The Antec SLK2600AMB is the nicest case for the money I think I’ve ever seen.
Gatermann and another friend are building a PC today. Last night, he and I gave the components a once-over, to make sure they’d be building a PC today and not troubleshooting bad components. Good thing, because the video card was bad. It’d power up and display and sometimes the display was even readable through the gibberish. Bad memory chip.

So it was a good thing we did some investigating beforehand. And I was glad to see this case. They paid $59 for it at has it for $67. There are lots of places I’ve never heard of on Pricewatch that have it, some for a little less, some for a little more.

In the picture it looks silver, but it isn’t. It’s dark gray. It has a glossy, metallic finish. (Antec calls it “metallic bronze,” but it’s much more of a gray than a bronze.) You’ll never match the color of your drives to the case, but that’s OK because it has a door that covers the drive bays. If you can find some light gray drives, like the OEM-for-Compaq drives Compgeeks carries sometimes, or like Yamaha’s CD-RW drives, they’ll look fine in it. Black will look even better in it–the case is just about the same color as the ancient 486 server I have in my basement that has black drives. It’s really sharp.

This case, with black drives and a black monitor and keyboard and whatever mouse you prefer, will give you a distinctive-looking system that looks classy, not tacky.

There’s only one removable panel, on the side. That’s OK; the case is spacious enough inside to drop in a motherboard without troubles. The side on this particular case took a little effort to remove, so be careful with it. If I’d had a flat, non-metal object (like a paint stick) to pry it open with, I would have. Don’t use a slotted screwdriver, as you’ll probably scratch the case.

Inside, you’ll find a 300W Antec power supply. Good stuff for the price, and more than adequate for any mainstream PC. People intending to build a computer with multi-drive RAID and top-end CPUs and video cards and ground effects will be springing for something other than this case.

It has real slot covers, and not the bend-out metal cutouts that are all too common in less-expensive cases anymore. The only problem with the slot covers is they tend to interfere with the card just above them, so if you’re removing a card and can’t get it free, pull the slot cover below it.

There’s a little storage compartment above the slots for the case accessories. This is nice if you’re like some people (ahem, I won’t mention any names, Steve) who have a tendency to lose the extra screws and standoffs that come with a case. Pop ’em in the storage compartment, and when upgrade time comes, they’re there.

The other nice thing is the ease with which 5.25″ form-factor drives go into the case. Pop out the front cover using its clip, then pull out the drive rail behind it. The drive rail clips onto the right side of the drive (use the lower holes) and the drive slides in. Use the slider on the other side of the drive, inside the case, to hold the drive in place. You can fully populate the case in the time it would normally take to bolt one drive in. Very nice. I could live without the bright purple color of the rails, but at least they’re inside.

You get four external 5.25″ bays, one external 3.5″ bay for a floppy drive (or if you want something even more useless and unreliable, a Zip drive), and three internal 3.5″ bays for hard drives. There are mounts for two case fans (none included).

It costs $20 more than the Foxconn case I looked at a couple of weeks ago. But it’s also a tier above it. If you’re on a budget but not trying to squeeze every penny, this case is a good one to get.