If you're like me, a computer case is less about looks, and more about usefulness!! Sure, some cases out there look pretty and have some cool eyecandy, but they don't move air around inside very well. This, of course, translates to unecessarily high temperatures inside the case, shortening the life of your components, and increasing their chances for failure.
The Antec Twelve Hundred is the bigger, badder, evil brother of the original Antec Nine Hundred. (Ok, not so much on the evil, but it sounded good). And yes, you have to spell the letters out. None of this namby pamby 1200 or 900. These cases are worthy of the spelling. The Twelve Hundred took many of the complaints of the Nine Hundred and fixed them. It gave more room for long graphics cards, an extra fan, and more room overall for working in the case. It also added a much needed space behind the motherboard panel for cable routing.
This case is built around it's fans. There are 3 120mm fans in the front of the case that serve as air intakes. Each of these fans has it's own speed dial. You can put the speed at low, high, or any point in between. Not only that, but each fan is covered with a washable dust cover to help prevent dust from getting into your computer. If you're in New Mexico like I am, this is very important. The back has 2 120mm exhaust fans with individual switches for Low, Medium, and High. The big attraction, however, is the huge 200mm exhaust fan at the top of the case. Like the back fans, this one has a LMH switch, but it also has a switch to turn the fan LEDs on or off (the only fan in the case with such an option). There is also a space on the side panel for another 120mm intake fan. This one sits right at the level of the video card, and really helps keep those temps down. With all of the fans on low, they're really not all that noticable. When you kick them up to high, you can definitely hear them, but after I start gaming, they're pretty much drowned out. The best part about them is that they keep the temps of your case waaaaaayyyy down. My previous case (which was a beater with no sides) ran temps of around 60-70C. Since upgrading to the Twelve Hundred they've dropped to around 40C (lower when I have the fans up). Now, onward to other features!
This case ships standard with the option to have 3 5.25" external drive bays and 9 3.5" internal drive bays. The internal bay cages are designed to be removable so you can have any combination of 3 external/9 internal, 6e/6i, 9e/3i, or even 12e/0i. Personally I have no use for 3 Optical Drives, much less twelve! There is also an adapter to convert an external 5.25" bay to an external 3.5" bay for floppy drives, card readers, or other such happy devices. I currently have 2 DVD-RW drives and a floppy drive in my external bays. The other bays are dedicated to fans and harddrives (3 harddrives, soon to be 4). Seeing as how my motherboard can only support up to 6 SATA devices anyway, I can put 2 drives in each bay and have plenty of room between them for adequate cooling. Since there's a big honkin' fan at the top of the case, the PSU is mounted at the bottom, and after trying both ways, I personally feel a bottom mounted PSU is superior to those mounted at the top of the case. The ports on the front are pretty typical. 2 USB 2.0, 1 Headphone out and 1 Mic in, and 1 eSATA instead of a Firewire port (I use neither and would have preferred a third USB port instead). The headphone and mic jacks aren't labelled, but since there's only 2 of them, you've got a 50% chance of getting it right on the first go. There's also a reset button and a power button, but the power button is considerably bigger than the reset button so as not to cause confusion.
As for looks, I personally feel this case is a beauty. There's no eyecandy like you'd find in other cases, and not even any labelling of the front ports. However, I like the utilitarian, squarish look about it. The case is a nice deep, dark black, not only on the outside, but the inside too. You can't imagine the difference the black paint on the inside makes until you've actually got your system running in it. All of the included fans are black with blue LEDs. The fan that I've added to the side panel and the one on my CPU cooler are blue as well, to keep with the theme. This case is too awesome to stick under a desk somewhere and I feel should be proudly displayed alongside your monitor or in some other conspicuous place. It looks sharp in the dark too!
Lastly, we've got the issue of weight (you thought I forgot, didn't you). Any other review will tell you this case is heavy. So does this one. When empty the case is just shy of 30lbs. (29.8 to be exact). Yes, you read that right. But it's not hard to see why. Except for the bezel on the front of the case, the accessory tray on the top, and the side panel window, this case is solid steel. You don't have to worry about bending any of the parts with a light touch. After I got my system all put together, this beasty weighs in at a hefty 62.1 lbs. It's not exactly the easiest thing to lug to a LAN party, but seeing as how I'm a rather large person myself, it's not too terrible.
I do have some complaints about the Twelve Hundred, but they're fairly minor. The biggest would be the weight. Other than that, I wish it was a toolless design, but that's not a huge deal. Just make sure you've got a phillips screwdriver on hand and you're in good shape. The placement of the fan filters on the front requires almost a complete disassembly of the case, just to get to them. Wash them sparsely and instead, just blow the dust out with a can of air every week or so.
All in all this is an excellent case, and well worth every single penny I spent on it. It looks sharp and is sure to turn heads at your next LAN party.
Enjoy, and look for my other (eventual) computer product reviews.