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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  • ClagMaster - Tuesday, September 6, 2011 - link

    This is a nice article about the Antec Solo II which I found informative.

    Bottom line is this is not a enclosure for serious overclocking. This is a nice mainstream enclosure for running stock processors and graphics cards drawing no more than 450W thermal power. Add a couple of 120mm fans up front doing 800-1200 RPM and these thermals will be improved while maintaining its quietude.

    A P67 motherboard running a i7-2500 and a mainstream video card such as an AMD 6850 will do just fine thermally speaking.

    The enclosure looks elegant inside but its too bad the internals are hidden from view with solid side panels which sound-proof the system

    The front end is revised for USB 3.0 and USB 2.0. It has filters which are a welcome addition. Cable routing with this case is extremely easy with this compared to ATX cases available 10 years ago.

    There is one point of this article which I find cliquish and ridiculous: why does a case have to have tooless attachment for optical and harddrives? Why does people obscess about these features. Everyone in the Western world has tools to mount a motherboard so mounting optical drives is no big deal.

    There is nothing wrong with using screws requiring a philps screwdrivers or a hex-driver. I consider such attachments to be more rugged and highly desirable if you wish to move the system
  • JasonInofuentes - Tuesday, September 6, 2011 - link

    Long time Solo user, just stepping in to say that in terms of thermal design, it's a lot better than you might think. If the buyer is interested in a quiet case, they will benefit at stock and at moderate overclocks from the design which is optimized for noise reduction. BUT, if the buyer wants to crank things up, they can add the same number of fans as comes in many other cases (including an intake fan) and discover that the case was designed with thermal headroom in spades.

    There's a lot of harshness going around that is unnecessary (not necessarily from you ClagMaster), but what needs to be remembered is that this was a review of a shipping case, as delivered. The baseline that's presented shows it to be a case with excellent acoustics and excellent thermal design, when considering the limited airflow of a single exhaust fan. And users can see that in the data and in the text.
  • TrackSmart - Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - link

    Spot on. This case performs well considering the single fan. Things never get loud. And they don't get hot until you throw a high-powered, overclocked system into it. It seems well-suited to its mid-range, quiet computing aspirations. Still, I'd like it better at $100 than at its $130 MSRP.
  • ClagMaster - Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - link

    No harshness intended in the above comment.

    Quality of article is excellent. The Antec Solo II is an excellent mainstream enclosure for mainstream computing. It was optimized for good looks and acoustics in the office of a banking executive than on the workbench of an overclocker.

    Only complaint I have against the case is its not made of aluminum to reduce its weight.

    Again, running a Q6600/G965/7950GT or a i7-2500/P67/ATI6850 would operate just fine at stock setings.

    I am frustrated with articles that bash otherwise excellent cases because they have tooless attachments which I consider frivolous and unnecessary.
  • TrackSmart - Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - link

    I didn't think you were too harsh, but I think probably were.

    I generally agree regarding tool-less designs: Sometimes figuring out the crazy attachment system takes 4 times longer than just screwing the part on the old fashioned-way. Ease and convenience are more important metrics than whether I need to use a screwdriver. That being said, I don't want to bust out the tools just to clean the dust filter or open the side panel. I think we agree that there's some balance to be struck.
  • nowayout99 - Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - link

    This case is great for the VAST majority of people -- It's perfectly fine for users with even the hottest CPUs and GPUs on the market today. And it will help keep your gear quiet.

    Keep it in perspective. It's not like the system is going to implode on itself just because it's 5 degrees warmer than a case that looks like a cheese grater the size of a tire and has half a dozen fans.

    Temperatures only need to come into consideration if they want more than 1 GPU... In which case they should get a proper "gaming" case.
  • Zap - Saturday, September 10, 2011 - link

    <-- Have owned Antec Solos for years. Here are a few thoughts.

    1) Tri Cool fans aren't really that quiet. The high speed setting is 100% useless for a quiet system, so this new fan with 600/1000RPM settings (or whatever they are) sounds really good to me. According to SPCR the fan is quieter in all ways than the Tri Cool, even at the same RPMs.

    2) Drive suspension is probably not needed these days, unless you own a WD Caviar Black. BITD I had Raptors (not the quieter VelociRaptors) and the suspension actually muted the sounds it made. However, if you are not using a super noisy HDD to begin with, the excellent grommets are probably sufficient.

    3) Love the looks. Not everyone wants their system to look as if it was owned by a 14 year old gamer. I've since "graduated" to Lian Li cases which have similar, clean elegance. About the only thing I'd change to the outside is the placement of the front ports/switches. My system sits on the floor, so top mounted ports/switches are easier to use.

    4) I agree with some previous comments that the HDD cages could have been side mounted.

    5) Some of the "complaints" of the previous Solo have been addressed, such as not being able to fit large graphics cards, "strange" contrasting silver front and using mere 92mm front fans. Also, love the huge cutout for the CPU backplate.

    6) If you want to fill up your system with a zillion HDDs and ODDs, this case is probably not for you so stop complaining about having too few drive bays.

    7) I like the compact size. Most tower computers are just big boxes that are mostly empty.

    8) With all the comparisons to other cases, you can't ignore the fact (yes, FACT) that it is easier to build a QUIETER system in the Solo (and now Solo II) than most other cases. SPCR even reports this case to be quieter than some other cases marketed as "quiet/silent" and in fact almost equaling the Define R2 in acoustics while having lower temperatures.

    Really though, it all comes down to quiet. There are plenty of decent cases in all price ranges but this case is made for quiet. If you haven't ever obsessed over every little bit of noise your computer makes, then you probably won't find value in the Solo II. If you have, then the Solo II should be on your short list.

    <-- Recovering "silent" fanatic
  • BlueReason - Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - link

    I love your reviews, Dustin, honestly. I understand having to review the case with what it came with, but then you have to use a testbed that somewhat reflects the product's use, otherwise your test environment is a bit misrepresentative. Makes sense, don't you agree? Would you review a Rosewill Thor with a testbed consisting of an i3-540 running stock with onboard graphics, then slap a Zalman 9900 on there and marvel at the 20c idle temps.

    The case provides built in options to mitigate performance setups; mid-range setups at least. To what degree it can accomplish this, we can only guess, because you stick fairly high end gear in there without making use of those options. No rig builder on the planet would put the gear you put into that case and leave the intake fan slots empty unless they had mental issues. Imagining someone who slapped a GTX 580 and an 875k in that rig would look at those two fan slots on the front and go "NAH! I'll be good with just that one in back!"...doubtful.

    If you're gonna use those sort of components in a non-performance case, at least give us one round of tests that show the case's built-in potential. We're not talking cutting holes or installing a WC loop, we're talking putting fans where the case has places for fans. Even some cheap ones. Unreasonable? You point out how the top mounted, top vented psu allows for placement in line with those fans. Well?

    But yeah its overpriced.
  • jb238 - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    I don't understand all the haggling over a few dollars of case price in the comments. I have 2 white Solo cases for 10 years now and a black Solo at the office. They had 2-4 different sets of electronics inside during that time, which easily cost 10 times the price of the case. Do I care about 10$/year case price difference?
    People who buy a Solo do so because they want excellent build quality, elegant looks and a quiet PC. They may treat the case with car wax to preserve the bijou finish. They don't care about overclocking, 400W graphics cards and 1000W power supplies.
    The Solo needs 2 front fans. So the case does not ship with 2 high quality front fans. This is fine by me, because I don't have to dispose of 2 cheap fans. Instead I invest a few $ in 2 quality fans.
    There are different priorities for a computer case and there are lots of different cases. So everybody can find the perfect match.

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