Review: An afternoon with Antec's Skeleton PC case

Antec's Skeleton is the strangest PC case you can buy that is not also a ridiculous one. This is because it's not a case at all, but rather a naked frame designed to hold your components neatly beneath a huge fan. It looks great, though it might not after you've filled it with old computer junk. The only way it could have been better would be for the swooping ornamental arches to be made of pig iron rather than plastic, for a fully industrial effect. Nonetheless, it's solid and well-engineered, with no sharp edges. Trays for motherboard, power supply and peripherals slide neatly in and out.
Scott Richards, a senior Vice President at Antec, told me it was intended for high-end gamers, but attracted interest from style magazines. "We were a little nervous," Richards said. "We showed in in secret at CES last year, to ... advanced computer types. The response was and has been amazing." They did not want to over-adorn it with clever features, he added, in the hope that it would attain a timeless look. Transferring the contents of another PC into it was a snap: I've built a handful of computers, and this was the least harrowing experience. Perhaps this'll make it interesting to both experienced system builders, who want easy access to the innards, and to new hands wanting something that will make setup and troubleshooting easier.
It's bigger than you imagine it to be, about 16 inches square at the base. This, however, makes it large enough to accomodate full-size ATX gear and big video cards. The mainboard sits on top, directly beneath the fan, with space for two optical drives and two 3.5" drives below. A tiny Mini-ITX version will be out presently. Two USB ports, firewire, e-SATA and audio I/O line one of the bars. Its 250mm fan barely hums; of course, if you put loud stuff inside it, there's no enclosure to dampen the sound. There are cons, mostly obvious ones. It's vulnerable to dust, liquids, small kids and pets. It takes up a lot of space, and is, despite its minimalist airs, an ostentatious design. If you hate visible cables, this is simply not the box for you. The fans' shifting disco lights are cheesy, but you can turn them off. Finally, at $160 it's quite expensive. You don't get a free power supply, either, meaning your total outlay will likely be more than $200. A wonderful design married to quality workmanship, Antec's Skeleton offers something nothing else does. That said, I expect it's pointless trying to convince anyone one way or another – who could not have made up theirs mind the instant they saw it? Update: Commenter Vamidus points out that Tech Station already makes similar – if less attractive – workbenches.

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12 Responses to Review: An afternoon with Antec's Skeleton PC case

  1. katkins says:

    Murphy’s law dictates that a dropped metallic object will always bound in the place mostly likely to fry your hard drive. (pphhzzzt!)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Really, one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen. I suppose if you use it in a clean room it would be great… Air flow isn’t gonna save a single component with extreme blanket of dust insulation covering it.

  3. Halloween Jack says:

    Man, if I had any excuse to replace my present case, and didn’t need to replace just about everything in it, I would totally go for this.

  4. grimc says:

    Hmm. I thought one of the points of this case was that because of it’s (cough) open architecture, the need for noisy fans was less, so noise wouldn’t be a problem.

  5. Rob Beschizza says:

    “It’s not a PC case, it’s a PC work bench”

    Vamidus, please read posts before commenting on them. The second sentence is “This is because it’s not a case at all”.

  6. Rob Beschizza says:

    #8 good point on the dust. It’s not like my “enclosed” computer have been immune to them, and cleaning them out always meant laboriously opening the case!

  7. Dean says:

    I actually laughed when I saw this. Not because of the case, it looks pretty awesome, but because of the intensely dusty keyboard/harbinger of things to come in the second photo.

  8. shMerker says:

    Closed computer cases slow down dust getting in, but they also keep it from escaping once it’s in, where it then collects on grates and blocks air-flow, ultimately keeping heat from escaping the case. If you put an object in open air and blow air across it all the time it should have less dust collecting on it than anything in the room. You do intend on using your computer, right?

    I saw this at Fry’s the other day. Really loved the idea. I didn’t realize it was so easy to slide parts out of it though. Maybe next time I’m building a computer.

    Also, #5, if you’re still reading this: I suggest you open your computer case and blow out the dust that’s caked on every surface.

  9. Rob Beschizza says:

    I had to fetch a bunch of PC gear from the basement :)

    The case is completely silent. The fan is huge, so produces only the slightest low hum, but produces plenty of airflow.

    As long as your gear is in good nick, it’ll be fine. However, if your power supply, video card or chipset fans are making any noise, you’ll hear every decibel.

    A standard 80mm case fan is also supplied, which mounts alongside the hard drive section of the frame.

  10. Anonymous says:

    That’s an interesting design. Not worth $160, but maybe it will get more companies making alternatives the the standard beige box.

    By the way, it wouldn’t be too hard to sand-cast an aluminum or iron copy of the plastic frame in your back yard. Below are a couple DIY guides:

  11. vamidus says:

    It’s not a PC case, it’s a PC work bench. You can test/diagnose/swap parts easily. You can buy similar “cases” here:

  12. Enochrewt says:

    I’m about to build a new box, and this will fit the bill amazingly well.

    And for those who are worried about dust, 5 seconds to spray a can of air into it’s near naked frame once a month doesn’t seem to be a stretch. It’d be easier to dust than a normal PC.

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