Antec’s Sonata ATX case

Manufacturer Antec
Model Sonata
Price (Street) $100
Availability Now

I‘M GETTING OLD. Very old. I know this because my tastes in computers are changing in ways I never could have anticipated—ways that are scary to a guy like me. And let me be clear, I am the guy who always has to have the fastest computer possible for anything close to a sane amount of money. I’m the prototypical overclocker, the guy who gets a kick both out of going fast and out of having saved a buck in the process. I want my computer to impress people in a way that is slightly menacing. Back in the day, my dual Celeron 300A rig was overclocked to 504MHz and had—count ’em—fourteen fans going full tilt all the time, inside a giant tower case that could have easily housed a family of four. We didn’t have brushed aluminum cases or neon yet, but I made sure I had as much cooling power as CPU power.

Over time, fourteen fans came to seem a little excessive, and I found I could get a killer-fast PC into a mid-tower case with just a few well-placed cooling fans and have plenty of headroom for overclocking my Athlon XP.

But nowadays, I am thinking scary thoughts. Terrible thoughts. I am, at times, almost completely absorbed by the thought of making my computers quieter, whatever the cost. Those Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processors? Not for me; too hot. Maybe I could go for a dually system—the holy grail of those desiring creamy smooth PC performance—but what about the noise? Two CPUs generate lots of heat. Maybe I won’t.

At times, I think my Centrino-based laptop has become my favorite computer. I mean, I really, really like it, more than a guy should like a computer with yesterday’s performance and virtually zero expandability. And I like it especially because it’s almost completely silent.

Next thing you know, it’s time for dentures and Depends, and I’m drooling into the keyboard of a Macintosh G5. Fortunately, Antec has brewed up a concoction to soothe the ears of geezers like me in the form of the Sonata case. This deep black mini-tower ATX enclosure has the style to make a young man excited and the serenity to make an old man weep for joy.

What does a Sonata look like?
Antec decks out the Sonata in what it calls a “piano black” finish. To my eye, it looks more like a black automotive paint job, but whatever you call it, it looks good.


The Sonata’s “piano black” finish gives it a unique style

Open the front door panel, and…

…you’ll find three 5.25″ external drive bays and two 3.5″ bays, neatly covered when the door’s closed to prevent leftover beige peripherals from spoiling the effect. I’ve heard several complaints about the sturdiness of the door itself, though. Whack the door real good on accident, and the hinges tend to break. This may be one of the Sonata’s biggest weaknesses. Fortunately, Antec sells replacement front doors via its website for seven bucks.


Rails nestled cleverly in the drive bay cover

The Sonata’s front drive bays use a rail mechanism for mounting 5.25″ drives, and rails are provided. These are screw-on rails, not the goofy tension-based types that are always popping off of the drive, and I happen to think they are the way to mount 5.25″ drives—a much superior alternative to taking off both sides of the case and reaching a screwdriver into a drive cage, that’s for sure.

A single, slide-out metal cage houses both 3.5″ drives. This custom bit of kit works just as expected, without too much hassle or fuss. The fit is solid. You will, however, have to disconnect cabling to both devices in order to swap one of them out.

 

Open the pod bay doors, Hal

The slit opens to reveal… laser cannons! The mirrored plastic cover situated just below the drive bays opens to reveal a cluster of ports one might find useful on the front of a PC. From left to right, they are: two USB ports, a Firewire port, an audio-in jack, and an audio-out jack. The cover itself is flanked by a pair of clear, textured casings that each reflect light from a blue LED. This will blind your pets.


Frisky’s corneas are toast


Witness the power of this fully operational battle station!

Some folks will think the blue lights are stylin’. If you don’t, I suppose it’s always an option to disconnect the power leads to these lights and be done with them.

On making those ports work
Your mileage may vary on hooking up peripherals to the front ports of the case. Most folks will probably succeed at getting everything working. The USB ports connected fine to the USB header on my Asus SK8N motherboard, although the connectors are those annoying types where each pin is separate and must be attached on its own. Works with any sort of motherboard, but sure is annoying to install. I spent what seemed like several hours in surgery during my install, though the patient did manage to survive. I wish Antec had provided connectors with pinouts for a couple of common USB header layouts.

The audio ports, on the other hand, were impossible, but it’s not Antec’s fault. My M-Audio Revolution 7.1 sound card lacks any kind of expansion header. This card has nearly disappeared from stores, so I doubt you’ll have this problem. Had I used the integrated audio on my motherboard, connecting the ports would have been simple. And for audio, Antec provides a connector with separate individual pins, plus a connector with the commonly used Intel-style pinout. As it should be.

Making the Firewire port—err, IEEE1394 port, that is—work proved most challenging, until I ran into this little gem on Antec’s website:

I can’t get the FireWire port on my Sonata to work, but everything seems to be connected properly?

We found a mistake on the Sonata 1394 cables. The mistake is the positive signal (+) and negative signal (-) has been switched.

Eureka! That explains some things. I expect most of the Sonatas on store shelves now have Firewire cables with corrected labeling. However, you may want to check and be sure.

 

Sonata’s recipe for silence
Around back, the Sonata’s real magic is revealed.


Nice rear

Here you can see the enclosure’s two fan openings, one in the power supply, and the big momma below it for a massive 120mm low-RPM fan. This big beast pushes 79.06 CFM at a peak of only 2000 RPMs. Antec says the fan puts out 29 dB of noise.


My, that’s a big fan

Antec’s TruePower 380W power supply garnered an Editor’s Choice award here at TR a while back. The TruePower 380S unit in the Sonata is a special, single-fan version of the TruePower 380W that’s not sold separately. Both the power supply fan and Big Bertha are speed-controlled by the TruePower 380S, which has an internal temperature sensor. The TruePower directs the fans to speed up or slow down depending on internal case temperatures.

This arrangement makes for a very quiet case, especially when the system isn’t under extreme loads. I found the TruePower 380S did a good job of knowing when to turn up fan speeds in response to rising case temps. The numbers produced by the sensors on my motherboard via Motherboard Monitor tended to correspond pretty well to the decisions the TruePower 380S makes about raising or lowering fan speeds. And the numbers were quite decent. After an overnight Folding session inside the relatively warm Damage Labs underground complex, my CPU temp rarely cracked about 136 degrees Fahrenheit. (That’s about 57 degrees Celsius, for you freaks and weirdos.)

My system, for the record, has an Asus SK8N motherboard, Opteron 146 processor, Radeon 9700 Pro graphics, 2GB of RAM, Sony DVD RW drive, and a Western Digital JB-series hard drive. Its thermal load should be similar to most mid-to-high-end setups these days.

How quiet is the Sonata? Well, we couldn’t simply place the Sonata in quiet room, stand a few feet away, and measure it with our sound level meter, because the Sonata doesn’t register. Too quiet. So I held the meter (Extech model 407727) up close to the case and measured it. What’s more, I measured the sound level and idle and under a full CPU/GPU load (running Folding@Home and the ATI “Chimp” demo). To provide some context, I also measured a few systems in other cases, including an Antec SX-830 (with an Athlon XP 2100+), a Shuttle XPC SN41G2 (with an Athlon XP 2800+), and a CoolerMaster WaveMaster (very similar to my system, but with an Athlon 64 FX-51). All of the systems are fairly typical configurations, and I avoided extra noise from things like busy hard drives or screaming GeForce FX Dustbusters. Here are the results.

I didn’t take “load” readings on the SX-830 because practically nothing in the system adjusts fan speeds under load, anyhow. The thing is just that loud all the time. The WaveMaster system doesn’t have an OS installed yet, unfortunately, so I wasn’t able to take readings under load for it, either. Nevertheless, these numbers should give you a decent idea how the Sonata compares to some other common cases.

During the tests, I couldn’t get all the fans in the Sonata to remain at the fastest speeds. The system just doesn’t get hot enough to trigger a steady run at the highest speed setting, even under heavy load for an extended period. However, I did manage to measure the Sonata during some short bursts at top speed. From the front, it hit a peak of 54.9 dB, and around back, the peak was 62.5 dB. If you happen to load up the Sonata with something really hot, like dual Opterons or an Intel Prescott, the system running full tilt may get nearly as loud as your average mid-sized ATX enclosure.

What you should take from these numbers is that the Sonata barely whispers during normal use, and isn’t terribly noisy when the system is really churning on something. Also, importantly, the Sonata projects much less sound out of the front than out of the back. Given typical placement in a typical room, where one’s computer desk backs up to a wall, that matters. Subjectively, the Sonata more than makes good on these numbers. It is easily the quietest ATX or small-form-factor case I’ve ever used.

However, the Sonata isn’t quiet perfection. When I popped a graphics card with a noisy fan (bad bearing, I think) into my system, the Sonata’s quiet fans and clean design didn’t seem to help mask the noise from that fan much at all. And when my DVD RW drive spins up, the Sonata can’t do much to dampen its whine. You will need to choose your other system components wisely in order to build a silent PC.

Also, the TruePower has a limited number of fan speeds, and it’s apparently not very sophisticated about controlling the transitions between them. Sometimes, when I’m working at the computer, the ambient temps and the load from my computer will conspire to create a fairly stable temperature inside the Sonata that’s right on the threshold between one fan speed and the next. Then, Big Bertha back there starts transitioning up and down between two fan speeds. Quickly. Although the Sonata is much, much quieter than my last computer or any typical ATX enclosure, these transitions can be nearly as annoying as a loud computer—more so, perhaps, for some folks, because of the changes in pitch.

This is, in my book, the Sonata’s greatest weakness as a piece of equipment designed to make one’s workspace a more enjoyable place to be. It’s no deal killer—not by a long shot, because the Sonata’s a huge step in the right direction, but there is room for improvement in this area. Ideally, the Sonata would have infinitely variable fan speeds and some reasonably smart control logic to minimize the distractions created by fan speed changes. However, I’d settle, for starters, for a measure of user control, ideally through software-selectable temperature/fan-speed thresholds.

 

Behind the music
Fortunately, the Sonata is more than just a pretty face and a low-key personality; it’s also a darned robust case for its size. You can crack it open to get a look around by removing the side panel, which is secured by a pair of thumbscrews and a latched handle. I really, really like thumbscrews, so let’s get a close-up of one of those babies.


Thumbscrews rule

I like thumbscrews so much, I wish Antec had provided thumbscrews everywhere it’s practical, including the screws that secure AGP and PCI cards, like I’ve seen done on some high-end modders’ cases. Would be nice.

The Sonata does include its own measure of nice touches, though, including a washable plastic dust filter that slides of the bottom of the case, like so:


Filter in

Filter out Antec recommends cleaning the filter with some regularity to keep airflow as free as possible. My office here isn’t terribly dusty, and I bet mine could go six months between cleanings, easily. Other places I’ve lived would probably require monthly cleanings, though, so your mileage may vary.


The filter with a couple of months’ worth of dust on it

Once you get inside the Sonata, you’ll find room for a standard ATX-sized motherboard, but nothing much more than that. I measured the motherboard space at roughly 11.25″ wide and 10.5″ deep. Server-class WTX boards are out of the question in here.

The workspace itself feels fairly spacious because of Antec’s smart drive arrangement. All four of the Sonata’s internal 3.5″ drive bays run perpendicular to the drives situated in external bays, so no cable clutter intrudes from the internal drives into the space where lengthy AGP cards generally live.

Antec’s slide-out drive cages are very handy, and they contribute to Sonata’s quiet temperament by isolating drive vibrations from the rest of the case. If you look closely at the picture above, you can see the undersides of the rubber grommets through which screws pass to secure the drive. There is no metal-on-metal contact between the screws and the drive tray. The drive’s weight is suspended on top of the rubber grommet, with plenty of cushion. This noise dampening measure makes so much sense, I’m surprised Antec didn’t use it more extensively throughout the Sonata. Instead, Antec seems to rely to good fit and solid construction do most of the work.


The finished product: with the right external drives, it looks great
 
Conclusions
I do have a few other nits to pick about the Sonata. Black cases inevitably show dust much more prominently than plain beige or brushed aluminum. This shiny finish shows fingerprints like mad. I’d like to see Serial ATA power connectors on the power supply. Also, the power supply leads could benefit from some sheathing to keep things tidy. The Sonata doesn’t quite have all the right cosmetic touches one would want in a case with a side window. That’s a shame, because I don’t think adding a window would diminish the Sonata’s whispery silence in the least. (Some might argue the about the style points involved, though.)

Overall, none of these minor quibbles can dampen my enthusiasm for everything Antec got right with the Sonata. This is a unique case concept executed well, and the Sonata manages to serve as a much-better-than-average mid-tower ATX enclosure, too. Antec needs to work on a way of moderating fan speed transitions, so they don’t become a distraction. Beyond that, I’m a happy old geezer.

In fact, far from making me feel older, the Sonata has restored some of my excitement over standard ol’ ATX-sized cases. You see, I’ve also been pretty taken with these newfangled small-form-factor boxes because of their slick designs and relatively quiet cooling. Now, however, those little toasters seem rather noisy next to a Sonata-based PC. And they won’t hold four TV tuner cards for my uber-TiVo box, either—let alone facilitate any dual-Opteron fantasies. The Sonata will do all that and more, and it looks just as slick as a Shuttle XPC. Why bother with the toasters? 

Comments closed
    • mharper
    • 16 years ago

    I have had a Sonata case since June 03 and I have a few additional nits..

    First, the plastic grommets used to attach the system (or hard disk) fan are easily sliced by the case metal. Any pressure on the fan while one is rummaging about is likely to slice a grommet. I have sliced 2. I do not know how to get replacements. Antec has not responded to my queries.

    Second, the rubber feet on the base are attached by weak glue and will slide out of position if one moves the case about. The shiny black finish is also on the bottom and does not like glue.

    Third, the wiring for the front USB/Firewire ports still confuse me.

    Michael.

    • Decelerate
    • 16 years ago

    Wonder how it fares against the P160, which is also a silent case

    • Kurlon
    • 16 years ago

    Nice to see Chemming has been improving on their design. I’ve an older Uneec badged boring beige Chemming full tower, and now a metalic blue Chemming branded full tower with front door and side window (Nearly everyone carries it, sure you’ve seen it.) and I love them both. I’d love to be able to swap mine for one with the internal drive rack instead of the two drive pods it’s currently equipped with. Give me room for 6 drives, or ditch external 3.5 all together and gimmie 8 k plz tnx. : )

    Back to my orriginal thought though, both my full tower systems are dual cpu rigs. Both have a full compliment of cooling fans. Both are loud. Are you aware of any ‘quiet’ enclosures designed for dual cpu setups with wATX motherboard I could transpose my system to?

    • Daddyo
    • 16 years ago

    On the Sonata.. I’m running AMD 64 3000+ with 2 raptors raid 0, wd 120 Jb as storage, 3 optical drives, MSI KT800 mb with fan speed control on, Nvidia 5900, and the system barely when reallly going (lan games) gets above 125 F. I’m convinced as I write this and the computer is sitting on my desk(not below) and is quiet enough that I can have no prob with the TV on and checking my news and this.

    • Pete
    • 16 years ago

    Great review, Damage: a pleasure to read as always.

    Would you consider reviewing an Evercase 4252 next? SilentPCReview listed it as promising for quiet freaks, and it looks like it has the potential to be a Sonata contenda, what with optional HD grommets and audio/USB/1394 connectors and CPU fan duct, and a front face that seems to be made to minimize noise. It’s not *too* expensive, either. I’d consider the lack of a front door as a bonus, as I’m not entirely a fan of flipping and keeping the thing open when I need access to optical drives.

    • DeltaLima
    • 16 years ago

    YOU NEED TO KNOW:

    Antec’s logo holes disrupt air flow. Instead of coming from the front bottom where the filter is, the 120mm fan and the PS fan suck air from the nearest (easiest path) source that are the holes from the Antec’s perforated logo.

    I don’t have seen a review stating this problem.. I covered those with a clear rigid plastic. I had a picture of it but deleted it last weekend.

    Covering those holes will suck better filtered air from front and also help dissipate HD heat that are right next the the filter.

    Unfortunatly, it’s not perfect because there are also holes behind the door (5.25″/3.5″ mounting slots) and within a few weeks or month, you’ll see dust opening the door.

      • Mr Bill
      • 16 years ago

      Yeah, I just taped the logo holes with clear tape.

        • DeltaLima
        • 16 years ago

        Good idea and with clear tape or plastic, you can insert a LED row light inside so the logo will glow in a cool way. Just put the LED row so we cannot see it true the holes, will look better.

          • indeego
          • 16 years ago

          Tassles too. Don’t forget tasslesg{<.<}g

            • Mr Bill
            • 16 years ago

            on the fan rotors… Or you could sprinkle red glitter on the outside to stick to the holes after you tape

    • lethal
    • 16 years ago

    This still wont save FX5800s owners πŸ˜‰

      • NeXus 6
      • 16 years ago

      You mean people actually bought those things?

    • RoninGyrbill
    • 16 years ago

    The boys aren’t gonna bring back the Gerbils with that attitude, riadbsc…though I too still miss them and lobby for their return.

    I basically have Damage’s setup but with the newer sata connections (not that I have sata drives.) Forget the front audio with the M-Audio Revo like he said. The case is great. It’s quiet (despite the noisy stock Barton 2500+ fan I am using) setting everything up was easy (despite the aforementioned plain manual) and it’s tres pretty(despite the stupid looking “ANTEC” drilled into each side)! I do have a habit of keeping the door closed and trying to eject cd’s…that will eventually break my burner, but that’s my problem! (the door closed mutes the spinning of cd’s lots.) Oh, and he’s not kidding about those LEDs. Larger breeds of dog may survive the intense waves but my two cats (hmmm) have been fried blind…and the Sonata being in my bedroom, I have not slept since my purchase.

    • flip-mode
    • 16 years ago

    Damage,

    Wonderful review. I’ve seen this thing reviewed a few places; your review brought up a couple of points the others missed. While your on the subject of quiet computing – a subject for which I have an intense interest – I would LOVE it if you could follow up this review with one on a product such as this:

    Β§[<http://www.highspeedpc.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=HSPC&Category_Code=InnovaKonvect<]Β§ Regards, flip-mode

    • flea
    • 16 years ago

    I have seen 3 different revisions of the Sonata case. In all revisions, you must use the induvidual cables to connect the front panel audio connector. In the first revision, the firewire cables are color coded correctly, but text labelled incorrectly. It does not have serial ATA connectors, and the USB connectors are cabled induvidually. The second version had tape on all four corners (be careful not to peel away any of the finish) to protect the finish from damage during shipping and handling. It had the same problems as the first revision, but it included a power supply with Serial ATA connectors. The latest revision has Serial ATA connectors, fixed the firewire labelling, and the USB is connected with one large block.
    Some things I’ve noticed with the case is that there is more clearance if you install a serial ATA drive with the connectors facing away from you when inserting the hard drive. It is very recommended to install a second 120mm fan if you have more than one hard drive. If you are shipping the case with components in it, use twist ties to secure the hard drive and cdrom bays. There’s too much flex in the case and the drives can shift during shipping. We’ve had broken hard drive connectors because of it. Overall, the case is sturdy and quiet and highly recommended.

    • DerekBaker
    • 16 years ago

    “my CPU temp rarely cracked about 136 degrees Fahrenheit. (That’s about 57 degrees Celsius, for you freaks and weirdos.) ”

    The freaks and weirdos being the vast majority of the world’s population that doesn’t live in the USA?

    Derek

      • Damage
      • 16 years ago

      Do any of them have a sense of humor?

        • DerekBaker
        • 16 years ago

        Can’t speak for them all, but we in the UK do. πŸ™‚

        I rather assumed it was meant in jest, but the lack of anything – an exclamation mark, a smily – to say for sure left the issue open.

        Derek

          • absurdity
          • 16 years ago

          Just to throw this out there, I keep track of my CPU temps in Celsius, and I’m in the US πŸ˜‰

            • Damage
            • 16 years ago

            Are you a freak or just a weirdo?

        • Rowan
        • 16 years ago

        Yes, but after reading misc.metric-system I’ve gotten a bit sensitive to the issue.

    • Dposcorp
    • 16 years ago

    I have always been a fan of Antec cases (have 3 here now) and this looks like another nice case.

    I’ll second two comments already made:

    Give the door the option to be mounter the other way
    and
    IT MUST have a fan for the drive cages.
    Some of us run multiple 7200 and 10,000 RPM drives, and you gotta keep those babies cooled.

    The power supply does need to have more adjustable fan speed settings as well.

    Otherwise, excellent reivew as usuall Scott.

      • Mr Bill
      • 16 years ago

      The case has mounting points and provides rubber offsets for an optional 120mm fan attached to the side of the hard drive cage.

    • Mr Bill
    • 16 years ago

    q[

    • Klogg
    • 16 years ago

    I bought this case last March, in Canada. There were no hardwired SATA power connectors, but there were adapters included. 2 I believe. The door can not be flipped over to the other side. if you look closely at some of the pics with the door open, you will see a large black hole on the right hand, bottom corner, this is where the lock onthe door goes, and there is only the one. So unfortunitely, no dice there.

    Sweet jesus is it quiet though. I have grown accustomed to it over time and start to think it is lowed. I do hear a low hum from under my desk, mostly the 2 hard drives I would imagine. If I close the front door, then it gets noticibly quieter. The report said that both a loud fan and a loud optical drive carry through, and this is definitely true. So basically don’t leave a disc in the drive, and it can’t spin up randomly, and clean the filter or be forced to replace a vid card fan.

    Anyway, like I said, loud, until I fix someone elses computer or have to use one somewhere else, then I remember just how loud mine used to be. Love the case.

      • Klogg
      • 16 years ago

      Look at that. A freaking essay, not a post. I am a freaking yappy bastard.

        • indeego
        • 16 years ago

        In Canadia three paragraphs is an essay? No wonder you come down to the states for some .edug{<.<}g πŸ˜‰

          • SpotTheCat
          • 16 years ago

          actually, the longer you go without cleaning a filter, the better job it does at filtering… but it stops letting air through.

            • absurdity
            • 16 years ago

            The whole idea behind filtering is getting air through πŸ˜›

            • SpotTheCat
            • 16 years ago

            well, some people want to get keep dust out, some want more airflow… that’s why you can get different grades of filters…

          • Spotpuff
          • 16 years ago

          In wherever you’re from, Canadia is a country?

            • indeego
            • 16 years ago
            • RoninGyrbill
            • 16 years ago

            Indeego!…I thought I liked you…but this is terrible…even though the Canadans use celsius and all,….eh?

            One thing I forgot about the Sonata. A small caveat emptor. 2 of the rubber feet(on the bottom as feet are wont to be) came off almost immediately after I placed the case down for the first time and slid it slightly across the smooth floor. Not a big deal for me but to some, it might be an annoyance. So far, I’ve been to lazy to reglue them and balance the case on my skate key,…eh?

    • Mr Bill
    • 16 years ago

    I built a PC for a friend around this case. I mostly agree with the review. Its a very nice case in appearance and finish. The ASUS NForce2 motherboard had SATA and IDE connectors and came with an SATA-IDE converter. So I did a couple quick tests and decided the SATA setup was preferable.

    The drive cage setup in the Sonata is a good space saving idea being turned 90 degrees. It makes less clutter around the motherboard. The little rubber gromets may make the drive quieter. But the case is just a little too narrow to fit a WD 120Gb 8Mb cache drive using the SATA to IDE adapter. I know its a Kludge. However, half an inch of leeway makes the difference between useable and bending the connectors.

    • p4killer
    • 16 years ago

    “…my CPU temp rarely cracked about 136 degrees Fahrenheit. (That’s about 57 degrees Celsius, for you freaks and weirdos.)”

    Ahem. I think you mean 330 degrees Kelvin πŸ™‚

      • Despite
      • 16 years ago

      except that when you measure in Kelvin, you don’t say “degrees”. it’s just 330K(elvin)

    • John S
    • 16 years ago

    A few things:

    A version of this thing with a motherboard tray would be about as good as it gets.

    SATA drives are a bit of a scary proposition in here. The back end of the drive is so close to the side that I couldn’t connect my Raptor without stressing the SATA cable a bit. Hopefully it’s only the shielding that’s stressed.

    Strangely, I recall mine having the SATA leads.

    The firewire isn’t the only wiring issue. The wiring for the front mounted USB ports on mine has more + than – leads.

    • Thresher
    • 16 years ago

    I have this case.

    One of the things I would recommend is to put another bigass fan on the back of the drive cages. It has the mounts built in, all you need is another fan.

    I did have a problem with the rubber fan mounts though, two of them came broken in my kit. I had some others I could use, so it wasn’t a real problem.

    Another thing:

    When are case companies going to get with the program reguarding documentation? I don’t think any of us would buy a motherboard without adequate documentation, yet most cases have rudimentary instructions at best.

    Good case, horrid instructions.

    You mentioned that there was an error in the instructions and you kinda let it go. I think you let them off easy, the rest of the instructions were bad as well.

    • R2P2
    • 16 years ago

    One really picky thing: Can the hinge for the front door be moved to the other side of the case? I like to have the case on my right, and having the door swing towards me would make it just a little inconvenient to reach the drives.

      • robg1701
      • 16 years ago

      Not so picky, just common sense – person who invented the door idea wasnt qutie firing on all cylinders that day πŸ˜‰ Whats more surprising is noone big seems to have come out and made it the other way round.

      That said, it has its benefits…i have my case sitting on my right in such way that the door sits round against the leg of the table, meaning i jsut plain cant open it far enough or nude it sideways in a way thatd caus it to break πŸ˜›

      What i want to know is when BTX flourishes, will they be silly enough to reverse the door, or leave it as it is and thus infact ‘correct’ the issue when we all go ssitting cases on our left to see the pretty windows ;P

        • Thresher
        • 16 years ago

        Misreplied. Doh.

        Please feel free to nuke this.

    • riadbsc
    • 16 years ago

    Yet another report with no overclocking results. πŸ˜›

    q[<"Why bother with the toasters?"<]q Ooo... do I sense a falling out with -[

      • Dissonance
      • 16 years ago

      Our last seven reviews:

      Antec Sonata
      Seagate Barracuda 7200.7
      Pentium 4 Prescott
      Albatron K8X800 Pro II
      Athlon 64 3400+
      Zen XPC ST62K
      Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer 2.0

      Wow, one out of seven. That’s quite a “virtually unbroken string of exclusive midget PC reports.”

        • riadbsc
        • 16 years ago

        Your last eight b[

          • emkubed
          • 16 years ago

          I’d say there was a need for good reviews of SFF machines and TR filled that void quite nicely.

          • Dissonance
          • 16 years ago

          Imagine that, small form factor systems appearing in our systems index.

          You noticed that the SB52G2 review was published almost 11 months ago, didn’t you? We’re averaging less than one SFF-related review a month since then. Couple that with a consistent barrage of storage, processor, chipset, motherboard, and graphics-related content, and I’m not sure what you’re complaining about.

          Perhaps you should check out some of our other article archives: Β§[<https://techreport.com/reviews/<]Β§

            • riadbsc
            • 16 years ago

            Speaking of things that “were published almost …” back in the Jurassic period, I miss some of the other kinds of reporting you and TR /[https://techreport.com/reviews/2002q1/belkin-nostromo/index.x?pg=1<]Β§ You know, there's an N52 out now, and it badly needs the TR touch. :)

            • muyuubyou
            • 16 years ago

            You realize gamers are a minority of the PC buyers, right?

            The TR covers them more than adequately

      • sativa
      • 16 years ago

      you complain when TR does cover SFF stuff and you complain when TR doesn’t cover SFF stuff.

      point your browser in another direction and your tears will eventually dry.

        • Klogg
        • 16 years ago

        The quantity of SFF reviews may seem high when looking at them all lined up, but the video card page must look insane, so really, whats the difference. I read most, flipped through the rest as my interest and funding wanned, so there could not have been TOO many reviews of the little guys.

        I think as long as the other reviews keep coming as well, you can do whatever you want and I will keep coming back and keep reading. Beats a return to the [H] for “unbiased” reviews/ πŸ™‚ (that will probably get my ass kicked)

        Basically, keep up the good work, keep the reviews thorough and plentiful, and you will always have a dedicated reader here.

          • riadbsc
          • 16 years ago

          Truthfully, TR could start reviewing nothing but office supplies…

          “Mead 500 sheet, 30% Post-User Content Review”
          “Staples ‘Easy-Slide’ Folders Benchmarked”
          “FNT: The Promised Paperless Office?”

          …and I’d probably still be a faithful reader.

          The point I was trying to make is… you never see an Alienware system reviewed here, or Falcon Northwest, or any of a number of other OEMs that have more or less as much market share as Shuttle.

          And what about the big guys? I remember when I once bought a Micron PC because it was, at the time, hands-down the fastest non-custom box you could buy (according to the major PC pubs available then). How does a top-end Dell, Gateway, HP, or IBM system stack up these days? You can’t overclock most of them, but even just stock, just how far behind the DIY boards are they? Has deep-pockets innovation truly died under the feet of mass-production? Seems I saw a review of a Dell P4 EE system elsewhere not too long ago that blew the doors off of everything else they tested… not that you’d know it from all the bashing they get here.

          Maybe it’s a question of who’s willing to spring a little test-system love on TR and who isn’t. *shrugs* I’d like to think TR carries enough weight and respect in the Reviewer’s Guild to command an NDA from anyone.

            • Damage
            • 16 years ago

            The SFF boxes we review are DIY systems, aka barebones. They are not complete, pre-packaged PCs. We generally shy away from pre-built systems because, well, we prefer to build our own, and we think most of our readers are the same way. Truth is, the systems sold by PC OEMs are generally just collections of components that we’ve probably already reviewed, plus some packaging and a drive image. And those “enthusiast” OEMs are _expensive_.

            But you knew that, right?

            • Convert
            • 16 years ago

            This isn’t as true as you may think, but then again what do I know? The very select few people I know that read TR bought a OEM and upgraded accordingly over time. Although I agree that you have reviewed most of the parts anyways…. plus I HATE alienware falconNW and ect. so I wouldn’t want TR reviewing them to begin with even IF they were barebones. I hate all OEM’s period.

            How about some game reviews to diversify things :D, being a take control kind of guy I elect myself to do the reviews.

            I was actually very much against all the SFF reviews, I mean SFF is great and all but they seem to come in cycles, so for a week (?) all there is are SFF reviews so it was annoying. But then I started thinking about it and I realized what else would you review? Graphics cards come out in cycles so there is a dry spell, you review the processors as they come out, and the interesting sata hd’s once in a while. Only thing I could think of is some media drives/burners, ram, much more mb’s (but you did do that killer kt600 roundup) and all that stuff. But would those bring in the readers?

            • dalhectar
            • 16 years ago

            On a slow week, there should be some OEM reviews done. They make nice page filler. A roundup of a few Tier 1 OEMs (Dell, HP) and game OEM system (Alienware). Would be cool to see twice a year or so.

            Good review, and bring back the gerbs!

            • absurdity
            • 16 years ago

            Remember, Scott just left his job, and he blew all his savings on the dusbuster a few months back πŸ˜›

            • Hattig
            • 16 years ago

            Mmmm, a comparitive review of various weight papers would be nice … 80gsm to 120gsm … brilliant white and manilla.

            * stationery fetish *

            Ah, case looks alright, don’t really like the car finish that much. I like the internal layout features though – handy.

            Still, I’m still using a cheap Juno tower case (semi-transparent turquoise colour!) at the moment (albeit with an Enermax power supply).

    • AOEU
    • 16 years ago

    I assembeled computer with a Sonata case last month and the power supply had serial ata power connectors. So one thing less to worry about πŸ™‚

    • Convert
    • 16 years ago

    Ugly case but a great review as always.

    • blitzy
    • 16 years ago

    i like the sonata, had my eye on it ages ago but could never find it in NZ at a decent price. The main thing I find annoying is the PSU is only 380W, would be nice if you had the option of a bigger PSU or to buy the case without a PSU

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