Antec Sonata Proto Case Review
By Gabriel Torres on May 5, 2010


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Golden Award

Antec has just launched another case on their Sonata line-up, called Sonata Proto, which follows the same design concept from Sonata III 500 and Sonata Elite, two products that we’ve already reviewed. Let’s see what is new on the new Sonata Proto.

On Figures 1 and 2 you can have an overall look from Sonata Proto. Here we could clearly see the main difference between the new Sonata Proto and the previous Sonata versions: while the older versions have a shiny black automotive painting, the new Sonata Proto uses a standard matte black paint job. The paint job is not bad, but the other members from the family are better-looking.

Sonata Elite comes with a big air intake on the right panel, which isn’t present on the new Sonata Proto or on the Sonata III 500. Like Sonata III 500, Sonata Proto has a big latch to release its left-side panel, feature not present on Sonata Elite.

Antec Sonata Proto case
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Figure 1: Antec Sonata Proto case.

Antec Sonata Proto case
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Figure 2: Antec Sonata Proto case.

Like Sonata Elite and Sonata III 500, Sonata Proto has a door covering the external bays. The other Sonata models 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. Sonata Proto follows the same configuration but without the eSATA port.

Antec Sonata Proto case
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Figure 3: Front panel.

Introduction (Contíd)

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 and Sonata Elite (at least in our opinion) was not fixed on Sonata Proto: 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. After a while it is really tiring.

Antec Sonata Proto case
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Figure 4: External bays.

The disk drive bay configuration from Sonata Proto is the same from Sonata III 500, with three external 5.25” bays and two external 3.5” bays. On Sonata Elite Antec removed the two external 3.5” bays.

Like the other members from Sonata series, Sonata Proto doesn’t come with fans installed on the front panel or on the side panels.

Like Sonata III 500, Sonata Proto has a washable air filter on its front panel, which is accessible from the bottom part of the case. This feature isn’t available on Sonata Elite.

Antec Sonata Proto case
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Figure 5: Washable air filter.

In Figure 6, you can see the rear panel from Sonata Proto, which is identical to Sonata III 500’s. The case comes with a 120 mm fan with a switch to select between two speeds (low or high) – both Sonata III 500 and Sonata Elite use a three-speed fan controller. Like Sonata III 500, this switch is left hanging inside the case – on Sonata Elite the manufacturer fastened this switch on the rear panel. 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. On Sonata Elite this mesh is a little bit different, with the case coming with a blower to remove hot air from inside the case. This other model also has a tab for installing a padlock (or warranty seal) to prevent unauthorized persons from opening the case, feature not present on this new release.

Antec Sonata Proto case
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Figure 6: Rear panel.

Now let’s take a look inside Antec Sonata Proto.

Inside Sonata Proto

On Sonata Proto you can only remove the left-side panel, which is attached to the chassis using two silver thumbscrews. This is the same configuration found on Sonata III 500, but on Sonata Elite you can remove the right-side panel as well. Sonata Elite also comes with polycarbonate layers on its side panels to absorb noise, feature not present on Sonata Proto nor on Sonata III 500.

Antec Sonata Proto case
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Figure 7: Overall look.

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 – just like it happens with the other Sonata models –, 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. Since you can’t remove the right-side panel this case doesn’t have holes for you to route cables behind the motherboard tray, just like it happens on Sonata III 500. Sonata Elite, however, has this feature.

Daughter boards are fastened to the case using regular screws. It would be nice seeing at least thumbscrews here. Pay attention on the fan speed controller that we mentioned in the previous page in Figure 8.

Antec Sonata Proto case
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Figure 8: Overall look.

The Disk Drive Bays

As explained, this case has the same configuration used on Sonata III 500: three external 5.25” bays, two external 3.5” bays and four internal 3.5” bays for hard disk drives. On Sonata Proto the manufacturer added a place for installing a 2.5” hard disk drive or SSD unit (see Figure 10), feature not available on previous models.

Antec Sonata Proto case
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Figure 9: Disk drive bays.

Antec Sonata Proto case
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Figure 10: 2.5” bay.

The installation mechanisms used for fastening disk drives are the same ones used on Sonata III 500 and Sonata Elite, except on the new 2.5” bay, which requires you to add regular screws from the bottom of the case.

The 5.25” bays use installation mechanisms based on rulers, but these rulers must be installed to the devices using regular screws. External 3.5” devices must be installed inside a cage using regular screws, although this cage is attached to the case using a screwless mechanism. And hard disk drives are installing inside small drawers using regular screws. These drawers have silicone rings to prevent the vibration generated by the hard disk drives from becoming noise.

Antec Sonata Proto case
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Figure 11: Drawer for hard disk drive.

Sonata Proto Comparison Summary

Here is a summary of the differences between Sonata Proto, Sonata Elite and Sonata III 500.

What Sonata Elite has that Sonata Proto doesn’t:

What Sonata III 500 has that Sonata Proto doesn’t:

What Sonata Proto has that Sonata Elite doesn’t:

What Sonata Proto has that Sonata III 500 doesn’t:

Main Specifications

Antec Sonata Proto case main specs include:

* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.

Conclusions

Antec Sonata Proto is a stripped-down version from Sonata III 500, therefore being cheaper than Sonata III 500 and Sonata Elite. If you like the looks from these other two cases and want to save some money and don’t mind lacking some features, this can be a good product for you. However, for the savvy user we think that Sonata III 500 provides a better value: it costs USD 40 more and comes with Antec Earth Watts 500 W power supply, which retails for USD 75. The choice is yours.

Strong Points

  • Speed controller for the rear fan.
  • 2.5” hard disk drive/SSD bay.
  • Although not screwless, the installation mechanisms for disk drives are very good.
  • Washable air filter.
  • Good construction quality.
  • No sharp edges where you could cut yourself while building your PC.

Weak Points

  • Power button behind the door.
  • No eSATA port.
  • Right panel permanently attached to the chassis.
  • No hole for CPU cooler back plate installation on the motherboard tray.
  • No holes for routing cables behind the motherboard tray.
  • Could have come with thumbscrews for fastening daughterboards.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Antec-Sonata-Proto-Case-Review/992


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