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jmke 13th November 2008 16:10

Antec Skeleton chassis
The Antec Skeleton is a desperately frustrating product in so many ways, not least because we’d allowed ourselves to believe it could be something special, that it could prove that open air setups don’t have to just be for benchmarketeers like ourselves and that it really could offer a compelling alternative to the upgrade happy enthusiast.

The sad fact is though that the Skeleton has failed utterly in delivering any of these things and is in great danger of becoming a real white elephant for Antec. The build quality we've come to expect is still there, but the important design decisions seem to have missed out hugely important concerns like aftermarket coolers or tall graphics cards. The inability to support these products, which in the case of aftermarket coolers have been enthusiast bread and butter for years, borders on the unbelievable and is frankly an unforgivable omission.

Antec has itself said this case isn’t aimed at the mass market and instead at the enthusiast or overclocker, but what advanced system builder with any level of knowledge is going to want to overclock with just a stock heatsink, or at best a small low profile aftermarket cooler?

What’s perhaps the most frustrating thing is that in the course of a five minute conversation here in the office we’d come up with a handful of solutions to all these design flaws. The inclusion of a hinged section on the frame to allow access inside or even a slightly taller frame would have alleviated most of our concerns and made the Skeleton a slightly quirky, but interesting alternative to a normal chassis rather than the crippled proof of concept it’s been released as.

With prices starting at £129 the Skeleton goes from bad to borderline abysmal. £129 is just stupid money for what you’re getting here, no matter how well put together it is, especially considering the quality and feature sets of proper cases you can pick up for a similar amount. For the same cash you pick up excellent cases like the Cooler Master HAF 932 or Akasa Omega, both of which can deliver excellent airflow performance while also getting the basics like supporting aftermarket coolers right. As a dedicated hardware test bench it's even harder to recommend, with the frame interfering with the ultra easy access to hardware that we ourselves require when installing and testing hardware.

While the Antec Skeleton is certainly an innovative product – a rare commodity in the case industry – its design flaws have turned what could have been a unique and exciting addition to the marketplace into an exercise in frustration, and we haven’t even mentioned the hazards inherent in having your hardware permanently exposed.

Needless to say even those without children or pets liable to reach in and break hardware or those not worried about the inevitable dust build up should think very carefully indeed before picking up this case and perhaps Antec should have left this particular Skeleton firmly in the back of the closet.

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