Antec P180: A Visual Tour

Viewing page 4 of 6 pages. Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 Next


The case is separated into two chambers. The dividing wall is made mostly of steel. The PSU and the main HDD cage that accommodates up to four drives is in the bottom chamber with a 120mm fan in the middle. The black structure in the upper chamber is the VGA duct, which also acts as a caddy for optical drive mounting rails.

The VGA duct is removed in this photo. After cables are routed through sliding doors between the two sections, they are kept thermally and acoustically separate.

The drive cages slide out smoothly after locking thumbscrews are removed...

...showing the front 120mm intake air vents. The upper vent has a mounting bracket for a 120mm fan. The lower vent does not have one because there is a 120mm fan in line in the middle of the chamber. Any type of ATX PSU can be installed: Single 80mm fan, single 120mm fan, or dual fan. It can be mounted right side up or upside down as desired. The vent holes around the PSU opening on the back panel allows exhaust of the airflow generated by the center 120mm fan when a fanless PSU with minimal ventilation is used.


The juxtaposition of the power supply and the 4-bay hard drive cage in the separate bottom compartment is a key aspect of the P180's design. There is a fan mounting spot — and a supplied 120 x 38 mm 3-speed fan — but the fan generally needs to be used only with a fanless power supply. In normal use, virtually any normal or quiet fan-cooled PSU should draw enough air from the front vent of the bottom chamber to keep the hard drives cool. It should also have no trouble keeping itself cool without ramping up in speed.

From a thermal point of view, this arrangement is highly efficient in that the airflow of the PSU fan is used not only to cool itself but also the hard drives. At the same time, the heat of the PSU and hard drives are not adding to the heat of the CPU and video cards, which are the primary heat producers in today's PCs.

A top quality PSU these days will convert >80% of the AC power it draws into DC power. The remaining <20% of energy gets wasted as heat inside the power supply, which is what makes them get hot. If you have an 80% efficiency power supply and your system needs 200W DC during maximum peaks, then the PSU draws 250W AC, 50W of which converted to heat in the PSU. Hard drives rarely consume more than about 10W average in actual operation. If we assume two hard drives, the total heat in the PSU / HDD chamber or tunnel will not go above 70W. This is a small amount of heat to be evacuated through this free-flowing air tunnel.

Following this example in a conventional ATX case where the power supply is positioned at the top, the 50W of heat from the PSU would be within inches of the hot CPU, which could easily be producing 100W of heat. The CPU and PSU would affect each other; both would run hotter, and any thermally controlled fans (in the PSU, on the CPU heatsink) would tend to ramp up faster. The 20W from the HDDs would also be added to the overall heat in the case, adding to the thermal load. With the P180's separate PSU / HDD chamber, the thermal load on all the components and on the airflow / cooling system is considerably reduced.

Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 Next

Cases|Damping - Article Index
Help support this site, buy from one of our affiliate retailers!