Antec Solo review
Over the past few years in the Labs, Antec cases have typically been used for high-end PCs – Eclipse uses the excellent P180 – but rarely with machines under £1,000. Yet Antec’s range covers all budgets without skimping on quality.
The Solo costs only £50, but as soon as you open the box you know it’s a cut above the rest. Fabric wrapping protects the immaculate piano-black paint, while the solid 12kg weight is a reassuring sign that the case is well made.
The front panel is made of plastic with an aluminium veneer. It may not be the most stylish on test, but includes all the ports you need. Four 5.25in bays should be plenty for most builds, and if you need to install a 3.5in drive in the front panel the bottom 5.25in bay doubles as a 3.5in slot, with the requisite mountings behind.
At the rear, thumbscrews secure the side panel, but are captive so you can’t lose them. These thoughtful touches abound; sound-deadening rubber is stuck on the back of both side panels, and all edges are rolled so you won’t cut yourself when building or upgrading the PC. At the front are four internal 3.5in quick-release trays with thick rubber grommets to eliminate hard-disk vibration noise. You can remove any number of these to use a clever alternative mounting: three pairs of elastic straps can hold hard disks to eliminate any contact with the metal chassis. Naturally, this reduces hard-disk seek noise significantly, although Antec advises that you don’t transport the case without securing the disks first.
Accessing the lower bays is simple. The front of the case swings open on a hinge, and behind it another metal door (with two 92mm fan mounts) opens so you can slide disks easily in or out. The snap-on dust filter is a rare sight in this Labs, but does a great job of preventing dust being blown into the case.
It’s a shame there are no quick-release expansion slots at the back, or a removable motherboard tray, but it’s good to see a 120mm fan with three speed settings. On low, it still shifts plenty of air, but with almost no noise. Another neat feature is the cable-tidy hook system at the front, accessible when you open the right-hand side panel.
For only £50, it’s a great alternative to the P180 if you’re looking for a smaller case to build a quiet PC with.