Antec is at it once again. This time releasing their latest mid-tower gaming case, the DA601 Dark Avenger. With its futuristic front addressable RGB lighting and room for virtually any high-end PC component, you will be set to “conquer the endless gaming war”. While the timing and naming of the DA601 are impeccably similar to a recent superhero movie release, it will be up to you to conquer the war. Do you have the stones?
Features and Specifications
As a complete gaming case, the Dark Avenger is capable of housing motherboards of virtually every size along with multiple GPU’s for maximum frames per second, even extended ATX is no problem. There is room to install motherboards all the way up to 12 inches by 11 inches. With seven expansion slots, it is possible to install up to three graphics cards. Naturally, for multiple graphics cards to function, motherboard and GPU compatibility will need to be verified first.
In order to qualify as a gaming case appearances mean the world. The DA601 accomplishes this by utilizing an “X” pattern of ARGB lighting strips and a Prism fan at the center of the front panel. The fully addressable lighting is capable of 16.8 million different colors all controlled by a single lighting hub.
Not only does it need to look cool, but it also needs to remain cool. The Dark Avenger comes with a pair of 120 mm fans pre-installed. At the front is an Antec Prism ARGB and at the rear is a standard Antec case fan.
Almost a standard feature on any modern high-end case is the fully windowed tempered glass side panel. This allows an exquisite view of all the internal components. Tempering the glass makes it stronger and less likely to break.
Antec claims the DA601 is capable of housing six different hard drives, but this review proves it can actually house seven. Five 2.5″ drives behind the motherboard tray and either two conventional 3.5″ hard drives or 2.5″ drives in the HDD caddy. For any gaming build, this is more than adequate.
The front panel ports are located at the top, giving the user the option to locate the chassis on the floor and out of the way while still maintaining access to the interface. The panel consists of a pair of USB 3.0 ports, headphone jack, microphone jack, ARGB button, reset button, and, of course, a power button.
Here’s a list of the DA601 Dark Avenger specifications per the Antec website.
|Antec DA601 Dark Avenger Specifications|
|Product Name||Antec Dark Avenger|
|Materials||SPCC Steel, Plastic, Tempered Glass|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||480 x 220 x 500 mm / 18.9 x 8.7 x 19.7 inch|
|Weight||Net – 7.8 kgs
Gross – 9.5 kgs
|Motherboard Support||Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX, E-ATX (support up to 12″ x 11″)|
|Drive Bays||5.25″ – 0
2.5″/3.5″ – 2
2.5″ – 4 (5 per review)
|I/O Port||USB 3.0 x 2
Audio In & Out (supports HD Audio)
|Pre-installed Fan(s)||Front – 120 x 25 mm Prism ARGB fan
Rear – 120 x 25 mm fan
|Fan Support||Top – 3x 120 mm or 2x 140 mm
Front – 3x 120 mm
Rear – 120 mm
|Liquid Cooling Support||Top – 120/140/240/280/360 mm (60 mm max thickness per review)
Front – 120/140/240/280/360 mm (58 mm max thickness per review)
Rear – 120 mm
|Clearances||CPU Cooler – 160 mm (165 mm measured in review)
GPU – 400 mm
|Power Supply Support||ATX PS2 200 mm / 7.9 inch|
|Price||Newegg $84.99 / Amazon $109.30|
We have also included a list of features sourced from the Antec website for this case:
|Antec DA601 Dark Avenger Features|
With one press, you can have simple access to all the LEDs of the whole build. The high-tech front panel design makes your build shine as a superhero.
Mesh design allows you to see the light of the Prism fan.
Detachable front face makes the request of dust clearance easy.
Show your exquisite gear of the build without any limitation.
High Capability of Thermal Control
Magnetic dust filter on top, creating more airflow while removing it.
A: Motherboard Support: Up to E-ATX (12” x 11”)
D: Graphics Card Support: Up to 400 mm
E: CPU Cooler Support: Up to 160 mm
F: PSU Support: Up to 200 mm
B: Inbuilt ARGB Control Module
C: Preparation of Highly Loaded Storage
As with other Antec cases, the DA601 comes shipped in a thick cardboard box with plain black print. The front and rear of this one are identical and feature an isometric view of the case along with the manufacturer name and model number. Only the front displays a tempered glass sticker warning the shipper to handle with care. The left and right sides of this box are nearly identical as well. Both sides list the specifications in four different languages with the UPC bar code residing on what we will call the right side. Inside, the Dark Avenger is nestled safely between two Styrofoam end caps and a thin sheet of foam fabric in place of the usual plastic bag.
You’ll find the accessories box hidden away very well inside the top 3.5 inch HDD tray. It is a small white cardboard box with only the word “Antec” printed in black. Opening the box we find the information pamphlet, five very small zip ties, an ARGB motherboard adaptor cable, and a zip-top bag of assorted screws. Not a lot here to look at, but they were thoughtful enough to include what you will need for most builds.
Exterior At A Glance
Now, let’s take a quick stroll around the outside of the case to get a feel for what we have. For the DA601, Antec used their standard SPCC steel for the chassis frame and right side panel, tempered glass for the left side panel, and plastic for the front panel. All the steel parts are painted and there is no bare metal as you might see in many of the budget cases. The plastic of the front panel does appear to be a different shade of black, but the images below seem to accentuate this more than in real life. This is likely due to the angles of the panel along with the brighter than normal lighting at the review table. Overall, it looks very nice and should not be much of a concern unless you are looking for an exact match. It is not.
From the front, we see the trademark “Antec” name at the center in white, the aggressively angled front panels with a steel mesh opening at the middle, and four translucent white ARGB LED strips. If you look closely you can make out the Prism fan located front and center.
The left side is entirely fitted with a tempered glass panel. There is a sticker at the top left cautioning of this. The glass pane has a clear, protective film on both sides to help prevent scratches prior to use. From this side, we can also see the aggressive front panel and the front opening for taking in cool air. This area is not as large as many cases, so we’ll verify if it is adequate in the thermal testing section.
In the next picture, the four thumbscrews that secure the side panel were removed to highlight the rubber washers. These eliminate any vibration noise as well as protect the glass panel. While we’re here one can’t help but notice the large cut-out for displaying the PSU. This is a nice touch. Finally, at the very bottom is a good view of the feet Antec uses for several of their cases. These are the same trapezoidal feet featured on the Antec P101 Silent that was reviewed back in February.
The right side is a featureless, solid steel panel. The paint has a satin sheen to it like the rest of the painted steel parts and is very good at resisting fingerprints. The right side panel is secured using two captive thumb screws.
Looking at the back of the DA601, we see what is typically seen. At the top, there is a space that will surely provide clearance for a water cooling radiator. Just below this is the standard motherboard I/O opening. There is a location for a 120 mm fan beside the motherboard opening. At the center of the chassis are the seven expansion slots. These slots utilize a tool-less cover plate to hide any unsightly openings. At the very bottom is the power supply opening. There are six mounting holes allowing the builder to choose which way to mount the PSU.
Laying the case on its right side we get a good view of the top of this case. The bulk of the top is taken up by the very large dust cover. It is made of a steel mesh and held in place by magnetic strips along all four sides. This should be adequate for keeping dust particles from falling into the case when it’s not in use. Also located at the top are the front panel ports. From left to right they are, ARGB controller button, a pair of USB 3.0 ports, an Antec logo power button, headphone jack, microphone jack, and lastly the reset button.
Rounding out the exterior view, we spin the case around to look at the undercarriage. From the bottom view, the back of the case will be on the left side of your screen. This is where the PSU mounts. There is a dust filter mounted here and it is removable by pulling it to the back of the case. To the right of this, you will find four screws. These screws, along with four internal screws, retain the plates that make up the HDD caddy supports. At the far left is the grabbing location for pulling the front panel off. The trapezoidal feet are located at the far corners and feature rubber pads to prevent the case from sliding around.
Now that we’ve glanced at the outside, let’s take a more thorough look at all the feature this case provides.
As mentioned earlier the front panel is made of plastic and features steel mesh for the intake. This panel is removed by grabbing the bottom and giving a firm pull. Looking at the back side of the front panel it becomes obvious that the steel mesh is designed to be non-removable. There is a steel mesh dust filter that, like the top filter, is held in place by magnetic strips. This inner mesh filter is located behind the front intake fan and only accessible through the left side panel. Unfortunately, this makes cleaning the filter a bit more of a chore. It should also be mentioned that this filter is not the fine fabric type found in some cases. It will filter some of the dust, but frequent cleaning of this case will still be necessary.
Looking at the back side of the front panel, we see a pair of ARGB cables. These are for the “X” patterned ARGB strips located at the front. These will get plugged into the ARGB controller mounted to the right side of the case.
With the front panel removed we can see the single 120 mm Prism fan mounted at the center. There is room for up to two additional 120 mm fans here as well as space for a radiator up to 360 mm. We’ll take a closer look at this fan later in the review.
The left side panel is removed via four thumbscrews. These thumbscrews look incredibly similar to the Enermax SF30 case we reviewed just last month, with the exception of the added rubber washers. These will eliminate any noise and help protect the tempered glass panel.
Casting the glass panel aside, let’s focus inside the chassis. Located at the center of the motherboard tray is a gaping hole to assist in adding the CPU cooler mounting hardware. This extends well beyond the ITX mounting points and theoretically could be utilized to route cables in an ITX build. While on the subject of routing cables, there are a total of ten routing holes located very conveniently around the motherboard tray. Two at the top for CPU power, fans, or RGB lighting. Six along the left side of the motherboard, located to accommodate every size motherboard, and two more at the bottom where the HD audio, USB, and front panel connectors are generally located. There are stand-offs pre-installed at the ATX locations and the additional mounting points are clearly stamped for each size motherboard.
Moving to the rear of the left side we get a good look at the rear case fan. This is a standard Antec case fan, not the fancier Prism fan that is mounted up front. It stands to wonder why a second Prism fan wasn’t used here with the expense that was added in making this a tempered glass case. Still, this decision was likely to keep the cost competitive with other gaming cases. Below the rear exhaust fan are the seven expansion slots. These feature removable mesh PCI slot covers to assist in cooling the internal components.
Looking towards the top of the case we see the mounting slots for up to a 360 mm or 280 mm radiator. Naturally, one could opt to mount up to three 120 mm fans or two 140 mm fans here. Something to consider, if water cooling, is that these slots are not offset towards the left, but centered on the case. This could cause a clearance issue with motherboard components if thicker radiators are used.
At the front of the left side, we get our best view of the removable front filter. This extends from top to bottom and will suffice in keeping a good portion of the dust from entering the case. From the inside one can mount up to a 360 mm radiator, though, doing so would make the front filter virtually useless.
A fixed PSU shroud separates the basement of this chassis from the main compartment and effectively conceals the PSU cables. There is a large opening that displays the installed power supply. Also, notice the four screws located on the shroud. In conjunction with the screws at the bottom of the case these are needed to remove the HDD caddy supports should one choose to do so. The final image shows a close-up of the four rubber dampened thumbscrews used to secure the glass panel.
With the right side panel removed, we now have access to the basement, hard drive mounting, and ARGB controller. For managing all the cables the DA601 employs a total of eleven cable tie points, each of them located in convenient areas.
At the center of the motherboard tray is the SATA powered ARGB controller. This can be used as a hub to control up to four ARGB devices. With the three that come included in this case that leaves one open plug. Included in the accessories box was an ARGB motherboard adapter cable. With this adapter cable, you can control the case lighting via your motherboards software, if you so choose.
Towards the front of the motherboard tray, near the six routing holes, are three locations to mount 2.5″ hard drives. Two more can be mounted in dedicated trays located directly below the CPU cut-out. Rounding out the storage are a pair of HDD trays mounted in the basement. These lower trays are capable of housing either 3.5″ or 2.5″ drives. Notice the white accessories box located in the top tray. This is where it resides during shipping.
The last image was taken to demonstrate the amount of clearance provided should the HDD caddy be removed. This would be an adequate location for a water cooling pump, though there are no fastening points to mount it. Either double-sided tape, Velcro, or another means to secure it would be necessary. Finally, if looking closely, you’ll notice the four rubber pads that the PSU sits on when installed. This will reduce vibration and noise within the case.
Looking more closely at the rear of the case, we can see the captive screws that secure the right side panel. The motherboard I/O opening features a large roll-formed flange that will serve to protect the installed motherboard if this case is set on its back. This is a very nice touch that many manufacturers ignore. The rear exhaust fan location uses something other than slots in this case. Instead, there are five positional locations for mounting the fan at different heights. The grill for this fan position is a large hex pattern that slightly protrudes to the back helping to reduce noise and improve airflow.
The lower portion of the rear features the seven expansion slots. As mentioned earlier these slots are filled with removable PCI cover plates. These plates are also vented using the same hex pattern holes. To the right of these is an adjustable cover plate. This will be used to close off the opening created by the expansion slot mounting flange. Finally, at the bottom section of the rear, is the PSU opening. The power supply will get mounted by sliding it into the right side and secured using the six available fastening points.
Located at the top of the DA601 Dark Avenger is the front control panel. This was discussed fairly in depth in the exterior view so let’s look closer at the top dust filter. It is a magnetic steel wire mesh filter. This is not a great filter for keeping out dust, but most users, if adding fans at the top, will opt to remove this as they will most likely exhaust from the top. Still, if left installed, will aid in reducing the amount of dust and is always better to have included with the case.
Rotating the chassis around to the bottom we focus on the PSU filter. This is a fine mesh fabric filter that is highly effective at preventing dust from entering the case and power supply. It is removable by pulling it to the rear of the case for easy frequent cleanings. This filter will aid in extending the life of the installed power supply. All cases should come with filters like this one.
There are two fans included with this case. Located at the front of the case is an Antec Prism 120 mm ARGB fan. This is a seven-bladed fan that is black with white translucent rings at the front and back. Centered on the hub is a white and gold Antec logo. It uses a 3-pin RGB type connector to connect to the ARGB controller or applicable motherboard header. It is powered by a 4 pin PWM connector.
The rear fan is a 120 mm standard Antec case fan. It is solid black and like the front Prism fan features seven blades. This one is powered via a voltage controlled 3-pin connector. Specifications for the Prism fan are listed below. Unfortunately, the specs for the rear fan are not listed with this case or online.
|Prism 120 ARGB Fan|
|Fan Type||PWM Fan|
|LED Type||Addressable RGB|
|Fan Speed (RPM)||2000 Max.|
|Airflow (CFM)||45.03 Max.|
|Air Pressure (mmH20)||2.56 Max.|
|Fan Noise Level (dBA)||32.6 Max.|
|Connector||Fan: 4-Pin ; ARGB: 3-Pin|
|Rated Voltage||Fan: DC12V ; LED: DC5V|
|Operating Voltage||Fan: DC6.0-13.8V ; LED: DC4.5-5.3V|
|Rated Current (A)||Fan: 0.18A±20% ; LED: 0.8A±20%|
For storing data the Dark Avenger provides seven locations. There are three locations to mount 2.5″ drives directly to the back of the motherboard tray, near the front. These can be mounted either at the right side of the case as shown or can be mounted in the main compartment in the left side, however, mounting them in the main compartment will eliminate the ability to add a radiator in the front.
There are a pair of SSD trays that mount by means of four keyhole slots and slip on to rubber posts located below the CPU cutout. The SSD trays feature two foam strips to isolate any vibrations should you choose to mount traditional platter hard drives. The drives are secured to the trays by using the side mounting holes.
Additionally, there are two, larger, 3.5″ HDD caddies. These will house either 3.5″ or 2.5″ hard drives. For the larger drives, these caddy trays are tool-less and feature four pins that fit the hard drives side mounting holes. For the smaller SSD sized drives, you will need to use four screws to secure it to the tray.
With all the features of this case highlighted, it’s time to grab some parts from the toy box. We will build a simulated water cooled rig as well as a fully functional air cooled system.
Water Cooled Build
For a custom water mock-up build, a 240 x 35 mm radiator will be utilized throughout. The pump and reservoir combo used is a trusty Swifttech MCP35X. This should be classified as a medium sized pump and reservoir and measures 62 mm2 x 140 mm tall, just to provide some scale. With 60 mm of clearance for the top mounted radiator, there was just barely enough room for the radiator and fans. The main clearance issue here was the CPU power connector. If these mounting locations had been shifted to the left there would have been no problems here, though it did fit.
Moving to the front radiator location the same 240 x 35 mm radiator was used. The 360 x 60 mm radiator generally used for these reviews simply will not fit as there is only 58 mm of clearance. As far as the pump and reservoir, there was plenty of room left to locate them on the PSU divider. There are no mounting holes so one will need to use double-sided tape, Velcro, or drill holes into the case if mounting the pump here. There are holes on the motherboard tray too if you wanted to mount a reservoir vertically along the back of the case. Finally, you could also use a 120 mm fan mount adapter and fasten it directly to the front radiator. Plenty of options and space available.
Air Cooled Build
For the air-cooled build, all the water cooling components were removed and a Cooler Master Hyper 212X was installed. This cooler is listed as 158 mm tall and there was more than enough room. In fact, a quick measurement proved there is 165 mm of clearance for air coolers. That’s five millimeters more than Antec lists in their specifications.
Routing all the cables in the DA601 was relatively easy. There is 22 mm of cable clearance which is quite adequate, but not a ton of room. As mentioned earlier there are eleven cable tie points and only a few were used here. If one decided to take more time then there are ample locations to clean up the cables even more than shown.
Now that we have a build with power, let’s discuss the addressable RGB. When not controlled via a compatible motherboard, the ARGB controller can cycle through eight different colors and at least ten different multi-color effects. Some of the effects are similar to others making it a challenge to get an accurate count and unfortunately they are not listed on Antec’s website. The solid colors in order are red, green, blue, yellow, cyan, purple, orange, and white.
When the controls are handed off to the motherboard there are nearly 16.8 million colors available and the effects are limited only by your motherboards software. Below are just a small fraction of the possible combinations. These effects are even more striking when the lights are dimmed. Sadly, doing this severely hampered my ability to photograph it.
Thermal Testing Procedure
Now that we’ve seen what this case can house it’s time to test whether it is getting adequate airflow. With the case in its stock orientation and all the fans at full speed, an overclock will be applied to the CPU and GPU. The overclock will be as high as possible, maintaining stability and staying within the thermal limits of the components.
To apply a load to the CPU and GPU, Aida64 Extreme and 3D Mark Firestrike will be run together for about a half hour. This will provide the maximum internal case temperature. Then, remove the side panel and continue for another half hour, measuring the temperature drop. If the case is getting proper airflow then the case temperatures will remain within a few degrees of the original result. If there is a significant temperature drop with the side panel removed then the case is starving for fresh, cool air.
|Antec DA601 Dark Avenger Testing System|
|Motherboard||ASRock 990FX Extreme9|
|CPU||AMD FX8350 8 core (4.5 Ghz @ 1.35 V)|
|CPU Cooler||Cooler Master Hyper 212X|
|Memory||G.Skill Sniper 2×4 GB 2133 MHz CL9|
|GPU||Sapphire HD7950 Vapor-X|
|Storage||OCZ Agility 3 256 GB SSD|
|Power Supply||EVGA 850 W GQ|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home 64 bit|
|Stock fans||120 mm Prism & 120 mm Regular Case Fan|
|Temperature Probe||Amprobe TMD-52|
|Ambient Temp||21 °C|
With the internal case temperature only rising 4 °C warmer than ambient, this is one of the better cases we have tested as far as thermals go. This is surprising considering there is only a single fan for intake when the other four in this comparison chart used three intake fans. The bigger shocker here is the temperatures actually increased by one degree once the glass side panel was removed. This was very suspicious and the tests were re-run a second time just to verify. The results were identical the second time around confirming the higher temperature.
What is happening here is, once the side panel is removed the airflow from the front fan escapes out the side and no longer provides cool air to the temperature probe located above the fan. A warm air pocket develops and you get a slight bump in temps. This is neither good or bad. Try not to read it that way. These results are still very good and we’re only talking about one degree at max load over an extended period of time. Naturally, adding additional fans would completely eliminate this and further improve airflow.
So what have we learned about the Dark Avenger? This is a great gaming case with some incredibly beautiful lighting. The build quality is as good as it gets and it is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Antec. There are ample places to mount hard drives. Whether you choose to drop in an air cooler and forget about it or build a custom water cooled build you have several options available. Thermally speaking this is one of the better cases we’ve tested.
As far as what could have been improved there is very little. The front filter could have been made of fine fabric to further help reduce dust. Antec could have made it easier to remove from the front, but then you would lose the cool ARGB lighting. It would have been nice to have an added USB-C connector at the front panel as there are many users that could benefit from this. All-in-all, this case was a joy to work with and easy to build in.
The Antec DA601 retails for $84.99 at Newegg and $109.30 at Amazon at the time of this writing. These prices are very competitive for the quality and features that this case has to offer. This easily ranks the Antec Dark Avenger Overclockers.com Approved.