Antec Skeleton Case Review
By Gabriel Torres on October 25, 2008
It is impossible to be indifferent to Skeleton. It uses a complete different design, being completely opened for a better airflow. Our news editor, Cássio Lima, thinks it looks like a portable stove. We think it looks like a spider. This is one of the unusual products that you will either love it or hate it. Unfortunately we are in the second group. Find out why.
First, let’s take an overall look at Skeleton. As you can see from the several pictures below, this is definitely a case that is hard to describe. While being opened definitely solves overheating problems, it also brings the biggest disadvantages of all: lack of physical protection. Anything can fall inside your PC, including metallic parts and liquids, and you can easily break an expensive hardware part while moving your chair. In our opinion it doesn’t seem a smart idea to have one or more very expensive video cards vulnerable like this. Not to mention the problem you will have with dust.
The top part of the case structure can be used as a handle to carry it around.
As you could clearly see on all pictures, it has a big 250-mm fan on top to cool down your system – nicknamed “Super Big Boy” by Antec –, with an on/off switch and a three-speed controller: high (800 rpm, 158 cfm), medium (600 rpm, 118 cfm) and low (400 rpm, 79 cfm).
This case has the traditional microphone and headphones jacks on its front panel, plus two USB ports, one FireWire port and one eSATA port.
You can, if you want, remove the meshed side panels from the case. If you do that, however, you won’t be able to install extra hard disk drives (more on this later).
It seems funny talking about “inside” of a case that is opened, but there are a lot we need to explain in order for you to completely understand Skeleton and learn how to build a PC using it.
The first problem we face was the lack of a manual. Yes, you read it right. Skeleton doesn’t come with a manual, just with a one-sheet quick guide that doesn’t help much due to the unusual design used by this case. Antec says on this quick guide that this was done due to their commitment to be a “green” company. Nonsense. This is just a way to sound cool while trying to save some money. A case that is really different and somewhat complicated to be understood needs to come with a manual. Without the manual you can’t figure out how to add more than two hard disk drives, for example.
Here we want to explain something. We are tired to see companies telling that they won’t provide manuals in order to save the forests. This is an excuse that only fools clueless people. Trees used for paper production are grown just for this purpose, just like tomatoes or beans are grown in farms – i.e., they forget to say that “forests” are private properties, a “tree farm,” and not wild forests as some people would think. Saying that is as much nonsense as saying that you won’t make a Jack-o-Lantern this Halloween because you want to save the pumpkin patch or that you won’t eat popcorn anymore in order to save the corn trees.
The truth is that nobody reads manuals and thus the manufacturer can save lots of money by adding a simple one-sheet quick guide instead of adding a full manual that will be tossed away or saved on the bottom of a closet God-knows-why (so there is one valid reasoning to not include manuals: to reduce the amount of waste produced by households). There is nothing wrong about not adding a manual, but for a strange case like Skeleton it is really necessary to have it.
Nevertheless, the manual is available for free at http://www.antec.com/manuals/.
In order to build your PC using Skeleton, you will need to remove the bottom metallic part from the plastic frame. This is done by unscrewing two thumbscrews (they keep attached to the case even when fully loose, so you won’t lose them) and sliding the metallic part towards you, with the rear part of the case facing you.
You can remove the metallic tray where the motherboard should be attached to. This is done by removing three screws that fasten this tray to the bottom part of the case.
Next we have the power supply frame, which is located right behind the motherboard. There is a silver handle that you should press and pull to remove it. The power supply is installed sideways in this case, which is not convenient at all to install the AC power cord. Antec recommends the use of power supplies with 80 mm fans on the rear instead of units with 120- or 140 mm fans on their bottoms. If you have already bought a power supply using a fan on the bottom, the unit must be installed upside down, i.e., with its fan facing up.
Installing daughterboards is a little bit tricky, because you need to first remove the transparent plastic support where they will be attached to from the plastic frame. In order to do that you need to remove regular Phillips screws. Then you can go ahead and install the daughterboards to the motherboard, preferably with the bottom part still pulled from the case. Next you need to fasten the boards to the support. You can only attach the support back to the case after sliding the bottom part back to the case.
Paying attention to Figure 13 you will see that this case supports eight daughterboards and not only seven as usual. This extra space can be used by an I/O bracket (a bracket containing more USB ports, for example).
This case has two 5.25” bays and two 3.5” bays for hard disk drives. They use a quick release mechanism, where you simply screw a peg with your fingers to the drive and then slide the drive in the bay. The problem is that each unit uses only one peg and the drive remains very unstable, requiring you to add regular screws to the other side of the unit. Thus even though this case features this practical quick release mechanism, in reality it isn’t a screwless design.
You can install a 92-mm fan that comes with the case in front of the hard disk drives in order to cool them down. Unfortunately you can’t control the speed of this fan and it uses a regular 4-pin power connector, meaning that you can’t monitor its speed.
Now, what is the weirdest thing about this case is how it supports extra hard disk drives: they need to be installed on the exterior of the case. This is simply ridiculous. You have to screw you hard drive to a small frame and then this frame is simply hung on holes available on the case side panels. Not only the hard disk drives are completely exposed to any sort of physical damage (we can clearly see the wheels of a chair smashing one of the hard disk drives if this case is installed on the floor) but they can fall from the case during transportation.
If you remove the side panels you won’t be able to install extra hard disk drives. This case allows you to install up to four hard drives like this, so you can have up to six hard disk drives with this case.
Skeleton case main specs include:
Antec Skeleton is an unusual case targeted to users worried about airflow and likes a case with a very different looks. Here is a summary of what we found about this case.
One basic concept of design is form follows function. The main function of a case is to protect your computer parts from dust, from objects that may fall inside the computer causing short-circuit, from liquids, from external impacts, etc. Since Antec Skeleton cannot provide the basic function required by all users – protection – its design is flawed and we simply cannot recommend this case.
In fact, we were so negatively impressed by it that we wonder why it was released by Antec, a company that so far only presented outstanding products. The hard drives hanging outside the case with no protection and that can fall during transportation is one of the worst things we ever saw in this industry.
To make things even worse, this case is sold by USD 180.
We know that we are being harsh, but like we said, you will either loved it or hate it.
Our honest recommendation is to stay away from this joke.