Antec has been in the PC enclosure game for quite some time now, putting out gems like the full-tower Twelve Hundred and the Nine Hundred (now on V2), as well as some uniquely designed cases such as the LanBoy Air and Skeleton. They have given us a chance to review their brand new case as it is brought to market: the Antec Eleven Hundred. This case is designed to fill the gap between the mid-tower Nine Hundred V2, and the full-tower Twelve Hundred. Let’s see if its place at the table is a good fit.
Below are the product specifications directly from Antec. You can see one of my favorite items to see on case specifications, maximum graphics card size, has made its way on to this list. Kudos to Antec, as this is a burning question for a lot of users. A point that is missing on here that would be quite helpful to users wanting to purchase this (or any) case is the CPU cooler clearance. If that item is added, a potential buyer can simply look at the specifications when going big with today’s CPU heatsinks.
The Box Itself
Now we can look at the beast, but first let’s see the retail packaging it will come in. You can see Antec spared little expense on the full color graphics on the packaging, which details some of the features this case will provide. As usual, the case is protected in Styrofoam and plastic inside the box, making a secure fit for transport. This specific version came in a plain cardboard box as well as its retail skin. I’m not sure if that is how it would ship from your preferred web vendor, but that is how it arrived at my door.
Looking at the actual case, you can see it has a nice semi gloss black finish all around, with a large Plexiglas window on one side which has the ability to mount two 120 mm fans (optional – suggested as intake). There is a large 200 mm fan on the top with a blue LED (included – exhaust) that looks like the Antec Big Boy. This 200 mm fan is one of the common features shared amongst the Antec Gaming series of cases. On the backside of the case, behind the motherboard, you may notice that it has an opening for another 120 mm fan to blow into the case and onto the motherboard. On the rear of the case you will see the typical setup with a 120 mm fan (included – exhaust), nine expansion slots, two holes with grommets in them for any water cooling apparatus that you may want to install, and of course a space in which to install the PSU (which is filtered).
Next, you can see the Front I/O panel sporting two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a HDD activity light and power LED; on top are the power and reset buttons. One can also see the six 3.5″ tool-less drive bays, two 2.5″ bays, and the three 5.25″ external bays for your Blu-Ray players, card readers, and fan controllers if needed. Lastly, you can see the included accessories and instructions. I really like the specifically formed 2.5″ bays that will house your SSD’s quite nicely without screws (but you can use one to secure it even more) as well as the quick locking mechanism for the 5.25 bays.
Internally, you can see the large cut-out behind the motherboard for easy heatsink installation (read: you do not have to remove the motherboard from the case). You can see in the second picture that there are holes in the motherboard to support up to a XL-ATX sized board and 4 video cards up to 13″ (330 mm) long.
Digging around a bit more inside the case, you can see a few cut-outs with grommets in them which make cable management easier and yields a cleaner look. Like almost all grommets in cases, these seem to suffer from the same problem: they will not stay in place. All too frequently I found myself poking right through trying to route the wires through the holes. It becomes increasingly difficult as more wires and larger connectors try to go through there. Is it too much to ask these to be glued in or be set more securely, or does this just happen to me?
Below, you can see what it looks like with a full system in it. I didn’t zip tie the wires (several were included) so of course there is still potential for a much cleaner look at the bottom of the case. Even without it though, there is plenty of room to run these wires in the back of the case as there is up to 36 mm of space between the case and rear panel. That means no more flexing panels when trying to shoe-horn all your wires behind the motherboard! Great job with that thinking Antec!
Installation and Use
For this build I installed the following hardware:
- i7 2600k (stock Intel cooler)
- MSI Z68A GD65
- 2 x 2 GB Gskill Ripjaws X Turbulence DDR3 2133 MHz CL7
- 60 GB OCZ Vertex 2 SSD
- MSI TwinFrozr 6950 1 GB
- SeaSonic X750
As most people would expect with a tool-less case, installation was quite easy using the thumbscrews, avoiding constantly looking for and using the trusty old Phillips head screwdriver that frequently finds itself never where I left it. The filtered 5.25″ drive bay covers pop off easily, as well as the convenient quick lock Antec uses to hold optical drives and other 5.25″ peripherals in place. They included hard drive rails for use on 3.5″ drives (mount on the sides, snaps right in) to slide right in and out like a dresser drawer. They felt secure, but were still easy to slide in and out.
Motherboard installation was, per usual, easy. There really isn’t much to report here outside of the flexibility of the case in allowing up to an XL-ATX sized motherboard as well as sizes below ATX such as mATX. The pushpin stock Intel cooler doesn’t need a back plate, but when mounting the board, there is plenty of room due to the large cut-out to add a more robust heatsink/fan and accompanying backplate without removing the motherboard from the case.
Routing the cables was also a relatively easy task. There are plenty of cut-outs, with grommets in key areas around the motherboard allowing for easy cable management. The one drawback I have seen with these grommets, and this isn’t just for Antec, is how easy they come out of their holes. A little glue or some stickum’ would go a long way in keeping these in place. But once everything was routed through and completed, you can see that clean wiring should be pretty easy to accomplish.
As far as the cooling goes, Antec has put a focus on airflow with the Gaming Series, and the Antec 1100 is no different. With a 200 mm fan up at the top and a 120 mm fan at the rear (included) along with space for seven others, you should be able to deduce that there is plenty of cooling capacity. One wish I had, and this also goes across a couple of brands, is that the vendor include more fans. Two intake fans at the front would round this case out very nicely. As it stands, there is adequate airflow even for overclocking, but I would still prefer some forced intake fans included. Another peculiar item is what appears to be the passive Antec 1200 fan controller on the back of the case. In this sample, it controls the 200 mm fan LED and looks to control the speed, but there was no switch in this sample. There are also two empty slots next to it to add more Antec 3-speed fans. It appears (I have not confirmed) that you can simply clip those switches in place so you can control three fans with this space.
One thing that I didn’t notice with this case is the ability to put a larger water cooling solution in the case, for example, with two 120 mm radiators. If one choses to use one of the kits say from Antec (Kuhler 620/920), it seems that we can easily mount this type of single 120 mm radiator sized cooler right on the rear 120 mm fan. However, if you want to go bigger with either custom water cooled solution, or a larger ‘kit’ (read: 2×120 mm radiator), you will have likely have to mount it externally. Dropping the 200 mm fan didn’t reveal any easy mounting points that I could see.
Those of you that have read my reviews before will know that I like to cut to the chase. My overall impression of this case is quite positive. I have personally owned both the Antec Nine Hundred, as well as the Antec Twelve Hundred. Antec’s goal of a “…super mid-tower that fills the gap between mid-tower Nine Hundred and full-tower Twelve Hundred” has been fulfilled and I would like to add, quite well. You don’t quite have the potentially cumbersome size of a full-tower, but you do get the space to fit large video cards and motherboards that other mid-towers may not have.
My only complaints about this case are more of a personal preference than an inherent design flaw. Case manufacturers need to add more fans out of the box. My wish isn’t that they fill ALL optional fans positions, but just make it so there is optimal airflow out of the box. Forced intake AND exhaust. In this case, add at least an intake fan. The other concern again is not vendor specific and has to do with the grommets and how insecure they are in their locations. Let’s get some glue or something sticky on those so they stay in place a little better than they do. Both of these concerns are not a big deal, but something I feel manufacturers can add. Fans and something to hold the grommets in place inexpensively brings an even better experience to the user. Last, and something specific to this case, is the seeming inability of the case to use larger water cooling systems without modification. Having that added flexibility would have been a definite plus.
Pricing for this unit comes in at $129.99 MSRP which is right in between the mid-tower Antec 900/902 ($99.99/$114.99 at newegg.com) and the full-tower Antec Twelve Hundred ($159.99 at newegg.com). Availability should be at your favorite e-tailer after 11/22.
Wrapping things up, the Antec Eleven Hundred really has everything one would want in a case. Good looks, good filtered airflow with plenty of room for additional fans, tool-less installation, many (9) expansion slots, grommet-lined holes for cable management as well as plenty of room behind the motherboard, will fit large motherboards and video cards (13″), round out just some of the major positives of this case earning itself an Overclockers.com approved stamp!