Antec Eleven Hundred Mid Tower Case Review
Antec is celebrating it's first 25 years in the IT business this year and so there are many Antec25 logos flying around. They have decided to mark this occasion with a new flagship case model especially for gamers which is where most of Antec's products are aimed. In fact they even list this one on the box as the Eleven Hundred - The Advanced Gaming Authority.
One of the first things I noticed when opening the box was the simplicity and uncluttered look of this tower. It doesn't pretend to be a tank or some spaceship with guns bristling out of armour shielding. It just looks business like and as if it will simply do what is asked of it. The whole case is finished in a matt black inside and out with a rather rough, crinkled finish. This is not aimed primarily at the flashing light brigade but more at the gamer who just wants to win, efficiently and without flashyness.
This chassis is classed as a mid tower and as such has room for three 5.25" external drives in the top, front bays. The unused ones are filled with the usual black painted mesh with a backing of 4mm black foam rubber. No tools are needed here to remove the bay covers but the plastic clamps that hold them in position are very weak, one of them actually broke as I quite carefully dissassmbled it. Not a good start but I must admit that on the whole the rest of the plastic fascia did seem quite robust.Below the external bays there is another meshed are that covers the rest of the face. This takes up most of the area with just a slot running down each side to break up the expanse of mesh. Right at the very bottom in the centre is the usual Antec logo that we have become quite used to seeing. Opposite this at the very top is a line of USB ports both 2.0 and 3.0 with a couple of each plus the standard audio ports for headphones and mic. On the very outer edges of this panel are the two LEDs, one for power and the other HDD activity. For access this whole front panel simply pulls off, again no tools are required. Inside the panel at the bottom there is an area covering space for two 120mm fans that holds a fine mesh filter that can be easilly removed for cleaning. More plastic clips here but they did seem a bit stronger this time.
If the aforementioned extra case fans are to be fitted this is how to access them. They actually attach by screws to the metal chassis where this is a recessed area for them. The holder for the ports is accessible now and is rather nicely made. It is only a plastic housing but is neat and strong enough for it's job. It is actually like a box and each individual port is located and linked together via an earthing wire which is then connected to the chassis. No globs of hot melt glue here then. This box is screwed and clipped together, sort of "belt and braces"!
Moving around to the side panel it has been given a three quarter size acrylic window. It is clear and has a central section that has been laser cut to take two 120mm fans that would enable cooling of the graphics card/s which is always a bonus as they probably produce more heat than any other single component especially for a gamer. The window is quite a good thickness at roughly 3.5mm, there is a slight variation of thickness accross the sheet. On the review sample the edge of the plexiglas window was damaged and had a chunk chipped off. This side panel has been designed to be quite stiff even with the cutout for the window. This is due partly to the thickness of the acrylic and partly by the use of rolling an edge of the metal to stop flexing. Why only part of the full length was treated in this fashion I cannot say. The acrylic/metal joint was enabled with the use of push lock rivets, it provides a better joint than screws and much neater. Right at the bottom near the back there is a little tray type handle showing. This is another fine mesh filter that can be removed for cleaning by simply pulling out. I will look into this further later on.
On to the rear then. Strarting from the bottom there is the usual fitting cut out for a PSU with a area above it for air ventilation with a couple of grommited holes in case water cooling is on the menu. Next door to this is the standard expansion slots with space for nine cards. Once again no tools are necessary as thumbscrews have been provided and quality ones at that. These are the plastic coated versions that enable a good grip without them biting into your flesh. Being an ATX case, next up there is the section for I/O ports on the motherboard. To the right of it there's a 120mm fan fitted for exhaust. This is a bog standard type with no lights, just enough for moving air. If you have had Antec cases before you won't be surprised by the topmost item. It is a small switch that often is used for fan speed but on this particular model enables/disables the LEDs on the top 200mm fan. There are recesses for a further three switches if you wanted to add more fans later and there is a connector block to make powering them easier too. Down the left hand side there is a slim vent that is for the area behind the motherboard.
On the right hand panel there is space for another 120mm fan blowing on roughly the area of the motherboard behid the CPU. This idea seems to be gaining more interest recently and does actually help to keep this whole area cooler. The warm air is then vented out of the rear panel which has a slotted section for this. The rest of this panel is plain as per the norm although it does have a large part of it that has been pressed so that it actually gives more clearance behind the motherboard tray for cable management. It makes approximately 5mm difference. Not massive but it can make it that much easier.
The top rear section is one big fan outlet. This is just pressed mesh with a 200mm fan below it. The fan has bright blue LEDs incorporated. This part is slightly raised but only by about 3mm. The top is then clear until right near the front there is one large and one small button, the power and reset buttons.
Using two thumbscrews each side panel removes easilly. Internally the chassis will house six three and a half inch drives and a dedicated space for two two and a half inch SSDs above them. These fit laterally across the box and the cables required exit through the rear to connect to the motherboard and power supply. These internal drives slide into their positioons by the use of a guide rail that fits to each side of the drive and then the whole unit simply slides into place. The external drives, usually optical nowadays, are locked in position with a screwless clamping system. It seems to work quite well as there are a miriad of different ideas on the best way to tackle this. Some much more effective than others. On the Antec only one side is clamped, the other being held firmly by a spring pushing it towards the clamped side. The drive literally slides in and is clamped automatically in place. Removal is a case of pulling the clamp to release it and then the drive is free.
The motherboard tray is non removeable but will fit most sizes of board alright up to XL-ATX with a huge hole cut out for rear CPU cooler access in fact I would say it would even suit a dual CPU system. There are four large rubber grommited holes and several non grommited holes for cable trunking and with the multitude of cable tie points behind the motherboard tray cable management shoulld hold no worries. With the side panel replaced there is a total of just over 30mm of space to route the cables which should be more than enough. One of the big questions recently seems to be the size of graphics card that a case can take, well in this case it is 330mm so there shouldn't be much trouble in that department. Deceptively too the space is available for a 6.7" or 170mm high CPU cooler so even the bigger varieties like the Noctua would fit.
At the bottom of the main internal area is the space for the PSU although there is no gasket or rubber feet to help with noise or vibration restiction. Directly below this part is the fine filter I mentioned earlier. It does mean that if a power supply is used that draws air from outside for cooling it does stop any fluff and debris being picked up from underneath the case. It is easy to clean too being just a slide out tray type. On the outside there is the usual foot at each corner. Usually Antec use rubber but on this model I notice they are using plastic. I am not in favour of this as it is much more slippery.
The cables from the front panel are exactly as you would imagine, nothing more, nothing less. There are the motherboard front panel cables and the USB2.0 connectors. At least on this chassis Antec has taken note and used a motherboard header mounted USB3.0 cable. This is so much better than the hotpotch of standard external connector plugs that many manufacturer's use, blocking off two motherboard 3.0 ports on the back I/O panel and having to take the cable out through the case and plug into an existing outlet port.Well to summise this is a no frills case which is well built on the whole but I would have expected more from what Antec class their "flagship" case. Only two fans were included too and with both these being exhaust that goes against the norm where positive internal pressure is aimed for. There are no "extras" such as hot swap bays or fan controllers etc. However it is covered by a three year warranty. The price seems a little high for what you actually receive even though it is Antec! I give it 7/10. Supplied by : Antec Website : http://www.antec.com/Believe_it/ Price : £105