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Antec Skeleton

The Heatsink's connected to the left bone

To try and alleviate the internal drive capacity concerns, Antec has included four extra hard drive trays, into which you can mount extra 3.5” hard drives, which are then hung from slots on the side of the upper tier. No, really.

We were just baffled by this decision at first, especially as other than a metal lip there’s nothing else to secure the drives to the chassis as they hang there like some kind of high tech parasites attached to the flanks of the Skeleton. The cabling required to connect these side drives is also extraordinarily messy, with SATA and power connectors running all over the place and no tidy option for their cable routing.

While we appreciate the attempt Antec has made here to improve storage, it stinks of a last minute botch job, and we see fitting your drives in such an exposed and precarious position as more of a liability than an asset.

The lower tier of the hardware tray is also home to the PSU mount, which is actually rather nifty, as the PSU is mounted sideways on a removable tray of its own. The tray, like the rest of the Skeleton, is very well made and is fitted with vibration dampening rubber pads too - a nice little touch although somewhat odd considering other vibration prone hardware like hard drives get no vibration dampening.

Antec Skeleton Skin and Bones Antec Skeleton Skin and Bones
Click to enlarge - extra hard disks can be hung from the hardware tray

However, there are problems here too thanks to the positioning of the PSU in the centre of the unit to allow for larger 1000W+ units to fit and the limited space either side can make plugging in the power lead a real trial, as can reaching in to connect and manage modular power supplies. There’s also very little option for hiding cables away, although to be fair, doing this in a case without a single solid panel was always going to be difficult. For what it’s worth Antec has included a handful of reusable cable ties, but using our non-modular Xilence 700W power supply, the lower tier of the Skeleton was still a mess of cables.

Moving up to the motherboard mount itself we find a fully removable mounting plate for your core hardware – certainly a bonus, although most will never use it thanks to the ability for the whole hardware mount assembly to slide free from the frame. Needless to say installing our test setup’s motherboard and core hardware was a breeze with no case to get in the way. There are also plenty of pre-cut cable routing holes to make power and data cable threading up from the lower tier easy enough. However, a very serious problem arose when we tried to slide our completed hardware assembly back into place – our test setup’s heatsink wouldn’t fit beneath the plastic frame.

Antec Skeleton Skin and Bones Antec Skeleton Skin and Bones
Click to enlarge - as you can clearly see, there's not a lot of room for aftermarket coolers

In fact, we soon found that hardly any aftermarket heatsinks will fit into the Antec Skeleton and were unsuccessful trying to fit bit-tech favourites like the Thermalright Ultra 120 eXtreme, Akasa 965 and Zalman 9700. In fact not a single heatsink in our offices was able to fit beneath the Skeleton’s plastic frame (and as you can imagine, we have quite a few), and we were eventually forced to fit an Intel stock 775 heatsink – shudder.

We contacted Antec regarding this issue, who admited that a lot of heatsinks won’t fit and that only stock and specific low profile after market coolers will squeeze inside the plastic frame. While we appreciate the extra cooling provided by the large cooling fan, this is still nothing less than a disastrous design oversight considering the fact that the Antec Skeleton is being specifically targeted at enthusiasts and overclockers – we certainly don’t know many enthusiasts who’d be happy to run their system using just stock CPU cooling, and you’re not going to be overclocking anywhere close to your processor's best using just a stock heatsink, no matter how much airflow it’s getting.