Antec PLUS1080AMG SOHO File Server Tower Review
Reviewed by: Bosco
Reviewed on: December 7, 2002
Price: $210 USD
Are you tired of your old, cramped, beige-coloured case? Does it have trouble keeping your system's components from becoming baked silicon? Do you dream about having a big, flashy server case that performs as well as it looks? Is your next idea of case improvement a roomy suit of armor that is heavier than it sounds? I can't guarantee the armor, but Antec's PLUS1080AMG SOHO File Server Tower should satisfy both your medieval dreams and computer temperature and real-estate requirements!
Antec needs no introduction, but if you're a newcomer to the computer world, do make note that they are one of the most popular power supply, case and cooling product manufacturers out there, rivalling with other brand names like Enermax.
Not too long ago Antec started to produce their cases in a very special colour, dubbed "Antec Metallic Gray", or AMG. What's "different" about this colour is that there are practically no drives of any kind that are manufactured under this colour, so as a result, those who want to have a uniform-coloured front will be a little bit disappointed. On the other hand, however, the AMG is a nice balance between beige and black, and as such both black and white drives look nice on it, without the sudden black and white contrast.
The case comes packaged in a very nice-looking box. Everything you need to know is on the box, so with the exception of actually trying it out, you wouldn't need to crack open the box to identify its features.
The AMG colour stands out boldly, and from these photos you can gather an intimidating feeling just from the case itself, unmodded, but imagine the countless possibilities that can come from some aspiring dremel-carrying individuals!
The front panel can be locked, but only to keep curious young ones from removing drives or pushing the buttons. Don't expect it to fend off a determined thief.
At the back of the case, you can see that it includes an I/O shield of its own, but you can always replace it with the one that came with your motherboard, if necessary.
Antec has even included a standard 80mm fan on the side panel, knowing that the majority of its users are often computer enthusiasts who will crank out as much juice as they can from their CPUs, and this means alot of cooling will be needed... but there's always water cooling!
The side panel can also be locked, but the for same reasons as stated above for the front panel. This is especially important since you don't want unsuspecting hands alluvasudden ripping cables apart and getting throughly zapped in the process.
Here we get to see the inside of the case, and while it has no removable motherboard tray, the amount of internal room available here should be more than enough for you to fit everything in.
Installing extra case fans in this case is a breeze. All you have to do is place the fan into the snap-in fan holder, and you're set. No more messing around with screws!
They may be black, but the side panel has no window in the first place! Two powerful exhaust fans await their task.
Here we see the removable drive bays. The lower one includes another fan bracket, so you can install another intake fan here, if you so desire.
Finally, all the motherboard cables. Apart from your standard Power and Reset switches, you also have the Power and HDD LEDs, as well as the PC Speaker cable. This case also includes two additional LEDs, labelled I and II, respectively, and have no pre-determined use, so you can use them however you please.
The USB and FireWire cables are split individually. While this will make installation a little bit more difficult, it's good that they did that because some motherboards have do not follow the common order of pin layouts, and having individual plugs can alleviate this problem.
Closer Look (Continued)
For showing your dedication to Antec they have included a case badge, for all you rank collectors out there!
The Antec logo at the front of the case is actually a small panel that conceals two very useful features: USB and FireWire. I've used my front USB alot on my current case and I can't stress how good it is not having to reach back behind your case just to get something plugged in!
Looking inside the front panel, we find the Power and Reset switches, as well as the 4 LEDs.
This case uses drive rails to install the 5.25" devices, and this method of installation allows for easy insertion and removal of devices, without having to open the other side of the case.
What's also included in this case is a washable air filter. While it will disrupt the airflow a bit, I think it's an acceptable trade off, knowing that you won't have large amounts of hair and lint being blown into your case. Also notice that at the bottom of the case there are 4 plastic "feet" that can be turned out to the side, giving the case further support for its high center of gravity.
And here it is, the case with a beige CD drive installed. While the colours don't match, it's certainly a nice balance of contrast, as compared to a beige drive on a black case, and vice versa.
The Power Supply
Finally, Antec includes with this case their own "TruePower" series of switching power supplies. Sporting a dual fan configuration, as well as "silent" capabilities, it's obvious that this is a direct competitor to Enermax. While I am unable to test the power supply as of writing this review, be sure to check back sometime as I will update this review with some Motherboard Monitor screenshots of how stable the power supply voltages are.
This power supply includes 1 ATX connector, 1 ATX12V connector, 1 AUX connector, a 3-pin fan RPM monitor plug, 3 floppy drive connectors, and 7 (that's SEVEN) 4-pin peripheral connectors! Ending the set are special 8th and 9th "FAN ONLY" connectors. These connectors can also supply 12 volts to your fans, but the voltage is controlled by the power supply, depending on how hot the system is, as well as the current load on the system. This means you can get a good compromise between cooling performance and noise output.
One thing that the photos do not show here, is the weight of the case. The thing's as heavy as a 15" CRT monitor, and that's when it's empty! If you intend to carry this case to LAN parties often, then be prepared for major back problems later on in life. I think it's obvious that this case is not meant to be carried around alot, and should be given a spot that it can occupy for an extended period of time. By the same token, you can be sure that no single person can easily hijack this case and run off with it either.
While I am a advocate of light cases, a heavy case can also garner the attention of many other computer users. You can be sure that a simple kick won't budge the case, and the material is alot stronger than aluminum. The metallic gray colour is a nice alternative to pure beige and pure black cases, and allows a nice contrast balance to unmatching colours on your drives, unlike the sharp difference between white and black. Its 4 fan layout allows for a very well structured airflow, and you can be sure that your CPU and other peripheral cards are getting the cooling that they need. While it has no removable motherboard try, the sheer amount of room you have to work with justifies this absence.
Your budget should be considered if you plan on purchasing this case, however. Even though it includes a high quality 430W power supply, at a price of $250CAD you are still paying quite alot for a computer case. But know that if you do make such a purchase, you can be assured that your investment will go a very long way.
Overall, if you're on the lookout for a new case for your server that can last you years, give the PLUS1080AMG a look. It may be the case that you're looking for.