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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  • stevel114 - Tuesday, October 21, 2008 - link

    Ok, I bought the case and put my system in it. It's a water cooled Asus 790 SLI with 2 280 GTX video cards. I have 2 Velocityraptor drives and a 1000watt PS. First, is it any louder than my Coolmaster stacker case, no mayber quieter since less fans are running. The loudest noise are the fans on the video cards and in the PS. The design keeps all the cabling inside for the most part, very clean look. Since my XFX 280 video cards don't have the bulge on top there was no problem installing them at all. I think the large cooling fan on top is keeping temps down over all. Blows on the video, chipsets and hard drives hanging on the side. Since I almost always take the side panels off the case to change parts this works for me. Things they could do better. Change the bracket for the cards to a stronger material, plastic not a good thing. Routing cables inside needs small hands. Once the PS in very hard to work cables around. Over all, a good case that is different. Aloha Reply
  • mindless1 - Monday, October 20, 2008 - link

    For my purposes of initial testing, hacking, troubleshooting, etc, an open frame case would be ideal. However Antec pretty much ruined this by using the bulky stylized support beams and fan on top. If they insisted on having a fan it should have sat at the front edge of the board and blew sideways instead of down.

    I'm sure I could wiggle my hand in barely but it's not the same at all, I can already wiggle my hand into a normal case.
    Reply
  • kod4krome - Thursday, October 16, 2008 - link

    No I would not use this as my everyday case. But I have to say that I'm definetly going to pick one of these up for tinkering/building new machines. I think Antec is betting on people like myself who seem to be tinkering with a different machine every week or two... for that this seems like a godsend. I've come very close to buying a HSPC Tech Station but I think this looks like a nicer solution. Reply
  • nubie - Thursday, October 16, 2008 - link

    "All of the cables hang out the back of the case, since there is nowhere to hide them."

    I disagree, route them all to the left and down one of the "legs", it looks pretty crappy as-is. (FP Audio/USB/Power and LED connections are always on the 'bottom' of the motherboard, so route the wires there.)

    Honestly, for $140 they can't afford a bit of plastic or some zip-ties to hide these in?

    Interesting that they failed on a pretty standard video card, maybe if they raise up that 'fan shroud' thingy it would work better? Or make that fan thingy removable, so you can choose to run without it. I was this close to calling it an awesome case, but if it looks like this and fails on actually being able to hold components (the one thing it could do in trade for the ridiculous looks) then I don't know what to say but Fail.

    I am still waiting to see my dream case, which would have the back of the motherboard face to the front, so I can access all of the back panel connections. It shouldn't be hard to swap the PSU slot for a couple 5.25" bays, but I have never seen one.

    If you need a PC "test-bed", chances are you have already bought one. They are considerably cheaper, and made of aluminum or plastic.
    Reply
  • MAIA - Wednesday, October 15, 2008 - link

    I just had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine while watching the several pics:

    Me - "Hmmmm, I can see where I can flip the burgers"

    My friend - "Wow, an upside down overcraft ..."
    Reply
  • Linden - Wednesday, October 15, 2008 - link

    I am torn. Emotionally, I very much like the design and innovation of this Skeleton. As a system builder, tweaker, and overclocker, I see so much fun and ease of use with that frame-case (but maybe it's a pain in the but for high performance CPU heatsink mounting?).

    Noise. Hmm, what would it sound like? Maybe not so bad with a low-flow 120mm fan on the CPU heatsink and a passive cooler on the video card, such as the Arctic Cooling Accelero?

    This is definitely a case targeted for a limited demographic-- 1) no small children, 2) no inquisitive pets, 3) dust tolerant or willing to clean often, 4) ample desk/room space for the large footprint....

    But I want one!
    Reply
  • Linden - Wednesday, October 15, 2008 - link

    Looking at the top fan frame assembly, it appears to be attached to the lower assembly with screw-type hardware, one for each arm. Is that correct? If so, what effort is involved in removing the fan and it's support assembly. If that is not labor intensive, that would be a solution for relatively easy installation of large CPU heatsinks and video cards with a "bulge."

    I am looking forward to the full review.
    Reply
  • steveyballme - Tuesday, October 14, 2008 - link

    ... it's a case, for what? a pump?


    http://fakesteveballmer.blogspot.com">http://fakesteveballmer.blogspot.com
    Reply
  • MadAd - Tuesday, October 14, 2008 - link

    Now if only it could be extended to take 2 PCs in one cage it would be a winner. Reply
  • SpatulaCity - Tuesday, October 14, 2008 - link

    I actually think it looks interesting in it's own special way, but I really like the fan on top idea. I do worry about the EMI since I have so many other electronics in the same closet.

    Are there any other enclosed computer cases hat have a fan on top like this one does? I utilize a duct fan to suck air out of my computer closet and I would like to hook it up to a main computer ventilation fan directly.
    Reply

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