Antec P180: A Visual Tour

Cases|Damping
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May 26, 2005 by Devon Cooke and Mike Chin

Product
Antec P180
Advanced Super Mid Tower Case
Manufacturer
Antec Inc
MSRP
US$160

June 15, 2006: POSTSCRIPT V1.1 added to the final review to reflect changes made in the case since its original release.

The Antec P180 is one of the most highly anticipated products ever to cross the threshold of our lab. Since Antec first unveiled it at the beginning of the year at CES 2005, the response has overwhelming. Our preview coverage news piece was viewed some 70,000 times, and the related preview thread in the SPCR forums has garnered close to 400 replies!

The unusual attention that this case has garnered is warranted by its many unusual features, which are of interest to silencers as well as high performance seekers. Those who are close to SPCR have special reason to look forward to this case: Much of the design is a result of the knowledge that has grown out of SPCR. The P180 is the culmination of a year-long collaboration between Antec and Mike Chin, the founder and editor of Silent PC Review.

The P180: A Collaboration between Antec and Mike Chin

The P180 was the result of a year-long collaboration between Antec and me. Antec needs little introduction here. Their involvement in PC cases goes back many years, and they were the first to develop a case designed specifically for reduced noise - the wildly successful Sonata. Antec cases have been popular with PC enthusiasts long before the "silent sector" emerged, and several of their models are among SPCR's top Recommended Cases.

That's Antec. As for me, I've been involved in high-end home audio as a hobby most of my life and as a business for nearly a decade. From years of tinkering with high-end turntables and developing speaker systems, I learned something about acoustic-mechanical design. I began modifying computers for quiet operation several years ago. After SPCR was launched, and the flow of review samples began, my learning process about PC design accelerated with all the exposure to different components and cases. Ideas about a case started to percolate, a perfect case for the most powerful systems to be cooled easily and quietly. Could I bring these ideas to fruition in a manufactured product?

About a year ago, a sample of the Antec Aria case landed in my lab. This SFF case featured innovative 2- and 3-ply composite walls of aluminum and plastic skins. The material had a non-resonant, acoustically somewhat opaque quality, much like an acrylic cutting board. It seemed far superior to either steel or aluminum walls. I approached Antec to suggest we work together to develop a case that would meet the demands of both silencers and enthusiasts. Han Liu, Antec's Product development Manager, was receptive; I became the design consultant for the product, code named P180.

The stated goals for the P180 were:

  • To develop a case incorporating hybrid composite panels with practical and effective silencing techniques in a tower-style size that can accept a full range of standard PC components; a case that will be quiet even with ordinary components, and approach 20 dBA/1m SPL with carefully selected components.
  • To be a great solution for power users who want ultimate cooling with the hottest current desktop PC components, as well as for silencers who seek minimal noise, in an understated, modern, elegant style.

There were many principles applied to the P180. The following were central:

  • Create separate chambers for better thermal management with less airflow.
  • Ensure simple, direct, low-impedance airflow paths.
  • Use damping and mechanical decoupling whenever possible to minimize vibration transfer.
  • Keep any noise at the back of the case as much as possible.
  • The front bezel must be transparent for airflow yet prevent direct escape paths for noise.

The Antec design team members were great professionals to work with, and the project progressed as a true partnership that resulted in a finished product better than either party could have achieve alone.

The P180 is far from perfect. Given the wide range of applications, there can be no single perfect case. As befits a product of a life-long experimenter, the P180 allows for a huge range of configurations without any modifications. The P180 was designed to be quiet and cool right out of the box even if used to house a system of very hot components. It is a distillation of my knowledge about computer thermal and noise management combined with Antec's professional and commercial expertise in the fabrication of PC cases, circa late-2004.

Mike Chin
Editor / Publisher, SPCR

We had hoped to make a comprehensive review available before Computex 2005, which is scheduled to start in just days. Alas, the pressures of preparation for the trip to Taipei and obligations on many other reviews have made this too challenging a task. Rather than post a sprawling ambitious review with no time for reflection and much potential for errors, at this time, we have chosen to to present a detailed pictorial and exposition of the P180's features. A complete review with results from three test systems will be posted some time in the coming weeks.


Antec calls the P180 an "Advanced Super Mid Tower". It is a fairly large mid-tower case.

ANTEC P180 SPECIFICATIONS

Special Features

Unique upper and lower chamber structure for independent thermal zones for better heat dissipation

Power Supply resides in lower chamber to isolate heat and noise from the system

Innovative three-layer side panel (aluminum, plastic, aluminum) provides easy access & dampens system generated noise

Cooling System

 

- 1 rear (standard) 120mm TriCool Fan w/ 3-speed switch control
- 1 top (standard) 120mm TriCool Fan
- 1 front (optional) 120mm fan
- 1 lower chamber (standard) 120mm x 38mm TriCool Fan
- Antec Quiet Computing Chassis Air Duct for better, quiet cooling of the graphics card with (optional) 80mm case fan in the Chassis Air Duct

Maximum expandability with 11 Drive Bays

External 4 x 5.25"; 1 x 3.5"
Internal 6 x 3.5" for HDD

Motherboard

Standard ATX 12" (W) x 9.6" (L)

Front door

Double hinge door designed to open up to 270º

Expansion Slots

Up to 7
Front Ports - 2 x USB 2.0
- 1 x IEEE 1394 (FireWire®, i.Link®)
- Audio In and Out

Material

0.8mm cold rolled steel for durability through majority of chassis), 1.0mm cold rolled steel around the 4xHDD area.
Dimensions & Weight

54cm (H) x 20.5cm (W) x 50.7cm (D)
21.3"(H) x 8.1"(W) x 19.9"(D)
31/36 lbs; 14.1/16.3 kg (net/gross)



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