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

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The rest of the case interior is fairly standard Antec fare. Both the upper 5.25" and lower 3.5" drive cages are firmly riveted in place. There's the standard stiffening bar running across the upper half of the case and a non-removable motherboard tray with standoff holes predrilled for ATX and m-ATX motherboards. The P150 is a bit too short, front-to-back to handle e-ATX boards. Three pairs of plastic drive rails are stored on the floor of the case to use for installing 5.25" drives into the upper drive cage. A standard generic I/O shield comes pre installed. All exposed interior edges are rolled over to prevent any sharp edges from injuring the system builder, which is pretty standard for Antec. A series of 14 spring-loaded tabs is positioned at the top and bottom of each side. These tabs serve to keep the side panels from rattling or vibrating.


Bare case ready for hardware installation.

Antec includes a basic accessory pack that includes a well written installation manual, the aforementioned set of modular cables for the Neo HE PSU, an IEC power cord for said PSU and a bag full of assorted screws and brass motherboard standoffs.


Accessories included with P150.

The P150 seems to have been designed from the ground up to be used as the basis of a quiet system. From its dampened side panels, to its well-designed front bezel, suspended drive cages, rear 120mm fan and quiet running Neo HE power supply it sure looks like this should be a very good case to use as the basis for a quiet PC. Sometimes the best intentions don't quiet work out, so the next thing is to build a system in the P150 and see what results we get.

TEST PLATFORM

Intel Pentium 4 3.0GHz Northwood core run at default Vcore.
Thermalright XP-120 with 120mm Nexus Real Silent fan running at 5.5V
Sapphire ATI Radeon 9250 passively cooled video card (AGP)
Mushkin PC3200 Level II - 2 x 512MB DDRAM @ 2-3-2-7,400MHz
Samsung SP1614N 160GB PATA hard drive
Plextor PX-716A DVD±R/RW CD-R/RW internal E-IDE (ATAPI) drive
Nexus 92mm Real Silent fan running at 5V as an intake fan
Arctic Silver Ceramique Thermal Compound
CPUBurn processor stress software
Motherboard Monitor 5.3.7.0 software to track CPU temperature and fan speed
Seasonic Power Angel power monitor used to measure system power usage

Ambient temperature was held at 71°F (21°C) over the entire series of tests. No tests were run unless the ambient temperature was at that reference level.

* All temperatures in degrees Celsius.
* Diode: Reading from Pentium 4-3.0C diode via Motherboard Monitor. The thermal monitoring system was calibrated using the standard SPCR CPU Diode Calibration method.
* Temp Rise refers to the difference between ambient temperature and the diode reading.

This system has the highest thermal output of any that I have on hand, and has recently been set up in an SLK3700BQE and a Sonata II, so it should be easy to make a fairly accurate "apples-to-apples" comparison of the P150.

SYSTEM BUILD

As you'd expect my goal was to build the quietest system possible in the new P150. I used all the stock case hardware and did no modifications of any kind.

The build was quite straightforward as the P150 is laid out in standard ATX fashion. The motherboard mounting was a snap, with all standoff holes and the I/O shield lining up perfectly. One potential issue might be the tight clearance between the motherboard and the PSU. The P150 is fairly short, in fact its only about 1/2" taller than the Sonata series. There's approximately 3/8" clearance between the top edge of the board and the bottom of the PSU. CPU heatsinks that overhang the board by more than this will have problems. The XP-120 that I used had a bit of clearance, but there was virtually no clearance between the fan mounting clips and the PSU.


Size comparison between the Sonata II and the P150.

The optical drive mounting was a snap, with the drive installed on the rails the whole assembly slid right into its slot and ended up in exactly the correct position to work perfectly with the stealthed drive bay covers. Easy access to the drive bays is provided by the pivoting front bezel. This system makes for the most trouble-free optical drive mounting of any case I've ever used.

The HDD drive sleds were initially tried and quickly dispensed with. While the soft silicone grommets are pretty effective at dampening the noise from the HDD, they don't quite eliminate the vibrations of my Samsung SP80. The HDD was then mounted using Antec's suspension system. Installation was a breeze, aided by the well-written manual. Even though Antec firmly warns about transporting the case with the drives suspension mounted, to me, it seemed that the included elastic cables hold the drive very firmly. I certainly wouldn't have any reservations about transporting the P150 with drives suspended in it.

Between the modular cables of the Neo 430 PSU, the removable right side door and the included cable management hooks, wiring the case neatly was easy. I used only the PS output cables I needed, without even thinking about what to do with the leftover mess of unused wires. The removable right side door made it easy to tuck away the cables for the best possible airflow. The cable management hooks meant I did not need to use cable ties or any other tricks.

The front panel I/O cables were easy to connect. All the wires are well marked. The configuration of the USB and Firewire plugs seems to finally be settling down to a standardized configuration for simple plug and play. All the front I/O ports worked perfectly, with no speed or operating system recognition issues at all. The aforementioned cable management hooks also made it easy to deal with the extra length of the I/O cables.

The blue Power On LED is positioned directly behind the power button itself, and due to its location gives off a nicely subdued version of the typical piercing light generated by blue LEDs. Over on the left side of the front bezel, the HDD Activity LED is beneath a clear plastic diffuser but its light is still pretty bright. A few strokes with a black Sharpie and this was dimmed down acceptably.

All-in-all, the P150 was easy to set up with no issues whatsoever. I've never had to work so little to have the finished product come out looking so good.


Completed system. Neat and tidy, courtesy of Antec.
(Click on photo for larger image.)



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