Antec Nine Hundred Two (902) – Case Review

Posted Aug 15, 2010
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Antec (an American concern) makes PC component and accessories. Their main products are computer cases and power supplies.

Antec caters to almost all market segments with its computer enclosures (cases or chassis –take your pick). From the wacky Skeleton, to the ubiquitous 900.

Antec revised the design of the 900 to come up with the 902 to remove some of the short comings of the original.

WCCF Tech will be taking a look at the 902 today and see how it fares among the million and one gaming computer cases vying for your attention (and money)

ANTEC 902: FACTS

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ANTEC 902: UN-BOXING

The 902 comes in a “usual” Antec sleek black box, with yellow highlights. The box has the usual pictures of the case as well as a list of its salient features.

Inside the case is well protected from the travails of shipping. The manual and the accessories box lie within the case.

ANTEC 902: EXTERIOR –GENERAL IMPRESSIONS

Deciding if a case looks good or bad is very subjective. One man’s sight for sore eyes might be another man’s trash heap. Take for example the Cooler Master Cosmos. People either love it or hate it. The same holds true for the 902. You’ll either love it or hate it.

Personally I like the rugged “tough guy” look of the 902. The styling is definitely reminiscent of the 900 which is not a bad thing. The 900 was and remains to be a very popular case with gamers. Why try to re-invent the wheel when it works the way you want it to?

The most prominent feature of the exterior is the humongous 200mm fan at the top. By no means an exclusive to Antec cases, it is the manner in which the fan is placed on the top which makes it stand out (more on this later).

EXTERIOR –FRONT

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The front of the case is dominated by perforated drive blanking plates. These allow a lot of air to move into the case. Thankfully the plates in front of the hard disk drive bays have a filter in front of the fan. This will help keep the dirt out and move clean air in. The blanking plates just above the top drive bay have its perforations blocked. This is make sure only “clean cool” air moves in the case from the fans at the front. The blanking plates are held in place by a couple of screws.

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The case comes with 2x 120mm Antec Tri cools blue LED fans mounted inside the front of the case (in the drive bay converter –more on this later). Both have fan control via small rheostats that are mounted within the drive bay plates. Very, very handy and a God sent feature.

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The control panel is located at top and consists of the usual power and reset switches. There are 2 USB 2.0 ports, an E-SATA port and Audio input & output ports that support HD Audio standards. No USB 3.0 here. This is not a major draw back as there are hardly any USB 3.0 devices around. There is a shiny Antec badge to boot too. The front panel is angled forwards and upwards, making the controls easily accessible even if the case is placed on the floor.

It is possible to remove the front fascia from the case by removing two screws from inside the case. But this should not be required as the dust filters are integrated with drive bay converters (more on this later).

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The front of the case has a “retro” 80s look. Kinda reminds me of the old modular hi-fi systems. As I said looks are very subjective, but to me Antec looks like a very nice case, better than many of its competitors including the CM Scout and definitely the HAF 9xx series.

EXTERIOR –TOP

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The top of the case can be divided into an anterior (front) and a posterior (back) portion. The back of the case is dominated by a mammoth 200 mm LED fan. It is covered by a steel grill. This definitely adds to the “macho” look of the case.

The front of the top has a flat surface. This is meant for music players, digital cameras, key etc and not ice cream and drink. Though many will still keep the said edibles, Antec advises against it. 🙂

The side of the top feature crevices which basically serve no useful purpose apart from maybe acting as dust collectors. It will not be easy to clean these small spaces.

EXTERIOR –BACK

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The back of the case features the usual cut for a bottom mounted power supply and motherboard back plate. There are two opening for radiator pipes and they have a grommet inserted into them. Though this is not the best case for a water cooling setup, Antec does at least provide an option to set it up with water cooling.

The expansion slots are covered with removable plates which have rather large openings to allow for more airflow.

There is a single 120mm Tri Cool at the back as well.

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The fan speed controller for the top and rear fans is located above the back mounted 120mm fan. The top 200mm fan can be switched on or off as well as speed adjusted.

EXTERIOR –SIDE PANELS

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The side panel facing the interior of the case has a large plexi-glass window which is exactly like the one on the 900. This time around Antec has provided a removable (read: washable) dust filter for the 120mm fan that can be mounted on it. (A fan for the side window is not included in the package). The area over the fan is covered by a steel grill (similar to the one on the 200mm top fan).

The side panels are mounted by using a set of thumb screws. They are solidly built and are heavy. They don’t sway at all like many of the side panel of its rivals. They are relatively easy to mount and remove.

EXTERIOR –BOTTOM

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The bottom of the case has 4 rubber feet and well that is it. Rubber feet are a welcome addition. They are more resilient as compared to plastic feet and provide a stronger grip to the surface.

EXTERIOR –CONCLUSIONS

902 is built like a tank, with the construction being much better than the 900. It will take a lot of beating and still come out unscathed. The side panel construction is surprising as well. Many manufacturers would cut cost and make really flimsy side panels. You won’t find these on the Antec 902.

About the only gripe I have about the exterior are the lack of top mounted handles. As this is primarily a gaming case and meant for LAN parties, provision of top mounted handles (like the ones on CM Scout) would have made the case a breeze to move around.

INTERIOR –GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

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The interior is all black which makes for a great show from the side panel window. The interior can be divided into two distinct zones –the motherboard tray area and the drive mount area. The interior is about 210mm deep and will take even the largest of air coolers.

INTERIOR –MOTHERBOARD TRAY

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The tray has the usual mounts for offsets to fix the motherboard. There is a large cut out (not featured in the original 902) to access the processor socket without removing the motherboard from the case. This is more important than a removable motherboard tray. It should be very easy to swap processor cooling without dismantling the entire assembly.

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The tray also provides ample cable management opportunities. Three cutouts in the tray (one in front of the power supply area, two in front of the motherboard tray) allow for routing cables from the power supply. Openings in the front and on the tray are provided to attach cable ties.

The power supply is installed at the bottom of the case. 4 rubber pads help reduce the noise generated by the power supply fan.

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There is ample room at the back of the tray to route cables and fix cable ties (two come pre applied with the case).

The case can take a 10.5” long graphics card in its standard configuration. But by removing a 5.25” to 3.5” drive bay converter, it will be possible to install longer graphic cards.

INTERIOR – DRIVE MOUNTS & DRIVE BAY CONVERTERS

The unit has 9 forward facing drive bays. Almost all contemporary casings have sideward facing hard drive bays for easy installation. The 902’s solution is reminiscent of the Cooler Master Stack series.

It is possible to attach 9 drives, in various configurations, to the case. The unit ships with two 5.25” to 3.5” drive bay converters. Each of these allows three 3.5” drives to be installed in the case.

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Each converter is an integrated unit consisting of a 120mm Tri Cool fan with blue LEDs, its fan controller a removable and washable dust filter and the mounts for the 3.5” hard disks.

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An external 3.5” drive adapter is also provided to install any peripherals that still require a 3.5” slot.
An SSD adapter is also provided which allows for the installation of a SSD at the bottom of the case.

A 120mm fan can also be mounted on the inside of the drive bays by utilizing the frame provided with the case. This can move air over graphic cards.

The drives bays are not tool-less. They are fixed to the case using two pairs of thumb screws. This is not essentially a bad thing as this is intended to be a LAN party gaming case. Any accidental bump will probably be enough to damage a drive fitted on rails.

INTERIOR –IMPRESSIONS

I love what Antec has done to 902s interior. The inclusion of a cut out hole is probably the most notable improvement over the 900 design as well as the inclusion of a SSD adapter.

The drive bay converters have taken a traditional design and have improved it. The inclusion of removable dust filters (just like window type air conditioners, fan speed controllers and a 120mm fan adapter are highly appreciated.

AIR FLOW DYNAMICS

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In the default configuration, the 902 generates copious of air flow. In any enclosed system the exhaust of air must be higher than intake. Otherwise the component generated heat would transfer to the air and just stick around.

The large 200mm at the top as well as the usual rear mounted 120mm fans act as exhausts. The 2 front 120mm fans act as intakes. As all feature adjustable airflow the end user can create a dynamic balance between in take and exhaust.

The fans are definitely loud at their highest settings. At low speed settings they are much, much quieter.

ODDS n ENDS

All the fans have a standard 4 pin molex power connectors. A white accessories box holds all the screws etc to mount the motherboard and peripherals. A general installation leaflet is also provided with the case. Antec strongly recommends downloading the full manual from its website (green initiative?)

FINAL IMPRESSIONS

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The 902 is probably the near perfect case. It has everything going for it. From a solid and study construction, to inclusion of fan speed controllers, easily removable air filters, cut out for processor socket and great looking design (controversial, but hey I like it!).

The only thing Antec might have added is a carrying handle at the top. That would have made it absolutely perfect.

The case costs about a 10500 PKR ( US$120 Appx ) available at PC Xtremist. There are two cases that compete with the 902 at its price point. The Cooler Master Scout and HAF 922.

The scout has a carrying handle, but looses out on the ability to take in GPUs longer than 10”. It also doesn’t come with fan controllers and the dust filter for the front fan is nearly impossible to remove and clean separately from the front fascia. The scout is a tool less case, but as I have already said for a LAN party case it might be a good idea to screw everything in!

The HAF 922 comes closer to the 902 in terms of functionality. It has 200mm front and top fans and can fit even the longest of graphic cards without any alteration. The HAF does lack the fan speed controllers as well as the easy to remove dust filters that the Antec has. I’d give the edge to Antec as it does everything that HAF does and also includes extra goodies.

This case is very easy to recommend. If Antec ever decides to do a 903, I hope they add top carrying handles. I’d be in computer case heaven if they do that!

PROS

    1. Built like a tank (rugged)
    2. 4 bundled fans with speed controllers
    3. Easy to remove dust filters (very, very handy)
    4. Cut out for processor socket
    5. Side panel window and fan option (with dust filter)
    6. Integrated drive bay converters (two bundled with the case)
    7. Cable routing provisions
    8. Looks

CONS

    1. Not tool less (again debatable)
    2. Top carrying handle

WCCF would like to thank PC Xtremist for sending in the review unit.

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