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Date: October 17th, 2006
Article by: Mike Carter (Hardware Reviewer)
Edited by: Nathan Glentworth (Owner / Head Editor)
Product was submitted by: Antec
<--CLICK FOR DEALS ON AN ANTEC FUSION HOME THEATER CASE IN THE UNITED STATES
<--CLICK FOR DEALS ON AN ANTEC FUSION HOME THEATER CASE IN CANADA

 

PRODUCT PICTORAL AND WALKTHROUGH




The HDDs mount to the bracket, using the included screws, through silicone grommets. You then set the bracket and HDDs back into the mount, where the bottom side of the drives rest on a silicone rubber bracket. You can then use two more of the included screws to firmly mount the other side of the drive. This method effectively silences any vibration noise from the HDDs, while still providing a sturdy mount. There is a large grille below the HDD's which allows cool air to flow over the HDDs.


The VFD header is a convertible setup. If your mATX motherboard has two USB headers, the VFD can be connected directly to one of those. If need be, the motherboard header can be removed, and the VFD connected to one of the USB ports on the I/O section of your motherboard. Since most motherboards these days, including mATX, include two headers on the board itself, this shouldn't be a problem, but it's nice to see the option. Antec uses a single-row plug, though, rather than a standard two-row 10 pin plug, so make sure you're plugging it in the right way, or you'll damage the VFD. I would have preferred a standard keyed plug, even with one row unused. This would prevent any mistakes on the system builder's part.


The Fusion includes a PSU, as well. This is a quiet-running 430 watt unit. Compared to other companies that include a PSU, Antec has given a rather decent model. While only 430 watts, the PSU features dual 12v rails and active PFC. This is a huge plus. Most case manufacturers bundle a bottom-end, featureless (and underpowered) PSU with their cases…….not Antec. Since the case is designed for mATX boards, the number of connectors on the PSU is small. These include a convertible 20/24 pin power connector, a 4-pin aux power connector, six 4-pin Molex connectors, a pair of SATA plugs, and a single PCIe plug. The PSU has obviously been designed for the Fusion, as the cables are all shorter than average, allowing them to reach the various components with minimal excess. This isn't just a warehouse-shelf reject, here. Antec took the time to make sure the PSU would work well with any component installed in the Fusion. While I didn't spend a whole lot of time on the PSU, some quick testing showed the voltages to be solid, and the noise level to be very low. It's nice to see a quality unit included with a case, for a change.


There is no provision for a floppy drive, which may or may not be an issue. The included PSU has one FDD power connector, which is used to power the VFD display. Should you have to flash your BIOS, you'll either need an external USB floppy drive, or you'll need to open the case, remove the optical drive bay, unplug the VFD, plug in your floppy drive, and flash away.


To run the cables to the various chambers, Antec has provided cable ports in each area. On the wall between the PSU and motherboard chambers is a sliding plate, which is accessed by loosening a single screw. The hole is large enough to accommodate the main power connector, as well as the IDE cable for your optical drive.


The HDD chamber also has a cable port, which does not have a cover plate. The power cable for your HDDs fits easily through this.


There is a downside to this design. Neat cable routing is a bit of a nightmare. Where a regular case has plenty of nooks to tuck away unused and excess cabling, the Fusion is a tight fit. Any unused cables end up balled up between the PSU and your optical drive. I'm not the best case builder in the world, though, so others might not have a problem. On the bright side, the cables are as short as possible, while not limiting motherboard choices, so the excess cable isn't all that much.


As I noted before, to run an IDE cable to your optical drive, you have to run it through the port in the PSU chamber wall. Due to the close proximity of the PSU, it's best to plug the IDE cable in with the optical drive rack partially out of the mount. The bundle of cables from the PSU makes plugging the cable in with the drive fully mounted almost impossible.


Running the cable to your HDD's is much easer. The gap between the HDD chamber wall and the case top is more than adequate to accommodate an IDE cable, while the port that the front panel cables run through is large enough to accept a couple of SATA cables.


The Fusion was designed for home media center applications, and as such, has some features not found on regular cases.



Starting from the front, the most obvious additions are the small VFD screen and large volume control knob. The optical drive tray is also “stealthed”, with a spring-loaded door that opens when you open your optical drive. The entire front panel is a nice, thick chunk of aluminum.



Moving to the side, you'll find the grilles for two 120mm exhaust fans. The fans are included, and are Antec's TriCool models. A switch is included to pick from three speeds- Quiet, Performance, and Maximum Cooling.



Around the backside, you'll find the expansion card slots, a grille for an optional 80mm fan, and the I/O shield. You'll also notice that Antec has included a PSU with this case.


On the bottom side, there are four large case feet. The two on the back are pure silicone rubber, while the two front feet are rubber with a stereo-style plastic and aluminum treatment, which will fit in with your other home theater gear nicely.



A single thumbscrew removes the top of the case, giving you your first look at the insides. Antec has designed the case with a “triple chamber” approach. One chamber holds the PSU and optical drives, another holds the two mounting locations for HDD's, while the third houses your motherboard and CPU. The PSU chamber is completely separated from the other two, while the HDD chamber has a gap between the wall and the top of the case.


As you look around the inside of the case, you'll notice that it is not tool-free. Everything is secured with screws, except for the optical drive rack. While this makes for a quiet, vibration-free case, it also means building the Fusion takes more time.



The side of the motherboard chamber is completely filled with the two 120mm fans. Visible here is the switch to conrol the speed. While this is a nice feature, it's a set-and-forget design…..the switch is internal. You will have to remove the top of the case to switch between speeds. I would really like to see an external switch here.

 

 


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