Antec SX830 and SX840 Workstation Computer Cases
Last updated: 7/30/02

If you are looking for a large, but not overbearing ATX computer case and power supply, Antec's SX830 and SX840 Performance Series, Workstation Cases are good choices for high-end PCs or a small business file servers.  Both models use the SX800 case, which can be obtained separately through OEM/VAR distributors and comes with no power supply or chassis fans.  At 20.6 inches high it is somewhere between a medium and full-tower case in size. The SX800 case is very attractive, constructed with high quality materials that fit together nicely, and is well-designed for good ventilation, low EMI, and rapid replacement of computer components. The retail versions are the SX830 enclosure, as Antec calls it, with a 300-Watt power supply and the SX840 with a 400-Watt power supply.  Both come with two chassis fans.  Because of its larger power supply, the SX840, in particular, is well-suited for a loaded computer with a high-end processor, lots of memory, powerful graphics board, and several disk drives.

BENT METAL. The SX800 case is made from 1.0mm SECC steel (a Japanese standard for general purpose, galvanized, cold-rolled, sheet steel).  Most of the edges are bent-in strength and to reduce the possibility of cuts during assembly.  I found no sharp edges.  This case is quite hefty, is noticeably reinforced, and has very solid "feel" to it.

I really like the side doors.  There are no fingers along the top and bottom that one has to coax into matching slots, as with many tower cases with removable sides.  Instead, the sides are formed into a 3/8" u-beam at the top and bottom.  A rolled cylinder all along the font of the case and a three-sided, square groove formed into edge of the side that engages it, functions like a hinge without a pin from the top to the bottom of the case. The result is a door that is hinged at the front, secured at the rear, snuggly fitted at the top and bottom, and easily removed.

To remove either side, one simply unfastens it at the rear, swings door open, and removes it from the case.  The rear of the right side is secured with three screws (although holes are drilled/punched for four screws).  So, is the left side.  However, the left side is also secured with an attractive plastic latch assembly with a lock that will hold the right side on the case without the screws and permits easy removable of the side without tools to access the motherboard, expansion boards, etc.  The picture shows the "Claudia test": my Wife removing the left side.  She had no trouble with it after a couple of practice runs.  I would also secure it with screws when transporting the computer and attach the keys to the power supply fan guard so they won't be forgotten or lost.

There are spring fingers at the edges on the case along the rear, top, and bottom, and along the front of the door, where the sides come into contact with chassis to maintain the continuity of the exterior of the case to reduce electro-magnetic radiation (interference) (EMI) from the case.  These springs do not easily pop off the case like the snap on contacts used in many other computer cases.

After removing the three screws securing it to the rear of the case, the right side was easily removed without having to resort to using a screwdriver to pry it loose.  Just swing it open it a little and pull to remove.

Like the left side, there are EMI springs along the top, bottom, and rear of the case on the right side.  They were missing from the front edge of the door on the unit I received.  That was probably a manufacturing quality control oversight as the slotted holes were present to mount the springs.

After removing the right side, one sees the sheet metal, on which the motherboard mounts from the other side, in the interior.  It just about seals the lower part of the chassis.  It is not removable like many cases and pretty much blocks assess to the guts of the computer from the right side and strengthens the case.  However, it and the key lock are not going to stop a determined thief with a mirror (who would probably just walk off with the whole computer anyway). 

The power supply sits on two channel beams running along each side from the front to the rear of the case and screws to the back of the case.  These beams are also riveted to the 5 1/4" drive bay cage to form a very rigid structure.   The top of the power supply is 2" from the top of the case; however, there are no holes in the back of the case at the top to directly vent this space like the Antec KS282 case.

The other compartment, the for the motherboard, is wide open.  The only significant protrusion is the 3 /12" drive bay.  This case is roomy and easy to work with.

MOLDED PLASTIC. All of the plastic is very solid stuff with no edges or corners that are going to break when the side and top covers are removed.  The front of the case is quite attractive  and well-designed.  It consists of two pieces of heavy plastic that can be easily removed without tools. The left side must be removed to remove the top section of the front panel without breaking it.  The right side does not.  Once the left side is removed, the top panel which covers the 5 1/4 bays and exposed 3 1/2 bays is easily removed by pressing rectangular buttons on it's sides.  The bottom section is removed by pulling two latches that are concealed when the top section is installed and sliding the bottom down and out.  Some care should be exercised when doing this to avoid breakage, but, overall, the fingers which attach the bottom piece of plastic to the case are thicker and tougher than those I have seen in many cases used for name-brand computers.

The speaker is attached to inside lower part of the front panel just below the power switch.  It is a small cylinder with no visible cone and looks like one of those things that would resonate the front panel.

The nicely sculptured front is complemented by the Power-on switch, an inconspicuous Reset switch, and LEDs, which are nicely arranged and labeled.  The wires running to the motherboard from these devices are quit long and will allow moving the panel clear of the case without pulling them out of the case.  The manufacturer's one-inch square label insert is well-located at the middle of the panel and well up from the bottom. A spiffy Antec label is provided for modest VARs and homebuilders.

The case has plastic fold-out legs which are attached to the bottom of the chassis.  They are quite sturdy, but certainly breakable.

The plastic expansion card edge support is the best have seen--gone is the requirement to push individual plastic card guides into metal holes--solid, simple, easy to remove, and doesn't look like one that will come loose during shipping.  The same can be said for the chassis fan housings.

COOLING AND POWER SUPPLY.  This case does a superb job of cooling a fully loaded, top-of-the-line computer.  The functional grill structure maximizes air intake, but does not suck dirt directly off the floor or desk through a slot at bottom between the front panel and chassis like many other cases (irregardless, I do not recommend putting computers on the floor).  The case  comes with two snap-in chassis fans mounted on the back.  These fans snap into plastic housings which in turn snap onto the chassis to provide a fairly good air seal around the fan and allow easy installation and removal.  The housings have a latch assembly with a large handle that releases the unit very easily by pressing it towards the fan; however it may be more intuitive to some to move it the other way.  The latches are quite thick, but, I am sure, will break if one gets impatient, is inclined to think and behave like a gorilla, and moves them the wrong way too many times with too much force.  They are not going to pop loose during shipping.  I can't tell you whether these fans have sleeve or ball bearing fans.  Antec sells both.  These do not have a part number on them.  The fans plug into power supply drive connectors and are not the 3-pin variety with a tachometer circuit, which can be plugged into a motherboard for monitoring.  The case will support three more optional 80 mm fans at the front. One mounts in a plastic housing attached to the front of the 3 1/2" drive bay (see DRIVE BAYS below for picture).  In my experience, they are overkill for most computer configurations.  For hovercraft enthusiasts, Antec has an optional side panel with still another 80 mm fan mounted on it.

The spec sheets on Antec's web site for the power supplies are out-of date and grossly deficient.  They do not even mention how many plugs the power supplies have, let alone describe them or provide cable lengths.  The Antec ATX12V / 2.03 Power Supply User's Manual provides some insight, but is not included with the case.

This case comes with either Antec SmartPower PP303XP 300-Watt   (SX830) or 412X 400-Watt (SX840)  power supplies.  They meet the ATX 2.03 standard requirements, including Pentium 4 support.  Peering between the ventilation slots in the both supplies, one sees some heavy-duty heat sinks and components (I didn't open them to investigate further).  Let's say they look like very good power supplies and they are quite.  Both power supplies have thermal-controlled, variable-speed fans, which, obviously, adjust their speed to the temperature of the computer.  In the computer I built, the power supply fan hardly runs at all.  I would guess that the only thing it needs to cool in a configuration like that is the power supply itself.  There is no mention in the specification of what kind of bearings the power supply fans have; although they do state that the Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) for the 300-Watt power supply is 100,000 hours (11.4 years) and 50,000 hours (5.7 years) for the 400-Watt supply, when operated at 25 C (77 F).  I have trouble believing the first number and find that many power supplies fail before the second one.  Duty cycles are not specified.

I counted two 3 1/2" and six 5 1/4" power connectors on the 400-Watt supply, which really isn't enough, for a case with eight drive bays and at least two chassis fans. there are certainly not enough 3 1/2" connectors for many configurations.  However, like most, the two chassis fans that come with the case do include Y connectors.  In addition to the normal ATX motherboard power plug, the 400-Watt power supply has a  6-pin 3.3/5 VDC AUX Power Connector and a 4-pin +12V Power Connector.  Both go to motherboards that provide for them.  See the above link to the User Manual and Intel's Pentium 4 Power Supply Guide for more info.  The last time I counted connectors on the 300-Watt supply it had one 3 1/2" and seven 5 1/4" power connectors; however, the supply has changed since then.  Antec's web site states that the 400-Watt power supply now comes with a 2-wire/3-pin signal connector from the power supply to the motherboard to allow users to monitor the power supply's fan via the motherboard's BIOS.

There is no power switch on the power supplies, as on many ATX power supplies, in addition to the ATX logic on/off switch on the front panel, which connects to an ATX motherboard.  Such a switch overrides the one on front panel and is handy for making sure power to the motherboard is off, without having to pull the power cord, when plugging-in expansion boards, etc.  According to a post in our forums, the 300-Watt supply now has the switch.

DRIVE BAYS.  The SX800 case has eight drive bays: three hidden, one exposed, and one partially hidden 3 1/2" bays and three exposed 5 1/4" bays.  All of the exposed bays come with snap-on dust covers.  The three hidden 3 1/2" bays are in a removable cage which rests on a shelve in the motherboard cavity and secured with a large, easily-accessed and executed lever, a couple of fingers, and no screws.  This bay is the easiest one to remove and install I have yet seen in any computer case.

The exposed and partially exposed 3 1/2 drives mount in a drawer (see picture above) that is secured to the chassis with two thumbscrews.  The upper part of the front panel must be removed to access it.  This arrangement for installing these drives is not as convenient as installing the single 3 1/2" partially exposed drive the Antec KS282 case or the fully exposed drives in other cases, such as the AOpen HX45A, because one cannot push the drive in from the back to align it with the front and screw it in place from the side before removing the cage to install additional screws/drives.

Now for the feature I really do not like about this case... The 5 1/4 inch drives mount with rails.  Rails cost more than screws and screw holes.  It takes longer to install drives that use them than those that are mounted directly to the case.  Almost invariably I have to remount them on a drive to get the alignment with the front of the case correct.  You can't find them when you need them.  There is no rail standard.  Vendors forget to, or purposely do not give extra rails to their customers.  When customers do receive them, they often lose them.  Altogether, over the last 15 years, I have spent man-days searching through my big box of rails trying to find a set to match a customer's computer.  One somewhat mitigating feature with this case is that the extra rails are stored inside of it with clips that hold them to the bottom of the case.  I found no instructions for removing them from the clips or the clips from the case (if that is even possible without breaking them) and found them rather awkward to move the rails for and aft through the clips to remove them.

EXPANSION BOARD SLOTS.  The case has seven slots.  The covers clip at the bottom and screw into place at the top.  The slots are fully punched-out and all but the first one come with the covers already installed.

ATX I/O BACK PANEL.  The has an A.3.a I/O (Intel "Universal") back panel which was already snapped into a cut-out in the back of the case.  It matches all of ATX motherboards reviewed in the Digest to date.  Although washed-out in the picture it is quite-well labeled.  It is also thicker then the one that was supplied for the KS282 case reviewed sometime ago.  This is the only I/O panel available from Antic for this case. There was a time when Antec carried a wide-range of these panels with various configurations and would send one to owners of an Antec case free of charge.  As I have seen quite a few of these panels and they vary by manufacturer on how they attach to the case, you may have a problem if your motherboard does not match this panel even if the motherboard manufacturer supplies on that does.

HARDWARE.   An adequate assortment of hardware was included with the case, but I have seen better.  It would be nice if some zip-ties were included.

PACKAGING.  The case came wrapped in plastic and packed in a very thick cardboard box.  The styrofoam packing used to cushion the top and bottom of the case is adequate, but I have seen thicker.  All computers should, however, be double-boxed before shipping commercially.

DOCUMENTATION.  The documentation is poor and out-of-date.  I am not asking for a tomb or even something like a motherboard book, but illustrated instructions on such things as how to remove the front panels, fans, and rails, need to be included.  Novice users should be told to check the power supply for the correct line voltage setting before plugging it in.  I have seen worse.

DIMENSIONS:  18.6"(D) x 8.1"(W) x 20.6"(H) (52.2 x 20.5 x 47.3 cm)

At 20.6 inches high it is 2 1/2 inches (6.4 cm) higher than the Antec KS282 medium tower,  4.3 inches (10.9 cm) higher than the AOpen HX45A medium tower, and 2 1/2 inches (6.4 cm) shorter than the AOpen HX08 full-tower,

WEIGHT.

SX830: 28.7/30.7 lbs (13.0/13.9 kg) Net/Gross

SX840: 29.7/31.7 lbs (13.5/14.4 kg) Net/Gross

Larry

Here's what "copperpipe" wrote in our Forums about the SX830 case last October:

Regarding the Antec SX830 case, here is what I like:

-The metal RF shield/backplate for the connectors that came with the Antec case already had a knockout for the onboard network connector.
-Lots of space for clumsy hands working near the motherboard and drives. No sharp edges to cut your fingers.
-Easy to remove the top front and side panels without a screwdriver.
-The two 80mm exhaust fans (included) and the interior design of the case (including air intakes) appear to provide good cooling.
-The brackets for easy installation of additional case fans.
-The heavy duty construction.

What I don't like:

-The drive rails.
-The hidden 3-1/2" floppy drive with the remote eject button.
-300-Watt power supply (PP303X) that is AMD-recommended for only a 900 mhz Tbird and lower. The newer version of the SX830 case has an upgraded power supply (PP303XP) which has 180-Watt output on the 3.3V & 5V circuits. So far, no problems with my 1 ghz Tbird, however.

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