think I've missed the point. I'm not personally a fan of the suspension system and have rarely had a situation that basic rubber grommets didn't solve the problem of. I don't care for it, and the half one, half other approach actually just winds up reducing the enclosure's overall usefulness.

    And it's true, the Solo II is very solidly built. My Graphite 600T developed a rattle over time that drove me insane.

    I believe I also said that for someone looking for pure silence at any cost, the Solo II was pretty much going to be the best choice.

    That in mind, I will tell you right now that builds like our testbed aren't as uncommon as you think they are. The load numbers are also more typical than you'd think: I found when encoding H.264 video using Adobe Media Encoder, my core temperatures were usually within a degree or two of my Prime95 temps.

    For a more modest build the Solo II is going to be just fine. It'll run a little warmer than the other enclosures will, but it has a solid build and it's dead silent (a quieter HSF wouldn't hurt either.) Our stock test results support this.

    But every time someone mentions SPCR here I die a little inside. SPCR is a niche site and extremely specialized, with expensive specialized equipment and very specific goals tailored to a very specific audience. I can only do the best with what I have and recount my personal experiences with the hardware sent to me to the best of my ability, and sometimes those results and experiences will contradict SPCR. So be it.
    Reply
  • HammerSandwich - Wednesday, September 07, 2011 - link

    IMO, Anandtech is the best overall tech site out there, so I understand your frustration at the SPCR comparisons. But, as you point out, SPCR's a highly specialized site, and we should expect that allows it to do certain things a bit better.

    Having said that, I generally do prefer SPCR's case reviews, for reasons that have little to do with more precise SPL measurements. Here are a few areas they nail which you could implement easily:

    1) Report (at least the major) fan speeds.

    2) Report the test PC's power draw in idle & load tests.

    3) Run additional tests at a lower heat load. This test's non-OCed results occur at a pretty high power level (certainly compared to, say, a 2500K & 6870), and even hardcore gamers often have less extreme secondary rigs. There's room to evaluate cases in the 150-200W range, which *seems* like what Antec designed the Solo II to handle. But that's hard to determine from your review.

    4) Report temperatures in both C and F. Right now, your ambient & test results are in different units.

    5) Finally, and very much IMO, I saw some potential bias/frustration in this review. Your comments about disliking the drive suspension and "...I'm not personally a fan of design decisions that force those kinds of trade-offs..." make me wonder if you're evaluating this case on its own merits or simply for how well it suits your personal needs. ALL cases have design trade-offs, and a review needs to accomodate them to a certain extent.

    So, while your conclusion appears solid, you essentially tested the case in an enthusiast/gamer context & extrapolated that "it'd probably be adequate" in less demanding use. I believe Anandtech can do better, and I hope these comments help it to do so.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    And while I'm at it, you'd do well to note SPCR does load testing using the exact same software we do. Reply
  • a176 - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    As a Solo owner myself, I totally disagree with you. Over the years, what I've learnt to hate about the case:

    Adding drives does not take 30 seconds, please. Unscrew the side panel, unlatch the front panel, unscrew and unhinge the front fan holder (which can't go very far unless you disconnect the fan wiring first) ... compared to just removing the side panel on most modern cases? Yea.

    The suspension itself is a frilly extra as well; it does not make the drive any quieter than the rubber grommets.

    Another thing is that damn support bar that goes across the case from just under the PSU. It might not effect you, but I have a Thermalright 120, and it barely fits in because of that damn bar (LGA775). By barely, I mean I have to pivot in the entire motherboard+cooler under the bar to do the installation.

    If you can imagine, the 120 is pretty small by todays standards. You will never be able to get in one of those larger modern heatsinks.

    Thanks to that bar alone, it makes working around inside an already small case extremely difficult. I can't believe that dumb thing is still in this "new" version. Why couldn't they just move the PSU to the bottom?

    I love the Solo based on aesthetics, its small size, and fairly silent. But its terribly designed. And so is the new one. There are much better, cheaper, options on the market now.
    Reply
  • DrJ-10 - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    I agree with this 100%. One example: one computer I maintain lost its power supply a week ago. Everything -- *everything* -- has to be removed from the case to swap it out, and that includes the ungainly drive removal described above. Of course the computer has a Thermalright 120 on it, so getting the motherboard out is a PITA.

    I'm pleased that there is more room for cables behind the motherboard. It is great that a full-sized video can now be used (though losing drive space is the wrong way to do it). But the blasted bar under the power supply still remains.

    I love the results I get from the case. But I won't buy another one until they do a better job than they have done with this revision.
    Reply
  • JaBro999 - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    One more Antec Solo (P150 variant) owner who has suffered from the inability to remove the power supply without taking everything out of the case first. When my PSU fan developed a rattle, I had to dissasemble my system to get the damn PSU out, and my Zalman cooler is smaller than the TRUE 120.

    An EASY fix for this design flaw would be to take a page from many Lian-Li's cases, and have the PSU attach to a removable mounting plate that itself is attached to the rear of the case. You would simply unscrew the PSU mounting plate and pull the PSU out of the back of the case.

    However, this issue might be addressed with the Solo II, as Jared has replied to a comment lower down that the bar blocking the PSU might be removable:

    RE: PSU support bar by Dustin Sklavos on Tuesday, September 06, 2011
    Double-checked, this is my error. The case uses small phillips head
    screws, not rivets. The crossbar can be removed!
    Reply
  • WaffleTech - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    You forced me to register ;-)

    I'm a SOLO owner and the system is a S775 build using a Noctua NH-U12P which is a bit bigger than the Thermalright 120 if I'm right. I had to swap out the PSU two times and there is in fact a nifty method that at least let's you keep the mainboard in the case and even the cooler may stay mounted.

    Your clear out all four 5,25" drive bays which is pretty quickly done thanks to the quick mount rails. Next you remove the CPU fan from the cooler. Then you remove all PSU cables from their connectors and put them out through the big front hole provied by the empty drive bays. Now you unscrew the PSU and the space will be very tight but you can actually tilt it 90 degrees in the free room just between the CPU cooler and the drive bays. At last you can pull out the whole stuff to the front.

    This still isn't nice but at least most of the system stays where it is.
    Reply
  • DrJ-10 - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    FWIW, I tried this some time ago and it didn't work for me. I must not have been patient enough, or my hand are too large, or something.

    I note that this sort of nonsense is not part of the Fong Kai cases that HP has used for a long time in their workstations. The bar simply is not necessary for a case to be solid or quiet.
    Reply
  • MrMaestro - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    I owned a first-gen SOLO in my previous setup and I loved it, though admittedly I didn't truly appreciate its qualities until I got rid of it. It was soooooo quiet, I would leave it on all night in my bedroom and in the dead of night I could only just make out that it was on. I've stopped doing that since I got my P183 because it makes too much noise, and that's with the TriCools swapped out for Scythes.

    This looks like a nice evolution of the old design, though there are a couple of things I'm disappointed about. Firstly, it looks good, but a bit boring. I had the Sonata Plus (which was a SOLO bundled with a PSU) which has a dash of orange on the front, and it looked great while being a tiny bit different. This plain black is a bit boring.

    I also wish they would have moved the PSU to the bottom of the case, as the support bar is a bit of a pain, and out of place in a modern, name-brand case I think.

    I will definitely look into this for my next build though. Thanks for the review AnandTech.
    Reply
  • Menty - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    Nice review, thanks :).

    Did notice you mentioned the PSU-installation difficulty. I saw it mentioned elsewhere that the bracing bar would be removable in the Solo II, and indeed it looks from the photos like it has screws instead of rivets on it. Could you check that? :) It might make a substantial difference to the build difficulty for some people.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    The PSU support bar has a screw in the back of the case, but unfortunately uses rivets to attach to the optical drive cage. :( Reply
  • Menty - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    Well that sucks :( thanks for replying though. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    Double-checked, this is my error. The case uses small phillips head screws, not rivets. The crossbar can be removed! Reply
  • soydios - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    So, how would it perform with both intake fan slots populated with low-speed fans, acoustically and thermally?

    This case meets all of my requirements for a new case besides thermals, thus I'm curious to try it with two added intake fans.
    - full ATX
    - 3x HDD mounts w/ vibration isolation
    - 1x 5.25" bay
    - sound-deadening panels
    - intake air filter(s)
    - good selection of front ports
    Reply
  • nowayout99 - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    The noise is dependent on the fans you select. This case, like the original Solo, gives you just about every advantage you can have, but the part selection is up to you. Get quiet parts and you will have something you can barely tell is on.

    This review does not include any front intake fans, so any front fans you add will only improve thermals. Unless you are doing SLI or Crossfire, the thermals will be well within operating spec for the components. Again it'll come down to part selection. Low-speed fans will be silent inside this case.
    Reply
  • jwaight - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    Dustin, could you install 2 intake fans and redo the thermals again?
    I know you test the shipping unit, but who wouldn't populate the intakes?
    Reply
  • flipmode - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    Nice review. Nice to see Antec trying to recover from the follies of recent Sonata models.

    I have a Sonata III and I really do like it. But there are some things Antec has not addressed that I don't understand.

    1. Bottom mounted PSU. This is almost a necessity IMO. It helps with cable management since excess cables don't have to defy gravity with bottom mounted PSUs. This might make very long graphics cards incompatible with the case since a bottom mounted PSU would push the mobo upward and therefor the graphics card upward into the drive cage, but I'd be willing to accept that compromise. If you're a gamer then get a gamer case.

    2. Side-facing drive sleds. This is a necessity. You can skip the cable management hooks if you have to in order to get the sleds to face sideways. The ease of use of side-facing sleds is a tremendous convenience over the front facing scheme. Also, Antec's designers should consider how the cables route to the drives. In the Sonata III the cables can be routed in a pretty clean manner but I think that it more from luck than any strenuous thought on the part of the case designers.

    3. Tri-cool is better than dual cool. I have the Tri-cool fan and I love it. It's a terrific fan. And include the fans at the front of the case too - even if it means charging a little more.

    4. The cross-bar must go. It's a coincidence, but just this past Sunday I spent 30 minutes with a drill removing the cross-bar from my Sonata III so that I might possibly be able to get a PSU in and out of the case without removing the CPU heatsink. And the case is plenty sturdy without it. The side panel goes on and off easier without the cross-bar.

    Well, now for some compliments:

    1. The sound attenuation is a wonderful thing to see and Antec should keep that up and in as many of their cases as possible.

    2. The understated look of the case is quite nice and approaching beautiful. That is first and foremost what has always drawn me to the Sonata line and now Fractal's cases too.

    3. The cable routing space behind the mobo and the cut-outs in the mobo tray are absolute must-have features these days and kudos to Antec for including those.

    4. I also like that there is no handle on the side of the case like there is on the Sonata. And I love the fact that there is no side vent. Side vents are ugly, and cases should achieve adequate air flow without them. Good job there!
    Reply
  • casteve - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    I'm also a long time Solo owner and have enjoyed the case's quiet build. I changed out the single Antec fan for a Scythe fan and added a single fan in front. With decent CPU/GPU cooling, the case is very quiet and runs cool for a moderate gaming build of yor (e8400/HD5770 based). I use the suspension system for my HDD - replacing the original rubber with $0.50 worth of elastic band from a sewing store.

    I'm glad to see Antec updated the case for USB3. I'm sad they kept the damn PSU brace bar. I can't tell from the pictures...did they keep the lousy plastic assembly for the power/reset buttons? Those things have a short lifetime. Good news is Antec will send you a new front panel. Bad news is you have to deal with it.

    Given the Zalman cooler and the Zotec GTX580 aren't particularly quiet, you could swap out the Antec fan/ add a low rpm intake fan to the Solo II and not impact the acoustic performance while significantly dropping the temps.

    I guess there's a couple of possible viewpoints for reviews. One is "how well does this stock case work with these benchmark components?" Another might be "what <choose your focus> performance can I get by tweaking this case with these benchmark components?". Dustin does a great job with the former, SPCR does a great job focusing on acoustics for the latter. Different sites, different viewpoints. Both add to the knowledge base. Thanks for the review.
    Reply
  • Belard - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    My computer case for the past 4 years is great looking P150 (before it was re-named the Solo) which is a lower cost and door less version of the P18x series.

    The issues in this review is valid. I've never removed the Antec 430w modular PSU it came with... so I never experienced the pain as stated here. But have built systems with this case and have installed PSUs... and yes, the bar is in the way.

    I still like the way this case looks (not so much with the black on black), its great looking for professionals and office settings. For which I use Antec 300 and other similar cases like the HAFs to gaming or performance systems. Some of these improvements on this new SOLO II are good, but not for the market this case is made for. The HAFs are a much better and cheaper than many ANTECs, especially for gaming. A friend bought the semi-ugly Antec 200, easy enough to work on... supposed to be for gaming with its style... but the top fan touches the motherboard and on a particular ASUS board - the fan blades ends up hitting parts of the motherboard once the case is standing up!! Took it back and bought a HAF 912 for $5 more and had far better cable routing and room to work with, drive installation, etc. (I bring this up, because I build systems with various styles)

    Anyways... my P150 is next to my display, its inches away from my keyboard, and with its single rear fan (on MED) cooling the quad core CPU, ATI 4670 and 2 Seagate Hard drives - my system is pretty much silent. I like how it looks... and my power button still works (used glue to fix it), I may use it on my next CPU/mobo upgrade. It has room for a single cooling fan on the front - but it already draws in enough air. The suspension system is stupid... but is something that Antec loves to continue using. Guess its a patent issue.

    The SOLO II needs far better updating than what they did. Here is what *I* would have done with this case.

    1 - PSU on bottom (also makes the case bottom heavy)

    2 - Don't aim this case for a gaming-rig... the extra space for video cards is useless... so make the drive cage hold at least 4 drives.

    3 - Make the case smaller for mATX boards (how many people really buy ATX boards?) Especially for office users? A smaller case is easier to cool.

    4 - Have a 3rd 5.25 bay with a drop down door - to hide a card reader or floppy drive. Also, like the P150, include front plates with matching doors to cover Optical drives. Again, aimed at pro-settings and improves looks.

    5 - toss out the suspension system. Saves costs, materials, weight.

    6 - Sell it for $100, tops.

    Otherwise, there are other cases that costs less and are easier to work with... nowadays.
    Reply
  • fishman - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    I have a Antec P150, which is similar to the original Solo. I would not buy this case for two reasons - you can only fit 3 hard drives in it if you have two optical drives, and there is no place to put a memory card reader if you have two optical drives. The original Solo didn't have these problems. Reply
  • nowayout99 - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    Comparing this case to "cheese grater" cases that you can look through and see to the other side of is, well, kind of against the point of this case.

    I am an original Solo owner, and this is the first case since the original that I would upgrade to. I like clean designs and quiet fans. I cannot stand fugly over-designed cheese grater cases with 50 fan mounts. If you are not an extreme enthusiast, this case and cases like it are perfectly good and enjoyably QUIET.

    That being said, these are the points I would make:

    - The space for larger GPUs and larger front fans is very welcome.

    - The elastic suspension bands sound like a novel idea, but they become loose and sag over time, potentially letting drives come in contact with one another. I would stick to the rigid sleds with the silicone grommets.

    - The power button on my Solo 1 broke under standard use. The plastic piece that holds the button in place had snapped. I was not happy about having to buy a new front face for $19 from Antec because of what I consider to be a defect. I don't know why I was unable to get a free replacement while others were. Unfortunately, this case uses the same mechanism. That's a downside. In fact, that would have been the first thing I updated to avoid the cost of replacements. That makes no sense.

    - Cramped internals and not being toolless is mostly unnecessary noise. Unless you're afraid of screwdrivers and need to constantly tool around inside a case, it doesn't really matter.

    - I would really, really like to be able to clean the front filters without having to disconnect everything, open the side of the case, unlatch the front, and then put everything back and reconnect it. They should really be able to be pulled out from the bottom of the case or something.

    But I do agree with the reviewer about the price. $130. Really?
    Reply
  • antef - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    Reading these case reviews I ALWAYS think back to my Kingwin KT-424. What an amazing case. Thumbscrews for everything, the SIMPLEST toolless 5.25" drive bay installation ever - slide the drive in, slide a rail back and push the lever down, done - installed and secure in two seconds, motherboard tray, HDD rubber grommets, quiet as can be, easy removal of fan filter directly from front. Why can't any new cases replicate all this? The only reason I got another case eventually was because I wanted 120mm fans, and today I want smaller, micro-ATX, but that case was near perfect. Reply
  • Belard - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    Yep... I remember those. Actually pretty well made, I thought they did a better job than Lian Li, they sure looked a lot better.

    Then Kingwin went to cheap generic crap... have been for many many years now.
    Reply
  • Robert in Calgary - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    I'm another P-150 owner and I love it.. I have replaced the front panel once because of the broken button issue.

    I'm using Noctua fans and CPU cooler. I actually wrote Antec a letter 18 months ago asking for an updated Solo. This update is a bit disappointing.

    I would have liked to have seen some test results with two fans added.

    As mentioned - we still need...

    1. Bottom mounted PSU

    2. Side-facing drive sleds

    3. White version is a must.

    4. Easier way to clean front fan filters
    Reply
  • futurepastnow - Thursday, September 08, 2011 - link

    Another P150 owner here, a white version of this might get me to upgrade. Reply
  • JaBro999 - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    Dustin,

    Thanks for the detailed review.

    As others have commented, I would never buy this case if the power/reset buttons have the same rotten design as the original P150/Solo (a frail plastic "spring"). At this price range (or any other) there is no excuse for such a poor design that is guaranteeded to fail within a few months of use. Can you tell if this problem exists in the Solo II.

    If the PSU side rail is removable (yet to be confirmed, but it seems that it is screwed in, rather than bolted), I can overlook that design flaw.

    It is a shame Antec did not design the Solo II with a two section removable drive cage like the Fractal Define. For those that don't needs a very long graphics card, the case would offer much more storage. Since the Fractal Define costs less than the Solo II, includes one front intake fan & more internal storage options, and also has sound dampening material, Solo II definitely needs a price adjustment.
    Reply
  • JaBro999 - Saturday, September 10, 2011 - link

    It seems that my two biggest complaints about the Solo have been addressed with the Solo II.

    1) Per Dustin, the bracing bar that blocks in the PSU is removable.

    2) The power button assembly has supposedly been strengthened.

    See comments from Antec rep:
    http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/viewtopic.php...

    See comments on power button in review:
    http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_c...
    Reply
  • ClagMaster - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    This is a nice article about the Antec Solo II which I found informative.

    Bottom line is this is not a enclosure for serious overclocking. This is a nice mainstream enclosure for running stock processors and graphics cards drawing no more than 450W thermal power. Add a couple of 120mm fans up front doing 800-1200 RPM and these thermals will be improved while maintaining its quietude.

    A P67 motherboard running a i7-2500 and a mainstream video card such as an AMD 6850 will do just fine thermally speaking.

    The enclosure looks elegant inside but its too bad the internals are hidden from view with solid side panels which sound-proof the system

    The front end is revised for USB 3.0 and USB 2.0. It has filters which are a welcome addition. Cable routing with this case is extremely easy with this compared to ATX cases available 10 years ago.

    There is one point of this article which I find cliquish and ridiculous: why does a case have to have tooless attachment for optical and harddrives? Why does people obscess about these features. Everyone in the Western world has tools to mount a motherboard so mounting optical drives is no big deal.

    There is nothing wrong with using screws requiring a philps screwdrivers or a hex-driver. I consider such attachments to be more rugged and highly desirable if you wish to move the system
    Reply
  • JasonInofuentes - Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - link

    Long time Solo user, just stepping in to say that in terms of thermal design, it's a lot better than you might think. If the buyer is interested in a quiet case, they will benefit at stock and at moderate overclocks from the design which is optimized for noise reduction. BUT, if the buyer wants to crank things up, they can add the same number of fans as comes in many other cases (including an intake fan) and discover that the case was designed with thermal headroom in spades.

    There's a lot of harshness going around that is unnecessary (not necessarily from you ClagMaster), but what needs to be remembered is that this was a review of a shipping case, as delivered. The baseline that's presented shows it to be a case with excellent acoustics and excellent thermal design, when considering the limited airflow of a single exhaust fan. And users can see that in the data and in the text.
    Reply
  • TrackSmart - Wednesday, September 07, 2011 - link

    Spot on. This case performs well considering the single fan. Things never get loud. And they don't get hot until you throw a high-powered, overclocked system into it. It seems well-suited to its mid-range, quiet computing aspirations. Still, I'd like it better at $100 than at its $130 MSRP. Reply
  • ClagMaster - Wednesday, September 07, 2011 - link

    No harshness intended in the above comment.

    Quality of article is excellent. The Antec Solo II is an excellent mainstream enclosure for mainstream computing. It was optimized for good looks and acoustics in the office of a banking executive than on the workbench of an overclocker.

    Only complaint I have against the case is its not made of aluminum to reduce its weight.

    Again, running a Q6600/G965/7950GT or a i7-2500/P67/ATI6850 would operate just fine at stock setings.

    I am frustrated with articles that bash otherwise excellent cases because they have tooless attachments which I consider frivolous and unnecessary.
    Reply
  • TrackSmart - Wednesday, September 07, 2011 - link

    I didn't think you were too harsh, but I think probably were.

    I generally agree regarding tool-less designs: Sometimes figuring out the crazy attachment system takes 4 times longer than just screwing the part on the old fashioned-way. Ease and convenience are more important metrics than whether I need to use a screwdriver. That being said, I don't want to bust out the tools just to clean the dust filter or open the side panel. I think we agree that there's some balance to be struck.
    Reply
  • nowayout99 - Wednesday, September 07, 2011 - link

    This case is great for the VAST majority of people -- It's perfectly fine for users with even the hottest CPUs and GPUs on the market today. And it will help keep your gear quiet.

    Keep it in perspective. It's not like the system is going to implode on itself just because it's 5 degrees warmer than a case that looks like a cheese grater the size of a tire and has half a dozen fans.

    Temperatures only need to come into consideration if they want more than 1 GPU... In which case they should get a proper "gaming" case.
    Reply
  • Zap - Saturday, September 10, 2011 - link

    <-- Have owned Antec Solos for years. Here are a few thoughts.

    1) Tri Cool fans aren't really that quiet. The high speed setting is 100% useless for a quiet system, so this new fan with 600/1000RPM settings (or whatever they are) sounds really good to me. According to SPCR the fan is quieter in all ways than the Tri Cool, even at the same RPMs.

    2) Drive suspension is probably not needed these days, unless you own a WD Caviar Black. BITD I had Raptors (not the quieter VelociRaptors) and the suspension actually muted the sounds it made. However, if you are not using a super noisy HDD to begin with, the excellent grommets are probably sufficient.

    3) Love the looks. Not everyone wants their system to look as if it was owned by a 14 year old gamer. I've since "graduated" to Lian Li cases which have similar, clean elegance. About the only thing I'd change to the outside is the placement of the front ports/switches. My system sits on the floor, so top mounted ports/switches are easier to use.

    4) I agree with some previous comments that the HDD cages could have been side mounted.

    5) Some of the "complaints" of the previous Solo have been addressed, such as not being able to fit large graphics cards, "strange" contrasting silver front and using mere 92mm front fans. Also, love the huge cutout for the CPU backplate.

    6) If you want to fill up your system with a zillion HDDs and ODDs, this case is probably not for you so stop complaining about having too few drive bays.

    7) I like the compact size. Most tower computers are just big boxes that are mostly empty.

    8) With all the comparisons to other cases, you can't ignore the fact (yes, FACT) that it is easier to build a QUIETER system in the Solo (and now Solo II) than most other cases. SPCR even reports this case to be quieter than some other cases marketed as "quiet/silent" and in fact almost equaling the Define R2 in acoustics while having lower temperatures.

    Really though, it all comes down to quiet. There are plenty of decent cases in all price ranges but this case is made for quiet. If you haven't ever obsessed over every little bit of noise your computer makes, then you probably won't find value in the Solo II. If you have, then the Solo II should be on your short list.

    <-- Recovering "silent" fanatic
    Reply
  • BlueReason - Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - link

    I love your reviews, Dustin, honestly. I understand having to review the case with what it came with, but then you have to use a testbed that somewhat reflects the product's use, otherwise your test environment is a bit misrepresentative. Makes sense, don't you agree? Would you review a Rosewill Thor with a testbed consisting of an i3-540 running stock with onboard graphics, then slap a Zalman 9900 on there and marvel at the 20c idle temps.

    The case provides built in options to mitigate performance setups; mid-range setups at least. To what degree it can accomplish this, we can only guess, because you stick fairly high end gear in there without making use of those options. No rig builder on the planet would put the gear you put into that case and leave the intake fan slots empty unless they had mental issues. Imagining someone who slapped a GTX 580 and an 875k in that rig would look at those two fan slots on the front and go "NAH! I'll be good with just that one in back!"...doubtful.

    If you're gonna use those sort of components in a non-performance case, at least give us one round of tests that show the case's built-in potential. We're not talking cutting holes or installing a WC loop, we're talking putting fans where the case has places for fans. Even some cheap ones. Unreasonable? You point out how the top mounted, top vented psu allows for placement in line with those fans. Well?

    But yeah its overpriced.
    Reply

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