Writing another Sonata
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The Antec Sonata comes in a neutral coloured box, with a short paragraph on the side explaining how people in the past were ‘crying out for relief’ from their beige PC’s. While that might be a little extreme, hopefully this case is as silent as it’s marketed as.
Once out the box, you get the usual compliment of screws, some optical drive rails, a manual – and less usual – a power cord. I was under the impression that case + power supply combos were going out of fashion but this is where Antec can truly say their case is silent. By packaging a 500w Earthwatts PSU (reviewed here) Antec can control not only the case fans volume, but also the power supply. In our testing the Earthwatts was deserving of a quiet computing logo that Antec stamped on it.
The front of the case is divided in two by a shiny bar which contains the HDD activity LED, power LED and front I/O ports. These include the standard USB and audio connectors, but also an eSATA port. For most people, this will be left unused but for some it’ll be a god-send. For the price that it takes to add one of these to the case, Antec have made the right decision in including it.
The top part of the case is a door which can rotate further than you’d think thanks to the double hinge. This door guards the three 5.25” drive bays and the two 3.5” bays. Also covered are the shiny reset and power buttons which are made of the same plastic as the front accent. The front of this door has a spot for a case stick, and an Antec one is provided if you don’t have one yourself. This door also has a lock which can be used to stop criminals stealing the tool-less drives, or switching on your PC.
The bottom part of the case has two large grills either side that allow air to easily pass through to the body of the case. It’s nice to see that airflow has been thought of, rather than manufacturers putting a nice facia on their case which starves the 120mm fan behind of fresh air.
The sides and top of the case is covered with shiny black paint which doesn’t really fit with the front, and absorbs fingerprints like police evidence. There is only one removable panel on this case, meaning that clever cable management as seen on both the P182 and P190 won’t be possible. The removable panel has a large handle which helps in taking off the side. This handle has another lock to prevent miscreants seeing the rude parts of your PC. If you don’t take your PC apart often, you can use the screws at the back to secure this side panel on.
The rear of the case looks like any other, although here you can see that it’s wider than most (extra space by the side of the PSU). There are the usual seven removable PCI blanking plates, and a large 120mm Tri-Cool fan installed. Antec love these things and use them on pretty much every one of their cases. Tri-Cool fans have a little antenna which allows you to choose high, medium or low depending on temperature and resilience to volume.
While this rear slot is filled with a provided fan, there is a front slot behind the HDD bays which allows another 120mm to be mounted. In front of this is a large removable dust filter preventing your PC looking like a grey Christmas snow scene. There are four removable HDD trays which all have four silicon grommets, and require your hard disc to be mounted using the bottom screw holes rather than the side. This method of mounting is seen in the other cases we’ve seen from Antec and has proven itself in the past to be an adequate system to reduce hard disc rumbling.
Above the hard disc bays, there are three 5.25” slots and a couple of nearly extinct 3.5”. All of these bays use a rail system, with the floppy disc bay being completely removable, and the optical drive’s requiring the provided rails.
Internally, there isn’t a great deal of space, and you can just about fit in an ATX board. There aren’t very many places to hide offending cables improving air flow and looks either.