Introduction

Back in January at CES, I had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours with the fine crew from Antec and was able to discuss their impressive 2005 case line. Over the next month LR will be bringing you a wide variety of cases from Antec's 2005 product line. Today we'll look at the Titan 550, the latest server case from Antec Inc. Antec is a company that has really impressed me with the quality of their products. Between their high quality power supplies and cases Antec has proven themselves as a major player in the enthusiast market.

Antec Titan 550 Server Case
The Titan 550: Standing Proud

Antec Titan 550 Server Case
The Titan 550: Rear Case View

With the new Titan 550 case, Antec has tried to blend the best of the server market with what enthusiasts desire in a high end case.  On the Titan 550 Antec has included individual front accessible HDD installation bays and a double hinged door that can open up to 270 degrees, so it is easy to build, maintain, and upgrade. Along with better airflow and ease of use, the Titan's design is also perfect for Dual Xeon and Opteron solutions along with the upcoming dual core server and desktop processors.  The Antec Titan 550's ATX12V 2.0 power supply stands ready to support all the latest hardware from both AMD and Intel.  The included Antec 550W power supply offers split 12 volt rails for added stability it should easily tackle the majority of platforms that consumers want to install.

Those of you in the market for a server case that supports extended ATX boards up to 12" x 13", should definitely read on to see if the Titan 550 fits your needs.  On paper the Antec Titan 550 offers many cutting edge features and enough room to support water cooling and almost any other custimizations that can be thought of. This article will see if the latest and greatest server case from Antec lives up to their stellar reputation for functionality and quality. Before we move on, lets look over the case specifics. 

Features:

Case Type Server
Color Black
Case Dimensions 17.6" (H) x 8.1" (W) x 18.6" (D)
44.6 cm x 20.5 cm x 47.2 cm

Drive Bays 

Front Accessible

Internal

10

4 x 5.25" come with 5.25 to 3.5" adapter

6 x 3.5"

Expansion Slots 7
Cooling System
  • 1 rear 120 mm TriCool (standard)
  • 2 front (optional) 92 mm fan mounts
Power Supply 550W TruePower
ATX12V (P4 compliant)
Material 1.0mm SECC
Net Weight 30 lbs.
Motherboards

Fits up to extended ATX (12" x 13") including CEB Specification

Special Features
  •  2 Front USB port, 1 Front IEEE 1394 (Firewire) port and audio input/output
  • Swing-out side panel
  • Washable air filter
  • Durable hinge door opens to 270
  • Snap-in fan mounts
  • Large front panel vent
Package Includes
  • 1 Tower Case
  • 1 550 Watt TruePower 2.0
  • 1 Power cord
  • 1 120 TriCool fan
  • 1 set of screws and motherboard standoffs
  • 1 complete set of drive rails ( 8 rails )
  • 1 Installation manual

Now that we know the specifications on the Antec 550 server case we can move on and take a closer look at the case.

External Impression

Titan 550 Front View

My first impression of the Titan 550 was that it is a monster, weighing in at 30lbs. This may not seem a big deal to some, but after working with thin, aluminum mid tower cases over the last year, the 1.0 mm steel construction feels incredibly sturdy. My only issue with the overall construction is a pretty small one. I just kind of scratch my head when I see such a well built case with a plastic front. I understand this is a server case, and most server cases are not going to end up modded or at LAN Parties, but Instead of using plastic for the front bezel of the case, why not use steel or aluminum? Had Antec done this, it definitely would have put this case over the top. 

External Drive bays

From a purely aesthetic point, the matte black Titan 550 is a very subtle, but great looking case. The drive bays are hidden behind a very unique hinged door system. Multiply hinges allow for the door to be opened a full 270 degrees, this allows the user to simply fold the door back along side the case without fear of breaking it off.

 Door Hinge

Moving on to the lower front of the case, Antec aligned the front I/O port along the right side of the case for easy access. Nothing unusual here, two USB 2.0 ports, a single1394 port, as well as jacks for headphones and a microphone. Although some people like these placed on the top of the case, i actually prefer them placed exactly where Antec has them as I always place my cases under my desk, making top mounted ports a hassle.

Front I/O Ports 

Removing the front cover from the case you'll notice a door secured by a pair of large thumb screws taking up the lower half of the chassis.

 HDD cage door HDD cage door  

The Titan 550 allows for a pair of 92mm fans to be attached to the back of the door to increase internal air flow, keeping your HDDs cool. Too many times I have installed HDDs and had to remove them because I forgot to include the optional fans. I also appreciate Antec using a pair larger/ quieter fans where most companies would simply put a single 80mm fan. 

With the move to smaller and lighter cases, most companies have sacrifices strength and stability for weight. The Titan 550 impressed all around for great construction. A good case in point is the rear PCI slots. Lately I've been working with a lot of cases where the rear panel actually flexes and bends if you put too much pressure on it. I want my cases to be able to withstand a lot of tweaking as I am constantly installing and reinstalling components.

Rear View

Internal Impression

side panel thumb screw

Antec designed a simple yet ingenius system for the thumb screws that secures the side panel to the case. The thumb screws are permanently affixed to the panel and spring loaded, ensuring they won't strip out or come loose when tightened and can't be lost once the side panel is removed.

inside

Removing the side panel only reaffirms my initial impression, the Titan 550 is an extremely sturdy case. The materials used are extremely solid and there are no sharp edges that plague many lighter cases contructed of aluminum. One disappointment I had was with compatibility. I understand this is a server case, burt I was unable to mount a single standard ATX board! I wish Antec had allowed this option if for no other reason than to broaden this case's market. I think the Titan 550 would be an ideal case for a water cooling setup or for modding.

Editor's Note:

Since writing this review, Antec has in fact redesigned the Titan 550 to allow compatibility with all standard ATX boards.

6 drive internal drive bays

when it comes to working space, the Titan 550 is a very large case. I wish more companies would use removeable motherboard trays, but given the amount of room to work with here, the lack of a removeable tray is easily overlooked. With six slots, the HDD bay has plenty of room for any configuration you can think of, and cooling your drives will be no problem at all. while a lot of companies throw an 80mm or 120mm fan in front of the drive bay for ventilation, Antec chose to set up the Titan 550 with a twin 92mm fan design (fans are not included with the case). what makes this design unique ois how the fan mounts are accessed. Underneath the lower half of the front bezel antec placed a removeable door secured by a pair of thumbs screws. I love the design for two reasons. First, dual fans will easily keep your HDDs cool, regardless of how many you throw in there. Second, by placing a door on front of the case Antec lets you add fans after setting up your system if you want, without having to remove your drives.

5.25 Drive bay

The Titan 550 comes with four external 5.25 drives, one of which comes with a removeable 3.25 bay which can be used externally for a FDD or internally for another HDD. The removeable aspect allows you place the drive whereever you wish or simply remove it and use the space as another 5.25 drive bay.

removeable drive bay

While most companies have gone to a peg based rail system for mounting your drives, Antec chose to use rails secured by screws. I used to like pegs as they allowed for easy and rapid change out, but after breaking two or three, and not being able to get replacements, I actually appreciate the design Antec chose.

 drive bay rails 

Included with the Ttian 550 is Antec's newest cooling creation, the Tri-Cool fan. the Tri-Cool is a 120mm fan with a small toggle attached to it for fan speed control. I like the concept behind the Tri-Cool, but have a few issues with it. first, to actually change the fan speed setting, you have to remove the case' side panel to switch the toggle. with quite a few fan controllers on the market, along with PSUs like Antec's own Neo Power 480 which control fan speed, why use the Tri-Cool? Second, if you are going to use a fan like this, why not find a way to attach the toggle externally to the rear of the case or even the front of the case? a small gripe, but one worth mentiioning.

3 Speed fan

 

True Power 2.0 PSU

 

Maximum Power 550 Watts
Switches ATX Logic on-off
additional power rocker switch
115/230 Volt selector switch
Special Connectors ATX12V 4pin/8pin
3-pin Fan Sensor
Fan Only
SATA
Transient Response +5V,+12V and 3.3V outputs return to within 3% in less than 1ms for 20% load change.
P. G. Signal 100-500ms
Over Voltage Protection
recycle AC to reset
+5V trip point < +6.5V
+3.3V trip point < +4.1V
+12V trip point < +14.4V
Leakage Current < 3.5mA @ 115VAC

 Spec label

Antec makes some of the best power supplies available, and in respect of price to performance, arguably the finest PSUs. The TruePower 2.0 is no exception when it comes to the TruePower line of PSUs 

The 550W TruePower 2.0 is ATX 2.01 compliant and features a 24 pin power connector, dual 12V rails, an included PCI-E power connector, and four SATA power connectors, the TruePower 2.0 should fill even the most power hungry systems needs. Using a bottom mounted 120mm fan as well as an 80mm exhaust fan, this is one of the quetest PSUs I have ever seen, Antec's site claims independent testing puts the noise level at an impressive 20dBA, and I have no doubt this power supply is that quiet.  

Antec True Power 2.0

After removing the rubber band holding the wiring together, I realized how much I appreciated my NeoPower 480 and its modular design. The only negative I could honestly find with this PSU was the wiring, which was a bit of a mess. After the success of the NeoPower 480 and the popularity of modular PSUs, I confused as to why it hasn't gained wider support, and even more confused at to why a company like Antec, which did such a great job with their modular entry, hasn't switched all their PSUs over. Once I got past the wiring, the TruePower 2.0 was everything I though it would be. There are plenty of connectors for any configuration imagineable.

I'm not going to go into overall performance right now as I'm focusing on the case in this article, I am however working on a second review which will cover this PSU as well as Antec's newest SmartPower. That being said, I think anyone who has used an Antec power supply will tell you they are undoubtedly among the best PSUs on the market, and I have no doubt the TruePower 2.0 as well as the SmartPower will carry on that tradition.  

Final thoughts

Antec Titan 550 Server Case
The Titan 550: Standing Proud

Antec Titan 550 Server Case
The Titan 550: Rear Case View

The Antec Titan 550 server case is nothing flashy, nor should it be, although this isn't to say the case isn't attractive. The matte black and sturdy design is simple yet easy on the eyes. The Titan 550 is an incredibly customizable and sturdy case. There is enough room here for any configuration you can possibly dream up. I found no sharp edges or fabrication problems at all. Installation should be incredibly straightforward and simple. Ventilation is more than adequate, and when a pair of 92mm fans are used, cooling should never be an issue. I really liked the case door and the twin hinge system. this allows the user to open the door a full 270 degrees without worry of breaking it off, which is a great design that hopefully will be seen on other Antec models in the future.

Antec's inclusion of the True Power 550W PSU makes this case a real sweet deal. There are not many companies out there that build better cases, and even fewer who build better power supplies. The True Power 2.0 is a great power supply that fits nicely in the tradition of Antec PSUs. Especially when you consider the inclusion of four SATA connectors, fan controllers, and the single PCI-Express power plug (two would have been nice for nVIDIA SLI systems).

On the negative side, i wish Antec had used aluminum for the drive bays and case door. After doing such an incredible job putting the titan 550 together, I think Antec really overlooked this aspect. The first impression someone gets when they see a case is the front panel, and when its constructed of plastic, it gives an impression of a cheap case, which the Titan 550 certainly is not. I also do not understand the Tri-Cool fan, to me at least, a fan controller is fairly useless when you have to open your case to use it. These are only a couple of very minor gripes that are easily overlooked when considering the overall package.

The Legit Bottom Line

I am blown away by the Titan 550, an incredibly sturdy case with lots of room and enough power to satisfy anyone. Those of you running dual processor systems, or who are in the market for a great server case would be wise to check out the Antec Titan 550.