Mid-Tower Round-Up: Antec, Corsair, NZXT, Thermaltake
It could be said that each of the premium cases we're going to look at here, should appeal to someone. First we'll step through their features and specs and then take you through design, build quality, installation and performance.
Antec Eleven Hundred -
We start our roundup with a look at the Antec Eleven Hundred. Antec bills the Eleven Hundred as its new flagship for mainstream gaming and it’s easy to see why. In addition to good looks, the case has plenty of nice features that gamers (or anyone else) will appreciate when putting together a system.
There are, however, few extras that come with the case--just a brief owner’s manual, tool-less rails for mounting drives, requisite screws, and some zip ties.
|11 drive bays:
3 x 5.25" tool-less drive bays
2 x 2.5" drive bays (dedicated)
6 x 3.5" tool-less drive bays (rail-mount design)
XL-ATX [13.6" x 10.3" (345 mm x 262 mm)]
Expansion slots: 9
Maximum graphics card size: 13.0" (330 mm)
Maximum CPU cooler height: 6.7" (170 mm)
Perforated, quick-release front bezel
PSU intake & front air filters
Enlarged CPU cutout
|Fan power hub:
Allows you to connect four 3-pin fans to a single Molex for improved cable management
1 x 200 mm blue LED top fan
1 x 120 mm rear fan
1 x 120 mm intake fan behind motherboard for CPU cooling (optional)
2 x 120 mm internal intake fans (optional)
2 x 120 mm front intake fans (optional)
2 x 120 mm side panel fans to cool graphic cards (optional)
Water cooling support: rear water cooling grommets
Front I/O ports:
2 x USB 3.0 with internal motherboard connector
2 x USB 2.0
Unit Dimensions: 20.7" (H) x 9.3" (W) x 21.5" (D)
Net Weight: 20.0 lbs / 9.0 kg
Gross Weight: 24.3 lbs / 11.0 kg
As you can see from the above specs, the Eleven Hundred is accommodating and versatile, with 9 expansion slots, 11 drive bays, and the ability to house everything from mini-ATX up to XL-ATX motherboards, as well as grommets for a water cooling setup.
Those expansion slots allow for up to three-way or four-way SLI or CrossFireX, and the drive bays include a trio of 5.25-inch bays, a half-dozen 3.5-inch bays, and a pair of dedicated 2.5-inch bays for your dual-SSD setup. The case does not come with a 3.5-to-2.5-inch conversion kit, so two 2.5-inch drives are your limit with some rigging.
The Eleven Hundred is sufficiently deep, too, so you can slap on a CPU cooler that is up to 6.7 inches in height before you run into trouble with the side panels. Although there are a variety of options for fan configurations, including one on the side panel behind the motherboard tray, the case comes with but two--a 200mm top fan (equipped with blue LEDs that you can switch on or off) and a 120mm back panel fan. For what it’s worth, those two fans are impressively quiet, emitting a barely audible hum; our CPU cooler’s dual fans were far louder in fact.
The fan power hub allows you to connect up to four fans to a single Molex connector. The connector is located at the very top and back of the case, which is an excellent location for cable management but a rotten place for actually trying to connect something. If you have adult-sized fingers, you’re going to have to work at plugging your fans in.
The outside of the Eleven Hundred is a satiny black finish highlighted by a large, clear plastic pane that dominates roughly two-thirds of the side panel. The panel, combined with an overall grill design on the front and back and the fan grills, allows you to really see the system components well. (You can also mount a pair of 120mm fans on the clear portion of the panel.)
The front of the case is pretty much what you’d expect: a large grill with an I/O panel at the top, which includes two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, and audio in/out ports. The back features the same grill design as well as spaces for the expansion slots, the motherboard I/O panel, and PSU. The fan switches are also located at the back of the case.
Although the Eleven Hundred’s construction is mostly very solid, the top and bottom leave something to be desired. The bottom has a removable PSU intake filter with a flimsy plastic frame that makes it a little hard to unwedge and remove. The top-mounted power and reset buttons are not very well built though. Every time you press them, the whole top bends--loudly--and the power button actually got stuck in the depressed position once or twice during testing.
Antec did some nice work on the interior of the Eleven Hundred. The black metal-finish interior has a subdued special OPS sort of look, there are ample rubber-rimmed grommets for all the cable routing you need, and the 36mm of room behind the motherboard tray feels spacious.
Not everything is perfect, though. Although it’s not a huge deal, the front grill covers are a pain to remove, and our optical drive wouldn’t fit properly without a good deal of jiggling. (Once it was slid into place, it was held there securely, however.) Additionally, the PSU mount is rather far from the motherboard, so cable length may be an issue, depending on what you’re trying to route where.
The Antec Eleven Hundred ($129.95) is a good all-around case with plenty of pros to outweigh the cons. We aren’t thrilled with some of the flimsy construction we spotted, but overall this case’s features are excellent.