Antec Skeleton

Antec's enclosure lets you do your testing without having to deal with panels and other nuisances. We give a blow-by-blow account of how it works.

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Antec Skeleton
  • Antec Skeleton
  • Antec Skeleton
  • Antec Skeleton
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Pros

  • Makes testing components easier

Cons

  • HD audio connector too short

Bottom Line

Antec's Skeleton will make your life much easier when it comes time to swap stuff in or out, whether you're doing it because you need to pretest components prior to deployment in other equipment or just because you're tired of what you have.

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If you've ever been in the middle of a system build or component installation and thought to yourself, "I wish I could reach through the case but there's a panel in the way," then Antec may have a solution for you with its new — and very unconventional — Skeleton enclosure.

Antec's Skeleton is a frame with a removable drawer for components, a removable tray for the motherboard that sits atop the drawer and a honkin' big 250mm (9.84in!) fan sitting up on its head with tricolor LED lighting. Basically, it looks like a cross between an arch bridge and a skinned Terminator. While it does have a bottom (sort of), it has no true sides, no back, front or top panels — and, best of all, no solid intervening panels to block your access.

I test a lot of equipment. My hard drive testbed had pretty much reached the end of its lifespan, thanks to an older chip set (and the fact that I've misplaced both side panels). It was time to build a new platform, and I thought I'd give the Skeleton a try. Stuffing the Skeleton

Putting some meat on the bones of this Skeleton is beyond simple. Two thumbscrews hold the drawer in place. Loosen them (they won't fall out) and then slide the draw out of the frame. While that will give you access to the motherboard tray, you can remove the tray itself entirely by removing the three screws that hold it onto the drawer.

Thankfully, I encountered no sharp edges no matter where in the case I jammed my hands, but that doesn't mean you'll be able to fit your whole hand anywhere, especially if they're big, old ham hocks like mine. I was able to overlap my fingers at every point from anywhere inside so that made life relatively easy.

I selected an ASUS P5QL-E motherboard, which has six SATA ports, allowing me to take advantage of the Skeleton's six hard drive bays. Unfortunately, that didn't leave me any available ports for SATA optical drives or for the Skeleton's front-mounted eSATA port. I'm considering adding an Addonics 4-port eSATA card to the system for extra drive capacity.

Once the motherboard was in place, I decided to install the power supply unit (PSU) next. It's a good idea to install the power supply right after the motherboard, because once you've put the drives in place, it gets a little cramped in that drawer. There is a way around that: If necessary, you can route cables by turning the case over on one of its sides or its back, but it's easier when the front of the drawer is empty.

Antec, of course, recommends one of its Signature series models: the 650 or 850 (watts). These devices are 80 Plus Bronze certified PSUs, which means they adhere to more stringent voltage and power output levels than uncertified power supplies. That's why they're great for a system being used as a testbed. The Signature 860 retails from about $US213 to $272, so if your power requirements aren't critical, find yourself a nice sub-$100 PSU and save some money.

Antec doesn't recommend the newer PSUs with 120mm fans because of airflow problems with their internal fans, but the Skeleton will accommodate them and almost anything else, if you follow the directions.

A note: I found myself needing to add an extra power cable to the Signature 850 PSU (it has modular cables) so I could hook up a drive on the side panel as an afterthought. The plug-in module on the PSU was reachable but needed more effort than I was willing to expend, so I settled for an adapter cable attached to one of the existing lines. In general, as far as the Skeleton is concerned, it's a good idea to think twice so you'll only need to cable once.

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