Antec SkeletonJan 12th, 2009 | By Jared
: 01/12/09 – 02:20:43 AM
Page 1 : Index
Antec is a familiar face here at Overclockers Online and needs no introduction. They have long been a staple for enthusiasts for their hardware needs from power supplies to cases.
When it comes to your computer case, the choices seem to be endless, however when you boil it down most of them are an enclosed rectangle box. Antec has taken a different approach with their latest case, the Skeleton. They have broken out of the 'box' in more ways than one with this latest case. Read on to see if the Skeleton wins you over.
Page 2 : Package
Rather than a large rectangular box the Skeleton comes in a large cube. The front and back of the box gives a partial glimpse of the design of the Skeleton on a black background. The Skeleton motto is adorned on all sides, 'Think beyond the BOX', which the Skeleton design team obviously did.
The side has a shot of the Big Boy fan that dominates the case as you will see later. There is a small picture of the case on the top of the box.
The Skeleton comes packed sandwiched between two soft Styrofoam blocks and packed inside a plastic bag.
Accessories are light and include an instruction manual, warranty statement, pin assignment sheet, hard drive external mounts, cable ties and various screws. The manual is rather light in content and directs you to Antec's website for a more detailed set of instructions.
And finally the small cage fan that is used for cooling the hard drive.
Now let's move on to some specs.
Page 3 : Specifications
I grabbed the specifications and features for the Skeleton straight from Antec's website here.
* 4 Drive Bays
External 2 x 5.25′
Internal 2 x 3.5′
Optional 4 x 3.5′ side panel mounted drive trays
* Layered tray design for greater system integration flexibility
* 8 Expansion Slots with room for 11′ graphics cards and multiple graphic card solutions, including NVIDIA 3-way SLI®
* Cooling System:
1 top 250mm TriCool 3-speed multi color customizable LED Fan
1 front 92mm HD cooling fan
* Motherboard: Supports StandardATX, MicroATX and Mini-ITX motherboards
* Front ports: 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x FireWire (IEEE1394), 1 x eSATA, Audio (AC97' and HDA compatible) In and Out
* Rack mount quality side rails for greater durability
* 0.8mm cold rolled steel component tray and high density ABS frame reinforced with with 0.8mm cold rolled steel for durability
* No Power Supply included: To optimize performance of your Skeleton, your choice of power supply is crucial. Antec strongly recommends choosing from Signature or TruePower series.
* Unit Dimensions:
13′(H) x 14.8′(W) x 16.5′(D)
33 cm(H) x 37.6 cm(W) x 41.9 cm(D)
* Packaging Dimensions:
15.74′(H) x 18.11′(W) x 18.89′(D)
40 cm(H) x 46 cm(W) x 48 cm(D)
* Net Weight: 15.5 lb / 7.02 kg
* Gross Weight: 21.4 lb / 9.7 kg
Page 4 : The Skeleton
The Skeleton is obviously a different monster than most cases. When you are looking at the outside you are also looking at the inside. We can see below the front I/O bar, with 2 USB, 1 IEEE1394, eSATA, mic and headphone ports. The power button is on the right with the reset switch on the left. The 250mm Tri Cool 'Super Big Boy' fan dominates the case and provides almost all of the cooling for the case. The fan has 3 speeds and 9 different LED lighting patterns. In the lower tray is the 2 5.25′ drive bays and 2 3.5′ drive bays.
The Skeleton uses an arch design that can be more readily seen from the side. The top of the arch on the sides are used as handles for moving the case. Running along the back of the case is the PCI support bar made of clear plastic. The lower section is covered on each side by a vented panel that can be removed. Above these vented panels are four slots on either side that are used for mounting hard drives if you require more than the two the chassis holds internally.
In the back you can see that the PCI support bar running across and note there is no place to install the I/O cover for your motherboard. Tucked down below are where the power supply mounts and where the box of accessories is packed for shipping. Now it is time to start taking things apart to see how the Skeleton comes together.
The power supply mounting plate slides out. Notice that the power supply installs sideways. Antec recommends using power supplies that utilize an 80mm fan, since power supplies using 120mm fans do not have a lot of room between for air movement on the top and bottom.
The two lower side panels are easily removed by squeezing two tabs and pulling out. While DVD Roms and hard drives don't require it, there are still holes that allow you to tighten down the devices if you want.
The component tray slides out after loosening up two thumbscrews located to either side of the power supply plate. The tray slides out smoothly on ball bearings, much like you find in high quality drawers. There are three screws that you remove to take out the motherboard tray. Six motherboard standoffs come preinstalled with others included should you need more for your particular motherboard.
And finally the front panel connections. While the wires don't need to be too long, I wish they were a bit longer or utilized a quick release connection so that when sliding the component tray out you wouldn't have to disconnect them from the motherboard.
Ok tour is over, time to install.
Page 5 : Installation
The Skeleton is not your typical case so installation is a bit different. As I mentioned before Antec recommends power supplies using 80mm fans, and here you can see why. Not much room there for this power supply to get fresh air.
Both 3.5′ and 5.25′ drives use little posts that screw into one side and lock in. It's a very simple and secure way to install the drives. Once
installed the drives don't wiggle around at all.
I won't bore you with installing the motherboard, but my first issue came with trying to slide the component tray back in with the Thermalright Ultima90 installed. This is probably the biggest weakness in my opinion of the Skeleton. As you can see there is not much clearance so most of your high performance heatsinks are not going to fit and be able to take advantage of the 250mm fan.
Neat freaks will have their work cut out for them as tidying up and hiding cables is no easy task in the skeleton. Despite the open design, there are some tight spaces you have to work in when routing cables.
Just to give you a visual should you want to install more than 2 hard drives, you will need to mount them outside the chassis on the sides. An interesting idea but this will obviously be another challenge with routing cables.
With the system fully installed my biggest complaint was the small spaces I had to work my hands into for cable routing and management. I know one of the first things some people will say is about it being a dust magnet; however the flip side is that it's incredibly easy to just carry it outside and blow it out without having to remove any panels.
I'll end the picture show with some shots of the 250mm Super Big Boy in action. These are just two of the patterns of the 9 settings available. There are choices of solid colors (red, blue and green) along with some alternating patterns.
Page 6 : Testing
The following system was installed and used to gather temperatures:
CPU: Intel E8400 @ 3.6 Ghz (stock Intel HSF)
MB: Gigabyte P35-DS3R
RAM: G.Skill 2x2GB PC2 6400 PI Black
Video: Biostar 9600GT
PSU: Ultra X3 1000W
HD: WD 250GB SATA
DVD-Rom: Lite-On 18x DVD Burner – SATA
OS: Microsoft Windows XP w SP2
Ambient Temperature: 24-25C
To achieve idle temperatures I allowed the system to sit with no processes running for three hours and recorded the temperatures using Everest Ultimate.
You can see that idle temps are pretty much even across the board aside from GPU temps where the Skeleton edges out the HAF932 by four degrees and basically equals the Spedo when you factor in a one degree variance. Things look pretty good at idle, now to load things up.
Next we'll put the system under load. For load temperatures I ran Orthos blend test while also running 3DMark06 in a loop for 3 hours.
Under load things even out with the GPU while the Skeleton takes a bit of a lead in CPU temps. Chipset temps are equal to the Spedo. You can see the benefits of having the Super Big Boy fan blowing down on the entire motherboard.
Page 7 : Conclusion
I really have mixed feelings about the Skeleton after having it for a bit and testing it. The things I really like about it are the design and thinking beyond the standard box shaped case. The materials are high quality that can be felt when handling the case. The 230mm Super Big Boy fan does its job and keeps your components cool and with a selection of 9 LED lighting settings, it looks good too.
With these positives there are also some things I think the Skeleton could be improved upon. The first is the height of CPU coolers that will fit. The great airflow just begs for some overclocking and the better air coolers out there are just too large to fit. Also with the slide out component tray, the front I/O headers need to either be longer or have some sort of quick disconnect setup so that you don't have to disconnect each one when you slide it out. And finally, for an open design it sure feels cramped working in the lower area or even under the Super Big Boy fan.
Obviously the Skeleton's design is going to be more polarizing than most cases, and should be advertised more as a test bed than a case. With a few changes to help with some functionality the Skeleton is a sure winner in my book, but as it stands now choose carefully before purchasing.
- Good airflow
- Unique design
- Quick to change GPU and Memory
- Use of coolers limited by height
- Cramped spaces
- Open design makes hiding cables difficult
Overclockers Online would like to thank Antec for supplying the Skeleton for review.