There are two HDD seats in this system case: in the center of the bottom panel, and on the top side of the metallic plate that separates the compartments (instead of a 5-inch device).
The HDDs are installed on special trays. And you attach them to the trays using soft damping pads on long screws: Antec prevents vibrations even in compact system cases.
If you limit yourself to one HDD at the bottom of the case and want to install two devices into the 5-inch bays or install a card-reader into the appropriate bay, you have to remove the front panel. Unfortunately, you have to tear the brackets off while the front vent holes have no protection against dust.
The devices in the 5-inch bays are fastened with screws – there is too little room in there for rails or anything. You also use screws for fastening the mainboard and expansion cards. Antec remains conservative on this matter, using time-tested solutions only.
It is always less convenient to assemble a PC in a compact system case. Here the task is even more difficult because the interior is divided into two compartments. I would recommend you the following sequence of steps (for a system with two HDDs):
- Connect the interface cables to the HDDs, attach them to the mounting trays and install into the system case.
- Pull all the cables from the top into the bottom compartment (except for the power cables necessary for the top-compartment devices). Note that the power cables must go through the side hole. The interface cables of the drives must go to the mainboard through the slit in the horizontal plate (but if you’ve got only SATA devices, you may want to use the side hole again and close the mentioned slit altogether).
- Install and connect your optical drive into the top 5-inch bay. Grip the cables in the side hole with the plastic cover.
- Carry your mainboard with the CPU and cooler into the system case. You should first put the bottom edge of the mainboard behind the HDD and then put the top part of the mainboard in.
- Fasten the mainboard, install expansion cards, attach and lay all the cables.
There are two problems you can’t avoid, both related to the HDDs. The bottom HDD is getting in your way when you are installing the mainboard, and it is very difficult to remove or install it with the mainboard already in place – it is hard to access the farther screws. The HDD also blocks the bottom PCI slot while a microATX system has very few expansion slots to start with. As for the top HDD, it occupies one of the two available 5-inch bays and provokes problems when you try to connect the cables. You’ll have to remove the optical drive above in order to access this HDD when the system is assembled. Moreover, if you want to install the bottom HDD and an advanced graphics card with a dual-slot cooler, you’d better choose a mainboard where the PCI Express x16 slot goes first rather than second as in the photos above: this will leave a gap between the HDD and the graphics card, providing enough air to the latter.
Take note of the small distance between the back panel of the optical drive and the PSU. And I use a shortened (170mm) drive. If you have a longer model, it is going to be difficult to connect the power plug into a 180mm one and there won’t be enough room for the cables. A 190mm drive won’t fit in altogether.
The Antec EarthWatts EA-380 power supply this system case comes with was the biggest problem, though. Judging by its short cables, the PSU was specifically trimmed to fit the system case, but the developer overdid it a little. I just could not reach the mainboard with the 24-pin connector. The cable would be too short even if the connector were in the mainboard’s top corner. Theoretically, this cable might go through the bottom rather than side slit but the slit is too narrow. The connector’s key prevented it from going through. And I didn’t want to cut the key off. As a result, I solved the problem by means of a 10cm extension cord, yet I was really disappointed.