Antec NSK2400 / Fusion Media PC Case

Cases|Damping
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NSK2400 NOISE RECORDINGS

MP3 Sound Recordings of Antec NSK2400 Test System Configurations

Antec NSK2400 Test System Config 1 (28 dBA@1m)
One TriCool fan on low, Samsung HDD, Zalman 7000 HSF on 5V, stock PSU

Antec NSK2400 Test System Config 2 (24 dBA@1m)
One Nexus 120 fan at 7V, Samsung HDD, Zalman 7000 HSF on 5V, stock PSU

Antec NSK2400 Test System Config 6 (21-22 dBA@1m)
One Scythe 120 fan at 6V, Seasonic S12-330 PSU, Samsung HDD, Zalman 7700 + Nexus 120 fan on 5V

Antec NSK2400 Test Config (23 dBA@1m)
No case fans, Samsung HDD, Zalman 7000 HSF on 5V, stock PSU

Sound Recordings of Comparative Cases

Unfortunately, we have few recordings of cases, and even fewer of HTPC cases. None, in fact. So here's a bit of a random sampling of various cases in various configurations from past reviews.

Shuttle SD11G5 Pentium M SFF system at full load w/ notebook drive, single fan: 23 dBA@1m

Zalman TNN-300 w/Samsung P80 3.5" HDD: 23 dBA@1m

Antec P180 "Hot Potato" Config 4: 25 dBA/1m
Intel P4-3.8, AOpen 6800GT vidcard, WD Raptor HDD, Seasonic S12-430 with one TriCool fan on low on back panel.

HOW TO LISTEN & COMPARE

These recordings were made with a high resolution studio quality digital recording system. The microphone was 3" from the edge of the fan frame at a 45√ā° angle, facing the intake side of the fan to avoid direct wind noise. The ambient noise during all recordings was 18 dBA or lower.

To set the volume to a realistic level (similar to the original), try playing the Nexus 92 fan reference recording and setting the volume so that it is barely audible. Then don't reset the volume and play the other sound files. Of course, tone controls or other effects should all be turned off or set to neutral. For full details on how to calibrate your sound system to get the most valid listening comparison, please see the yellow text box entitled Listen to the Fans on page four of the article SPCR's Test / Sound Lab: A Short Tour.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Antec NSK2400 was designed to be a thermally and acoustically advanced case for home theater PC. In our analysis, it successfully achieves this goal. The one compromise it makes is the limitation to a MicroATX motherboard. A year ago, this might have seemed too much of a limitation for the enthusiast, but with the broad trend towards smaller computer gear, enthusiast-friendly boards like this new DFI RS482 are becoming more commonplace. There are more capable microATX boards appearing all the time.

Whether this case does a better job of keeping components cool and quiet is not possible to judge without a large number of current HTPC cases to examine, but there's no question it's the best of the horizontal desktop cases we've reviewed to date. The fans and power supply that come as standard equipment are chosen for good all-around functionality rather than the lowest noise, and err on the side of greater cooling. Given the acoustic conditions in which HTPCs operate, the stock setup might actually be perfectly quiet enough for many users. But it's not difficult to make it much quieter than stock.

The best thing about the NSK2400 for the PC enthusiast is its native cooling ability, which comes from carefully design airflow paths that are built right into the mechanical design, vent placement and the separated thermal zones. The dual-fan setup, the separate PSU chamber, and the HDD mounting system allow for lots of experimentation and options, just as intended by design. Enthusiasts are going to have fun with this case. (For example, what system of components could you cool in Config 6 with two Nexus or Scythe 120mm fans at 5~7V for total noise of 22~23 dBA@1m?)

In fact, after revisiting the VGA temperatures in System Configuration #5, this case may deserve a tentative recommendation as a quiet gaming case. It does everything the P180 does, on a smaller scale, but it addresses one issue better than the P180: Cooling for hot VGA cards. Sure, it doesn't allow SLI to be used, but given how few people actually use SLI, it could find a good niche in the gaming market.


Unless you can match the silver front, a black optical drive is the only aesthetic choice.

The appearance of a case is always subject to interpretation. We think the front panel design looks cool, and the silver paint against the black elsewhere echoes high end A/V gear. The aluminum trim feet and the icy blue LEDs work. The only downside is the absence of stealthed optical bay covers, as the silver front will be hard to match. A black face optical drive looks OK, as it complements the black line on the bottom bezel. Perhaps stealthed optical bay covers are too much to ask for in such a modestly priced case.

Which brings us to the issue of value. As mentioned earlier, the SPCR/PriceGrabber search engine results on this page show an average selling price of ~US$80. Should there be any question of value at this price? We don't think so. In fact, we think this is an amazing deal.

PROS

* Excellent airflow / thermal design
* Thick, sturdy steel construction
* Built-in HDD silicone rubber grommets
* Cable management hooks
* Very good stock PSU
* Good silver paint job and front bezel design
* Attractive dimensions and lean lines
* Great price

CONS

* PSU fan could be quieter
* TriCool fans could have slower, quieter "slow" position
* Stealth optical drive bay covers would have been really nice
* A couple inches of space needed on both sides for adequate cooling increases real space requirement

Much thanks to Antec for the NSK2400 sample.

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Articles of Related Interest

Antec SU380 power supply review
SilverStone LC-11 media PC case
Antec P180: The Whole Nine Yards
D.Vine 5 HTPC Case by Ahanix
Zalman TNN-300 Fanless PC Enclosure System
Shuttle SD11G5: Pentium-M SFF PC
Hush ATX fanless PC

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Discuss this article in the SPCR Forums.

POSTSCRIPT - Dec 20, 2006: THE FUSION



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