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Maximum PC Staff Feb 03, 2009

Antec Skeleton

At A Glance

Manny Calavera

Innovative design, easy and intuitive installation. Big, beautiful fan. Good test bench.

Skeleton Crew

Strangely cramped for such an open design. Not good for the clumsy.

We have to give Antec points for bucking the mainstream: The Skeleton is a seriously cool-looking case. The motherboard rests horizontally, so the case’s footprint is much wider than that of a standard tower chassis, but it’s also shorter. The open design and sliding component tray make it easy to swap parts in and out, and installation is quick and relatively painless. The Super Big Boy LED fan, which truly is both super and big, dominates the top of the case, keeping air moving over all your components, and the open design ensures that there’s plenty of airflow. A smaller fan mounts in front of the hard drive bay for additional cooling.

Removing two spring-loaded thumbscrews lets you slide out the component tray about three quarters of the way, providing easy access to the motherboard as well as the optical and hard drives. The side panels remove easily, and there’s a sliding bay for the power supply. But screwless this case ain’t. Your Phillips head screwdriver will be a constant companion.

The open design offers no protection against liquids, pets, children, or Chex Mix. The squat proportions also work against it—there are only two 5.25-inch and two 3.5-inch bays under the motherboard, so any additional hard drives need to be mounted outside of the case, for which Antec provides four brackets. And given the open-frame design, there aren’t many solutions for elegant cable routing. We had to do some finessing to connect all our parts.

Depending on your motherboard’s layout, you may have issues with the front-panel connectors; the HD Audio ports are in the rear of our EVGA 680i board, and the Skeleton’s front-panel audio wires barely reached them. And watch out for your CPU cooler—anything more than about four inches tall will bump up against the fan cowl and prevent you from moving the tray in and out, so avoid any of the monstrously huge coolers that are so popular these days. Stock fans will work fine, and fortunately, so will our current favorite cooler, the Thermaltake DuOrb. Due to the space constraints, any water-cooling setup will have to use an external reservoir—since the Skeleton has only two 5.25-inch bays, it’s impossible to mount one internally.

Still, we love the design and portability of the Skeleton. It’s especially useful for testers and other people who, like us, swap hardware frequently. If you have plenty of desk space and don’t need to worry about errant liquids or hairballs, the Skeleton could be the bold, new case you’ve been looking for.

THE VERDICT

Antec Skeleton

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