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Antec Lifestyle SONATA II Review

When picking the components for Game Freaks 365’s next review PC, I had to decide whether I wanted the case to be silent or deadly, flashy or out of the way. Antec’s Lifestyle Sonata series gave me a little of each. The case is about the same size as a Dell Dimension series case, but rather than being rounded in the front, this case is very boxy. The front panel is square, fitting flush with the rest of the case. A note about the front panel door is that it is double hinged so that you can, as Antec claims, open the door flat against the side of the case. The problem with that theory is that the front of the front panel is not completely flat, so the door cannot flatten itself against the side completely, virtually eliminating the point of the double hinged design.

As for materials, the main chassis is made from steel painted with what they call a “piano black” finish. This gives the case an extremely glossy (and hard to keep clean) look. The front panel is also black, being less glossy because of the fact that it is made of plastic. There are some front panel connectors, two USB 2.0, firewire, a headphone plug and a microphone plug, only standard fare. These are covered by a chrome painted plastic door which slides upward to reveal the jacks. On either side of this you will find a clear plastic lens covering bright blue LEDs which are activated when the system is on.

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There are locks on both the front and side panels to which two keys are included. They work as can be expected without problem. The case is also equipped with rubber bumpers on the bottom of the case, instead of plastic feet like many cases use. The rubber feet hold the chassis in place and help dissipate noise and vibration. Other rubber grommets are included inside the system, on the 3.5” hard drive mounts. Again, they are used to help dissipate noise and vibration, as opposed to metal on metal contact. All four of the removable hard drive mounts in the system have these.

The case has seven rear expansion slots, in addition to three 5.25” optical drive bays and 2 front mounted 3.5” disk drive bays. Included are literally all the screws you could possibly use on this PC ever, even filling it completely, which is a nice reassurance that when all the parts come in, you won’t be in a scramble for screws. There is a ducting system inside the case much like in the Dell Dimension cases (hmm…) designed to give the CPU fan a direct path of air out of the case. This can be a real hassle to get out and put back in, so if you constantly mod or upgrade your PC, you may consider leaving it out (which can be easily done, it is not required by any means). Then again, if you constantly upgrade your PC, you probably have liquid cooling and don’t need this ducting anyway.

On the box, it says “Silence is Beautiful.” I agree, but what does it have to do with this case? Silent is not an adjective I’d describe it with. Sure, if you compared cases which cost less than $100 US, then it may be the most silent, but not completely silent. There is one 120mm fan mounted in the back, with a controller for speeds of low, medium, or high. The sad part is, the loud fans are not controllable. The 120mm fan I mentioned is near silent on any speed, it’s the two PSU fans which are loud. In the manual it says “for maximum quiet computing, leave the 120mm fan on low or medium.” The funny thing is, I can turn it on high and still barely hear it over the PSU fans, which are automatically controlled without user interaction based on system load and temperature. There is also room in the front for a smaller fan to cool your hard drives, through one is not included (and not needed in my experience) Still, once I got the case under a desk in a carpeted room, the sound was barely noticeable, being one of the quietest air cooled PCs I have built.

I have had no trouble at all with the stock PSU, running 1 HDD, 2 optical drives, 1 disk drive, 1 PCIe video card, and an overclocked processor, besides the noise, of course. All in all, getting a great little case for less than $100 with a 450 watt power supply is amazing. Nothing feels cheap or halfway done, and nothing is left out. Another great note is that the PSU included will work with near any mobo or processor, supporting Intel or AMD. That’s what makes Antec’s Lifestyle series one of the best for beginners and experts alike. It’s compatible, dependable, and the price is right.