Antec Solo II: The Legacy Lives On

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AUDIO RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

Each recording starts with ambient noise, then 10 second segments of product at various states. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The original Antec Solo was a landmark in quiet computing, and remains a very nice case, even today, six years after its launch. The Solo II brings many expected upgrades like a motherboard tray cutout, USB 3.0 (with a proper internal 20-pin header) and just enough design tweaks to retain the heart and soul of the original while making it competitive with today's offerings.

Compared to today's cases, our biggest complaint about the original Solo is the cramped interior. It is particularly difficult when installing graphics cards and power supplies. Most video cards longer than the width of the motherboard simply won't fit, and servicing the power supply is impossible without removing the motherboard. The Solo II fixes these issues by making the PSU support bar removable, and creating extra room for long GPUs by getting rid of a few drive bays. The latter was a necessary evil but a second removable hard drive cage so users would have been better. The drawbridge style grate opening to access the drives is also more convenient than the side-swinging original.

Fan support was improved by upgrading the front 92 mm fan placements to 120 mm versions, and the rear TriCool fan was replaced with the much better TrueQuiet 120, complete with noise isolators. While we were surprised at first to see the power supply still at the top of the case, the new top panel vent makes it better than a bottom location for a fanless unit. On the case floor, a traditional PSU would certainly have an advantage but a passively cooled model wouldn't be aided by the rear exhaust fan.

The cumulative results of all these changes is excellent performance. Thermally, the Solo II outperforms the Cooler Master Silencio 550 and NZXT H2 in convincing fashion. It goes go toe-to-toe with the Fractal Define R3, perhaps exceeding it by virtue of its hard drive suspension system, which six years later, has yet to be adopted by any other case makers. Acoustically it is at least as good as the others. Our only complaints about the case itself are minor/superficial: Less than ideal cable management options, glossy exterior finish, and largely unchanged power/reset buttons which may still prove to be unrelable, though only time will tell.

Our biggest concern is not physical, but fiscal — the Solo II's MSRP price of US$129 is substantially more than its competitors which offer more drive support, fans, and features. It's also significantly more than the original Solo which has been selling at some online outlets for less than US$80 for the past year. We cannot deny that the improvements make the Solo II an excellent upgrade but the changes made don't seem to justify such a big increase in cost. For those willing to wait, competition almost always drives the price of tech gear down in a matter of weeks or months.

Antec Solo II
PROS

* Very quiet
* Excellent thermal performance
* Excellent stock fan
* Hard drive suspension system
* Proper internal USB 3.0 cable
* Supports long graphics cards
CONS

* Only one fan included
* Only two sets of hard drive suspenders
* Questionable power/reset buttons
* Glossy finish attracts fingerprints
* Could use better cable management
* Expensive

Our thanks to Antec for the Solo II case sample.


Antec Solo II receives the SPCR Recommended Award

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Articles of Related Interest
SilverStone Temjin TJ08-E: MicroATX Evolved
Cooler Master Silencio 550 Quiet ATX Tower
In Win Dragon Rider Enthusiast/Gaming Tower
LanCool PC-K59 Midtower Case
Fractal Design Define R3 ATX Tower
NZXT H2 Classic Silent Midtower Chassis

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