The photos of Ralf Hutter’s PIII-S file server drew a great deal of attention when linked in the gallery section of the SPCR Forums, due to the unique folding technique Ralf employed to tidy the interior and maximize airflow. Here is Ralf’s review of his favorite case, used for his server, the Antec Solution Series SLK3700.
March 17, 2003 by Ralf Hutter
|Product||Antec SLK3700 mid tower case|
|Market Price||US$75~85 (pricewatch)|
Ralf Hutter is the pseudonym of a contributor who is very active in the Forums of Silent PC Review. The photos of his PIII-S based file server drew great attention when linked in the gallery section, due to the unique folding technique Ralf employed to tidy the interior and maximize airflow. Here is Ralf’s review of his favorite case, the Antec Solution Series SLK3700. — Mike Chin, Editor
Antec is no stranger to the enthusiast case market. Their “SX” series of cases are some of the most popular aftermarket cases among computer hobbiests and modders. Now Antec has released a new line of cases they call the “Solution Series” The flagship of this line is the SLK3700AMB. This case, although not marketed as such by Antec, is of interest to the “Quiet PC” crowd due to several features, including twin 120mm case fans and a drive cage that includes grommets for mounting the HDDs.
The Antec SLK3700AMB is a mid-tower case. It is painted in a color that Antec calls “Metallic Bronze” but my review sample was a dark metallic gray color. The case is constructed of fairly thick steel (exact thickness not specified) and all the edges are very well finished to prevent cuts and scratches while working inside. The thick steel should serve well to muffle the mechanical noises generated by the hardware inside the case. The case sports four external 5.25″ bays, two extenal 3.5″ bays and five internal 3.5″ bays complete with grommeted mounting points for the drives. The external 5.25″ bays utilize the familiar snap-in drive rail system that Antec uses on the SX series.
Even an illustrated manual is included.
Another carryover from the SX10x0 file server cases is the hinged front door that covers the external drive bays, power and reset buttons. This door helps quiet the noise generated by the optical drives plus it gives the case a nice clean look when it is closed. The power button is large and easy to push. The reset button is rather small and resessed below a protective ring of plastic, you will need to use a pen or something pointed to depress it. The front bezel is well designed, balancing airflow and low noise.
Behind the front bezel is an easily removable front air filter. This will help keep dust off of the expensive hardware inside the case. The filter is made of a fine net-like material that filters out lots of dust but isn’t too restrictive.
Both side doors are removable and the left side door opens easily by pressing two latches, as shown below.
Moving to the back side you can see one of the standout features of this case: a 120mm diameter fan grill. The mate for this rear grill is found on the front of the case behind the louvered air intakes of the bezel. Most typical computer cases utilize several 80mm fans for case ventilation, with the SLK3700AMB Antec has stepped up to the plate with a pair of 120mm fans. The larger diameter fans will allow greater airflow than a smaller diameter fan of the same noise level. By using a couple of low speed, low noise 120mm fans you can have as much, or more airflow than with two, three or four higher revving, noisier 80mm fans that are included on the typical case.
Easily removable 3.5″ drive bays. Large 5-drive bay has decoupling rubber grommets.
Looking at the interior you’ll notice that the 3.5″ external drive cage is easily removable by flipping a lever. The five-bay 3.5″ internal drive cage is also quickly removable by unscrewing a thumb-screw and pushing down on a latch. These are typical Antec extras, well thought-out additions that make it very easy to add or remove drives.
One more extra feature to note are the white rubber grommets that are used to secure the 3.5″ internal drives. These serve to decouple the drives’ vibration from the case frame. This will make for quieter drives and less case vibration as well. The drives are held in place with special shoulder bolts that create just the right amount of tension on the grommets when the bolts are tightened all the way. The case interior is incredibly roomy and very easy to work in. This offsets the lack of a removable motherboard cage.
The included power supply is the Antec SmartPower SL350, a good 350 watt power supply that should provide more than enough power for the average computer builder. It’s not as quiet as its big brothers in the TruePower series but is a very good PSU none the less. (Editor’s Note: It does not belong on SPCR’s Recommended Quiet PSU list, but it’s easy to swap out the PSU.)
Also on the inside you will find the plastic mounting brackets for the two 120mm case fans although only one fan is supplied by Antec and it’s not particularly quiet. These brackets allow the fans to be snapped into them without the need for any screws. It’s a simple mounting system but may not be optimal for low noise.
Attention to details: Two push buttons on the sides of the bezel loosen it for ease of removal. It’s a nice touch, just like the locks and captive thumbscrews for the side panel.
The two stamped 120mm fan grills are rather restrictive and tend to create air noise and turbulence. These grills, plus the fan mounting system are the weakest points of an otherwise well designed case. The quiet PC enthusiast may want to look into improving these areas. A few minutes spent removing the restrictive fan grills, ditching the plastic fan mounts and drilling a new set of fan mounting holes will go far to improve the noise level of this case. (Editor’s note: Antec say they are working on a revision of this case; one anticipated change is much more open vent grills, like the one found on the back of their Sonata case.)
After a small grill cutaway mod on the back panel.
There are also two front-mounted USB ports on the SLK3700AMB but they terminate with ten separate pins instead of a single connector. You will need to carefully read your motherboard manual to determine the proper location for each individual connector.
Overall, I am very impressed with this case. It’s certainly a “sleeper”, it doesn’t look too fancy and isn’t being touted by Antec as a “Quiet PC” case (see the Antec Sonata) but it sure works well for this purpose. This case has excellent ventIlation due to the roomy interior, well designed front bezel and two 120mm case fans. You can achieve very good airflow with just one low-speed 120mm fan in the SLK3700AMB. Couple that with nicely damped hard drive mounts, solid steel construction and a noise muffling front door, and you’ve got yourself a wonderfully quiet case.
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