With heat output from recent components rising at a rapid rate (kentsfield and x1950 I'm looking at you) both gamers and overclockers alike are searching for the "coolest" case, both appearance and cooling wise. Antec seeks to solve this problem with the Nine Hundred "advanced gaming case" stuffed with up to FIVE 120MM FANS and a mammoth 200MM FAN at the top. Sounds pretty good, right?
Lets look at the case:
It comes in a nice black box with the typical Antec styling
This case is made of steel, very sturdy construction, but also very heavy. I didn't get a chance to weigh it but it dwarfs my previous kingwin kt424 (PC65 knockoff) and super lanboy.
First area of interest being the "mesh" front panel of NINE 5.25" drive bays and TWO 120MM fans. Both of these fans are blue LED "trispeed" fans by Antec rated for 79/56/39cfm at 30/28/25dba.
Where's the power switch? Right here!
Looking at the top we have the power and reset buttons, firewire, audio, and USB. There is also a tray for MP3 players, cameras, flash drives, etc to be stored. Looking back further we see the spotlight of the case, the massive 200MM blow hole. Rated for a very impressive 134/108/83fm at 30/28/24dba with a max power draw of 3.6w (.3A) at 12 volts, this is a real jaw dropper. This fan is also a "tricool" allowing you to switch fan speeds on the fly.
The side panel features a small window and a 120mm intake with more mesh. Fan snaps into place easily. I chose a Yate Loon D12SL-12 for this as Antec does not include one. Also note that this window feels very flimsy and crackles when you hold the side by the windowed part.
Included are all the screws you need, a manual, a rubber "floor" for the top tray, and a 5.25" -> 3.5" converter
Inside shot of the beast
The dual LED intakes along with the two 3x 5.25" -> 3x 3.5" converters
One of the HDD converter bays along with the "wind tunnel" adapter allowing you to add ANOTHER 120mm fan (I chose another YL DS12SL-12) in lieu of putting drives in the bay to blow directly over your video cards. As you can see the front intake fan and mesh grills are attached to the HDD bays, so much for putting a radiator in the front.
First thing to PISS ME OFF was this:
I don't know what retard decided it would be a good idea to make it so you have to put screws through a hole down 3/4 an inch then screw them in, but Antec needs to fire him ASAP. Luckily I use a magnetic screw driver so it wasn't THAT bad but if you don't have a magnetic screw driver, be prepared for a nightmare.
Next there's the little 5.25" -> 3.5" external bay converter. I decided to use my fan bus. As you can see IT'S TO WIDE FOR MY FAN BUS. I can not screw both sides in. It uses the same "put screws through a hole into another hole" thing like the HDDs. Even with my magnetic screw driver this was hell. I ended up throwing the thing at the wall and giving up.
Now the next problem, WIRING. Obviously with the PSU on the bottom this won't be fun. A picture is worth more than a thousand words in this case so I'll just give you one instead of talking.
HDDs were hard to wire, hiding anything is impossible, and everything is super cramped. I'd never use this case again without a modular PSU. Antec apparently missed the note that putting space between the back of the mobo tray and the case wall to hide unneeded wires.
Water cooling? DIDN'T THINK SO!
Good luck hanging a radiator off the back. No room between fan screws and the side of the case.
Sitting on my desk ready to rock...
BUILD TIME: Took me over 3 hours to build. Very annoying case to work with.
NOISE: With Antecs impressive "30dba" specs on high speed, I expected a quiet case. Especially considering I consider my DS12SL-12s "dead silent" and they're rated 28dba. WRONG. I was greeted with a very loud and deep WOOOOSH sound. I'd put the sound level on par with a 48dba delta, just not as high pitched or annoying. And that was BEFORE my 7900GTX coolers kicked in. After turning all the 120MM tri cools down to "low" and the 200MM to "medium" and booting into windows so that the nvidia drivers would spin down the cards, it was quiet. I'm not much of a silent freak, I've run 3x 48dba deltas in an open case before, 2 at 12v and 1 at 7v, but I'd say this is pretty quiet. If you're an absolute nut about noise you might want to look elsewhere though.
For reference I'm running 11 fans:
3x Antec tricool @ "low"
1x Antec tricool 200MM @ "medium"
2x Yate Loon DS12SL-12 @ 12v
AMD stock fan
2x Nvidia 7900GTX coolers
Foxconn C51XEM2AA stock cooler
OCZ 700 watt gameXstream PSU
Conclusion: This case sucks. Easily the WORST CASE I HAVE EVER WORKED WITH. Between the nightmare drive bays, the cable routing hell, 3hr+ build time, and all the other annoyances I can safely say I'd never buy, use, or recommend this case under any circumstances even though the cooling IS AMAZING. As far as a FRUSTRATION FACTOR I'd give this a 10/10 in that category.
Cooling: Airflow through the case is superb. The 200mm fan really helps to keep the the mobo cool while the 120mm "wind tunnel" and 120mm side intake keep your graphics cards nice and chilly, great for SLI. My GTOs temps are slightly better now than they were sitting on my desk with a 130cfm delta @ 7v blowing over them! 10/10 for cooling.
Aesthetics: With a sleek black appearance, an all mesh front, blue LED fans, and a 200mm blow hole, this thing SCREAMS badass. The tacky side window/fan combo, stupid looking "tray" at the top, and lack of ANY way to route wires kill anything the case had going for it though. 4/10.
Value: Well it's a case, you can put a computer in it, it keeps that computer VERY cool. I guess that scores it some points. I picked this case up for $98 dollars at Provantage.com (great site) and for 98 dollars, I was expecting something that I wouldn't have to throw across the room in anger. If you can put up with the long list of flaws it may or may not be worth the price tag. 6/10.
Final score: 20/30 - 10/10 frustration factor = 10/30 or 33%. Come on Antec, I do better than that on math tests. Bottom line is this case has great potential but Antec dropped the ball. If they made a new revision that was longer so that the damn drives didn't cramp and wider with room behind mobo tray for wire managment, maybe it would be good. In it's current state, the Antec Nine Hundred is "meh" at best.