Articles: Cases/PSU
 

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Like in many other of its products, Antec experiments with HDD installation. Instead of a standard rack with horizontal bays, there is a two-storied bay for four HDDs – two vertically placed HDDs on each level.

Coupled with the lack of a front fan, this design helped make the HDD rack smaller, leaving more space for expansion cards. The Sonata IV can accommodate any modern single-GPU graphics card (as for dual-GPU ones, I doubt that a hardcore gamer will condescend to a system case that has only one fan for cooling).

Each HDD is installed using a pair of steel rails with vibration-absorbing silicone pads. The rails are fixed with thumbscrews.

The mounting screws are inserted into the silicone pads and are limited in their depth (their non-threaded part is larger than the threaded one). The more expensive models of the Performance One series lack this limiter.

The only downside is that the silicone pads are prone to rupture in the middle, which is their slimmest point, after a few uses. This doesn’t reduce their functionality, but you have to spend more effort fastening the screws then.

HDDs can only be installed in one position. There is not enough space to turn them around so that their connectors faced the farther side panel.

Here is how Antec has made the Sonata IV compatible with 2.5-inch drives, particularly SSDs. The 2.5-inch device is fastened to the partition between the HDD bays and the mainboard compartment. If you want to put a 3.5-inch HDD into the top part of the same bay, you have to install your 2.5-inch device first. Otherwise, you won’t be able to secure it with screws.

There is a large vent grid in the farther side panel opposite the HDD rack. It’s covered with a perforated dust filter in a plastic frame. This, and the single exhaust fan at the back panel, is the only thing the Sonata IV can offer in the way of ventilation.

The vent openings in the HDD rack are right against that vent grid, so you won’t be able to route your cables into the space behind the mainboard's mounting plate through them.

The lack of active cooling for HDDs gives me a cause for apprehensions. Will the single fan be able to ensure a strong air flow? Of course, it is helped by the coolers of the CPU, graphics card and power supply unit which all contribute to exhausting the hot air out of the system case, increasing the draught through the vent holes in the HDD rack, but will this be enough? Although the air flow configuration is optimized for higher intensity in the HDD area and there are large gaps between the installed HDDs, I still have my apprehensions which can only be proved or refuted by practical tests.

 

Except for the unconventional HDD rack, the Antec Sonata IV is designed in a classic way. It’s got a top PSU bay and supports up to seven expansion cards.

 

There is no CPU cooler cutout in the mainboard’s mounting plate but behind it you can find some space to hide cables in. It is quite easy to assemble a computer configuration in the Sonata IV but the assembled system doesn’t look neat and tidy because of the HDD cables which cannot be hidden anywhere.

The Sonata IV is cooled with a 120mm fan installed on the back panel. The fan features Antec’s exclusive 3-speed regulation system TriCool.

The speed controller is located below the fan on the back panel. According to my measurements, the fan rotates at 1080, 1600 and 2030 RPM in the low, medium and high-speed mode, respectively. The fan is almost silent at the minimum speed, audible at the medium speed and downright loud in the high-speed mode. I could also hear some aerodynamic noise from the HDD rack area in the medium and high-speed modes.

It must also be noted that the noise of working HDDs (and of other noise-generating components, too) is more distinct and louder in the Sonata IV than in most other system cases. I doubt that noise-insulating padding could do anything about that. If the huge vent grid opposite the HDD rack were covered with something denser than just a dust filter, the HDDs would suffer from overheat.

So, you may want to select quiet HDDs for this system case. CPU and graphics card coolers should also be chosen carefully. The Sonata IV’s own fan should be set at its minimum speed (it’s selected by default) if you want your computer to be as quiet as possible.

 

I guess the assembled Sonata IV looks just splendid. It’s not gaudy, but demure and elegant.

The preinstalled Antec Neo ECO 620C power supply was already covered in our 600-850W PSU roundup, so I will only remind you its basic specs here and focus on its use in this particular system case.

The PSU has a declared wattage of 620 watts and can deliver up to 576 watts across its single +12V rail. It features 80+ certification and offers the following cables and connectors:

  • One mainboard cable with a 20+4-pin connector (55 cm)
  • One mainboard cable with a 4+4-pin connector (63 cm)
  • One graphics card cable with one 6+2-pin and one 6-pin connector (55+13 cm)
  • One cable with three PATA power connectors and one floppy-drive plug (53+15+15+15 cm)
  • One cable with three PATA power connectors (53+15+15 cm)
  • Two cables with three SATA power connectors on each (53+15+15 cm)

This selection of cables and connectors should be sufficient for most PC configurations, but the cables are rather too long for the Sonata IV’s classic chassis design with a top PSU bay. You have to find ways to hide the excess cables in. The PSU worked without any problems during my tests. It was quiet at medium loads produced by my test configuration (but as you can learn from the abovementioned review, it is not going to be quiet at high loads, i.e. with more advanced PC configurations than mine).

Highs:

  • Low noise at minimum fan speed
  • Efficient protection against dust
  • Easy to assemble
  • USB 3.0 support
  • Splendid classic design

Lows:

  • Poor design of the rails for 5.25-inch devices
  • High noise at high fan speed
  • No noise insulation for HDDs
  • Bundled PSU is noisy at high loads
 
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