Antec Dark Fleet DF-85 Enthusiast Gaming Case

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Aron Schatz
Posted
August 12, 2010
Manufacturer
Antec
Product Page
DF-85
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Antec Dark Fleet DF-85 Enthusiast Gaming Case
The Antec Dark Fleet DF-85 is an excellent enthusiast case targeting the gaming crowd. If you need a full size ATX case and your not too concerned about price, the DF-85 is a superb pick.

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Page 1
Introduction

The Dark Fleet line of cases are brand new from Antec. They take design cues from multiple sister lines like the Hundred series and others. While most owners of a Hundred series case will balk at the similarity, someone wanting a new case with a brand new look should pay attention. The Dark Fleet DF-85 is a full sized ATX case and it is imposing. Who called in the fleet? Who knows, but Antec has delivered.

About Antec

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Antec, Inc. is the global leader in high-performance computer components and accessories for the gaming, PC upgrade and Do-It-Yourself markets. Founded in 1986, Antec is recognized as a pioneer in the industry and has maintained its position as a worldwide market leader and international provider of quiet, efficient and innovative products. Antec has also achieved great success in the distribution channel, meeting the demands of quality-conscious system builders, VARs and integrators.

Antec’s offering of enclosures includes a wide range of cases, such as its advanced Performance One Series, economical New Solution Series and VERIS family of media components designed for the home theater PC market. Antec’s products also include front line power supplies, such as its premium Signature Series, powerful TruePower Quattro Series and EarthWatts, one of the most environmentally friendly power supplies available. PC gamers are an increasingly significant consumer of performance components, and many Antec products are designed for the gaming demographic, like the premier gamer enclosure: the Nine Hundred. Antec also offers a line of computer accessories comprising many original products, including its patented LED fans and notebook cooling solutions.

Antec is headquartered in Fremont, California, with additional offices in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, as well as in the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, China and Taiwan. The company’s products are sold in more than 40 countries throughout the world.

http://www.antec.com/Believe_it/?page=info


Packaging

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Cases are a bit different from other components that arrive. When you get a case, you want it to be packed well. Bumping around in transit could spell doom for a nice case. A forklift ride gone wrong could as well. Antec packages the case in a double box.

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Inside this brown box was another box. This was held in place with air bags to prevent damage in shipping. You can't trust shipping companies. Always pack your packages well.

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The retail box has red, black, and yellow tones and would stand out on a shelf. There are various specifications and features located on the box. Knowing what you're purchasing is pretty important. If you bought this from a retail store, this is what you'd be bringing home.

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Inside the retail box is the standard case packaging of foam with plastic wrap. You get an awful lot of packaging for a product with computer cases and the packaging was nearly as heavy as the DF-85, itself (not really, but it was heavy).
Page 2
Specifications

  • Three Fleet-Release access doors open separately for convenient entry to drives
  • Three washable fan filters allow for easy cleaning
  • Top 2.5" hot-swap SATA (SSD-compatible) drive bay
  • Bottom-mounted power supply isolates heat
    - Mounts either a standard size power supply or an Antec exclusive CP Series power supply
  • Lockable access doors ensure security
  • CPU cutout allows for easy installation of CPU coolers
  • 14 drive bays:
    - Up to 9 x internal 3.5"
    - 3 x external 5.25"
    - 4 x internal 3.5" Fleet-Swap drives (position changeable)
    - 1 x external top 2.5" hot-swap SATA drive bay
    - 1 x internal bottom-mounted 2.5" SSD drive
  • Advanced cooling system:
    - 2 x top 140mm TwoCool fans
    - 2 x rear 120mm TwoCool red LED fans
    - 3 x front 120mm red LED fans with speed control knobs
    - 1 x side 120mm fan to cool graphics cards (optional)
    - Water cooling capable
  • 7 expansion slots to support multiple graphics cards
  • Maximum graphics card size: 12.5" / 318 mm
  • Cable management ties help keep your case tidier
  • Stylish blacked-out interior
  • Windowed side panel
  • Front ports:
    - 1 x USB 3.0
    - 3 x USB 2.0
    - Audio (AC'97 and HDA compatible) In and Out
  • Motherboards: Mini-ITX, microATX, Standard ATX
  • Power supply not included
  • Unit Dimension
    - 596mm (H) x 213mm (W) x 505mm (D)
    - 23.5" (H) x 8.4" (W) x 19.9" (D)
  • Package Dimension
    - 577mm (H) x 288mm (W) x 510mm (D)
    - 22.7" (H) x 11.3" (W) x 20.1" (D)
  • Weight
    - Net : 11.0 kg / 24.2 lb
    - Gross : 11.3 kg / 26.3 lb
  • Amazon Link, Newegg Link


We'll call your attention to the graphics card support. It can accommodate a size of up to 12.5". It can accept bigger than that if you opt to leave a 3.5" drive bay open so the card can poke through.

Marketing Summary

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Time to build a killer rig? Turn to Antec. The DF-85 is the gaming case re-envisioned, with all the award-winning build quality that made Antec cases famous and plenty of airy, wide-open expandability with 14 total drive bays and 7 expansion slots. Fleet-Release™ front drive bays allow swift customization of front fan and drive configurations and easy access to tool-less, washable fan filters. A top-mounted hot-swappable SATA (SSD-compatible) drive bay plus Fleet-Swap™ SATA drive interfaces offer blazing fast throughput with superb convenience. With pioneering design and world-first conveniences, the Dark Fleet DF-85 is the case of choice for your next flagship.

http://www.antec.com/Believe_it/product.php?id=MjQwNA==
Page 3
Package Contents

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In addition to the DF-85, Antec includes some extra cable management ties, a bag of screws, and some literature.

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A special set of screws was given for mounting a 2.5" drive to the bottom of the case. The case has a hot-swap 2.5" bay in the front, but this is for use inside the case. Mounting the drive internally increases security and minimized the risk of the drive being stolen.
Page 4
DF-85 Exterior

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The Antec DF-85 is very imposing. It is a full size ATX tower and has the girth to match. The case is all black and the fans have red coloring to them with red LEDs. Red and black fits perfectly with the design of our publications, we're happy with the color scheme.

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The side panel has a two part window and is very similar to the Hundred series of cases from the same company. The window has a mount for an additional 120mm fan which isn't included with the case. This mount has rubber stands to prevent vibration. Vibration = noise and no one wants an overly noisy case. Antec packages specialized screws for mounting this fan. The side window has a very industrialized look with the rivets and the black finish.

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Up next is the front of the DF-85. Antec opted to use drive bay doors on the optical drives. We aren't sure why this was done, but we have no opinion on the inclusion of the doors or not. Some people like them for aesthetics, some don't since they block the optical drive. You can remove the door off the plastic hinge, but the hinge remains. The bottom three fan housings are the Fleet-Release system from Antec.

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The top of the case houses the various I/O functionality. The power button is to the right and the reset is to the left. You get 3 USB 2.0 ports and 1 USB 3.0 port. The USB 3.0 connection is pretty strange and we'll go into that a bit later. Front panel audio jacks are included as well. The very top contains the SSD hot-swap port. The drive will stick out a bit which may hinder the USB plugs below. We will show this later.
Page 5
DF-85 Exterior Cont'd

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The three Fleet-Release bays house 3x 3.5" drives for a total of 9x 3.5" bays. Each Fleet-Release bay holds one 120mm fan and a dust screen that is easily removed and cleaned. It is made of a hard mesh plastic and running water through it should be fine for cleaning. The Fleet-Release bays are locked into place from the inside of the case so you can't just open them up all the time if you don't want. Each fan has a dedicated knob for controlling the speed.

opendoor.jpg


The optical door swings out and you can remove them if you want. The hinge will remain. There are 3x 5.25" drive bays for external optical drives. Most computer users will use one or two drive bays, but the option to have three is fine.

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Here we can see the the clear SSD hot-swap bay and the 2x 140mm fans. Antec opted to use two fans instead of the one giant fan like on the Hundred series of cases. Sure, a radiator may fit in the two fan area, but a bigger fan can cool the same and makes less noise since it can spin slower. This case is made for water cooling, though.

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The back of the case contains two water cooling hose pass-throughs and contains the power supply on the bottom of the case. The DF-85 can accommodate ATX or the Antec CPX style power supplies. The back contains only 7x expansion I/O slots which may not be enough for the ultra high-end people that have multiple graphics cards. One of the expansions is taken up by the USB 3.0 cable and port. It is the bottom plate in this picture. A fan controller is located on the top left for controlling the top and back fans.
Page 6
DF-85 Interior

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The inside of the case is pretty massive. The majority of the cabling comes from the top right, in this shot. There are plenty of cable management holes on the motherboard tray if you like to route your cables behind the motherboard. A big cutout is present for the CPU cooling area. This is an excellent idea since some coolers require a backplane to be installed. Without access to the back, you need to remove the entire motherboard to change the cooler. Not so with the DF-85. The case is painted black on the inside.

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Each of the fans have their wires hanging out for you to route yourself. The I/O shield is located right next to the back fans. The fans with the red fins are lighted with red LEDs.

intop.jpg


The two top 140mm fans can probably house a radiator for a water cooling setup. One problem we found with the placement of the forward 140mm fan was the frame was ultra snug with our DVDRW drive when installed. If you have a really long optical drive, you might have to place it on the second bay instead of the top.
Page 7
DF-85 Interior Cont'd

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All of the wires from the top front panel come out through this section and the optical drive bay sits right below it. It is also a good area to store extra lengths of wire if you aren't using all the bays in your build.

inhdd.jpg


Antec packages two Fleet-Swap hot-swappable drive bays with the DF-85. Each Fleet-Swap can handle two drives. You wire up each bay and the hard drive slides into place. This case isn't tool-less. Most of the screws are thumbscrews, though. Watch the video to see this in action.

inpsussd.jpg


The bottom houses the area for the power supply and the single SSD mount to the right. This was probably added pretty late in the development since it is just added there as an afterthought. Still, we're happy to see an internal 2.5" mount since most SSDs are coming out that way.
Page 8
Installation and Use

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Installing a SSD in the top hot-swap bay presents a few problems. With the drive in, the access to the USB ports below might get a bit tight. In addition, there is no way to lock the drive in place and people can see what type of drive you're using. If you are in an area with lots of people, you may not want to use this setup. We also can't think of a reason why this bay is done like this. Most people that have a removable 2.5" drive have it in a USB mount already. The safety and security of this bay makes us only recommend its use in your own home.

built.jpg


Even with the terrible wiring job that I did, the DF-85 has plenty of space for a standard size board. The system contains an Intel Core i7-920, an Asus P6T Deluxe, 6GB of Crucial Tracer Red, a Sapphire Radeon HD4850, a LiteON DVDRW drive, a Seagate 320GB 3.5" HDD and a Crucial 2.5" RealSSD C300 256GB drive mounted on the bottom. The top bay has a 128GB Kingston V+ SSD. The power supply was an older Neo HE 550 from Antec.

You can see how tight the optical drive is on the top fan. It is pushed to the max. We had to force it in a bit to get the screws to line up. The bottom SSD mount is a good addition, we'd have liked to see it take up a normal 3.5" bay, though. It seems it was just thrown in the design. The USB 3.0 cord is also pretty random. It loops out the back into the motherboard I/O port. Our Neo HE PSU wasn't long enough to route the ATX12v connection through the cable management ports. Many PSUs may not have the length of cabling for this. This is something to think about when buying a power supply for use in cases where it is mounted on the bottom. There are no venting holes for the PSU on the bottom, either. This isn't that big of a deal, though.

The case is sturdy. The insides don't have sharp edges or bad quality signs. The black paint on the inside helps to cover up any imperfections, though. Still, Antec makes quality cases and this is no different.

built2.jpg


The DF-85 has ample room to stuff wires anywhere they can go. Even with my minimal wire management, the DF-85 had enough space to make the front look clean while making the back look like a spaghetti dinner.



This video contains some very useful information on how the case works and sounds. Be sure to check it out and give us some feedback.

Conclusion

The Antec Dark Fleet DF-85 retails for about $170 (Amazon Link, Newegg Link) at the time of this review. This is well in-line with other high-end enthusiast cases and represents a good price for what you get. The hot-swappable SSD bay at the top is probably a feature that won't get much use, but Antec added an internal mount to alleviate security concerns. The Dark Feel line represents a departure from previous models. While it takes many cues from the Hundred series, this fleet stands on its own. The Fleet-Swap and Fleet-Release are interesting additions and are quite useful.

Don't get us wrong. $170 is pretty expensive for a case. This isn't targeting the budget builder or even the mainstream builder. This is for the high-end crowd that likes the amount of space and the quality design. You're paying a premium for a premium case. That's just the way it goes. The DF-85 is worth it, though. If you already have a Hundred series case or have a similar case from a competitor, there's really no reason to switch. For new builds, the Antec Dark Feel DF-85 is a recommended enthusiast case. Antec makes quality cases and the DF-85 doesn't disappoint.

HardwareLogic would like to thank Antec for making this review possible.

Comments

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