Date: June 16th, 2003
Style, Quality, Innovation – Three words that easily come to mind when describing Antec’s LifeStyle series Sonata computer case. Knowing Antec’s products, that is nothing unusual as seen in my past reviews of various Antec cases. The Sonata, however, is somewhat different as its emphasis lies not on high-performance, massive cooling, and many drive bays, as it is not necessarily geared towards the enthusiastic overclocker. This case was designed to be quiet and appealing, without compromising the high standard of quality and features.
What immediately catches the eye is the beautiful glossy black lacquer paint job. It is very attractive and gives the case a sophisticated look. A case with such good looks is right at home in an upscale office next to a stylish desk, or in a living room next to an expensive entertainment center. It looks more like a piece of furniture or a high-end piece of electronic equipment than a basic computer case. It’s almost surprising that it doesn’t come with a polishing cloth to keep it free from dust and fingerprints.
The door in the front panel hides the drive bays and power buttons from view, providing a clean look when closed. A small silver panel below the front door flips up to reveal two USB ports, one Firewire port, and a phone and a microphone jack. These ports have corresponding cables on the inside that can be hooked up to the appropriate headers on a motherboard if present. Connecting the front-mounted USB and Firewire ports was somewhat of a hassle and required some puzzle skills to figure out which cable goes on which pin as they all have to be connected individually and their labels do not exactly match. One would think that in this day and age of standards they could agree on standard USB and Firewire sockets on the motherboard and matching plugs from the case’s USB and Firewire port leads.
Front-accessible are three 5.25″ and two 3.5″ drive bays.
The rear panel layout is pretty standard. The one thing that stands out is the size of the rear exhaust fan. In place of one or two 80mm fans is a big 120mm fan. Due to its size it moves a good amount of air, yet it runs much quieter than one or two 80mm fans because it runs at a slow and quiet 1300 RPM. Contributing to the silence is the fan inside the Antec TruePower 380W power supply that is temperature-controlled and only runs as much as necessary.
After opening the swing-out side panel, a look inside the case reveals a clean and roomy layout in typical Antec tradition. Nicely tucked away at the top is the power supply which has plenty of power leads. Mounted in the back is the 120mm fan. Standing out is the interesting arrangement of the four internal 3.5″ drive bays. They are oriented sideways instead of the traditional straight arrangement.
Each drive bay consists of an individual slide-out tray that snaps into place and is tightly held by two metal clips. Looking closely at the drive tray, four black rubber grommets are visible. This is another contribution to the silent design of this case. The rubber grommets absorb vibrations from hard drives and prevent them from being transferred to the chassis causing a hum or rattle. Antec provides plenty of special mounting screws since regular screws won’t fit to mount the drives due to the grommets.