In and Around the Antec Solo II

Antec has a wonderful tendency to keep most of their enclosures looking fairly classy and understated. Aesthetics have proven time and time again to be a major sticking point with many of you in our readership and it's understandable. For my personal system I had to choose between Thermaltake's Level 10 GT and SilverStone's FT02; the Level 10 GT may have slightly better thermals, but the FT02 is, at least in my eyes, much nicer to look at.

Gallery: Antec Solo II

The extremely minimalistic design of the Solo II doesn't leave us much to talk about in terms of the exterior, though. It has a glossy black finish that isn't too bad at picking up fingerprints, and Antec has reduced the number of 5.25" drive bays from four in the Solo to just two. The market segment this case is geared towards shouldn't have any issues with this; I personally need three (two optical drives and a card reader), but two is still plenty for the overwhelming majority of users. The column of ports has been expanded to include two USB 3.0 ports above the two USB 2.0 ports, and these ports are connected with a motherboard header instead of a routing cable. Air is brought in through ventilation on the left and right sides of the front panel, similar to how Antec's P182/P183 have operated.

The rest of the enclosure is extremely spare, although the first sign of change is a vent at the top of the enclosure. Instead of using the power supply's bottom-mounted fan as an additional exhaust (as seen in older ATX case designs), Antec quietly suggests inverting the power supply and cooling it separately. The benefit to this design is that it takes the power supply's cooling out of the equation for the rest of the case. Though mounting the PSU to the top of an enclosure has fallen increasingly out of vogue, SilverStone's TJ-08E got a lot of mileage out of this design choice, as it allows you to mount the motherboard lower in the enclosure; the optical drive bays hang out in roughly the same space as the power supply, allowing for an intake directly in front of the CPU cooler.

If you take a look at the back, you'll see everything is business as usual, but Antec has swapped out their traditional TriCool fan in favor of their new "TrueQuiet" fan. The TrueQuiet has a fan speed switch mounted just below it that can be set to either low or high. We're down one setting from the TriCool but somehow I just know we'll manage.

When you open the Solo II is where things start to get a little bit wild. One of the first major changes is that there's a small dedicated space behind the motherboard tray, something sorely lacking from the Sonata IV. It's a very small space, but Antec has still essentially allocated space for cable management. There are also cutouts in the motherboard tray both for mounting cooling and routing cables. Finally, there's clean space able to accommodate large video cards. Everything is mostly cordoned off and orderly.

The drive cage is an odd duck, though. Antec includes three drive sleds and two "suspension" mounts, and I have to be honest, I'm just not a fan of the suspension mounts. With the drive sleds in there (complete with sound-reducing silicon grommets) I have to wonder why these mounts were included at all; removing them could've snagged us space for an additional drive sled, bringing us up to a healthy four instead of the three we have. Behind the drive cage is the reason why it's not a lateral design: there are four sets of hooks designed to minimize cable clutter.

Introducing the Antec Solo II Assembling the Antec Solo II
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  • casteve - Tuesday, September 6, 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.
  • Belard - Tuesday, September 6, 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.
  • fishman - Tuesday, September 6, 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.
  • nowayout99 - Tuesday, September 6, 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?
  • antef - Tuesday, September 6, 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.
  • Belard - Tuesday, September 6, 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.
  • Robert in Calgary - Tuesday, September 6, 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
  • futurepastnow - Thursday, September 8, 2011 - link

    Another P150 owner here, a white version of this might get me to upgrade.
  • JaBro999 - Tuesday, September 6, 2011 - link


    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.
  • 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:

    See comments on power button in review:

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