Choosing a chassis can be one of the most complicated decisions for your next PC build. There's no shortage of choice and if you get trigger happy with your credit card you could easily find ways of blowing a couple of hundred pounds.
But we're in favour of saving a few bob where possible, so while we've examined our fair share of premium enclosures, we reckon it's time to turn our attention to the often-overlooked sub-£50 market. And what better place to start than the Antec One.
Shop around and you can find this chassis available for under £40, a fee that's about right for a budget build. But the fact that it's affordable doesn't necessarily mean that it has to look cheap.
Antec One specification
|Materials||Steel Frame, Plastic Front|
|Motherboard Support||ATX / Micro ATX / Mini ITX|
|Drive Bays||External||5.25in x 3|
|Internal||3.5in x 5
2.5in x 2
|Cooling||1x 120 mm top exhaust
1x 120 mm rear exhaust
1x 120 mm side intake (optional)
1x 120 mm front intake (optional)
1x 120 mm / 140 mm bottom fan (optional)
|I/O Panel||USB 3.0 x 2
Mic x 1, Audio x 1
|Max. Graphics Card Length||266mm|
|Dimensions||(H) 463mm x (W) 241mm x (D) 530mm|
Considering the price tag, Antec has done a good job of making the One look more expensive than it really is. The all-black finish is smart - and extends throughout the interior - and at 463mm in height it's reasonable in size. The matte finish on the exterior is susceptible to scuffs, so you'll need to handle it with care during the build process, but it looks surprisingly smart; we like the way the mesh front panel extends down the entire face of the chassis, despite there being three externally-usable drive bays.
Bulging side panels aren't usually our cup of tea, but Antec has its angles right, resulting in symmetrical bumps that blend well into the overall design. Keeping things simple, the I/O panel consists of two USB 3.0 ports and audio/microphone jacks, sandwiched between a small reset button on the left and a large power button on the right. The USB ports are designed to connect directly to a SuperSpeed header on your motherboard, but Antec goes the extra step and bundles in a 3.0-to-2.0 adapter for older hardware.
We quite like the external appearance, but cuts have to be made to hit these lower price points and lifting up the Antec One reveals plenty about the materials used. The chassis weighs just 4.9kg - it's the first case we've been able to pick up easily using one hand - and the lack of mass is reflected in the relatively-thin steel. The overall enclosure is sturdy enough, but there are elements throughout that will bend easily if you aren't careful.
Despite the thin steel and the plastic frontage, build quality is surprisingly good, with no jagged edges, tightly-secured side panels and strong rubber feet. Perusing the specification table to the right, we can see that Antec is doing its best to retain a high-end feature set.
Seven expansion slots are available - with support for graphics cards measuring up to 266mm in length - along with three optical drive bays, five 3.5in hard-disk bays and a pair of 2.5in bays for SSDs. ATX, MicroATX and MiniITX motherboards are supported, as is a bottom-mounted ATX PSU with a pull-out dust filter, and another pleasant surprise is that a pair of three-pin 120mm fans are included as standard.
Antec chooses to have the default fans configured as rear and top exhaust, but users wanting to expand on that will find provisions have been made for a 120mm front intake, a 120mm side intake and a 120/140mm bottom intake.
Airflow shouldn't be a problem - aided of course by the almost entirely mesh front panel - and there appears to be enough room for a couple of high-end graphics cards (a theory which we'll soon be putting to the test).