Antec P100 Case: Performance One on a Budget

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System Configuration:

Test system device listing.

Measurement and Analysis Tools

  • Prime95 processor stress software.
  • FurMark stability test to stress the integrated GPU.
  • Asus GPU Tweak to monitor GPU temperatures and adjust fan speeds.
  • SpeedFan to monitor system temperatures and adjust system fan speeds.
  • Extech 380803 AC power analyzer / data logger for measuring AC system power.
  • PC-based spectrum analyzer: SpectraPlus with ACO Pacific mic and M-Audio digital audio interfaces.
  • Anechoic chamber with ambient level of 11 dBA or lower

Testing Procedures

The system is placed in two states: idle, and load using Prime95 (large FFTs setting) and FurMark, an OpenGL benchmarking and stability testing utility. This puts more demand on the CPU and GPU than any real life application. Throughout testing, system temperatures, noise levels, and power consumption are recorded. During the load test, the system and GPU fans speeds are adjusted to various levels in an attempt to find an optimal balance between cooling and noise while maintaining a GPU temperature of 80°C (assuming an ambient temperature of 22°C).

Baseline Noise

For our baseline noise tests, the system is left idle, the CPU fan is set to its minimum speed under PWM control (400 RPM), and the GPU fans are off by default. The system fans are connected to controllable fan headers and are set to a variety of speeds using SpeedFan. This gives us a good idea of what the stock fans sound like at different speeds with minimal interference from other sources.

Baseline Noise Level
(Idle, CPU fan at 400 RPM, GPU fans off)
Fan Speed Setting
Avg. Fan Speed
SPL @1m
15 dBA
480 RPM
16 dBA
60% (Low)
760 RPM
19 dBA
980 RPM
22 dBA
100% (High)
1140 RPM
25 dBA
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle left/front of case.
Ambient noise level: 10~11 [email protected]

The P100 ships with two 120 mm TwoCool fans which sport a standard 3-pin connector (a pair of optional 4-pin molex adapter are provided if you prefer) and a two speed switch. The ones that shipped with our sample appear to be the same as the retail model which has a specified speed of 1200 RPM. The low and high speed settings correspond to 60% and 100% when running on motherboard fan control, producing average speeds of 760 and 1140 RPM respectively. Together, the stock fans output a moderate noise level of 25 dBA at full speed, while I would classify 800 RPM and lower as quiet by my standards.

The included fans produce relatively inoffensive acoustics but they don't sound as smooth or soft as some of the better fans on the market. They are still above average in terms of noise quality however, to the point where you don't really notice them when combined with the noise generated by the other components.

The sound produced by the hard drive inside the case is interesting. From about a foot away, the hum of the hard drive is audible but as the drive is well isolated, no noticeable vibrations are passed to the rest of the case. The way the drive is mounted also causes its seeks to sound duller, so it thumps rather than clicks. I'm not entirely comfortable with the drive not being totally secured but I can't deny it's a very quiet solution.

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