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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.
The Sonata Elite retains the stylish appearance and solid construction of the
Sonata III. However, many of the things Antec changed hasn't necessary made
the Elite better. Moving the vents to the right side of the case might actually
have made ventilation worse, making it harder for airflow to reach the components on the motherboard. The fact that Antec includes a side fan option seems to suggest they know airflow
might be a problem for the Elite. The side fan doesn't work as
well as Antec would like when paired with a hot running graphics card,
it is all but powerless to help, although a more open heatsink/fan design on the video card would probably have benefitted more.
The intake dust filter has fairly wide holes, limiting its effectiveness. Also, by having hard drives mount sideways the Sonata Elite gives up
a lot of vertical space, so much so that only three external drive bays are
provided. Finally, a support beam prevents the power supply from being removed
once the motherboard has been mounted this might be our biggest complaint
because it could be fixed so easily.
The two large vents do help hard drive cooling slightly, but then again hard
drive cooling is not an issue for most cases. The only real improvements the
Elite can tout over its predecessor are the addition of panel vibration-dampening mats
on the ceiling and side panels, and the extra hooks and holes provided to aid
cable management. It is also the first Sonata to ship without a power supply,
which can be a good or bad thing depending on your needs.
The Sonata Elite manages to perform similarly in both acoustics and thermals
to Coolermaster Sileo 500. Like the
Sileo, it can perform the function of housing a silent PC rather well, even
with the stock case fan, though it isn't suitable for a multiple GPU configuration.
The case currently retails for about $100USD, a good $20-$30 more than the Sileo
not unreasonable considering Antec's higher build quality. The venerable
Antec Solo is a good
alternative it is slightly more cramped, but has better airflow and the unique HDD suspension mounting.
Antec Sonata Elite
* Stylish appearance
* Good damping against noise and vibration
* Low, smooth baseline noise
* Very sturdy construction/design
* Ventilation could be better
* Only 3 external drive bays
* Side filter holes too large
* Power supply inaccessible after motherboard installation
* Fairly ineffective side blower fan
Our thanks to Antec
Inc. for the Sonata Elite sample.
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