Computex 2008: Antec's Skeleton, P183 & Sonata Elite cases

Cases|Damping | The Silent Front
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June 3, 2008 by Mike Chin

After several years of attendance, I decided to skip Computex in Taipei this year to focus on work closer to home. Namely, the project to build SPCR's own anechoic chamber and upgrade our acoustic test equipment. I would miss renewing friendships among IT company contacts and international tech journalists, the excitement of the show, the food & drink. The din of Taipei, the jetlag and lack of sleep, and the constant rain that soaks Taiwan in early June every year (without fail for the whole week of Computex) would not be missed.

However, during my recent visit to the SF Bay Area for the annual Electronics and the Environment summit, I visited Antec in Fremont, and managed to obtain detailed previews of some products currently being unveiled at Computex.

Antec has been busy with all kinds of new developments, including several new lines of power supplies, but the single most eye-catching item at their Taipei hotel display suite will surely be the Skeleton chassis.

Antec's new Skeleton chassis is meant for gamers and perpetual tinkerers. The motherboard sits on the upper level. One the lower level, a power supply, two optical drives and two hard drives can be fitted.

The ~220mm fan blows down onto the motherboard and creates enough airflow to keep everything well cooled. It has three speeds, and a unique LED feature.

Multiple LEDs in the fan display a swirling, changing mix of rainbow colors. The color can also be fixed with a switch. Yeah, it's a disco fan! Note: The camera and its fixed mic was positioned above the fan (set at med speed) about 2.5 feet away.

The outer frame is made mostly of plastic. The steel component tray slides out easily for access. The PSU tray also slides out similarly. The motherboard tray can also be removed from the main tray. A bar across the side between the component tray and the fan is meant to screw down the video card and PCI slot boards.

A system was hastily assembled into the Skeleton. The drives slide and lock easily into place. This is the front side of the Skeleton, complete with the usual complement of power and reset switches, and USB, Firewire, eSATA and audio connectors.

The Zerotherm tower heatsink was a very tight squeeze but it just happened to be on this motherboard. A fan-on-top CPU cooler is strongly recommended, probably without the fan. Because of the right spacing, a typical 120mm fan PSU does not appear to be a good fit. The in-line airflow design of a classic 80mm fan PSU appears to be more suitable. Note: These details may change by the time the Skeleton is available for purchase, in September.

There is indeed a Skeleton sample at SPCR right now. Its close to a final production version, but not quite there yet. When we have word from Antec about the final version, and received any new parts that are part of the final version, we will conduct a formal review. It seems clear that cooling will not be much of an issue, but noise may, due to the the openness of the chassis. WAF will probably be a serious issue for some potential buyers.

Antec also sent over some photos from their display suite at the Grand Hyatt in Taipei. They show a smaller version of the Skeleton, dubbed the Mini-Skeleton. It's designed for a mini-ITX platform.

Mini-Skeleton and Skeleton.

News about Antec's P183 and Sonata Elite cases overleaf.

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