Gamers and enthusiasts can be a fickle bunch. Plain old cases really aren't of interest, but often we come across some bizarre design choices in more "premium" type of cases. When those situations come up, we long for a case that just does what it should do, and that is to house a system with no hassles and no sliced up fingers.
It's been a while since we've cut ourselves installing a motherboard (yes, it has happened to me), but it wasn't too long ago I gouged my hand during a water cooling install. Granted, I was blatantly negligent and lazy, but again, there's a reason water-cooling frustrates me, and I'm not always thrilled about setting those systems up despite the improved cooling.
Antec's Nine Hundred ATX case addresses many of the issues that enthusiasts come across, and retains many of the cosmetic features that make these sort of cases popular.
Antec Nine Hundred ATX Case
The Nine Hundred arrived in a large box with the case wrapped tightly in a plastic bag with two foam braces keeping the case away from the edges. Everything was well packaged without a dent or nick in sight. All of the accessories, such as case screws and the manual were tucked inside the Nine Hundred itself.
To be honest, I expected a much larger case, but the Nine Hundred fell within what we would consider a "normal sized" mid-tower ATX case. The case measures 19.4" (H) x 18.4" (D) x 8.1" (W), and according to Antec's specifications, it will weigh between 18.52lb and 24.36lb depending on the load out. The primary material is aluminum, and it's decent quality so it should stand up to the normal wear and tear a gamer will put the case through.
The Nine Hundred is all black, and while our review sample came complete with a case window, there is a normal side panel option as well. The window is well fitted and flush with the metal of the case save for the rivets holding it in place.
A small triangular section of the window is made of metal mesh and this is for a user option case fan. It is designed for a 120mm fan and can be configured for intake or exhaust. It's placed in such a way that VGA cooling is its primary purpose, and in that case you are better off (as well as recommended by Antec) to set the fan up as an intake fan. The added noise will vary depending on the speed of the fan, and as you may have guessed, this fan is not included.
The front of the Antec Nine Hundred features a blow-through mesh design. This will allow for more airflow through the front, as well as better passive cooling for various drive bay components. Speaking of which, Antec refers to these bays as the "Flexi Drive Bay System". There are nine 5.25" external drive bays, six of which are the two hard drive cages. Each of these cages have three consecutive 5.25" drive bays, and in its stock configuration, you can fit 6 3.5" hard drives. The "Flexi" in the name comes from the fact that the HDD cages can be mounted anywhere you have three consecutive bays free. Ultimately, even if you load out the system with 6 hard drives, you can still fit 3 5.25" devices such as fan controllers and optical drives. Anything more than 3 of these 5.25" devices will mean you need to remove one of the HDD cages to free up some external/internal drive bay space.
There are are two Antec TriCool fans located in the front of the case, and are included in the stock configuration. The fans are rated between 1200RPM to 2000RPM depending on the user configuration. The fan speed means a the TriCool is capable of 39CFM to 79CFM, but the noise will then increase from a low point of 25dBA to 30dBA. All of the 120mm TriCool fans are of the LED variety and emit a nice blue glow.
Not pictured, but included is a mesh drive bay designed for floppy, or if you are really old school, an internal Zip drive.
Moving to the rear of the case (pictured resting on its side) are all the cutouts for the various system parts. A generic IO shield is preinstalled, but will likely be removed by about 99% of all users in favour of a custom one included with the user's motherboard. Above the IO shield (next to in most circumstances) is another 120mm TriCool exhaust fan. This brings us a total of 3 included 120mm TriCools.
Finishing off the rear of the case are the PCI slot cutouts and just above that are a couple of holes with rubber seals around them. These cutouts are designed specifically with water-cooling in mind.
The "teeth" are very pliable and pose no danger at all for any hose. These holes will allow users to not resort to chopping up their brand new ATX case, or not have to fish their tubes through special PCI plates. For our purposes, these holes fit our CCFL tube's lighting switch just perfectly.
On the top of the case, heading from right to left, you can see a couple of USB 2.0 ports as well as the power button. Next to those are the FireWire, audio out and mic as well as the reset button. Just above those connections, we can see a recessed cavity. This storage area can be used to place keys, your cell phone, or even an iPod or other media player. Not recommended are sodas, coffee and candles (yes, Antec does state the last item as a major no, no).
Right next to the storage area is another fan configured for exhaust.
The 200mm TriCool fan, like the other ones included, can be controlled by the user in regards to speed and as a byproduct, the noise. This fan does not glow blue, but is is capable of moving a maximum of 134CFM of air at 800RPM.
We've mentioned the fan control a few times already, but to explain in more detail, each fan is equipped with a three-speed switch.
By default, all the fans are set to low and it's up to the user to choose what speed they want. It's important to note that all the fans require 5V as a minimum to start. If using a fan controller, or a special fan only PSU connection, Antec recommends setting the switch to high. This is due to the already low voltage for low settings on fan controllers, so setting the switch to high will at least demand enough power to start the fan.