Antec’s got a very solid name when it comes to components, and once most folks build a rig into an Antec-designed case they tend to stick with the brand. My own rig is built into one, and that of more than a few folk around the office, and we’ve not heard many complaints. However, Antec’s new Eleven Hundred case (gallery here) does manage tick off one or two of our pet-hates.
The Eleven Hundred’s exterior design is pared back compared to previous ‘Hundred’ cases. There’s only a hint of the industrial styling, though the lineage is plain enough. The front fascia is nearly all mesh, with the usual array of IO options, including two USB3 ports. The real pleasure here is that this is one of the first cases we’ve seen with an internal connector for the faster new standard, so you no longer have to fiddle about with pass-throughs. Woot!
The top panel features well-made plastic power and reset buttons, and a raised mesh panel for the top-mounted 200mm exhaust fan. The gaps in the mesh are a bit on the wide side, so be careful not to drop screws; they do terrible damage to a system while it’s running.
Both side-panels have fan mounts. The left-handed panel boasts two set in a plastic window – both partly rubber-grommeted to help with silent running – while a single meshed mount is stamped into the motherboard side of the case. This is a great option to have if you really, really want to cool the heck out of your CPU, but it will make cable-management a little trickier. Just below the case window (which is very generous) is a small tab to pull out a mesh panel that protects access to the PSU mount. We could stand to see a few more of these spread throughout.
The back plate is pretty standard, with expansion backing plates that boast airflow improving cutouts and goodly-sized cutouts for watercooling.
A clean interior leaves room for a lot of build options. You can fit in CPU coolers up to 170mm, and VGA cards up to 330mm in length, and there’s a tonne of room behind the mobo plate for taking cables out of the way. There’s a host of cable cut-outs, too, and all are nicely grommeted for protection. Even if you’re not a cable-wizard, this is a great case for a neat build.
That neat build is going to be important, too, because there are only exhaust fans at stock; any cables stretching through the case will block airflow. If you’re running a modern X79 system that’s been built with some form of watercooling loop, it’s not so important, but extra fans are otherwise mandatory.
The drive bays are cleanly designed, though they do rely on tool-less options. The optical bays have a simple push-pull mechanism (really, what’s wrong with screws?!), while the HDD bays utilise a snap-on rail system. It’s well-designed, complete with rubber mounting points to keep the drives quiet. The Eleven Hundred also boasts two dedicated SSD mounts.
There’s an awful lot of good stuff here, but with the case market getting so crowded with great, cheap cases from Bitfenix, and awesome higher-end models from the likes of Corsair and others, we’re finding it very hard to judge just where the Eleven Hundred sits in the wider landscape. There’s almost nothing wrong with the Eleven Hundred, but that only makes the few mis-steps that much more glaring. For one thing, the side panels and expansion slots are all secured by hybrid plastic/metal screws, which we just don’t trust in the long term. It’s a good price, but only a few more dollars will get you more fans and much the same build options, too. Hell – there are cheaper cases on the market that have more fans.
Really, the Eleven Hundred is fine. But these days, fine’s just not quite enough – it looks like Antec needs to play some catch-up.