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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  • DrJ-10 - Tuesday, September 6, 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 6, 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 6, 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 6, 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 6, 2011 - link

    Well that sucks :( thanks for replying though. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, September 6, 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 6, 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 6, 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 6, 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 6, 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

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