Antec Signature S10: A Second Coming?

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Comparison

Case Comparison: System Measurements
(CPU + GPU Load, 80°C GPU Temp)
Case
SilverStone FT05
Antec S10
Fractal Define S
SilverStone KL05
CM Silencio 652S
Avg. System Fan Speed
2 x 500 RPM
4 x 80%
630 RPM
(2 x 80%)
840 RPM
(2* x 60%)
550 RPM
(4 x 40%)
GPU Fan Speed
1000 RPM
1050 RPM
1120 RPM
1070 RPM
1120 RPM
CPU Temp
53°C
56°C
60°C
57°C
62°C
MB Temp
36°C
42°C
45°C
43°C
45°C
SSHD Temp
33°C
35°C
35°C
34°C
32°C
System Power (AC)
346W
355W
350W
351W
352W
21~22 dBA
22 dBA
23 dBA
24 dBA
24 dBA
*one fan added.
CPU fan at 800 RPM.
Ambient temperature: 22°C.

Thus far, the Antec S10 (with the filter in place) is the second best performing case we've tested, trailing only the SilverStone FT05 with its rotated motherboard design and gigantic 18 cm fans. However, among towers with standard layouts, it edges out all the competition in every metric aside from drive temperature.

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 5~10 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 Antec S10's innovative design helps deliver the best performance we've seen from a tower with a traditional (non-rotated) layout. It's one of the few such cases I would consider housing dual high-end graphics cards. Taking the hard drive bays out of the equation by separating them from the rest of the system is a stroke of genius. The HDD compartment's single fan, even at a low speed, is sufficient to cool this section, and the gap separating the two compartments provides ample airflow for the main intake fans, which are positioned at closer proximity to the hottest components.

However, its superb airflow setup is hampered by restrictive main and top panel dust filters. Alleviating these impedances would make performance even better. Aside from the hard drive fan, the included fans are fairly quiet, but it should really ship with a fan controller. Motherboard fan control can't handle seven fans unless splitters are employed. Most users will have to pick and choose which to control and which to run at full speed using the provided hub. Drive vibration is somewhat of an issue but less so than most towers; I wouldn't mind seeing the 3.5 inch drive mounts being tightened up though.

From a usability standpoint, wiring is its biggest problem. The size of the interior, the ledges on the right side of the case, and the location of the routing holes, conspire to make many of the cable runs longer than usual. To route all of the main cables through the back, our system would have required extensions for all the main power connectors. This may have been by design, as a small amount of cable bulge behind the motherboard is enough to prevent the doors from closing. It should also be noted that you need plenty of room on both sides of the case as the doors require a wide berth.

With its thick and heavy side panels, the S10 is built like a tank. If you accidentally hit a wall while moving it, check the wall for damage — the chassis is probably fine. However, the doors exert substantial force on the tiny hinge protectors. These little bits of plastic are tasked with taking on too much weight, and they're also easy to lose. A couple of them popped off during testing and I was frankly very fortunate to retrieve them. The exterior could use some work as well, as the sliding top cover seems to have no purpose, and for US$499, there shouldn't be any superfluous plastic on the outside.

Antec should be rewarded for their creativity but the S10's high price and various flaws makes it a tough sell for the consumer market. [Editor's Note: Keep in mind that there have always been pricey high end cases. Think back to the $700 mATX Zalman TNN-300 and >$1,000 TNN-500 cases, as well as the $500 Moneual HTPC cases.] However, as a prototype or proof-of-concept chassis, it's an unmitigated success. Antec is definitely onto something, and if they produced a more realistically priced model and ironed out some of the wrinkles, the result could be an absolutely stellar enthusiast tower. Either way, it's exciting to see signs of resurgence from a once great case manufacturer. [Editor's Note: SPCR's Recommendation is contingent on the price fitting your budget, but it's too interesting and good a case for us not to recommend. Surely, the S10 is the first, the flagship, of a new line, and more affordable models are probably in the wings.]

Our thanks to Antec for the Signature S10 case sample.

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Recommended by SPCR
Antec Signature S10 is Recommended by SPCR.

ERRATA & Manufacturer's Feedback (June 29, 2015)

Han Liu, Antec's long-time Product Development Manager, gave us this feedback, which includes two clarifications, the first of which some attentive forum member already picked up.

Thank you very much for the review in such a short time. I’m still digesting the review.

There are two points I would like to make.

1. The 120 mm fan at the bottom of the HDD chamber is not blowing up as Lawrence mentioned. It actually blows down so the fresh cool air will be drawn down from the top, which explains the top filter.

2. Lawrence also mentioned that “The top of the case has an odd cover which serves no purpose as far as I can tell." It does have a purpose: To hold down the heavy side panels so they won’t move during transportation. Examine the case with the cover on, you will see what I mean.

Thanks Han!

Articles of Related Interest
Antec P100 Case: Performance One on a Budget
Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ITX Mini Tower
Fractal Design Define S Tower Case
Zalman Z11 Neo ATX Case
Corsair Carbide 500R Performance Midtower
BitFenix Pandora MicroATX Case

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Discuss this article in the SPCR Forums.



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