Introducing the Antec Sonata IV

Reviewing the Antec Sonata IV presented an interesting opportunity for me: while the other cases we've reviewed thus far have been experiences with new hardware, the Sonata IV is the next in a line of cases I'm particularly familiar with. I've built machines in every model from Antec's main Sonata range; my dad's computer is in an old Sonata, my ex-girlfriend's computer is in my old Sonata II, and a close friend's machine is purring along in a Sonata III. As a result, it's a chance to see how Antec's design has evolved over time. But it's more than that: the Sonata line has for a long time been a go-to for quiet computing with reasonable thermals. Has that changed with the Sonata IV?

At first glance, the Sonata IV looks an awful lot like the Sonata III but a little bit larger and with the ventilation changed around. For the Sonata IV, Antec seems to have relaxed their less-is-more approach a little bit in a bid to get with the times. While power consumption of mainstream desktop machines hasn't grown tremendously over the past few years, each successive generation of Sonata has seen a more substantial power supply included with it. The Sonata II's was rated at 420 watts and the Sonata III's at 500W - still more than enough for most modern systems. The Sonata IV ratchets things up to a 620W Antec Neo ECO, 80 Plus certified. It's an awful lot of power for what's otherwise a relatively modest enclosure.

Antec Sonata IV Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX
Drive Bays External 3x 5.25"
Internal 4x 3.5", 1x 2.5"
Cooling Front -
Rear 1x 120mm Antec TriCool exhaust fan
Top -
Side -
Bottom -
Expansion Slots 7
Front I/O Port 2x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0, mic and headphone jacks
Top I/O Port -
Power Supply Size ATX; 620-watt Antec Neo ECO 80 Plus power supply included
Clearance 11" (Expansion Cards), 180mm (CPU HSF), 260mm (PSU)
Weight 21.1 lbs.
Dimensions 18.9" x 8.1" x 17.3"
Price $160 MSRP; starting at $131 online

What's not immediately obvious here is that Antec has physically expanded the Sonata IV's dimensions a bit from its predecessors as well. The Sonata III was a fine case, but getting a video card like the ATI Radeon HD 5870 in was extremely difficult; the back end of the card butts up squarely against the hard drive trays. The IV is about half an inch longer and taller, though width remains unchanged.

Another thing that has expanded but unfortunately in exactly the wrong way is the price tag: part of the appeal of the earlier models was that they were good cases with good power supplies for a good price. They tended to top out at $120 in retail stores, could be found for about $100 if you knew where to look, and were a great one-stop for a quick and easy build. At an MSRP of $159, though, the Sonata IV stops being an intriguing value proposition and starts to compete against enthusiast enclosures like the Corsair Graphite 600T and even Antec's own P183.

We can currently find the previous generation Sonata III for $114, compared to $131 for the Sonata IV, so mostly you're paying $17 extra to move from a 500W PSU to a 620W 80 Plus PSU. That's a fair proposition, but as noted we used to see the III going for closer to $100 online, so $30 for the PSU upgrade becomes a somewhat questionable value.

In and Around the Antec Sonata IV
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  • Bozo - Saturday, June 11, 2011 - link

    I stopped buying a lot of Antec cases because of the power supply mounting. That goofy cross bar makes changing a power supply a real pain, usually requiring the motherboard to be removed.
    If the crossbar was an inch lower or installed with screws, that would be great.

    I still buy other Antec cases though. Ones that are easily serviceable.
    Reply
  • just4U - Saturday, June 11, 2011 - link

    I can honestly say that I've used 100s of Sonata Cases over the years and I am a fairly casual builder (10-40 systems a year) The III had some failure rates on the PSU for a time... and they've always been a bit of a pain to get in and out. The bottom feet were nice until glue gave way and they fell off to.

    I've emailed antec many times to make suggestions for case changes... but minimal stuff. Adding a window that sort of deal. Out of all their cases I think I still like the Super Lan-Boy as it had a similiar design to the Sonata's interior but had alot of polish to it as well. Would love to see a return to that with brushed black aluminum and ever so slight changes. But no.. they have gone gaudy and big of late and are screwing with designs that really worked. It's a shame.

    When the price comes down I will likely start buying the IVs.. although your review sugggests there will be things about it I definitely dont like it's still nice to get a case with an included decent psu for a very reasonable price. (currently its not reasonable though so .. yeah)
    Reply
  • shkup - Saturday, June 11, 2011 - link

    I had two Sonata cases 1 and 3 gen.
    It was a great case. A super silent solution.
    The problem is that for new builds with cards like GTX-570 it's just not enough.
    There is no cable management, Not enough cooling, the PSU is located at upper section of the case and the design is far from real tooless design.
    Antec should reinvent this case.
    Maybe 3 140MM fans and solitude will make a worthy product.
    At the mean time I got a LanCool PC-K62B which is quite silent and has very high finishing quality.
    Anyway, I'll always have sympathy to the Sonata line.
    Reply
  • ehume - Saturday, June 11, 2011 - link

    Learned my lesson with the first 4480-II I bought. It should never have been for sale in 2009. And now this dinosaur. It might as well be a Dell. Antec is coasting on their rep. Reply
  • ditroia - Sunday, June 12, 2011 - link

    It's a decent case.

    Optical Drive rail instillation is easy, just make sure to use the lower wholes and have the clips point out where the door is.

    The HDD goes in easy as well, and it's easy to plug in. there's some room at the bottom inside right to store the cables for PWR/Reset/HDD Light & front USB/Audio etc.

    The USB3 front cable is a nuisance to deal with while installing it should have been fed under our around the MB back plate.

    The case comes with lots of screws in three different bags & cable ties.

    There are plenty of Power cables with the included power supply and a little bit of space to bundle the left over ones together.

    The fan comes with a male/female molex connector. and works well.

    it can be had for $187AU and would recommend for first time builder on medium budget who wants front USB3, and a nice quiet case.

    Otherwise I would recommend the Lian-Li (Lancool) PC-K57 which also has front USB3, and 2 fans for $98 plus a Silverstone Strider Plus 600W ST60F-P for $99AU, for a total of: $197AU or $10 more. but that gets you a modular PSU,and a case with better cooling.

    Cheers

    Dave
    Reply
  • kevith - Sunday, June 12, 2011 - link

    Will it not increase HDD wear to store them vertically? All bearings and other movable parts will be stressed much more on one side than on the other. Reply
  • BernardP - Sunday, June 12, 2011 - link

    More and more motherboards are appearing with the new standard header for front USB 3.0 ports. As USB 3.0 ports are compatible with USB 2.0 connectors, case manufacturers should rush to implement dual front USB 3.0 ports.

    Instead, we are getting only a trickle of cases that are compatible with the new internal header, while it's mostly business as usual for USB 2.0 front ports.

    Plugging a front USB 3.0 port into the back panel was good only as a stopgap while there was no USB 3.0 internal header standard.
    Reply
  • enterco - Monday, June 13, 2011 - link

    I own a Sonata III, and I'm happy with it. I know that it doesn't feature 'cable management', but Sonata III's design allows ti hide most of the cables behind 5.25" bays and/or 3.5" hard drive bays. I can also route hard disk cables on the back side. Sonata III lacks SSD mounting adapter, but it's still better than Sonata IV, IMO. Sonata IV is using a totally different airflow, forcing users to leave the cables visible.
    About the USB 3 front connector: routing the connector to the back of the case it's not a very good idea. I'd rather build a system with a front USB panel, instead of using this method.
    Reply
  • TrackSmart - Monday, June 13, 2011 - link

    I partly agree. I love my Sonata III and don't plan to change it anytime soon. It was a great value at the time (1.5 yrs ago) for a classy, quiet case, with a high quality, high efficiency powersupply. But we are halfway into 2011 and the street price is now $130 for the same case i purchased for $100 back then. That's definitely a step in the wrong direction and makes it less of a bargain than it used to be. Reply
  • semo - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    I didn't even bother using the SSD mount on the Sonata IV. I didn't think it was a good idea to bend the SATA connectors that much permanently. Reply

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