Antec Aria - Exterior

We've had requests to look at the Aria for well over a year now, but only recently were we able to get enough micro-ATX cases to compare against each other for a full-fledged review. Normally our policy on taking pictures of packaging is that we'd expect any manufacturer to protect their product substantially, and we will only make mention of a product's particular packaging job if it's deplorable or substantially better than average. With the small Aria, we were very happy to see Antec using soft foam blocks rather than typically messy Styrofoam or peanuts, and immediately we had a sense that this case was incredibly tough due to its weight for such a small unit.

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The Aria reminded us of the P180 very much - only obviously much smaller - primarily due to its multi-material construction. The frame of the case is mostly steel, but aluminum and plastic are both used for panels and trim pieces. The simple front gives the first clue that the case is smaller than most mATX PCs and even many proprietary SFFs, as it is designed to hold only a single optical drive. There are a couple other key points about the front. All three buttons are plastic but still have a good feel, and the front ports are all nicely spaced apart for larger devices. HDD activity is shown with a blue LED to the right of the reset button, and as long as the system is powered on blue LEDs shine up from the bottom of the slits on the left and right side.

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More than just about any other mATX case, the Aria really does resemble a large shoebox in its dimensions. However,,its looks are a little more interesting than dual-tone cardboard. We really like the look the black trim gives the case, and the ribbed top is an interesting touch we've come to appreciate. This top cover is plastic on the top and metal underneath including its grill above the PSU, and the equally hefty side panels are plastic inside and around the edges to dampen vibrations. Thanks to the combination of materials the case is quite resilient to fingerprints for the most part, but the exposed aluminum on the sides is not your typical brushed anodized finish and can pick up smudges or scratches a little easier.

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Taking a closer look at the back we can get a sense of the custom-made PSU which allows the Aria to be so compact. Sporting a large fan, the PSU will be able to move plenty of air through the small case without making too much noise. Expansion card retention is done with two standard case screws for a special bracket and one screw for the card itself.

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The right side of the case has an impression of "Antec" in the lower right corner and contains the same ventilation perforations as the other side along the bottom. The case's feet are soft rubber and add to the total sound dampening effect as well as keep it from sliding around like some wheeled cases.

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More information on the Aria is available on Antec's website.

Index Antec Aria - Interior


View All Comments

  • warthogism - Thursday, February 1, 2007 - link

    I know that you guys were able to fit an CNPS7000 in there and that a 9000 would not fit. What I was wondering is if a CNPS7700 would fit. The difference is that the height of the 7000 is 62mm and the 7700 is 67mm. Also, the 7000 has a 92mm but the 7700 uses a 120mm fan. Does anyone have first-hand knowledge? or at least, does it look like the 7700 will fit? Thanks for the help. Reply
  • gool - Saturday, January 13, 2007 - link

    I'm the happy owner of a heavily modded Antec Aria - blow holes, sidefans, PSU-fan replacement and so on. It's based on a MSI Micro-ATX 939 motherboard, AMD 64-3200 (Clawhammer), 1 GB DDR-SDRAM, Liteon DVD-CD combo, a 160GB 7200 Maxtor disc, an external (USB2) Maxtor 250 GB disc and a Nvidia 6600GT card. The latter is the one I wish to replace, but I'm uncertain if I'm able to draw enough juice from the standard Antec 300W psu for this purpose? Seen people with a similar setup who uses a 7800GT card without problem. What are you guys advice - could I go down this road?

  • Patrese - Sunday, January 7, 2007 - link

    Great review, but I'd like to see something about the new (and not no new) uATX motherboards on the market, specially the Asus M2NPV-VM and Abit NF-M2 NView... Reply
  • artifex - Thursday, January 4, 2007 - link

    I suggest everyone interested in these smaller form factors to look at and Plenty of reviews and some nifty case mods, etc. Reply
  • mino - Thursday, January 4, 2007 - link

    I like that you made semi-pro noise tests for the cases.

    However as changing noisy PSU/fan is the easiest thing to do(I have yet to us a case with included PSU/fan)..
    It would be nice to complement out-of-the-box testing with controlled-enviroment testing.

    It would be more informative, especially to enthusiasts, to make a reference rig (fans, PSU, all coolers, HDD) and assemble it into different cases.

    To know that a case comes with a noisy PSU is nice. However to know its ability to dampen the brum of an HDD, or mute the pinch of a GPU cooler is far better.

    Nice work otherwise, keep on.
  • JoshuaBuss - Thursday, January 4, 2007 - link

    This is a very good idea, but to a certain extent we believe it's the manufacturer's responsibility to supply a case with fans that work best for its need, not the user's. At the least a manufacturer should offer recommended buys (like PDCL did) so that a user knows what should work well. If a fans that come with a regular case are so bad that it's truly hurting the overall appeal, we normally do try it with a different configuration to see if we can do better. With these micro ATX cases it's often the case that the included power supply is a custom fit and we have to test it 'as is'.

    Thanks for the suggestion.
  • mino - Thursday, January 4, 2007 - link

    I suggest you take a look at the ASUS TM-21/23/25 series especially the TM-250.

    I have yet to see a case of this size with better internal organization, such a good cooling performance. As a bonus the case is very sturdy (especially for such a low weight product).

    The ability to put 3 HDD's in a 15.6*6.7*14inch box _and_ cool them without additional fans speaks for itself.

    Newegg lists them for $50 with 300W high-quality PSU's.
    However we bought 100 a month ago in EU and they came with 350W and _without_ that annoying floppy hole...
  • mino - Thursday, January 4, 2007 - link

    One little problem I missed, those on Newegg(provided they sell the exact model as on image) have ATX 1.3 PSU's.
    While these Bestec PSU units are pretty good - PFC, very quiet(have 20+ of them deployed) - 180W on 12V rail may not be sufficient for a gaming rig.

    I hope the new refresh models(350W,no floppy), we bought recently, will hit the US market soon.
  • artifex - Thursday, January 4, 2007 - link

    I'd like to see a review of the power supplies used in some of these, as well as third-party replacements. Heck, I'd even like to see a new version of the old ATX PS roundup/review Anandtech did years ago -- I bought my Antec TruePower 430 after that, and it's lasted through a second system, but I've no doubt it's getting creaky now. Reply
  • IronChefMoto - Wednesday, January 3, 2007 - link

    First off, decent article. I would like to have seen Anandtech test different video cards in the cases, though. One of the issues with nice mATX cases like the Lian Li V300 (???) is that longer, high-level chipset cards like the 7900 series hit pieces of the framework in the case. You have to mod your case or your card for the Lian Li model.

    While folks won't always be dropping a 7950GT into one of these, having that option is nice if you want to build a small, high-end gaming rig. Please try and make that part of your mATX review setup in the future. I've even asked to start adding card length data to their specs (they're opening the cards anyway for product shots) so you don't end up having to send back a card that doesn't physically fit a case by 1/4".

    That said, my friend and I built v1 Aria (when it had more front ports) about 2 years ago. It was the toughest build I've ever had to do. It was cramped, the PSU had to come out for assembly, and the CPU cooler was up next to the PSU. The temps idled 60C with a very hot P4 Prescott (???) CPU. My buddy upgraded the unit with a Zalman Reserator and continues to use it today running at about 35C under load.

    I would recommend that anyone looking at an mATX case check to see that the PSU is STANDARD ATX or a replaceable mATX format. The v1 Aria will not accept an ATX replacement without some modification and/or loss of space. This holds true for mATX barebones like Shuttle XPCs (I own/am stuck with two (2)).


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