Antec Sonata III PC Case

Once again, Antec has updated their critically acclaimed Sonata series.  The Sonata III is the next phase in the evolution of Antec’s silent line of cases.  Known for their piano black finish and whisper quiet operation, the Sonata has been lusted by many home theater PC (HTPC) builders and builders seeking silent desktop workstations. 

Antec Sonata III PC Case

Reviewed by: Tomas Ratas

Edited by: Kristofer Brozio

Sponsor: Antec



Antec is well regarded for their quality and innovative case designs. The Sonata III does not deviate far from its previous incarnations. But why should Antec mess with a good thing? They kept the features that made the Sonata Solo and Sonata II great cases and added some new features to the newer model.

Will the addition of High Definition front audio ports, a front eSATA connector, the EarthWatts 500 Watt Power Supply make this a necessary upgrade?

Let’s get started….

Tech Specs,Features or the Basic Info:

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Legendary silence

The third chapter in the Quiet Computing story written by Antec—it’s everything you’ve come to expect from the prestigious Sonata line with even more upgrades and improvements. The Sonata III is whisper quiet when it comes to system noise while with the new High Definition front audio ports the sound you want your system to make will be crystal clear. And the front eSATA connector allows for simple data transfer. It’s all powered by EarthWatts 500 Watt power supply unit (PSU) which is equipped with universal input and Active PFC. This PSU is also 80PLUS certified making it one of the most efficient PSU’s available. And all that means the Sonata III is the perfect combination of style, silence and efficiency.


 * Improved overall air intake for better and quieter cooling

 * EarthWatts 500 Watt power supply (80 PLUS certified)

 * Front mounted USB, eSATA, HDA & AC’97 Audio In/Out ports

 * 9 Drive Bays:

 – 3 x 5.25" external drive bays

 – 2 x 3.5" external drive bays

 – 4 x 3.5" internal drive bays in individual trays with silicone grommets to absorb hard drive


 * Metal double hinge allows the door to open up to 225º

 * Cooling System:

 – 1 rear 120mm Tricool fan (standard) with 3-speed control to balance quiet with cooling

 – 1 front 120mm case fan (optional)

 * Built-in washable air filter keeps harmful dust out of your case

 * 0.8mm cold rolled steel for durability

 * Motherboards up to Standard ATX

 * Dimensions: 16.7" (H) x 18.2" (D) x 8.1" (W)

  42.5cm (H) x 46.3cm (D) x 20.6 cm (W)

 * Net Weight: 20.2lbs / 9,1kg

 Gross Weight: 25.5lbs / 11.6kg

A Better Look at Things


The Antec Sonata III arrives in a white box, with a large image of the case on the front with the slogan – “Legendary Silence”.

One of the sides lists the contents of the box; while the other is some Antec promotional speak touting the reasons for using the Antec III.



The back side of the box basically lists the specifications of the case, the types of connection standards employed and information about the power supply.



Upon opening the box, the instruction booklet in a ziplock bag is found on top of the Styrofoam protected computer case. The case is enclosed in a soft white cloth type bag to prevent scratches or damages to the case.


Antec created the Sonata using 0.8mm cold rolled steel for strength and durability. The case's dimensions are 42.5cm (H) x 46.3cm (D) x 20.6 cm (W) and weighs in at 20.2 pounds. In general, Antec makes sturdy cases and this one is no different.



The Sonata III is mostly piano black with silver accents, most notable just under the front door. On this mirrored silver bezel, there a two USB ports, an eSATA input, microphone in, audio out jacks and two led indicator lights for the hard drive and system activity.



Here is a comparison of the Sonata III to its predecessor, the Sonata II. Notice the absence of the Firewire input.



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The front cover is connected via a metal double hinge which allows the door to open 225 degrees. Unlike previous Sonata versions, the front door is not removable.

Behind the door, there are three external 5.25 drive bays and two 3.5 external drive bays. Next to the 3.5 drive positions are the power and reset button which are also silver.


The lower right side of the door features the standard door lock seen on most computers with doors. Another nice feature of the Sonata line is the ability to also lock down the side panel, preventing unwanted intrusions.



The side panel is attached to the Sonata with two thumb screws. There is a universal I/O shield. Has anyone ever had a motherboard that actually fits these universal I/O plates? I have never come across one that fits the multitude of motherboards that I have used in the past. Now back to our review.


There are seven expansion slots for those with multiple PCI, PCI-E or AGP devices.

On the inside of Sonata III, you will find a 120mm TriCool fan located at the rear of the case. This is a 3-speed control fan which allows cooling and silence adjustment. The fan is powered by a molex connection with a pass through connection and has a switch that is on the inside of the Sonata. The problem with this setup is the speed adjustment should be on the outside of the case, like Antec did with the P182 line.


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For the power supply, there is a 500 Watt, EarthWatts PSU (For more details, check out Kris’ review of the EarthWatts). This is a 80 PLUS certified power supply, making the Antec III a “GREEN” PC case, thus saving you some money in electric bills and secondarily helping the planet.


Towards the front, there are four 3.5" internal drive bays in individual trays with silicone grommets to absorb hard drive vibrations. These bays are rotated at 90 degrees for easy drive installation and allowing less clutter over the motherboard itself. These trays slide in and out by squeezing two metal tabs. Very easy to install and remove hard drives.



Towards the front of the case, the headers for eSATA, USB, HD audio, and AC '97 are found next to the usual headers for power, speaker, power LED, Hard Drive LED, and reset.

Behind the front panel, there are built-in washable air filter to keep harmful dust out of your case. There are openings on the front side of the case for improved air exchange. Next to expansion slot covers is a honeycomb vent for additional airflow.




Found tucked away in the back corner of the case was the requisite box of screws, the keys to the lock on the case door and an Antec Case Badge.

So where does the Legendary Silence come in? Not only does the Sonata III run quiet, it runs cool. The ability to use two 120mm fans increases the air circulation and the noise to some extent. The problem with the placement of this second fan is that it can hinder the placement of lengthy graphics cards.

Another nice thing about Antec products is they include their AQ3 (Antec Quality) three year warranty. So if anything goes wrong with your case, you are usually covered.

Installation, Testing and Comparison

For installation I used the following system:

CPU: AMD Opteron 170

CPU Heatsink: Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro

Motherboard: DFI Lanparty NF4 Ultra (Bios – 704-2BTA) – Socket 939

Memory: 2 GB of Corsair TWINX2048-3500LLPRO

Storage: 160GB Seagate 7200 SATA

Video card: eVGA 7600GT

OS: Windows XP Pro SP2



The Antec Sonata III fits up to standard size ATX boards, so installation was very straight forward. Just screw the supplied standoff screws so they align with the screw holes on your motherboard, then put your motherboard into the Sonata and screw it down. The front cables for the audio, USB and eSATA are simply plugged into the correct ports on the motherboard.

Any 3.5 inch hard drives are mounted onto the removable HDD Tray using the supplies screws which thread through the silicon grommets.


From my previous experiences, Antec had always included 5.25” Drive Rails. They were usually found on the floor of the case in a plastic bracket. This time, Antec has placed them behind the 5.25” drive cover. For a few moments, I was worried they were overlooked and not packed with my case. Phew. Once the rails are screwed onto your 5.25 inch drive, just slide it in, until you feel a click.



The rear of the 3.25” drive cage features holes for attaching an additional (not included) 120” case fan. Instead of screws, I decided to use zip ties. If you prefer, screws can be used instead.


The installation took about a half hour and was fairly simple. This case is not “toolless”, so a Phillips screwdriver will need to be handy for some component installations. Also the Sonata does not have a removable motherboard tray, so care must be taken when placing the motherboard into the case.

For testing I ran the PC at stock (200 x 10). The pc ran at idle for a half hour and was stressed for a half hour using Orthos ( and running the F.E.A.R timed demo. I adjusted the TriCool Fan Speed for each test.


Low Fan Speed: 32c

Medium Fan Speed: 31c

High Fan Speed: 28c


Low Fan Speed: 44c

Medium Fan Speed: 42c

High Fan Speed: 41c

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As you can see the temperatures are pretty good and they get better when using the high setting. The only drawback is once the fan speed goes past medium; you lose the “Legendary Silence” component to the case. So if you plan on overclocking or stressing the system heavily, you may lose the quiet aspect of the case. At higher fan speeds, it is not terribly loud, just noticeable.


The Antec Sonata III is a worthy successor to the Sonata brand name. It is a beautiful case, which is well designed. Having an eSATA connector on the front is a welcome addition. The addition of the energy efficient EarthWatts PSU, makes this case a better package than the older Sonatas. I have very few complaints about the Sonata III and feel it would make a great case for either a HTPC setup or as a regular desk workstation.

DragonSteelMods gives the Antec Sonata III a 4.5 out of 5 score and our Recommended Award as well.

– Elegant Sonata design
– Simple Installation
– Quiet
– Includes EarthWatts 500 Watt PSU that is 80% Energy efficient
– Well constructed
– Front panel includes Mic/Headphone Jacks, USB, & eSATA
– Adjustable setting 120mm TriCool Fans
– AQ3 Warranty

– No Firewire connector on front bezel
– Fan controller not on outside of case
– PSU may not be strong enough for systems running SLI with the GeForce 8000 series.

I would like to thank Antec for the chance to review the Antec Sonata III and for their continued support of DSM.

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