Antec P180 Review, Part 2: The Whole Nine Yards

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INSTALLATION (continued)

VGA Duct

Note: The VGA duct has been dropped in the latest revision of the case. Read more in POSTSCRIPT V1.1

The VGA duct consists of two parts: The duct itself, and a plastic sleeve at the intake that keeps the duct in position. The duct can be slid back and forth about 1.5" to accommodate video cards of varying lengths. As mentioned above, the duct must be removed before a motherboard can be installed in the case. This inconvenience would be minor if it were just the duct that had to be removed. However, the sleeve for the duct is screwed to the back of the case directly above the PCI slots, which means it must also be removed before any expansion cards can be installed.

The sleeve for the VGA duct must be removed to install a PCI card.

The VGA duct is attached to a bracket on the bottom of the main chamber with two wide-head screws that are recessed about quarter inch below the surface of the duct. This position is awkward when installing the duct and makes it hard to see where the screws need to go. Considering that the duct must be removed to access the motherboard, it would be nice to replace these screws with thumbscrews. Unfortunately, the screws use a finer thread than the one used on most thumbscrews and the recessed position of the holes would interfere the large head of a thumbscrew. The use of a magnetic-head screwdriver is recommended.

Once these two screws are removed, the duct slides out sideways, giving access to the motherboard. If the sleeve needs to be removed, it can now be unscrewed from the back of the case. The sleeve is held on by four screws that screw directly into the plastic. This method of mounting is not especially durable, and the sleeve showed visible signs of wear and tear after the dozen or more times it was installed during testing.

The duct is held in place by two screws that are slightly recessed below the surface of the duct.

Because the duct is designed to be adjustable, the fit between the intake sleeve and the duct itself is not as tight as it could be, especially at full extension. This makes it a possible source of vibration noise, especially if a fan is installed in the duct.

Hard Drive Cages

In contrast with the installation for the VGA duct, the installation of the drives is simple and user-friendly. Both drive cages are removable and slide out smoothly on soft plastic rails. Both feature a pull ring for ease of removal and are secured to the chassis by a single, well-located thumbscrew. The pull rings can be clipped down when it's not in use to prevent it from rattling against the side of the drive cage.

Installation differs slightly depending on which cage is used. The upper cage uses drive caddies that are separate from the cage itself, but drives in the lower cage must be screwed directly in place. No matter which cage is used, the drives are always isolated from the drive cage using soft silicone grommets. The matching drive screws have wider flanges and are longer than usual.

The top drive cage uses caddies that are screwed on to the bottom of the drives before they are clipped into place.

If four drives are used in the lower drive cage, the orientation of the drives becomes important. The rearmost position in the cage only allows a drive to be installed with the top of the drive facing out, meaning that any neighboring drives also need to be installed in this orientation. With fewer than four drives, this issue is irrelevant because there is no need for the rearmost position to be used, but some extra care is needed when filling the cage to capacity.

Actually screwing the drives in place is a simple matter. It's easy to turn the large-flanged screws in by hand, which dispenses with the need for a screwdriver. Once the drives are firmly in place, all that needs to be done is to slide the drive cage into place. The trickiest part is making sure the cables are properly connected, since it's more difficult to install cables once the cage is in place. This is especially true of the lower drive cage. It's probably a good idea to route the cables before installing the drives and plug them in while the drive cage is halfway out and the duct fan removed.

The correct way to mount the grommets: Thicker side against the drive on the bottom, and thinner side against the drive on top.
It makes sense when you examine the grommets. It ensures a cushier ride for the HDD.

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