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Anovoca
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Antec (xmas giveway) build and review

Mon Feb 06, 2017 8:38 pm

Before I get into any review or build log I would like to first thank the TechReport Staff for hosting this giveaway, Antec for providing the case and power supply, and all the Gerbils that up voted my comment that won me this unexpected little gift. It is with great respect and gratitude I have decided to offer up an unbiased review of these products, and please understand that any negative remarks I make toward the products are not meant to be a complaint towards the gifts themselves, but simply the fair and honest critiques of this humble gerbil. I have in no way been put under any sense of obligation to write this by any member of the Tech Report staff nor am I allowing the free nature of these awards to sway me towards any undeserved favoritism. All opinions shared are entirely my own.

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Antec Edge 750
Lacking any measuring tools or software to really put a solid test together for the power supply, I will simply say that it worked perfectly out of the box, is not audible under load, offered a nice assortment of sturdy black sleeved cables, and came with some rubber skirts to wrap around the edges and dampen vibration. 

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All in all it was a solid first impression for the power supply by Antec, but I will still withhold judgment (as I do with all units) until I see how well it performs over time. The only minor knock I would have on the unit this early on is that they put their badge on upside-down based on the orientation most users will install the PSU (as you can see in the photos later).

So, that brings us to the case, the Antec GX1200. This build was a migration I am doing for a friend whom owed an EOM Asus machine. While he isn’t ready to replace the motherboard and CPU just yet, (waiting on tax returns) the Asus EOM was built to mATX standards and with a bit of cleaning, a GTX1050ti, and the new case and PSU, we are hoping to put new life into this rig until he is ready to pull the trigger on the rest of the parts. The old system, as you can see, was a quagmire of dust, pet hair, and 0 cable management. While I have seen worse looking cases, I haven’t seen many that run as hot and loud as this machine does under load. The PSU is near death, and what little air it can choke out is taken in immediately by an equally gunked up CPU cooler, before an 80mm fan does what little it can to exhaust that heat out the back. 

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Antec GX1200:

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I am basing this review off of my impressions of the similarly priced Phanteks Enthoo Pro which I have built with in the past and is currently at the top of my recommendation list for those looking for a case in the $80-$100 ball park. Comparatively, the GX1200 feels like a much cheaper made product than the Phanteks’ case. The panels are less rigid and the case fully assembled feels less sturdy. Annoyingly the panels are still using the four top and bottom slide hooks to mount in place, a design that has been around since the 90s. Opening it up I see a lot of places where I felt unnecessary compromises were made while trying to offer some of the now industry standard amenities for the $100 case market. The thumbscrews for instance, a nice feature you come to expect from a $100 case, but in the instance of the GTX1200, what they did was put a grippy plastic bezel around a regular screw. At a base level it functions just fine, but I worry that the slightest bit of over torquing the screws will break the plastic right off and leave you with a long metal screw jutting from your case.  
The case features two 120mm front mounted LED Antec fans. Antec choose to do without an external drive bay or any hard-drive cages mounted here in front. Instead, there is a nice clean and open air layout with three SSD mounting points. There are also  cable routing cutouts on either side of the ssd mounting points; however the smaller cutout on the right side (left in the photo below) appears to serve no real purpose, as it is almost entirely covered up by the ssd once it is mounted and is just too small in both height and length to run any cables up to the ssd through those holes. This left me wondering why they were even there.
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The nice open feeling in front was not without sacrifice however, as they chose to mount the hard drive cage in the basement with the PSU. The two slot cage was riveted to the case, which meant it cannot be moved or removed should the builder choose to do so. This also left me with zero room to work with the PSU and I ended up having to unmount the PSU, rotate it 90 degrees, and finish running all my cables before sliding it back into its slot and screwing it back into place. It would have been nice to either have the ability to remove the hard drive cages to get cleaner access to the PSU and all of my cables, or to pull the PSU cage out through the back of the case (like I can do with some CoolerMaster cases) to give my hands more room to fit. I also didn’t like that there wasn’t enough room to tuck any of the excess lengths of cable in the basement area which left me having to make extra wide loops with the cables inside the main compartment of the case. I was able to make it work but it was not as tidy as I would have liked it to look, and since the side panels use the slide hook mounts it meant having to do a lot of small contortion acts with knees and elbows to fight down the cables and get the rear panel in place when all was said and done.
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The motherboard installed very easily into the case. I give extra props to Asus for that and for using the mATX standard for their eom pc rather than something proprietary that doesn’t line up with other cases. The fans came already mounted and connected to a fan/led controllers. This was a nice extra that I give huge props to Antec for including. While not everyone is going to want to use the LED features, I liked that I only had to attach one SATA power cable to the unit located right next to where I mounted the SSD and all the case fans were ready to go. This saved me a huge amount of time and hassle and a bit of space too since I only needed one SATA power cable to plug in all my drives and fans. Combined with the 1050ti drawing its power straight from the pcie, and I thankfully had a very minimal amount of cable management to deal with. The hub, I should note, has four additional slots open for fans should we choose to add a rear exhaust fan, a third front intake fan, and maybe even two on a top mounted radiator. It also has two open LED plugs if anyone felt inclined to run led strips through the inside of the case. The hub has two button controls to toggle the led rgb colors as well as change the fan settings. The front I/O has a button that also controls the LEDs but it appears as though the only way to get to the fan control is with the side panel off. The other quark about the fan control is that it has 3 setting: mid, high, and off. The off setting also turns off the LEDs. I would have preferred to see a dial controller for fan speed so I can find the right balance of noise/performance but as it was an included free extra I won’t complain. Another interesting note about the front i/o is that there was no reset button (at least I couldn’t find any leads to plug in in the i/o cable wad). Not a big issue, but it did seem like an interesting thing to decide to cut out.
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As cable management goes I felt the case delivered on everything you need but compromised again on the little things. The cable routes lacked any rubber skirts and Antec provided a small selection of plastic zip ties to hold down your cables. Again, these will do the job, but if you ever want to add more hardware or swap out parts it means having to run and grab a scissors to do so, and then you also find yourself down one zip tie. In the case of this build, where we plan on upgrading the motherboard later, it just didn’t make sense to commit to any cable runs. The Phanteks’ cases I have built with in the past offer small Velcro strips that can be just zipped open to add a cable then strapped back shut. I can’t imagine the cost is significantly higher to use those instead.
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In the end, despite all the criticisms, my friend is quiet happy with the noise/performance/aesthetic of the Antec case. While I the builder have my squabbles, I am in general pretty fussy and at the end of the day my opinion means the least. The hardware inside the case is happy and cool, maxing out at 50C for CPU and GPU temps while running titanfall2 at max. Not bad, considering it is a stock CPU cooler and the case doesn’t have a rear exhaust fan. The end user is also quite impressed with the noise levels and loves the look of the case even with the RGB LEDs turned on, despite his earlier skepticism that they would annoy him. So if I had to give the case a grade, using the Phanteks Enthoo pro as the standard for what an A+ case in this price range should be, I would rate this a B. If you are choosing a case purely for functional reasons, I believe there are better options out there for the price. However, if you are looking at this case because you are a fan of the aesthetics or because it is $10-$20 cheaper than some of the other cases in this category/class, I could find no reason to steer you away from buying this either.
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ludi
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Re: Antec (xmas giveway) build and review

Mon Feb 06, 2017 8:51 pm

Nice overview, thanks for taking the time (and the pictures).

Comment on the thumb screws, though: the point where any screw transitions from head to shaft is an inherent weak point.  If a thumbscrew has a plastic molding and it twists off, it's at least easy to remove and replace.  For an all metal design, you're left with a busted shaft stuck in the screw hole.  Either way, no need to torque those screws much, they're usually not structural ;-)
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DancinJack
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Re: Antec (xmas giveway) build and review

Mon Feb 06, 2017 10:00 pm

You may want to find something to get that case up off the floor if you can.
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Anovoca
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Re: Antec (xmas giveway) build and review

Tue Feb 07, 2017 7:58 am

DancinJack wrote:
You may want to find something to get that case up off the floor if you can.

I appreciate the concern but his current living situation is temporary. Plus, the case has some decently tall feet and a filtered psu intake. I am not too worried about there being any issues for him in the short while he is living with that setup.
A few minutes with me inside my van, Should be so beautiful if we can
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