Antec P150 mid-tower case w/ Neo HE 430 PSU

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THE FRONT

We find all sorts of neat new features and some nicely implemented standards at the front. A cursory look at the front bezel reveals a pair of stealthed 5.25" drive bay covers, a spare 5.25" bay and another 5.25" bay with a removable insert designed to hold a floppy drive, or any other 3.5" front panel device. These optical drive bays are recessed about 5mm below the aluminum face of the bezel itself, and are finished in the same bright white color as the rest of the case. Color-matching a pair of optical drives won't be an issue, but finding a white floppy drive might be.

Beneath the optical drives on the right side of the bezel is a pair of recessed buttons, the larger being the power switch, the smaller being the reset switch. The power button is surrounded by a clear plastic ring, behind which resides the blue Power On LED. This is a nice touch that provides the user with the de rigueur blue LED, but serves to reduce the piercing brightness of said blue LED. Opposite the power buttons on the left side of the bezel resides the HDD activity light. It's also a blue LED, positioned behind a clear plastic insert that reduces the brightness. Below the power and reset switches is a vertically positioned mounting plate that holds the Audio In & Out ports, a pair of USB 2.0 ports and a Firewire port.

The front of the bezel is void of any ventilation slots or grills. All the front air intake is provided by a series of 10mm x 3mm slots that run around the periphery of both sides and the bottom of the bezel. These serve to provide great airflow and they keep any potential noise from emanating directly out of the front of the case. This design works great on the good 'ol Evercase 4252 as well as the new Antec P180 and it's nice to see it in the P150.

SWINGING BEZEL

The door-phobes are probably reveling in their triumph, but not so fast! There might not appear to be a door on the P150, but in fact, the entire front bezel itself is a door. It opens from left to right, via a set of metal hinges hidden beneath the right side of the bezel. To open the "door", the left side panel needs to be removed and a set of three locking tabs unsnapped which will then let the bezel/door swing open.

For those who complain that the hinges of standard Antec case doors are "too flimsy", this is Antec's answer: The hinges on the P150 bezel are constructed entirely from steel, and appear very sturdy. The design of the hinges also lets you remove the bezel very easily. All you need to do is open the bezel about 45° and lift it directly up out of the hinges. There are no wires or cables attached to the bezel itself so it comes right off with no fiddling. Another nice touch from Antec. The bezel is also constructed quite a bit more substantially than the typical bezel or door. While it is still made of plastic, the plastic is thicker than normal, and the 1" lip around the periphery makes it very resistant to flexing.


Bezel open. Note air filter, I/O ports, metal hinges
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Behind the bezel you'll notice the fan intake filter, and you might wonder why it's not 120mm square to cover the front fan. Well, that's because the front fan isn't a 120mm fan, it's a pair of 92mm fans! This flies in the face of the "front and rear 120mm fans" that have become the new standard during the past couple years. Personally, I think this is a brilliant idea on Antec's part. Not only does the pair of 92mm fans actually cover a larger area than a single 120mm fan, the position of fans will actually allow for the upper fan to be used in the normal intake/HDD cooling role, while the lower one can be used as a spot cooler for the VGA/PCI cards, if some additional cooling is needed in that area.

Another nice idea is the easy-to-remove fan filter. Antec has been putting fan filers on most all of their cases lately, but most have left a bit to be desired in the "ease of removal" department. Not so with the P150's filter. Simply swing open the front bezel and the fan filter is right there, ready to be snapped off for cleaning. It takes less time to do it than it does to read this paragraph.


Bezel and filter removed. Note the mounting points for a pair of 92mm fan

I've experimented lots with 120mm intake fans and have come to the conclusion that they are almost always overkill. The front intake fan rarely aids much in actual cooling, and is mostly useful for cooling the HDD(s). In the role of HDD cooling, any 120mm fan is serious overkill. Even a 120mm Nexus Real Silent running at 5V supplies much more air than needed. Over the years, I've generally opted to use a super quiet 5-volt 80mm or 92mm fan mounted right onto the 120mm fan grill for HDD cooling. This provides more than enough airflow, and is usually quieter than a 120mm solution, something that's very important considering the front fan is the closest source of noise escaping from the case. So I applaud Antec's choice of 92mm intake fans on the P150. For my build I used a 92mm Nexus Real Silent fan at 5V in the upper position as a HDD cooler. It kept my drive nice and cool, no matter what the ambient room temperature, and was not at all audible, even from 1-2 feet away.

The front fan mounting plate actually does double duty, not only as a mounting point for the fan(s) and filter, but also as an access port for installing the HDDs in the 3.5" drive bays. People have complained that the normal method of accessing the HDDs from the rear of the drive bay causes interference issues with the VGA and PCI cards, so Antec has come up with the novel idea of installing/removing the drives from the front of the case, while still keeping them in the preferred "lengthwise" orientation for better airflow. To do this, they have made the fan/filter holder removable. Simply unscrew the two thumb screws and lift the cover off the case and you'll have easy access to the 3.5" drive bays. The drive bays come with the standard removable drive sleds, four of which are installed in the P150's drive cage. These sleds use the newer, softer silicone rubber mounting grommets first seen on the P180.


Fan/filter holder removed. Note the four standard drive sleds behind it.



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