Blast from the past: originally published January 16th 2006.

Let me start off by saying this is not a server case: it is a workstation case. As the review progresses items will be pointed out that affirms this, but it’s better to think of it as a workstation chassis and look at it from this perspective.

I was building a new test server and needed a decent chassis. Antec is always my first choice and they had just released the Titan 550 Server, their first designated tower server chassis. I’ve been using it extensively for over six months and am ready to review.

Let’s start from the outside and work our way in. The entire case is matt black: the front bezel a mostly solid plastic and steel for the rest. The front bezel has the new Antec double hinged door that swings back to rest against the body of the chassis. There are power and hard drive lights on the door along with a key lock. Below these are two USB ports, a microphone and headphone jack and a Firewire port. First item that suggests workstation over server: not a lot of call for headphones on the server. As well there are only two status lights, yet the low price Antec Solution series includes two additional lights that are great for additional RAID or SCSI controllers. Behind the door are three 5.25” drive bays and one 3.5” drive bay that can be changed to a 5.25” if needed. Below these are the reset and power buttons: they’re actually part of the front bezel but work nicely.

The side panels are nondescript so we’ll move to the rear. Standard fair here, with a nice honeycomb fan guard for the 120 mm internal fan. The bottom right panel is screwed in place from the inside, indicating something could be used there but isn’t: perhaps a CPU cooler shroud like the Sonata II? A lock slot is located at the bottom of the one removable side panel.

From here we get a look at the included power supply, the Antec TruePower 550 watt with EPS12V. This power supply lured me to the Titan 550 as sure as the rest of it’s features: very slick and for server and workstation motherboards, and a real bargain find in this configuration.

Cracking open the side panel allows us to remove the front bezel. It’s “sort of” hinged on two arms and allows it to be swung out the right and still hang in place. I find when it’s closed there is a gap on the left side between the bezel and the side panel. Underneath we see the drive bay covers for EMI shielding and the 3.5” bay that can be converted to a 5.25”, and it has drive rails pre attached.

The big item here is the internal hard drive bay and it’s door that can hold two 92 mm fans for cooling. The door has two screws on the left top and bottom. The slits on both sides are for the drive rails: they’re pinched together to remove a drive.

The drive cage is nice, but in practice it doesn’t play well in Peoria. It holds six hard drives in quick release drive rails, but to remove a drive you have to remove the side panel, remove the front bezel, unscrew the drive bay cover and then unplug the drive cables. The illusion of convenience is created without any substance. With two fans attached it’s another layer of complication as the cables need to be fed to the right side so they won’t unplug when the drive bay cover is swung open. Two low speed fans do keep a six disk array cool. I used two Tri-Cool fans with three pin connectors to the motherboard and one of them came off it’s pins every time I opened the drive bay cover.

I would love to see Antec make removable drive cages at this point to compete with Supermicro on solid ground. This drive bay could have been a six or eight hot swappable SATA drive cage behind a lower hinged door. Move the fans to the rear of the drive cage and it’s a winner.

Moving to the interior we see a nice clean layout. No removable motherboard tray, but enough room for an extended ATX motherboard. The only issue is the full size card rest attached to the drive bay: I haven’t had a full length card since 1998 but it’s easily removed with one screw. All the front panel cables are very long and go from the right side with snag free comfort. The included 120 mm fan is the Tri-Cool model with a three speed selector: low and medium create no real noise.

Overall the Antec Titan 550 is a well built and good quality chassis. I can’t say it’s ready for the “server” market other than at the entry level, and a lot of it’s features scream “workstation” to me. I cant’ wait for the next model in the Titan line.