Antec NSK3300: Quiet Out-of-the-Box

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Motherboard and Cable Routing

The small size of the NSK3300 is a selling point, but that doesn't make for an easy installation. We found it impossible to install our test board without removing either the floppy bay or the hard drive bay on the bottom of the case, preferably both. The fact that the bottom-mounted drive bay is only about half a centimeter tall should give you some idea of how cramped the interior is.

A tight squeeze.

The massive Zalman CNPS9500 heatsink that is a part of our regular test setup just barely fit in the case, blocking most of the access hole for routing cables between the two chambers. Some creative cable management was needed to route the cables.

Clearance for the top of the heatsink was ~2mm.

The problem was exacerbated by the painfully short cables on the power supply, which needed careful attention to fit on our particular board. It took a minute or two to coax the main ATX cable into position on our DFI RS482 Infinity MicroATX motherboard, which admittedly has some odd connector locations. Some of the fins on the Zalman heatsink were bent in the process. We had similar problems routing several other cables, including the SATA cable for the drive that we mounted in the bottom drive bay, which fit with no slack to spare.

The bent fins on the heatsink are a result of an ATX cable that is too short.

PSU Details

The bundled power supply is Antec branded, bearing the model number SU-300. It is a small 300W SFX power supply that is adequate for just about any system that would fit in the case. The NSK3300 is simply not big enough to fit the dual CPU or dual GPU systems that require more than 300W. As mentioned before, it bears more than a passing resemblance to the Seasonic SS-300SFD we reviewed a while back.

The PSU is fairly quiet at idle but poses no challenges to the silent leaders, the Seasonic S12s and Antec NeoHEs. It may be good enough provided the system doesn't draw enough power to force an increase in fan speed. We estimate the default noise level at 22~23 [email protected]

As mentioned, the cables are short and limited in number. That's not a big problem, since the total number of drive connectors matches the total number of drive bays. However, there is no PCI Express connector, which means that powerful video cards will need an adapter — reducing the total number of connectors available. The cable length means that it is more or less impossible to manage cables beyond simply plugging them in.

Power supply specifications.

Hard Drive

Although Antec recommends installing the hard drive in the top chamber, we elected to use the lower chamber in hopes that the drive would receive more airflow in this position. With an optical drive installed, conditions in the top chamber are quite cramped.

The installation process is the same regardless of which drive bay is used. Special long shank, wide head screws fit through soft silicone grommets, that dampen vibration from the drive. These are the same grommets found in the P150 and P180 enclosures, and, aside from custom modifications and the full suspension found in the P150, they are the most effective means of reducing vibration-induced noise that we know of. The screws fit into the bottom of the drive, and can be hand-tightened without a screwdriver, although you may prefer to use a stubby Philips head.

The drive rests on soft silicone grommets at the bottom of the case.

Drive screws come through the bottom of the case.

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