Building computers is sometimes fun, and often the reward is worth all the hassle of going through and making sure every connection is just right. But sometimes, as with my last build, you end up wishing you’d used different parts, routed things differently, or just see so many things you want to change. By the time you realize that, you don’t want to start all over, and just say “to hell with it.”
As I mentioned previously, heat was a major concern of mine. Though you would find my idle and operational temps within range, it was still too high for comfort. These higher temps posed a barrier to things such as overclocking, which although unnecessary, is something I like to do for fun. Some of this was mitigated with new graphics, less expansion cards and more fans, but ultimately, my mid tower case was simply too small. I needed something new, and hopefully not too expensive.
The Antec Eleven Hundred is the latest flagship in Antec’s lineup of Gaming Chassis. Billed as a Super Mid Tower, the case falls in between the standard ATX – Mid Tower case and a full size ATX. Priced comfortably at approximately $100 USD, it straddles that tight boundary between quality and affordability, making it an ideal purchase for those of us who need just a little bit more space.
The Eleven Hundred measures in at a respectable 20.7 inches high, by 9.3 inches wide, and a depth of 21.5 inches. It weighs 15.3 pounds by itself, and is supported by four round rubberized feet that lift it about an inch or so off the ground. This helps with the PSU mounting, as it is on the bottom, and allows a better airflow.
A large 200 mm blue LED fan dominates the top portion of the case, protected by a mesh grill, with a second standard 120 mm fan mounted on the rear. Additional mounts throughout the case allow for up to seven additional 120 mm fans, with one of those being behind the motherboard and CPU for additional cooling. A power hub, powered by a standard 4 pin molex connector, is located above the 120 mm fan in the rear, and allows you to connect several of the fans there, for better cable management. The hub also allows some control of the fans, but mainly serves as a switch to turn the big 200 LED lights off.
Drive bays consist of three 5.25s featuring a tool- less design, two dedicated 2.5 bays, and an additional 6 tool-less 3.5 drive bays. You also find 2 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0 and Audio I/O ports near the top.
Other touches include the clear side panel window and the ability to mount XL-ATX, ATX, Micro-ATX and Mini ITX boards. The best feature I find, however, is the 9 expansion slots featuring a slotted bracket, rather than a solid piece of metal. Too many cases create this unnecessary barrier to air flow, and then try to sell you special slotted PCI brackets at a ridiculous cost.
Finally, I have to mention the cable routing. Slots in the case allow you to route your cables around through the back, making everything look nice and pretty, at least on one side. This too, is something I really like about this case, though others have it as well, because it not only looks neater, but also allows the air to flow freely throughout the case.
I approached this project with a groan, knowing that I would have to remove and meticulously clean each and every component of my PC. I stripped out all the fans from my old case, and dug up some older ones from previous builds. Cooling WAS NOT going to be an issue this time around. Though routing the cables just right and ensuring you have the right lengths does require some extra time, the effort was worth it. The difficulties I encountered mainly revolved around getting the fans to mount correctly. While this minor issue is admittedly trivial, it was annoying. I’m used to using standard parts and screws, and these just did not seem to work here at various points. Antec did provide all the parts necessary, but as the actual product manual is something you have to download, having my PC disassembled on the table posed a barrier. After some creative ingenuity and a few zip ties, I managed to get everything where I wanted it.
The other barrier was what to do with my card reader. The case does not feature a spot for memory cards anywhere, so I would have to install one. That can’t be done however, as there are no external 3.5 bays, so my old card reader now sits unused.
The immediate difference of note is a ten degree Celsius temperature drop. At idle, my CPU temps were sitting roughly around 30-35 degrees, after moving those exact same parts over, it now idles as low as 25 degrees Celsius. That figure alone makes me more than happy with this case. The LED lights are really nice to look at, and make this case a beauty, but in fairness, not having them would have no affect on this case whatsoever.
A couple of filters in some key areas help keep the case clean, notably below the power supply and in the front bezel, but without similar filtration throughout the case, the dust just comes in elsewhere.
The Antec Eleven Hundred is sturdy, steady and has all the space I need. Unless I go on a parts spending spree and try to stuff every possible crevice and slot available, there is plenty of room. Even the large Corsair heatsink on top of my CPU has plenty of clearance, nothing is touching where it should not be, and everything is right where it needs to be.
The power hub for the fans makes it really convenient to add additional cooling to the side panel and rear of the case, while the fan mount behind the motherboard is the star of the show, allowing for greater cooling on your most important piece of hardware.
The front fan mounts not only bring air into the case, but also drag it over the hard drives, eliminating the need for buying aftermarket HDD coolers. With fan mounts on either side of the hard drive cage, the air flow is literally dragged across the drives at a constant speed, keeping them exceptionally cool.
The design of the case gives it an almost industrial look. By turning off the LED light, and using standard fans, this case could serve double duty in a professional work environment.
The cable management system eliminates the need for buying an expensive modular PSU. Routing the cables through the case, they come out just where you need them with plenty of room, all the unused cables are neatly tucked away behind the motherboard mount, and it looks tidy. This makes cleaning the case with a duster a lot easier.
Mounting all the drives was simple, in fact the only time I needed a screwdriver at all was when I mounted the motherboard. The drives and PCI brackets both use a tool-less design, with handscrews on the brackets, and snap on rails for the drives.
One of the all important factors to any build is noise. True, that is more of a result of the components you choose, but stuffing them all in a case sometimes amplifies the noise level. With the Eleven Hundred, I found a slight, but noticeable drop in the amount of noise my PC made.
The lack of any external 3.5 bays limits what you can place on the front panel. Though you can buy adapters, or even components that are designed to fit the larger 5.25 bay, it would be nice to have ONE spot to put something you already own in. The front bezel snaps on and off, but is made of plastic, with a metal mesh covering the front. With the rest of the case as sturdy as it is, I would have expected the front bezel to be made similarly. The amount of force needed to remove it the first time makes me worry that the clips holding it on could snap off.
The control switches for the power hub on the rear of the case are rather small. The only thing I can reach easily and see clearly is the switch to turn the fan LED lights on and off. Presumably there is a control to adjust fan speed, but it is not clearly marked, nor easily reached unless you use a small screwdriver.
No manual. Sorry Antec, you made a WONDERFUL case, but you need to include a manual. Going green is fine, but you need to have something to reference when you build your PC. Without it you rely on experience, intuition, and luck.
I think if I were to do anything else differently, I would be perhaps recommend a version of this case for sale with some more fans. As a customer, I would gladly shell out a bit more money for this case over others, if additional fans were included as part of the price. As an option, I would suggest to Antec to market three versions of this case. One as it is now, one with all the extra fans included, and one with extra LED fans. It would be well worth the additional price to have these fans on hand, and not have to install them.
All in all, the Eleven Hundred is a fine case for someone needing extra room, better airflow, or just looking to have a tidy case. Its cooling performance, with extra fans installed, speaks for itself. The lack of a manual and no external 3.5 bays are something to note, but are still surmountable obstacles.
Rick first got his start in gaming with the Atari 2600 console, and it was all downhill from there. Now he spends his free time writing about games and technology for Sergeant Merrell, and is also on the Off Duty Gamers staff. His prior service as a United States Marine, and in law enforcement, give him a peculiar sense of humor, so be advised.