Antec Sonata IV vs. Progress: Round Fourby Dustin Sklavos on June 10, 2011 5:30 PM EST
In and Around the Antec Sonata IV
Superficially, the Antec Sonata IV looks very similar to the Sonata III. The overall fit and finish is extremely clean: the front panel and drive door are an attractive matte plastic, while the rest of the enclosure is SECC steel with the top, bottom, and sides painted black. The back of the Sonata IV is pretty familiar, with the power supply at the top, an I/O shield, and then seven expansion slots.
One of the first big changes is the inclusion of a USB 3.0 port on the front of the enclosure, and it's routed to the back to connect to the I/O cluster. You'll also notice if you look below the ports that there's no front ventilation to the Sonata IV, and if you open the door to the power and reset buttons and the drive bays, there's no external 3.5" bay. Antec includes a 3.5"-to-5.25" adapter kit for just this purpose. 5.25" drives are also removable using attachable drive sleds that are concealed behind the bay covers.
So where did the ventilation go? To the right side of the case, actually. There's a vent on the right side that allows air to flow in through the hard drive bays and into the body proper. This vent is removable and can be easily cleaned.
When I opened the case I found the arrangement very familiar. The major change is in the way the hard drives are mounted in the Sonata IV. Every generation prior, they were mounted horizontally in drive trays that were fairly easy to remove (although the specialized screws needed for the rubber standoffs were also fairly easy to lose). In the Sonata IV, there are unusual rails that have the screws built into them, and the drives mount vertically, basically stacking two to a row. It isn't a bad system necessarily, but it's also not as convenient as previous generations. Antec's representative told us it was altered to accommodate the change in cooling design.
In the wall of the drive cage there are also four mounting points for a 2.5" drive, which can be secured with thumbscrews. There are no silicon grommets here to reduce vibration; this was designed specifically for SSDs. Unfortunately as you'll see in assembly, this solution leaves a lot to be desired.
As for the rest of the Sonata IV's internal design, the enclosure feels almost anachronistic. The power supply is mounted to the top of the case instead of the bottom and supported by a cross bar. There's no cutout in the motherboard tray for aftermarket cooling and no cable routing, an issue exacerbated by the included power supply which lacks modular cabling. The power supply's bottom-mounted fan seems to be there to aid in exhausting hot air through the case along with the single 120mm Antec TriCool fan. That fan's control is mounted to the back of the enclosure, so at least you don't have to pop it open to control the fan speed.