Antec Sonata Proto Reviewairman - May 19, 2010
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The case is finished in textured, matte black with a black plastic front bezel. There are vents on the bottom half of the front, and venting on the rear panel to the right of the expansion slots. The handle on the left side panel is opened by compressing it towards the front, and the side panel swings open like a door. I like having doors that swing open since it relieves the user from having to line up 6 or 8 tabs along the top and bottom in order to reattach it. The rear of the case shows us that the power supply is mounted on the top and that there is one 120mm exhaust fan supplied. The right side panel is blank, and riveted in place. The top and the right panel is actually one piece that is folded over to form the edge. This means that the right side is not removable, unless the user wants to take the rivets out, tap the holes, and replace them with screws. This also means that if there was a motherboard access hole in the tray, it would be inaccessible due to the inability to remove the right side.
The top and bottom of the case are rather simple, with no fans nor venting. The bottom of the case has four rubber feet to prevent the case from sliding on hard surfaces. The rubber feet also allow some vibration noise to be damped, which is a main concern with this line of case. The four recessed holes in the bottom towards the front allow for a 2.5" drive to be installed with the supplied screws.
The front door of the case opens over 180 degrees, which is nice because it gets completely of out the way. The front I/O ports include two USB ports as well as a headphone and microphone jack. Although the front of the case is vented, removing the front bezel will expose the fact that there is no fan included, nor a place to install one. There is a dust filter in front of the hard drives though, which is a nice feature to keep them clean. I'm sure a user could squeeze a low profile fan in the front, but from the factory this is not accommodated for. Looking at the rear of the drive bay covers, the tool-less rails for the 5.25" drives can be seen. This feature will be explained on the next page.
As I examined the side panel handle more closely, I snapped a few pictures of how it works. As I stated earlier, the door is released by compressing the handle towards the front. Doing this unhooks the latch that holds onto the inside of the case. Turning the key simply moves a mechanism into position to where the handle cannot be compressed, so it stays locked.
Now that the exterior has been evaluated, I am liking this case so far. I'm not so much of a fan of the lack of a front intake fan, but this accentuates the silent nature of this case. The next page will show the interior of the case as well as all of the working components, and my opinions of how they function.