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This review is from: Antec Sonata Series SOLO II Black Aluminum / Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
Pros: For general-purpose use, this is a great case. It is just the size I wanted: big enough to take a full ATX motherboard, but not much bigger than that.
Many cases designed for quiet have a door that covers all optical drives, so you have to open a big door before inserting or removing a disc. This case has two 5.25" bays exposed, yet the system is still quiet. IMHO this is the perfect compromise between convenience and quiet.
It's a good-looking case, with a piano black finish. The power LED is a cool blue glow around the power button. (I have used some computers that have a really bright blue power LED that lights up the whole room... subdued is better here.)
It has a top-mounted power supply. I prefer this so that the power supply fan can help vent hot air out of the case, so I install the power supply with the fan intake pointed down into the case. But if you mount the power supply the other way, there is a fine mesh grille, so the power supply will still be able to pull in air.
It's big enough inside that it's easy to reach in and work on the computer, and there aren't any exposed sharp metal edges to cut you. The side panel has two captive thumbscrews, so you don't need tools to get into the case and you can't lose the thumbscrews.
Cons: I tried an Asus HD 7950 video card, which takes up three card slot widths, to see how it would fit. There is room on the motherboard to plug in another one next to it, but this case is too small (by only one card width!), so with this case you can't use two HD 7950 cards for SLI gaming. If you are using a video card that is only two slots wide, you should be able to use two.
With three drive bays plus a spot to mount a 2.5" drive, this doesn't have enough storage capacity for extreme storage needs. Don't use this to build a giant file server.
I guess the case is a little bit heavy (it's a sturdy steel case) so it's not optimal for a computer you will move around a lot.
If you put the computer on carpet and then try to slide it around, the little silicone "feet" may come off. This happened to me. I'm considering just removing all four of the feet since the computer will always be on carpet.
You know it's a good case if these are the worst complaints I have about it. It's a good case.
Other Thoughts: I just built a computer for my wife using one of these, and now I want to build another one for myself. In case you are interested, here is the parts list:
Antec Solo II case
AMD FX-8350 processor (8 cores, 4 GHz)
Asus Sabertooth 990FX R2.0 motherboard
Seasonic X650 Gold power supply
Asus HD 6450 video card
Samsung 500 GB SSD MZ-7TD500BW
16 GB of Crucial brand ECC RAM
Arctic Cooling Freezer XTREME Rev.2 heatsink/fan for the processor
The Freezer XTREME heatsink has a 120mm fan, and with the Sabertooth 990FX R2.0 motherboard, this fan is lined up with the case fan of the Solo II. Of course I made sure the heatsink fan was blowing toward the case fan, so warm air from the processor goes smoothly out the case.
My wife isn't a gamer, and the HD 6450 card has plenty of power for desktop effects, yet it has a passive heatsink only, so adds no fan noise.
The motherboard has a USB 3.0 connector so it was easy to hookup the front panel USB ports. The whole hookup was easy.
The computer is very, very quiet, yet fast and smooth. Now I really want one for myself.
This review is from: ZALMAN TBS-1131-01 5.1 / 7.1 Channels USB Interface Audio Advantage SRM
Pros: Very clean audio playback. Works in a wide variety of operating systems, including Mac OS X and Linux. Under Mac OS X and Linux the system detects it and it just works, no driver installation needed, and you can even have more than one installed at the same time. (I have tested under Linux and I have used two for playback at the same time; I don't know how to do that test under Mac OS X.) Records stereo, and even has stereo microphone built in. Very compact size.
Cons: Only minor cons. Under Windows, you are limited to one of these per computer. Under Windows, the driver can get into a mode where it applies sound-level compression to your audio; I wish there was a checkbox in the driver for "Enable pure audio passthrough" to ensure no changes to the audio. Only Windows is an officially supported platform; under Mac OS X or Linux you are on your own.
Other Thoughts: Combine this with some good quality headphones or good quality speakers, and you can have audiophile quality for not very much money.READ FULL REVIEW