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Antec Dark Fleet DF-85 full-tower chassis review

by Matt Davey on 6 August 2010, 16:57 3.0

Tags: Dark Fleet DF-85, Antec

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A good look around

USB 3.0, baby

As part of the three-holed handle at the top of the DF-85 there is a letterbox-shaped area featuring the DF-85’s party trick - a single 2.5in SSD-compatible hot-swap SATA drive-bay in a smoked-plastic cowling.

SSDs ahoy

It’s nice enough although a little crudely done, as we’d personally like to see the SATA interface itself further back so more of the drive is covered, and given the price point of the DF-85, we’d also like to have the interface itself covered up.

Water-cooling grommets

Further back the DF-85 features a pair of two-speed 140mm fans, lacking the LEDs such that there’s no Saturday night fever going on when the DF-85’s doing its thing in a dark room.

Antec seems to have given up on the design theme here with the DF-85; it’s a prime spot to continue the framework-design featured on the front of the chassis; alas it's stopped with the bare fans on show, which is a shame.

Round the back the speed-controllers for the four fans in the top and rear of the DF-85 have been mounted in a single panel. A simple solution which we’ve seen from Antec before, but it still works well.

There’s a pair of red-LED two-speed 120mm fans alongside the fan controller and I/O panel, along with the usual seven expansion slots below, the last of which features the pass-through for USB 3.0 cables to the front panel.

Additionally, the usual water-cooling bungs are on the right and, finally, the bottom-mounted PSU plate round off the rear, catering for the standard-sized units as well as Antec’s exclusive CP-series.  

A bit of clutter

Antec provides four additional cable-straps in the accessories bag to go with the two pre-fitted behind the motherboard area, and, as you can see, provides an expansive cut-out on the rear of the motherboard area for all the various complex mounting systems available on the market now.

With the large number of cables coming from the front panel of the DF-85 it’s a shame that the firm hasn’t provided a routing hole at the top of the chassis to push the required cabling down the back of the motherboard tray. Instead, we’re left with the unsightly clutter of cables coming into the main chassis cavity.

The side panel on the other side of the DF-85 features two Perspex windows, the smaller of which features holes to mount a 120mm fan to cool the graphics card area, should you so wish.

Sleek lines

Underneath the side panel is a matte black interior, with rubber grommets in the base for seating the PSU in place, additionally using the supplied mount you’re also able to fit a 2.5in SSD to the floor of the DF-85.

 Rubberised seating

We can only think this was a very late idea, given the installation instructions are provided on a separate sheet from the supplied manual. Added late it may have been, but we’re sure pleased to see it.

In total the DF-85 features nine internal 3.5in drive bays, four of which are provided for via Fleet-Swap™ – Antec’s own hot-swap hard-drive system which can be moved to any of the available bays through small screws on the rear of each pair.

Looking inside

Hard-drive placement is affected by the enormous graphics cards in today’s market, although with a maximum card length of 318mm, all GPUs should comfortably fit inside the DF-85.

Each of the drives can be secured in place with a single screw, meaning the drive is quick to swap out, even when not using one of the four Fleet-Swap™ slots. The locking latch for the front Fleet Release access doors is alongside the nine 3.5in bays, we note.

Up top there are three externally accessible 5.25in bays, each of which has been designed to provide more drive depth than normal to ensure all drives fit flush with the front of the DF-85.