Introducing the Antec Solo II

When we reviewed Antec's Sonata IV recently, we found it left a lot to be desired. Antec had updated their Sonata design, but barely, and the enclosure as a whole felt grossly behind the times. Apparently some of Antec's engineers agreed, because we have the brand new Solo II in house now and there's clearly been some serious retooling. But is the Solo II enough of a step forward, or does it still have some growing up to do?

Externally the Solo II doesn't look like a massive evolution of the previous generation of Solo cases (which Antec considers part of their Sonata family of enclosures). That's not really an issue: while the appearances of Antec's gaming enclosures may be the subject of some debate, the Sonata line has always been attractive and understated without looking particularly chintzy or cheap. But looks can be deceiving, and the inside of the Solo II looks less like a traditional enclosure and more like a laboratory where Antec's engineers have begun experimenting with new (and old) approaches to case design.

Antec Solo II Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX
Drive Bays External 2x 5.25"
Internal 3x 3.5"/2.5" or 2x 3.5" with suspension mounting; 1x 2.5"
Cooling Front 2x 120mm intake fan mounts
Rear 1x 120mm Antec TrueQuiet exhaust fan
Top -
Side -
Bottom -
Expansion Slots 7
Front I/O Port 2x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0, mic and headphone jacks
Top I/O Port -
Power Supply Size ATX
Clearance 15" (Expansion Cards), 180mm (CPU HSF), 240mm (PSU)
Weight 20.2 lbs. (9.1 kg)
Dimensions 17.3" x 8.1" x 18.5" (440mm x 205mm x 470mm)
Price $129 MSRP

What isn't mentioned in the spec sheet is that Antec has also included soundproofing on the side panels, soundproofing that would've helped the Sonata IV perform better acoustically. There are thin sheets of polycarbonate attached to the insides of the top and side panels in a way that doesn't add heft or thickness but can introduce a notable improvement in noise.

In and Around the Antec Solo II
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  • 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 6, 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 6, 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 6, 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 6, 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 6, 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 6, 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 6, 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 6, 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 6, 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

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