Antec is bringing to the market another version from their Sonata case, called Sonata Elite, which follows the same design concept from Sonata III 500, which we have already reviewed. Today we are going to see what is new on Sonata Elite and the main differences between the two Sonatas.
On Figures 1 and 2 you can have an overall look from Sonata Elite. The shiny black automotive painting really catches the eye. As you can see it really looks like Sonata III 500, but we could immediately spot two big differences: Sonata Elite comes with a big air intake on the right panel, used to cool down the hard disk drives (not present on the previous version), while Sonata III 500 has a latch attached to the left side panel to release it, feature not present on Sonata Elite.
Like Sonata III 500, Sonata Elite has a door covering the external bays. Both cases have two USB ports, one eSATA port, mic in and heaphones out jacks, plus a lock that makes it more difficult for someone without the key to open the front door – but not impossible, as the key used is similar to the keyboard lock key used when computers still ran on coal.
[nextpage title=”Introduction (Cont’d)”]
In Figure 4, you can see the front of the case with its front door opened. One of the main flaws of Sonata III 500 (at least in our opinion) was not fixed on Sonata Elite: the power button is located behind the door, making you to have to open the front door every time you want to turn your computer on or off. After a while it is really tiring.
A difference between Sonata III 500 and Sonata Elite here is the removal of the two external 3.5” bays that is still present on Sonata III 500 but not on Sonata Elite anymore. However Sonata Elite comes with an adapter that allows you to install an external 3.5” device (floppy disk drive or memory card reader) on any 5.25” bay.
Sonata Elite, like Sonata III 500, doesn’t come with fans installed on the front panel or on the side panels.
In Figure 5, you can see the rear panel from Sonata Elite. The case comes with a 120 mm fan with a switch to select between three speeds (low, medium or high) attached to the rear panel. This is a terrific improvement over Sonata III 500, where this switch was located inside the case hanging from the fan. This fan comes with a standard peripheral power connector, so you can’t install it on the motherboard to monitor its speed. Above the expansion slots there is a mesh for air exhaustion, to be used with a blower that comes with the case and about which we will talk in more details in the next page.
The rear panel comes with a tab for installing a padlock (or warranty seal) to prevent unauthorized persons from opening the case.
Now let’s take a look inside Antec Sonata Elite.[nextpage title=”Inside Sonata Elite”]
Both panels are fastened to the case using thumbscrews, which is excellent. On Sonata III 500 the right panel is permanently attached to the chassis and thus not removable. The side panels from Sonata Elite have a polycarbonate layer to absorb noise. In Figure 7 we have an overall look from inside Sonata Elite.
The motherboard tray is permanently attached to the chassis, as it happens on most cases. Unfortunately this tray doesn’t have an opening on the area where the CPU is located, so if you want to upgrade your CPU cooler in the future with a model that comes with a different kind of back plate you will need to remove the motherboard from the case in order to install it. On the other hand, Sonata Elite does come with a couple of holes for you to route cables from behind the motherboard tray, organizing the cables inside the case and improving the internal airflow.
Daughter boards are fastened to the case using regular screws. It would be nice seeing at least thumbscrews here.
Sonata Elite comes with a 120 mm blower to remove hot air from the case. It is installed above the expansion slots and thus primarily targeted to remove the hot air produced by the video cards. It has a three-speed switch (low, medium and high) and uses a standard peripheral power plug, so you can’t install it on the motherboard to monitor its speed. This device is not present on Sonata III 500.
[nextpage title=”The Disk Drive Bays”]
This case has three external 5.25” bays and four internal 3.5” bays for hard disk drives. The installation mechanism for 5.25” devices is identical to the one used on Sonata III 500. You need to screw two rulers to each device, one on each side, and then slide the device on the bay you want to use. These rulers come attached to the bay covers. It is a nice mechanism, although not screwless.
Sonata Elite comes with an adapter for you to install 3.5” devices to any 5.25” bay. This adapter can be used by external devices like floppy disk drives, or by internal devices, like hard drives. If you install a hard drive on it you will need to remove its front plastic frame, so you can cover it with the original bay cover that comes attached to the 5.25” bays. Otherwise you will end up with a 3.5” hole on your front panel.
[nextpage title=”The Disk Drive Bays (Cont’d)”]
Both Sonata Elite and Sonata III 500 have four internal 3.5” bays for hard disk drives, but using completely different mechanisms. Sonata III 500 comes with four “drawers” and hard disk drives must be screwed to these drawers. Sonata Elite uses a completely different mechanism that was clearly designed to reduce noise.
Each bay is comprised by two metallic rulers that are attached to the chassis using thumbscrews. To install a hard drive you must remove the two rulers from the bay where you want to install it and screw the rulers to the drive using the screws that come with the mechanisms. These screws have a silicone ring around them to absorb vibration and thus reduce noise level. After the hard drive is installed, there is absolutely no metallic part from the case touching it; the drive is “floating” using the four screws and silicone rings. This way the drive can freely vibrate without passing any vibration or noise to the chassis.
In Figure 19, you can see all accessories that come with this case.
[nextpage title=”Sonata Elite vs. Sonata III Summary “]
Here is a summary of the differences between Sonata Elite and Sonata III 500.
What Sonata Elite has that Sonata III 500 doesn’t:
- Air intake for hard disk drives on the right panel.
- Right panel is removable.
- Tab for installing a padlock or seal on the left panel.
- Side panels with a plastic layer to absorb noise.
- Different hard disk drive installation mechanism that has less contact with the drive and thus reducing noise level.
- Speed controller from rear fan located on the rear panel.
What Sonata III has that Sonata Elite doesn’t:
- Latch for releasing left side panel.
- Two external 3.5” bays.
- Washable air filter on the front panel accessible from the bottom of the case.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
Antec Sonata Elite case main specs include:
- Style: Mid-tower
- Application: ATX and smaller form factors derived from this one.
- Material: Zinc-coated steel (SECC), painted black inside.
- Power supply required: Doesn’t come with the product.
- Available colors: Black.
- Side panel: Solid.
- Dimensions: 19” x 8 1/16” x 17 3/16” (48.1 cm x 20.5 cm x 44.0 cm) (H x W x D).
- Net weight: 19.5 lbs (9 kg)
- Gross weight: 24.5 lbs (11 kg)
- Bays: Three external 5.25” bays and four internal 3.5” bays (one extra 3.5” bay can be converted from one 5.25” bay).
- Expansion slots: Seven.
- Fans: One 120 mm fan on the rear and one 120 mm blower above the expansion cards, both with a three-speed controller.
- Optional fans: None.
- More Information: https://www.antec.com
- Average price in the US*: USD 100.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]
Antec Sonata Elite is a mid-tower case targeted to the user that wants a good-quality mid-tower case target to silence. Here is a summary of what we found about this product.
- Big air intake on the right panel for the hard disk drives.
- Blower above the expansion cards.
- Individual three-speed controllers for the rear fan and the blower.
- Holes for routing cables on the motherboard tray.
- eSATA port.
- No sharp edges where you could cut yourself while building your PC.
- New hard disk drive installation mechanism that prioritizes silence.
- Side panels with an extra plastic layer to absorb noise.
- Right price for its construction quality.
- Power button behind the door.
- No hole for CPU cooler back plate installation on the motherboard tray.
- Could have come with thumbscrews for fastening daughterboards.
- Mechanisms for installing drives, although very good, are not screwless.
In summary, we think this is a
very good product for the user that wants to build a discreet computer where silence is the main goal. Of course if you want a case with a more aggressive looks or more ventilation options you will be better off with a different product.