Monday, 30 December 2013

Antec One Review

Today I have for you the One, a mid-tower computer case from Antec that has a very affordable price and a ton of features to boot. If you don't know Antec very well here's a bit of their history:
"Antec, Inc. is the global leader in high-performance computer components and accessories for the gaming, PC upgrade and Do-It-Yourself markets. Founded in 1986, Antec is recognized as a pioneer in the industry and has maintained its position as a worldwide market leader and international provider of quiet, efficient and innovative products. Antec has also achieved great success in the distribution channel, meeting the demands of quality-conscious system builders, VARs and integrators"

Antec has packed the One in a simple brown cardboard box, certainly not the prettiest thing ever, but it does the job of securing the case pretty well. At least there's a ton of info on the back of the box and a picture of the case on the front.
Once you open the cardboard box you will find your typical mounting screws, 2x zip-ties, 10x 3.5'' hard-drive clips, 1x USB converter and a small piece of paper with some info regarding the product you just bought. It's certainly not the greatest bundle out there, the lack of a paper manual (digital version available in Antec's website) is something that really hurts the One as I see this case being the choice for many first-time system builders.

Dimensions-wise the One is compact and light-weight, with a height of 241mm and a width of 463mm it can handle tall CPU coolers (up to 155mm) which is great news, especially when you consider that all around the case there are a decent number of cooling solutions that will work in tandem with that CPU cooler.
While Antec did a great job in making the One look like an expensive case, once you lift it you will quickly realize that compromises in terms of construction quality had to be made, the thin steel on both side panels is a sign of just that.
Another problem we had with the One was the very easy to ruin paint job, it certainly looks good but attention is required when assembling your machine in order to avoid any sort of scratches both on the outside and inside of the case.

Taking a quick look at the front of the case reveals 3x 5.25'' bays, your power and reset buttons and not only your typical 3.5mm audio inputs but also 2x USB 3.0 ports. Below the 5.25'' bays, hidden behind the perforated mesh that makes up much of the front panel there is also enough room for 1x 120mm intake fan, unfortunately no fan or dust filter is included.
Turning the case around and looking at the side panels we can see that both sides are extruded, this is always a welcome addition as it allows more room for basic cable management and taller CPU coolers. The left side also has room to add another 120mm fan. Aside from those two features there is little to see in both side panels as they are pretty basic.
The One's top panel much like the sides is plain, having only room for 1x 120mm exhaust fan right over where your CPU cooler should be, the fan comes installed right out of the box, at this price point that is something nice to see.
The bottom panel reveals yet another spot for 1x 120mm or 140mm intake fan and still no dust filter is included, if you plan on using this spot for intaking cool air get ready for some regular cleaning. At least the PSU intake is protected by a small dust filter that is also easy to remove and clean. The four tall feet ensure constant cool air is available for your PSU and intake fan.
The back of the case is pretty standard, from top to bottom you can see 1x 120mm exhaust fan (included), 7x expansion slots (1 reusable), 2x water-cooling grommets and finally the space for your power supply. Particularly the non-reusable expansion slot covers is something that we would like to see fixed in future iterations of the One.

Removing the side panels (thumbscrews) and examining the interior of the One we find plenty of room for cable management on the back of the motherboard tray thanks to the aforementioned extruded side panel, this is great as it allows you to have a clean looking case while also improving the much needed airflow. The motherboard also has almost all the necessary holes (not rubberized) that allow smooth cable routing and one big CPU cutout that will definitely save you some time when changing CPU coolers, unfortunately no hole for the 8-pin cable is present.
The Antec One has enough room for you to install up to 5x 3.5'' and 2x 2.5'' drives, much like the 3x 5.25'' bays at the top of the case the installation method is tool-free (except the 2.5'' drive at the bottom of the case).
While it's not possible to remove the hard-drive cage to gain a bit more space, you can still fit graphic cards up to 266mm which should be enough for most builds.

Final Thoughts
The One is primarily aimed towards system builders on a tight budget or first-time builders who want an affordable case where they can conduct their "experiments". The One's discreet visual design is something that many buyers will certainly appreciate. On top of all that, the number of features and (air)cooling solutions available for this case is something that manufacturers sometimes forget to include, while it is a budget case and it certainly shows in some areas, it does not mean that in the future consumers won't try to upgrade their machine while keeping the case.

The Good
+Affordable ($50-60)
+Air cooling solutions
+Easy cable routing
+2 fans included
+Looks great

The Bad
-Flimsy side-panels
-Lack of space for 8-pin cable
-No intake fans included
-Expansion slot covers not reusable
-Lack of dust filters for intake fans

Thanks to Antec for providing the review sample