Antec Mini Skeleton Review

tacohunter52 - 2009-09-02 17:33:14 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: tacohunter52   
Reviewed on: October 26, 2009
Antec
Price: $109

Introduction:

Recently Mini ITX setups have been getting more popular among users. Products like Nvidia's ION have been making it easier for users to get their hands on these mini setups. These mini setups do however, come with a challenge. This challenge is finding a case small enough to fit your hardware. That's right! I said a case small enough. There's absolutely no point in purchasing a Mini ITX motherboard, and then shoving it in a mid or full tower case. Smaller Pico cases can be found across the internet, but they tend to be costly. Some users will go as far as to make the mini case themselves. Either way, the case is important.

What better way to keep your hardware from being out in the open, then putting your hardware out in the open? Apparently Antec feels that having your components open to the environment is the way to go. For this reason they manufactured the very popular Antec Skeleton case. Well Antec has done it again, only this time the case is smaller. The Antec Mini Skeleton is designed for Mini ITX systems. Just how well will this baby perform? Let's find out.

Closer Look:

The Antec Mini Skeleton actually arrived in a cubic box. The front of the box used a black and yellow color scheme, and showed a sketch of what the case looks like. The back of the box showed Antecs logo, as well as a few of the case's specifications. The top of the box shows the top of the Skeleton. We can also see that when powered on, the top fan's blue LEDs will light up. The sides of the box show the Skeleton's sides.

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The case itself came wrapped in plastic, and was securely wedged between two pieces of foam. Also packaged with the case were a user manual, and a box of extra goodies. The box of extra goodies weren't actually filled with extra accessories, but rather extra pieces of the case. These included two external 2.5" drive bays, as well as a PCI bracket. Also included was the power cable, some zipties, a Molex to Sata adapter, and a bag of screws.

 

 

Now that we've seen how it was packaged, let's take a closer look at the case itself!

Closer Look:

The predominant feature of the Antec Mini Skeleton is the huge fan on top of it. For that reason I'll start off talking about that fan. The massive fan is actually only 150mm. The reason it looks so huge is because the case is so small. This fan is a 3-speed blue LED fan, it's not to often you'll see an adjustable fan on a Mini ITX case. The front of the case also has a power and reset switch, two USB ports, and the front audio ports. Both the left and right side of the case are identical. The grills can be removed, and an external HDD bay can be attached to them. The rear end of the case contains a small 70mm exhaust fan. Also located on the back of the case is the port where you'll connect the power cable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bottom of the case isn't your typical case bottom. Just like the rest of the case it is open to your environment. Although, having an open bottom doesn't seem to serve much of a purpose. The grilled sides of the case can be easily removed. This will give you extra hand room to work with while installing your components. This was actually really useful as the case is much smaller then it appears, which makes it really hard to work with things like the optical drive.

 

 

In order to easily install your hardware you'll need to slide out the motherboard tray. Doing so makes it extremely easy to install just about everything. Without the sliding motherboard tray it would be almost impossible to correctly install the motherboard. You'll notice that there is absolutely no where to install a PSU. That's because the Antec Skeleton comes with a built in 90W PSU. It's located directly beneath the motherboard tray, but it was rather hard to properly photograph.

 

 

The secondary fan is a 70mm exhaust fan, and it's located on the Skeleton's back. Both of the Skeleton's fans require power via a Molex connector, and neither of them have been pre-plugged in. The PSU provides two Molex connectors, and 2 Sata connectors. This isn't enough to power a huge system, but it should be just fine for a miniature setup.

 

 

Now let's take a look at how to install our hardware.

Closer Look:

There's not a whole lot of "Working Components" on the Antec Mini Skeleton. For this reason I'll run through installing your hardware with the case. The best way to start off is by installing the motherboard. Use the screws provided to mount the motherboard onto the motherboard tray. Once you've done this connect power to the MOBO as you would any computer. The Mini Skeleton's PSU came equipped with a 24Pin cable, and a 4Pin auxillary cable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you've got the power all hooked up it's time to install the front header connections. The Antec Mini Skeleton has a PWR cable, a Reset cable, and an HDD LED cable. The Antec Skeleton also had two front USB ports, and two front audio ports. This means we also need to connect the one USB cable, as well as the Audio cable.

 

 

Installing the Optical Drive is extremely easy. The entire bottom section is the 5.25" bay. That is of course with two exceptions. These exceptions are the two 2.5" bays, and the area where the PSU is located. I was also pleased to see that the Mini Skeleton was accommodating enough to fit an IDE drive, because that's what I'm still using. I found that it's extremely hard to connect power to the drive when it's installed in the drive bay, so make sure you do that before installing your ODD.

 

 

Installing the HDD was actually somewhat difficult. Every single one of the Mini Skeleton's drive bays are meant to be used with 2.5" HDD's. In other words if you don't have any laptop hard drives you're screwed. The Mini Skeleton is able to hold two external 2.5" bays, so I decided to attach my standard size HDD externally as well. I did this by mounting the HDD to the Skeletons side grill. This not only worked, but in my opinion, looked rather cool as well.

 

I was surprised at how few problems I had installing my hardware, especially with such a small case. I thought the end result actually looked kind of cool, albeit a tad bit messy. Then again there's not really a place to hide the wires, because the whole case is open anyway.

 

 

 

Now that we've got all the hardware installed, let's see how this baby performs!

Specifications:

Dimensions:
190mm(H) x 210mm(W) x 230mm (D)
Net weight:
5.5LBS/2.5KG
 
Drive Bays:
1 x 5.25” Drive Bay
2 x 2.5” Internal HDD Bay
2 x 2.5” External HDD Bay
Front Ports:
2 x USB 2.0
Audio (AC’98 and HAD compatible) In and Out
Cooling System:
1 top 150mm TriCool blue LED fan
1 rear 70mm Fan
Materials:

.8mm cold rolled steel (with reinforced plastic frame for chassis durability)

Gross Weight:
10LBS

 

Features:



All information courtesy of Antec@http://www.antec.com/Believe_it/product.php?id=MjEwMg==

Testing:

To test the Antec Mini Skeleton I'll be recording the IDLE and LOAD temperatures of the main components. To record the IDLE temperatures I will use HWMonitor. I will leave the system untouched for 30min and record temperatures when CPU usage is as close to 0% as possible. To stress the components I will run Prime95 for a few hours and record temperatures while Prime 95 is still running. All below temperatures are in Degrees Celsius.

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Cases:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mini ITX board and it's components generated more or less the same amount of heat in every case. However, that does mean that the Antec Skeleton can compete with mid and full tower cases. It also managed to outperform the "Open Air" setup across the board.

Conclusion:

Let's be real, a very important part of any case is how it looks. The Antec Mini Skeleton looks both awesome, and innovative. It was very compact, but that's what you should be looking for in a Mini ITX case. I'm no expert on Mini ITX setups, but I'd say the Antec Mini Skeleton offered decent wire management capabilities. Rather then making the wires invisible, the Mini Skeleton allowed you to position them in a way that wouldn't effect airflow. Plus the wires in the open case made it look cool. I was also pleased to see that I could still use my IDE optical drive.

The Mini Skeleton lacked any way of installing a standard size HDD, but I was easily able to install one anyways. The fans make for excellent airflow, and they managed to cool the HDD a few degrees C below the "Open Air" setup. This is pretty amazing considering the HDD wasn't even in the case to begin with.

Although this case was extremely great, I did have one major problem with it. The built in PSU failed to power my system. The PSU is only 90W so I guessed it wouldn't be able to do much. I even pulled out the HDD and optical drive to be powered by a second PSU. This, however, didn't solve the problem. I ended up running the entire system off of a spare PSU. This problem would be minor, if it wasn't for the fact that the Skeleton doesn't accommodate for a PSU other then the built in one. To me this pretty much ruins the part of having a Mini ITX system, especially if you need a second object sitting on your desk. Although a less power hungry processor and motherboard combo might be able to mitigate this problem

I'd still recommend this case to any user looking to build an ITX rig. Just be warned, the Power Supply may not be up to the task of powering a full system!

 

Pros:

 

Cons: