Antec Skeleton Review

RA1D - 2008-10-17 21:20:21 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: RA1D   
Reviewed on: November 20, 2008
Price: $159 - $179

Introduction:

In 1986, Antec arrived on to the scene and has provided consumers with a steady diet of cases, power supplies, and accessories. With products directly aimed at gamers and enthusiasts, Antec has built a reputation for quality, value, and innovation. The company based in Fremont, California is currently one of the leading manufacturers of computer cases and recently followed up the very popular 900 gaming case with the bigger and better 1200 enclosure. Antec is also firmly planted in the power supply market with units based on Seasonic models. They have several variations within their PSU line up, ranging from 350 to 1000 watts of steady power.

Never one to stay idle for long, Antec recently gave notice of a revolutionary enclosure that would change the game. "Think beyond the box" is the phrase accompanying their newest product, the Skeleton. Leading up to its release, the Skeleton caused a stir within the enthusiast circle for its original design, contemporary layout, and monstrous 250mm multi-LED fan. The wait is now over as this open air case has been unleashed into the market and changing the way enthusiasts think about computer cases. If you like cutting edge products, you will love this review. Read on as I find out if this case can live up to the hype and show you what the Skeleton has to offer.

Closer Look:

The Antec Skeleton comes in a sleek and solid cardboard package. I have no doubt that this box is strong enough to protect the case during transit. The packaging shows a few images of the skeletons from different angles and give you a hint of what's inside. Along with a few shots of the case, there is a picture of the multi-LED fan, showing off its size and colors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bundle includes a 92mm fan, four mounting plates, zip ties, screws and a few loose pages about the case and warranty. The 92mm fan is designed to provide airflow to the hard drive bays and is installed on the front of the case. I am a bit puzzled on why the fan comes with only a female molex connector. The molex connectors found on most power supply cables are also female so in order to use this fan, you need an adapter which is not included in the bundle. Also, if you're looking for a manual, you won't find it. The product overview page refers you to check out the manual online at www.antec.com/manuals. I actually like the idea of eliminating a hard copy user's guide as this cuts down on costs for both the manufacturer and the user while reducing the use of paper. The minor inconvenience of checking it out online is worth it. Also worth noting is the absence of an included power supply.

 

 

Closer Look:

The Skeleton is an open air case that sports a sleek, metallic silver frame that provides awesome airflow.  A dual layered component tray houses the motherboard on its top level while holding the 5.25" drives, PSU, and hard drives on the lower level. The component tray slides out and away from the frame for access to system parts. You will be able to install two 5.25" devices and two 3.5" hard drives below the motherboard. The optional hard drive mounts provide flexibility for up to four more hard drives installed on the exterior of the component tray.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Side panels are found on the lower level of the component tray. While installed, they provide excellent airflow due to their large grilled mesh design. And if you need access to the power supply, hard drives, or opticals, the side panels offer quick release tabs to minimize hassles.

 

 

Closer Look:

The case has a gigantic 250mm that has several different settings you can choose and I've listed them below for you. Fan speed is selectable by a three position, toggle switch while the LED color option is chosen by a push button switch. Labeled the "Super Big Boy", this fan moves a ton of air. At the low setting, it operates very quietly while the medium setting is barely audible. After cranking it up to high, the fan makes a low hum but pushes a large volume of air throughout your system. The lights default to alternating and you must cycle through the colors to reach your desired choice.

Fan Speed

LED Colors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Antec Skeleton's front panel provides a reset switch, Firewire port, two USB ports, an eSATA port, audio jacks, and a power on/off button. After installation of the motherboard, it became obvious that the cables provided for these ports are painfully short. This is probably the biggest problem with the Skeleton. The power switch cable in particular is very short and would only let me slide the component tray out a couple of inches with it installed on the motherboard. If you want to slide out the motherboard tray and swap out any component, you will need to remove the front panel connectors from the motherboard and reinstall them when you are finished. Ouch. The issue seems like an easy fix and something that I hope Antec resolves since providing longer cables would allow you to fully extend the component tray with the front panel connectors still hooked up and provide more leeway for cable management. As it is now, there is no way to run these cables out of sight along the frame of the Skeleton, if so desired, since they are so short.

 

 

Installation of system components went smoothly. The quick release tabs provided for the drive bays work as advertised. Motherboard and memory installation proved to be very easy. Videocard installation raised an issue with the clear plastic bar that is provided to secure expansion slots in place. You will need to remove this bar in order to install any expansion slots (ex: videocards, sound cards, etc), then reinstall the bar to provide stability for your cards. It seems a bit tedious but not necessarily a deal breaker.

 

Specifications:

Case Type
Open Case Design
Case Material
.08mm steel
Motherboard Support
12" x 9.6" (ATX)
9.6" x 9.6" (Micro ATX)
Motherboard Tray Removeable
5.25" Drive Bay
2 Quick Release Bays
Internal 3.5" Drive Bay
2 Quick Release Bays
External 3.5" Drive Bay
4 External Side Mounted
Expansion Slots
8
Front I/O Ports
USB 2.0 x 2
HD Audio
Cooling System
- Front (intake) :
92mm
- Top (intake) :
250 mm three speed multi LED
Power Supply Supported
Standard ATX
Power Supply Included
No
Dimensions (H*W*D)
13 x 14.8 x 16.5 in (H x W x D)
33.02 x 37.6 x 41.9 cm
Net Weight
15.5 lb
7kg
Warranty
3 Years

 

Features:

 

Testing:

To test the Antec Skeleton, I will be running a series of temperature tests in order to find maximum temperatures during an idle state and under load. The temperatures collected will be from the CPU, the video card, the hard drive, and the chipset of the motherboard. To simulate an idle state the computer will sit for 30 minutes while making sure nothing is running (except what loads with Windows) and then temperature readings will be recorded. For a load environment, I will run Prime 95, HDTune, and 3DMark Vantage simultaneously for one hour.

Temperatures readings will be recorded at that time. To gather the temperatures I will use Real Temp 2.7 for the CPU, Easy Tune 5 Pro for the chipset/system, HD Tune for the hard drive, and Catalyst Control Center 8.10 for the video card. Cooling for the cases will only be the stock cooling that came with the cases, no fans will be added and the CPU cooler will be the stock Intel cooler that came with the CPU. I will be comparing the Antec Skeleton to Danger Den's Torture Rack to get an idea of where it stands against another open air chassis. The same hardware was used in each case for accurate numbers and to alleviate the possibility of contamination of the scores by different hardware.

 

Comparison Cases:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Skeleton edges out the Torture Rack in every test.  Since both are in the same open air environment, I would imagine the 250mm fan provides the advantage in this case. 

Conclusion:

The Antec Skeleton is another innovative case by one of the leading case manufacturers on the market. Providing outstanding airflow and performance, this case is aimed at those who crave attention for their high end system and desire easier access to components.  It is another alternative in the endless sea of computer cases available to consumers and does a great job of taking a different path.  The Skeleton is one of those products that you either love or hate since it is made for a niche market.  While the case is open air, that doesn't mean system components are vulnerable. I found the frame to be quite protective of the system.       

As with all products, perfection remains elusive.  The obvious issue here is the open air nature of this case, which presents a risk for children or pets within the computer environment. Steps should be taken to avoid accidents when using this type of case. Also, there were a couple of problems that revealed themselves during installation. The front panel connectors are definitely too short and it becomes a pain to reinstall them after every component swap.  I could live with removing and reinstalling the expansion slot retention bar every time I wanted to swap parts but having to pull out every front panel connector and then reinstall them is too much.  I would suggest getting rid of the moveable component tray and implementing a way to remove the 250mm fan in order to access the motherboard.  In addition to these issues, the 92mm hard drive fan should add more connection options.

Overall, I was impressed with this case. Build quality is excellent and it really makes a statement without being outrageous. During testing, the case performed better than the Torture Rack and looked good doing it.  Hopefully the cable length issue gets resolved in future releases.  With its innovative form and function, the Antec Skeleton should definitely be high on your list if you are on the market for a new chassis.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: