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Ooh, look at all that beautiful shiny unblemished aluminum!
Big front intake vent features an open pattern grill similar to the back.
A few new things here; otherwise it's a continuation of Antec's successful
Sonata and SKL3700AMB interiors.
First up are the four 5.25" drive bays
with the familiar screw-on rails. One change here is the inclusion of two sets
of mounting holes on the rails. The first is for mounting the drives so their
faces are flush with the face of the front bezel, the other set is positioned
so the drive will sit below the face of the front bezel and is intended to
be used by an optical drive in one of the top two bays with the
Next comes the first of the 3.5" drive bays, this
one is intended to mount a standard floppy drive as well as one more 3.5"
drive. If the floppy drive is mounted in the top drive bay it can be positioned
behind the fake bezel, quite like the optical drives, so it matches the front
Four HDD bays and the "door" for
the front fan compartment. The wires are power for the front LEDs.
Sidewinder HDD Sleds
The basic setup is very similar to that first used in the Sonata and then more recently on the SLK3700BQE. Beneath the middle set of 3.5" bays is the hard drive cage that is rotated
90° from the normal orientation and is provided with snap-in drive sleds. Each sled has 4 firm black rubber grommets on the bottom for
mounting the hard drives. The rubber grommets serve to dampen vibration from
the drives and keep them quieter than a normal "hard-mounted"
drive. Antec has provided special shoulder bolts to mount the drives to the
grommeted sleds. These bolts create just the right amount of tension on the
grommets when the bolts are tightened until they bottom out on the drive. It is not a complete solution: The grommets are just a bit too hard to eliminate drive vibrations; they reduce it. (You may know if you read the SPCR forums that I ended up using pads of Sorbothane¬ģ in place of grommets and screws to achieve complete freedom from HDD vibration in the SLK3700BQE.)
One advantage of the sideways oriented drives is that it's easier to route
the IDE and power cables along the sides of the case, out of the airflow.
This should make it easier to maintain good airflow through the case and keep
temperatures down, although this is offset somewhat by the construction of
the drive cage itself which provides only four 3/4" x 4" slots for
the air to circulate through the drive cage area.
The drive sleds and the cage are made out of aluminum, just like the rest of the case. They fit rather loosely into the cages;
it seems like there's some potential for a noisy or high vibration drive to cause the sled
to rattle within the cage. Despite that, the sled can stick or jam easily when inserting and removing. This may be a result of aluminum's softness rather than any design or manufacturing flaw. I used a
Seagate Barracuda IV, still the quietest desktop drive ever, for this review and I didn't notice any vibration or
rattling coming from the drive cage, but I did experience more seek noise
than normal. I don't know if this was due to the drive cage resonance, or
perhaps the very open, unrestricted air intake slots, or maybe a little of
Door to the front fan
Between the drive cage and the front case wall is a small
aluminum door fastened with a thumbscrew (as are the majority of the
removable pieces on the P160. Another nice touch by Antec). This is
actually the front fan mounting bracket. It slides into the front of the case
sort of like a guillotine blade and has a 120mm hole and 4 mounting holes
to allow the owner to attach a 120mm x 25mm fan of their choice.
fan grill is very open and unobstructive, this should provide a unimpeded
path for the air to flow into the case. This fan mounting setup is flawed though.
1. The fan has to be screwed directly
onto the plate, there's not enough room to use any sort of dampened mounting
method such as O-rings or the same type of rubber mounts that are used on
the rear fan.
2. The second problem is that the mounting bracket itself fits
loosely in its rails and can rattle around easily. This definitely
isn't conducive to quiet operation. Antec does offer the caveat that you
"not install a front fan unless necessary for cooling, since it will create
additional noise". They're spot-on with that tip.
120mm front fan bracket slid out.
Included 120mm Fan
The case comes equipped with one 120mm fan that's intended to be used as
the case exhaust fan on the back wall. This fan has no model numbers on it
but seems to be the same low noise version I found in the SLK3700BQE.
It comes wired with a 4-pin Molex connector with a pass through connector.
Antec also included the four silicon rubber mounting barbs that are
also used in the Sonata and the 3700BQE. These mounts do an excellent job
of decoupling the fan so that any fan vibration or noise isn't amplified by
being bolted solidly to the case wall.
I first tried this fan out at 12 volts
and while it wasn't as loud as some 120mm fans that I've heard, it was still
too loud for me so I undervolted it to 5 volts. At 5 volts it's pretty darn
quiet, and puts out a fairly decent amount of air so
I left it. This fan has a somewhat noticeable clicking
noise that decreases in frequency, but not volume, as you lower the voltage.
The excellent fan grill on the rear wall doesn't seem to add any additional
air turbulence noise to the case.
Rear case fan. Note the silicon rubber
mounting barbs. These do a good job of decoupling the fan from the case for
Removable Motherboard Tray
One of the things that you'll notice when you open up the
P160 is the removable motherboard tray. This has got to be the #1
most requested features on enthusiasts' wish list for cases. Apparently
Antec was listening to their customers when they drew up the plans for the
P160. The Antec tray will fit micro-ATX or standard ATX motherboards. It's
aluminum and comes with threaded steel inserts for the brass motherboard standoffs
that are included in the accessory box.
The Antec motherboard tray is designed
differently than most of removable motherboard trays that I'm used to dealing
with. Instead of including a bracket that the AGP and PCI cards bolt onto,
Antec has designed this tray so that the cards must be removed from the tray
before it can be removed from the case. This makes it more of a hassle than
if they had designed the tray in the normal fashion where the motherboard
and cards are all attached to the removable tray.
Motherboard tray removed from case. Note
the standard ATX and m-ATX hole pattern. The six slots are the tabs that hold this tray onto the chassis. Note the
Another departure from convention
is that instead of the tray sliding out the rear of the case, it actually gets
pulled right out the open side of the case. The tray is attached to the case
by some tabs on the tray which engage slots on the case as you slide the tray
into position against the back case wall. There is a retaining plate that
holds the tray in place. The tray rests against three nylon pads that are
attached to the chassis. These pads keep the tray from rattling.
a protruding "handle" that can be used to grasp onto the motherboard
tray for removal, that way you don't have to hold your motherboard by the
CPU fan or the memory sticks when you're installing or removing it. The problem
with this handle is that it is positioned in such a way that it block easy
access to the IDE and FDD header of most motherboards. Rounded cable users
probably won't have any problems with this, but for people that use flat ribbon
IDE/FDD cables and like to keep them folded flat out of the airflow this handle
provides a nice challenge. Having the tray pull
out the side of the case instead of the rear means you'll have to move all
the disconnected IDE and power cables back out of the way so they don't keep
getting hooked on the motherboard and components as you're removing it from
Motherboard installed on tray. Note the
position of the handle relative to the IDE/FDD headers.
Antec has not included a power supply with the P160, allowing the user to choose whichever power supply fits their needs. I used a Seasonic Super Silencer 400W. This power
supply mounted with no problem at all.
Also included inside the P160 is a box full of the usual motherboard
standoffs, assorted case screws and drive mounting screws plus the special
shoulder bolts for use with the hard drive mounting grommets. There's also
a bag containing four sets of aluminum drive rails for the 5.25" bays
and a set of keys for the lockable left side panel. With the left side panel
locked the case is impervious to casual intruders. Neither the front bezel
nor the right side panel is removable until the left side panel has been taken
off the case.
A Good Manual!
Then there is the Owner's
Manual. Most case manuals, if they exist
at all, are pretty basic. Antec has been continuously improving their manuals recently, and the P160 manual continues that trend: It is by far the best case manual I've seen. It is
remarkably thorough and easy to understand. All the assembly
procedures are well covered, from the connections for the myriad of wiring
that emanates from the back of the I/O panel, to different techniques of
mounting the optical and floppy drives.