Antec P180: A Visual Tour

Cases|Damping
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MAIN CHAMBER DESIGN

The main chamber houses the motherboard and its expansion cards, the optical drives, the floppy drive and any additional hard drives. As with the lower chamber, the only intake opening is at the front. This time, there is a 120mm fan mount right at the opening, ahead of the hard drive cage, but no fan is premounted here. There are two 120mm fans in the top back area, one on the back panel and one on the top. Both fans are Antec Tri-Cool 3-speed fans, installed to blow out. With most motherboards, the CPU will be position within 2~4 inches of each fan. The close proximity is very helpful for CPU cooling.

The cooling concept is simple: Use either exhaust fan or both fans as needed, at the appropriate speed setting. Because there are no other vent holes, outside air will be pulled in through the front main vent. At the low speed, the Tri Cool fan is quiet, and when set to this speed, even both fans running do not make much noise. Together, the two fans can pull a great of air through the main chamber, even set to low speed. With the option for the third front intake fan, there are many possible airflow options. This is a deliberate part of the design, to allow for many options without any modifications.

For minimal noise, the best strategy is probably to use only the back fan and close up the top vent because when the case is placed on the floor, the top vent provides a direct sound path to a typically positioned user, which may increase perceived noise. With a high performance heatsink optimized for low airflow, the single 120mm exhaust fan on the rear panel may be enough to keep the system cool and stable except with the hottest CPU and VGA cards. Performance users may wish to exploit the convection potential represented by the top 120mm fan / vent, which is designed to be just above the CPU with most motherboards.

It was explained earlier that the black plastic structure in the main chamber (that doubles as a caddy for the optical drive rails) is a duct for the VGA card. Let's take a closer look.


VGA duct with cover removed.

The duct is basically a small plastic box with two holes — one for an 80mm fan, and the other to mate with the rectangular tube affixed to the vent on the back panel next to the PCI slots. The concept is for cooler outside air to be pulled into the duct by the fan, which is positioned directly over the VGA card at a perpendicular angle. The resulting airflow goes over both side of the VGA card and provides much needed additional cooling for today's hot video cards. Depending on the height of the VGA card, a fan that is thinner than the usual 25mm depth may be required. The duct can be slid back and forth about 1.5" for best positioning of the fan over the VGA card.

The intent is to allow the heatsink and fan on the VGA card to work more efficiently with its own dedicated supply of cooler air. The exhuast of the heated air poses no challenge for the big 120mm fans atop. This feature provides the benefits of a side panel opening for the VGA card without opening a direct path for sound waves to exit the case and reach the user.

CONCLUSIONS

There has been good success in our ongoing experiments with the P180 running both cool and very quiet systems as well as the hottest most powerful components we've been able to get our hands on. We apologize for not bringing you the fully documented system test reports immediately. It will be coming around the end of June. The SPCR lab will be shut down for a couple of weeks in order to attend Computex and for an extended first visit to Taiwan. In the meanwhile, we have another announcement to make.

An SPCR P180

The concept of marketing special products under the SPCR brand has been bounced around since this web site's launch. It always faded in the past due to the problem of finding a product worthy of the SPCR name. In the P180, that problem has finally been solved.

Starting mid-to-late June, a Limited-Edition Black Anodized SPCR/Antec co-branded P180 will be available for purchase from EndPCNoise in the US and from FrontierPC in Canada. A small portion of the proceeds from each SPCR P180 will go towards SPCR's coffers. The Black version P180 will be exclusive to the SPCR brand until after the end of 2005.

We are confident that the P180 is a superior case for silencers and power enthusiasts alike.

Please check the EndPCNoise and FrontierPC web sites for more details. They should be taking pre-orders on the Black SPCR P180 now.

Many thanks to Antec, EndPCNoise and FrontierPC.

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Discuss this article in the SPCR Forums.



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