It's easy to get excited about ultra high-end computer hardware (like the HAF Stacker), but realistically, the largest percentage of our system building audience looks for cost efficiency. We've previously reviewed RAIDMAX's Cobra and Rosewill's R5 in the entry-level ~$50-$60 budget range, and in an effort to fill out our bench, we're adding Antec's new GX700.
We first looked at the GX700 at CES 2013, where Antec representative Justin Chou demonstrated the case's main features. At the time, Antec noted that its objective was to fit a $50-$60 price-point and maximize case fan count without inflating cost. The case also hopes to fit a 'gamer' aesthetic that a lot of modern enclosures attempt, almost vaguely mirroring Corsair's higher-end C70 with its military styling and flair.
This Antec GX700 gaming case review aims to benchmark performance, optimal case fan placement, build quality, and best cable management practices. We tested multiple aftermarket fan configurations, so if you've got extra money to add fans, our below benchmark will help with airflow optimization. We'd also recommend that you take a look at our case fan placement guide.
Let's get to it.
Antec GX700 Case Specs
|Color(s)||Black and military green|
|Cooling System||- Includes 2 x 140 mm top fans
Capable of mounting 240 mm radiator for water cooling
- Includes 1 x 120 mm rear fan
- Optional 2 x 120 mm front intake fans
- Optional 120 mm side fan mount to cool graphic cards
|Maximum CPU cooler height||up to 172 mm|
|Water cooling support||Rear water cooling grommets|
|Drive Bays||- 3 + 1 x 5.25" tool-less drive bays
Click-on 5.25" drive bay clasps
Top bay designed for controls
-5 x 3.5" tool-less HDD tray each with 2.5" SSD/HDD mount
|Front Ports||- 2 x USB 3.0
- 2 x USB 2.0
- Audio In/Out
- Fan controller
|Expansion Slots / video card size||- 7 x PCI-E with thumbscrew access / up to 293 mm (11.5")|
|Motherboard Support||Standard ATX, microATX, Mini-ITX|
|CPU Cutout||Enlarged CPU Cutout|
|Cable Management||- 13 mm of cable routing space behind motherboard tray
- Cable routing holes
|Side panel features||- Side Panel Window (Right side)
- Two 120 mm fan mounts (Right side - Optional)
- One 120 mm fan mount behind motherboard (Left side – Optional)
- 19.7" (H) x 7.9 " (W) x 17.7"(D) /
|Weight||- Net Weight: 13.8 lb / 6.26 kg
- Gross Weight: 17.2 lb / 7.82 kg
Antec GX700 Video Review, Hands-On, Benchmark, & Cable Management Guide
The GX700's Features & Specs Analysis
Cases like the GX700 might not come with custom HUE lighting systems, but still have a few small flourishes to appeal to their target audience. I'll go over the basic specs in an objective manner before moving on to opinions and performance expectations (and, ultimately, benchmarks).
Starting with the basics, the GX700 includes 2x140mm top exhaust fans and 1x120mm rear exhaust fan. There are no intake fans in the stock configuration. Additional room is available for 2x120mm front fans and 1x120mm side panel fan, or a max config would feature 6 total fans (2x140mm, 4x120mm).
Sticking to cooling, the case supports CPU coolers up to 172mm in height from the board and video cards up to 293mm in length. Liquid cooling grommets are positioned in the rear of the case, in the event you've got an externally-mounted radiator.
The rest is pretty standard: ATX/mATX/mini-ITX board support, 7xPCI-e expansion slots, standard 5.25" / 3.5" support and scaffolding, and 13mm of cable space behind the tray. Routing holes are also present, of course.
Externally, the case is outfitted with military-like flair and a green/black paintjob, adorned with an Antec dog tag on the front. A large switch cover hides a fan speed controller (high, low, off settings) and the front panel I/O rests atop a raised, bunker-like metal panel.
Visually, the GX700 isn't overly offensive or intrusive in its attempts to shed the 'sleeper' look, but does stand out from the usual low-end black cases. The extruded red power button (made of cheap plastic) is a bit silly for my taste, but that's entirely subjective, so I'll leave it up to you to decide if it's acceptable. It alone certainly wouldn't stop me from buying the case.
Finally, easily-removed dust filters are present in the front and bottom (PSU) of the case, making preventative maintenance quicker.
Here's where we can get into some of the more opinion-driven analysis.
Antec GX700 Build Quality, Cable Management, & System Installation
First of all, and I noted this in my original hands-on with the case, I think a 3xExhaust configuration is a sub-optimal airflow configuration. Negative pressure airflow works well on some very specific cases with very specific internal hardware configurations, and I've never thought the GX700 to be one of those. In testing, I moved the rear exhaust fan to the front panel (intake) to validate my thoughts -- you'll see results below.
The fans aren't really all that great, either. The 120mm fan is pretty basic in design -- standard sleeve bearings with low-quality blades (and the plastic doesn't scream quality), but it gets the job done. When you're dealing with a $50-$60 case like the GX700, it's important to remember that the manufacturer is going to be forced to cut corners in order to meet that price-point (within reason, anyway). I think Antec is within reason here, and if you were to look at the fans on the R5 or Cobra, you'd find the same base components used (sleeve bearings, standard/inefficient blade design, cheap plastic). Given direct competition and the case's price, the fans seem fair for the unit.
Overall build quality is about what you'd expect for a $60 enclosure. Everything is held together surprisingly well, though, and I found the plastic front panel to be significantly sturdier than other budget cases I've worked with. In case tear-down, I also noted that all the panels were (unlike Rosewill's dreaded Armor Evolution) very easy to remove and re-apply, without any odd warping or other undesirable behavior. Sadly, many of the cases we've worked with in this budget are built with pretty flimsy materials, so the GX700 really shines in its relative assembly quality. Its best immediate competition would be Corsair's 200R, and I still think the 200R has the best build quality in the sub-$60 range.
The plastic toggles and switches might seem a bit silly at times with the
The fan speed controller isn't a linear dial, just a simple voltage toggle that regulates either high or low voltage to the fan, effectively throttling RPMs in favor of dBA levels when desirable. A third setting toggles the case fans off, which is useful if you've already got a well-cooled CPU and aren't playing any games (read: the GPU is largely idle and the CPU's heatsink keeps it plenty cooled). I've used this setting while recording audio, for instance, when I need complete background silence. It wasn't many years ago when fan speed controllers were absolutely unheard of on low-end cases; even though it's a pretty simple three-setting switch, I'm happy with the industry's transgression toward adopting higher-end practices in low-end gear.
Cable management was a pretty straight-forward affair, which is (again) high praise for a case at this price-point. Shockingly, I had no difficulty fitting the right side panel on, even after layering the fat 24-pin cable and PCI-e cable atop each other. Antec says the rear side has 13mm of cable management space, but something about the contours on the board tray allows cables to fit with relative ease.
That said, I did have some frustrations with the cut-outs for the front panel and audio connectors (MSI boards place these on the far left, above the PSU). If you buy a GX700, it is my recommendation that you route all the front panel connectors prior to mounting the PSU, as the header width will prohibit the cables from being routed once the PSU is mounted. I removed the PSU and re-routed the wires to achieve a much cleaner look - easily worth the added 40 seconds required to do so.
I do wish Antec made their HD Audio cable about 1" longer, though, because it won't reach an ATX board pin-out without routing it through a specific cut-out or reaching across the case; you won't be able to go through that cut-out without running the wire before mounting the PSU. Not a complaint that hurts the overall product, but something worth noting for system builders.
System installation as a whole was easy. There's nothing fancy here -- mount your standoffs, mount the board, and get all the components in place. Follow my cable management notices above and you'll be in good shape.
Overall cleanliness of the post-build system is pretty impressive -- the GX700 really shines on internal neatness for its compact size.
Continue to page 2 for the thermals.