As you saw with my last review from Antec, they are turning a corner and offering new and better products for the end user. I know a laptop cooler isn't the most advanced tech on the planet, but it's nice to see a major brand accommodating all of your needs. With a bit of creativity and the ability to listen to their customer base, Antec is again stepping up to the plate with new products.
I'm sure by now you are all tired of my Antec 900 stories, but here they actually apply. I never did get to look at the 1200 from Antec, so the 900 is as close as my eyes can get to a comparison. Out of the box my 900 was loud at full speed, but it did offer some of the best air flow for any case at that time. According to most reviews, the 1200 offered all of that plus a bit more room for a cleaner build. More fans, better wire management and more room made the 1200 a very functional full tower chassis compared to the cramped accommodations I was used to in the 900.
Today I get to take a look at the Dark Fleet series of chassis. From what I can gather, Antec took their already popular designs and added a bunch of options and a new lighting color. Things like easily removable fan filters in the front, fans swinging out of the front for easy cleaning, the ability to mount a radiator inside the chassis and new red bladed fans with red LED lighting are just some of the options. While the Dark Fleet does depend on the previous generation cases for most of the design cues, the outside does get a different look this time around as well. Have a look with me as I open the DF-85 and see what Antec has devised in the chassis department.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
On the outside you will find a redesigned front for the Dark Fleet. Made from black plastic, there is the main bezel, guards for your optical drives and doors that open on the bottom that house individual fans. The main body of the DF-85 is made from steel and features a smooth black interior and a textured black exterior. In this area, things look very similar to the 1200; even the windowed panel looks very familiar. Under the hood is where Antec made a lot of the changes. You will find plenty of wire management holes, more space enough behind the motherboard tray and a red lighting scheme from the included fans. If you dig a little deeper into the DF-85, you will find up to five hot swappable hard drive bays and even a locking system to keep those front bays closed for security.
Speaking of the fans, you will find there is no lack of them in the DF-85. In the front there are three 120mm fans. Each fan emits a red glow of light and their speeds can be individually controlled with the twist of a dial. On the top, you will find twin 140mm fans. If you choose to remove them, this space will easily accommodate a 140.2 radiator. Antec keeps the feel of the 1200 in the back of the DF-85 with two 120mm fans to exhaust warm air from the chassis. The rear fans also come with red LEDs to add a bit of color to the inside of the chassis. All 4 of these are Antec TwoCool Fans with four little switches in the rear of the case for speed control.
The Dark Fleet series from Antec is already on shelves, so finding one isn't the real issue. Deciding if this is the case for you is the real decision to make. With a price tag of $169.99 at Newegg, this chassis is priced under cases like the HAF X and Obsidian series cases. Does the DF-85 offer what the big boys can at a better price? I am about to delve into the chassis and see if the Antec Dark Fleet 85 is "the" case to buy with your hard earned money.