If you don’t like the blue edge, there are 4 other models. The following colours are available: Icelandic Blue, Fiji Orange, Amazon Green, Champagne Pink and Arctic White, where we’ve received the Icelandic Blue version.
Next up is the backend. Here we have the bundled 500W PSU with an adjustable 3 step 120mm fan. The fact that you’re able to adjust the speeds is a definite plus. Unfortunately Antec has chosen to place the fan controller inside the case, which means you need to dismount the side to adjust the speed. That apart, the 120mm fan is a good choice.
In the right side you see the two finger screws, keeping the left panel in place. These two work ok, and is easy to use. A nice feature is that the screws are of the type that doesn’t fall off, meaning they’re fixed to the side panels. This way, you won’t lose them if you need to take the panel off.
Now it’s time to look inside the case. In the front we’ve got the driveways. In the bottom we see the so called internal bays, where it’s possible to mount 4x3.5” or 3x3.5” drives, in mounts that make the hard drives “hover”.
At the top, the external bays are placed. Here there’s space for 3x5.25” and a single 3.5”. The mounts that makes the drives “hover” is called the “rubber band method”. These are a very good initiative, considering that Antec has tried to make the case as quiet as possible.
Between the front and the lower harddrive bays, it’s possible to install 2 92mm fans, to cool the hot and high performance hard drives like the WD Raptor.
As mentioned earlier, a lot of focus has been put on noise reduction, which we see at the case panels that has been coated with polycarbonate plates.
In my opinion it’s very important that the hardware is easy to install. For people that changes hardware often, it would be annoying if the mounting systems were horrible. At the same time it wouldn’t be as important for someone that only assembles the computer a few times during its lifespan.
The mounting of all the hardware was easy and painless, despite the fact that the back plate cannot be dismounted. One of the main reasons for this is that the end cannot be taken out. Another thing I think is good about the Antec Sonata Designer 500 is the fact that there are no sharp edges inside the case. This means you don’t have to be afraid of cutting yourself, and instead focus on the hardware.
Despite the fact that I only used a small Nvidia 7900GS which fits perfectly in the case, I quickly saw that larger cards like 7900GX2 and the 8800GTX wouldn’t fit because of the small space between the motherboard and harddrive bays.
Besides the mounting I’ve also chosen to focus on the noise and airflow. Starting with the noise levels, I must say that Antec really knows what they’re doing. Main reason for this is the polycarbonate plates on the sides and top. Also, the PSU is fairly low noise which the polycarbonate helps with.
The airflow isn’t as great though in the Antec Sonata Designer 500. A single 120mm fan just isn’t enough and I advise people to use the 2 extra 92mm fan mounts at the front.
Once again we’ve had an innovative and gorgeous product at the test bench from Antec. The Sonata Designer 500 stands out from all the other models, mainly because of the changeable front panels, but also because of the noise reducing polycarbonate.
Another nice feature is the ”rubber band method” which helps reduce hard drive noise. It’s possible that it won’t work if you’re moving the case a lot, but as a normal stationary pc, it’s very nice.
The design is all about taste, but I think the white ”Ipod” colour matches the blue and the aluminium front pretty good.
At the moment the Antec Sonata Designer 500 is available for about 900, - which I think is a fair price, considering how complete and nice the case is. Beside that you also get a 500W PSU, which should be able to feed most hardware.
• Nice design
• Good powersupply
• Very noise reducing
• Changeable front panels
• ”rubber band method” for the hard drives
• No sharp edges inside
• Good quality
• Easy mounting
• Not optimal airflow
• Motherboard tray cannot be dismounted
• Not enough space for bigger graphics cards