Antec is one of those companies that right around the corner has something new and improved to look at it seems all the time. Just around the time I am just starting to miss their products, one will just show up at my door to remind me they are still over there doing what they do best.
Over the years I have seen the evolution of the "Hundred" series of cases from the original 900 that I owned before my reviewing days, along with almost every inception of them since. While I had to make my 900 do what I thought it should have when I got it, the overall design and the sheer amount of airflow that that chassis delivered made it a favorite for a lot of buyers back in the day.
Since those days, some five or six years ago, Antec has been listening to the market and has dropped a few more "Hundred" cases since, like the One Hundred, Two Hundred and the Three Hundred, we are now jumping to the higher end of them, up near the Twelve Hundred, but not quite, as this chassis is not a full tower. As such surpassing the Twelve Hundred naming scheme would be wrong. That isn't to say this mid-tower design is ill equipped, rather the opposite really. Along with a lot more room than the 900 offered, there is options for cooling that are strategically placed to get the best of any fan you do choose to add. You also get one of the largest CPU access holes in the tray I have seen and this helps to allow board from Mini-ITX to XL-ATX all to have easy access.
Usually I give a lot of the secrets up too early in my writing and there is definitely more to be covered with our latest submission. Antec has delivered the Eleven Hundred Gaming Mid-Tower chassis for us to have a look at and that is what I think we should get to doing.
For those of you thinking you have seen what these cases have to offer, hang in there, I think this chassis may just surprise you with the layout and the sub-$100 price point that this chassis is demanding currently. Stick with me as I think the wait will be worth it.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
This steel and plastic mid tower chassis weighs in at 15.3 pounds empty and measures in at over 20" tall, 9.3" wide and sits 21.5" deep. Steeping outside of the dimensions and moving over to the external looks, it is mostly an expanse of black, but it is the fine touches that really dress up what could otherwise be a pretty ordinary looking chassis on the outside.
The front of the chassis has a thick plastic edge on both sides with insets cut into them and mesh inserts applied. This goes along with the otherwise full mesh front that covers the three exposed bays and the intake area below. Finishing off the looks on the front is a chromed Antec name applied to the bottom. The left side of the chassis offers an inset window with a beveled edge and room for a pair of optional fans through honeycomb mesh molded into the window. The right side of the chassis offers a spot to cool behind the CPU socket as well as a large bump-out in the panel to allow for mass amounts of wiring there.
Internally there is a trio of tool-less 5.25" bays at the top in the front and just below those is a rack for the hard drives. This rack starts with a pair of 2.5" drive slots that use a screw to hold them in place. As for the six 3.5" drive bays that complete the rack, they use rails provided in the hardware box. There is room for a 120mm fan in front of the hard drives, but they are optional in this build. Also optional is the two fan positions on the motherboard side of the rack where a pair of 120mm fans can be clipped in. The motherboard tray will hold Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX and XL-ATX motherboards and also offers a huge CPU cooler access hole, 11 wire tie points, four holes with grommets and two without to manage all of the wiring. At the top of the chassis there is a 200mm blue LED fan to exhaust the convective heat rising in the chassis. The back of the case offers a 120mm exhaust fan, nine expansion slots and a bottom mounted PSU with a dust filter.
To find the Antec Eleven Hundred, all you have to do is look. Via Google Shopping, I found there are over 100 locations I can buy one of these mid-tower chassis. I will say this, shop smart with this purchase. While most respectable names in e-tailing are asking $99.99 as the base price for the Eleven Hundred, I am seeing links to where I can get this chassis shipped to my door for $96.99 from J&R as they are currently offering an instant rebate when you purchase it through them.
Since I know the top off limit for most buyers is around the $150 mark, with a chassis like the Eleven Hundred and the price it is being offered at, you should be able to customize the airflow any way you want and still stay under that magic number. That being said, have a look at the packaging and then we can dive right into the Eleven Hundred from Antec and see just what this chassis has to offer.
As with anything Antec these days, the Eleven Hundred also is shipped in shiny black packaging with bright yellow accents. On the front of this one there is a view of the top and top third of the front of the chassis with the line that the Eleven Hundred is the advanced gaming authority.
Under the 25th anniversary logo there is an image of the front and left side of the Eleven Hundred giving you your first glance at the window in this side panel.
The back of the packaging goes into detail covering ten features found on and around the chassis. It covers the room inside and behind the motherboard tray, along with the drive installations, the filter, the fan hub and more.
The last panel of the exterior packaging gives you a look at the front and right side of the Eleven Hundred. Two things pop right out; the fan hole behind the socket and the bump-out of the panel to go over bunches of wires.
Out of the box, the Eleven Hundred gets high end inner packaging to protect this chassis in transit. Not only do they use high density foam on both ends over Styrofoam, but they also ran a layer of cardboard up the front to keep it safe as well. Underneath it all there is a thick plastic liner used along with static clink plastic on both side of the window to keep it scratch-free as well.
Antec Eleven Hundred Gaming Mid-Tower Chassis
The front of the chassis is made with an ABS plastic frame that is thick at the top and the sides to give the panel strength. In the grooves of the side there is mesh inserts to blend with the mesh that runs from the I/O panel to the bottom of the chassis with the Antec name on it.
Speaking of the I/O panel, this one from Antec offers a tiny HDD activity LED, a pair of 3.5mm audio and microphone jacks, a pair of USB 2.0 ports, a pair of USB 3.0 ports and a tiny power LED on the far right.
At the top of the chassis you can locate the power and reset button near the front bezel. Near the back of the case there is a raised area of mesh that is shipped with a 200mm fan exhausting through it.
The left side panel is flat and actually is indented around the angled cut window that is applied to it. The window is quite large and gives a good view of the components and has spots for a pair of 120mm fans if your video cards require the assistance they will provide to stay cool.
In the back you can see the doors are held on with thumbscrews on both sides. Between the panels you will find the fan switch to turn on the fans connected to the hub above the rear I/O area and mesh for the exhaust fan. Under all of that there are nine ventilated slots above the large hole for the power supply at the bottom.
The right side of the Eleven Hundred offers a large bumped-out section behind the motherboard tray that is roughly a half of an inch deeper than the rest of the panel. Not only does it allow tons of room for wiring, but you can also add an additional 120mm fan here to cool the CPU socket.
Under the chassis there are four plastic round feet set pretty near the outermost corners for stability. In the back, under the power supply, there is a removable and washable dust filter that pulls out the left side of the case for easy access.
Inside the Antec Eleven Hundred
With both side panels off the chassis you can see the hardware box shipped inside of the hard drive bays, the moisture absorbing paper and you can't see the wires. That is because they are neatly tied up on the optical drive bays.
The three optical bays are shifted down a bit to leave room for the front I/O panel and wiring. Each of the three bays has a tool-less clip on it to allow you to just slide the drive in until it locks to secure it. If you plan to travel this case, there are screw holes on the opposite side for really secure mounting.
The hard drive bays start at the top offering two bays for 2.5" drives. These just slide into the rack and can be secured with a screw, but are not needed. As for the six 3.5" bays below, they use a rail that you add to each side of the drive and then you slide in the assembly until the tabs lock into place.
In the roof of the chassis is this 200mm fan. The black frame and blades blend into the chassis, but once powered, the glow of blue LEDs from this fan make it much more noticeable.
This motherboard tray has plenty of wire management options and places to tie up loose wires. It also offers either the second or third largest CPU cooler access hole I have seen. On top of that, you can even fit an XL-ATX motherboard inside of the Eleven Hundred.
In the back you find the 120mm black exhaust fan above the nine expansion slots and covers that are held in with plastic covered thumb screws. The mesh area next to them offers a pair of pass-through holes for tubing if you do plan to water cool with this chassis.
The wiring is nice and black on the USB and Audio cables. The front panel wires however are a rainbow of colors and won't hide as easy against the black interior. All of the wiring in my opinion is too short for the chassis, as it barely makes it to the connection points in a clean manner.
With the right panel out of the way you can see how well the layout of tie points and management holes are placed, along with the fact that the inset of the tray is really deep and there is a bump in the door, so hiding wires here won't be an issue.
When I said there is a lot of room here, I meant it. As you can see there is over an inch from the tray to the edge of the chassis. That combined with the near half an inch with the bump on the panel, there is 1.5" of room to place a fan and hide all the wires you don't want to look at through the window.
Accessories and Documentation
Usually with these boxes you get a small bag of screws and a few wire ties, but I was surprised at first by the full nature of the hardware box.
Taking the six wire ties out of the bag and unfolding the paper insert, you find some basics about the chassis done in four languages. They do point out all of the features and shows where they are located, but Antec assumes you have built a PC before and doesn't go over everything in fine detail.
Both the front and back of the insert offers the same information. Since the front was done in four languages, it is only fitting that the back of the insert offer four more here.
These are the 12 rails for the right and left side of the hard drives. With two pins on each rail that line up with the screw holes in the drives, you line up the rails on a hard drive and slide all three pieces into a bay and click it into place.
As for screws and miscellaneous metal bits, you get a good set of hardware here too. There is a set of four screws for the door panel fans with the larger holes in the window, the other four long screws are for the front fans. Finishing off the left side is the motherboard screws. In the middle there are four more risers plus the six already in the case, fan screws for the front case fan, PSU screws and miscellaneous drive screws for 2.5" storage drives and optical drives.
The Build and Finished Product
Removing the front bezel requires you to pull from the bottom and the clips let lose pretty easily. With the bezel off you can see the I/O panel and wiring stays with the case. You do need to pull this to remove the covers for the 5.25" bays or adding any fans here.
I removed the top bay cover, slid in the DVD drive and the bezel snaps right back into place leaving me with this as a result. I went with the top bay because I figured any lower and it would destroy the continuity of all of that mesh down the face.
My ATX motherboard, AIO cooler and the Radeon HD 7950 all fit with room to spare and with the SSD mounted up, it leaves room for optional equipment such as water cooling to fit in areas otherwise unused.
In the back I just realized I have the UD7 dust shield in and not the one for the UD5, but what is a LAN port missing really going to matter? As for the fit, the dust shield went in pretty easy and the card and PSU line right up and are easy to secure.
Not installing the optional fan in the back I didn't have to worry much about the routing, but if you plan to install one, make sure the PSU leads are long enough to get around it, specifically a 4-pin Molex to power the fan hub and the 8-pin EPS cable. As for the front I/O wiring, I have it stretched to the limit to use the bottom management hole. The front panel headers aren't even that long.
With everything back together you do get a great view of the PC inside of the case, but for those that don't have plans to add any fans in the door, the mesh really blocks any view of the video card(s) inside.
Here is one last look at the Antec Eleven Hundred, just before I plug in the PSU and boot it up for testing.
As long as the switch is in the proper position, if not you can change it, but the 200mm fan in the top will power up and glow pretty intensely with a flood of blue LED light.
As for any obtrusive LEDs flashing in front of your face or keeping you awake while trying to sleep, there is only the pair of tiny LEDs like the one on the right I caught, just barely glowing blue. With the HDD activity light being just an occasional flicker with the SSD, it wasn't an issue either.
If you ask me and if you are still with me this far into the review, you are asking me, I found the Eleven Hundred to be a bit too minimalistic. That isn't to say that there aren't some cool features like tool-less drive bays, plenty of management holes, a huge CPU cooler access hole and the chassis is great to look at and really strong. What I have issue with is that for around $100 I can get much better equipped cases with similar options, that actually paid finer attention to the details than I found in the Eleven Hundred.
I mean, seriously, the wires are still this short? That is one of the reasons I had to hack up my 900 was to hide the wiring that needs just a couple of inches, maybe three just to be on the safe side of not causing buyer to cringe as they realize how they "have" to run the wiring and it isn't likely the way you wanted it.
That isn't to say there isn't a bright side to the Eleven Hundred, there really is. First off, for a case I can get for just under one hundred dollars, I will say this chassis is one of the strongest. Even with the panels off the case, I was hard pressed to be able to flex this frame at all. There is a sufficient amount of optional fan holes to keep buyers interested. Since the Eleven Hundred comes with only the 120mm in the back and the blue LED 200mm fan in the top, it is up to you to populate the two in the front, the two that can clip onto the inside of the hard drive cages, the two in the window to cool the video cards or even one to cool behind the motherboard tray. While it is going to cost an average of $5-10 a fan to fill said holes, you can completely customize the fans for flow, LEDs or you don't think a gaming rig should be quieter than a jet engine. Speaking of the fans, once I powered the chassis and has full power to them, they are very audible. Up close the levels were in the 50 dB range and it was audible even at much longer distances.
Personally this isn't the chassis I would build in and really for only two reasons. I don't have video card cooling issues so the break in the window is not something I want, nor do I want the option later on, so I would have preferred a solid window. The second reason is that if I were to customize the cooling, I would have to take out the fans in there and end up having to buy somewhere in the range of nine fans that are much more silent and those don't come cheap. That would take a case that I got delivered for just under $100 if I shopped right and double the price tag. The chassis is designed well and as I said, it does have a lot going for it and I even think they finally got the aesthetics down really well, outside of the window.
There are just too many little things that are building up along the way that are going to affect the score. Even as rash as all that sounds, I do really like the Eleven Hundred - it just doesn't hit that "Oooo, must have" button for me.