Antec Sonata Elite ATX Mid-Tower Case

Cases|Damping
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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 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
PROS

* Stylish appearance
* Good damping against noise and vibration
* Low, smooth baseline noise
* Very sturdy construction/design
CONS

* 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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