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January 18, 2007 by Russ
Kinder and Charles Gilliatt
The 2007 CES show proved to be an especially difficult event to report on from
a silent PC perspective. Not because the show floor itself has a
noise level somewhere between that of a daycare center just before nap time
and a thrash-metal concert, although it does. And not because of a lack of interest
from the exhibitors with regards to computer acoustics. It is actually because
the exact opposite is true. Nearly everyone in the PC hardware
business wants to talk about acoustics now. SPCR is no longer an evangelical
voice in the wilderness. The concept of quiet equals good is now
widespread. In most respects this is a great thing: it is nice to have vendors
want to talk to you just because they read Silent PC Review on your
press badge (or actually chase you down a corridor to ask you to come to their
booth, as happened to us a couple of times this year), and to not have to begin
every conversation with a description of what SPCR is and why they should care
about noise. But with acceptance has come a maturity of the technology. There
are simply fewer gee-whiz quiet computing products on display. We've
seen this all before, the new products are mostly refinements on existing concepts.
While good for consumers, it's the gee-whiz moments that make for
So, if there was not a plethora of quiet PC innovations at CES, what was taking
up the 1.7 million square feet of convention space? Televisions. Well, televisions,
and iPod docks. The flat panel display arms race is very much alive and well.
Sharp and LG were both showing 108 LCDs, and Optoma was quite proud of
their 120 rear projection DLP display. Keeping up with the Jones' is going
to require building an addition on your living room... and perhaps selling a
kidney: The Optoma 120 will retail for $50K+. While the truly monster
displays are only being produced by a handful of companies, it appears that
nearly everyone in the consumer electronics business is producing some sort
of iPod docking gadget now. Sometime between last year's CES and this year's,
iPod speaker docking stations started reproducing like Tribbles.
They were everywhere. We did an informal survey of one aisle of booths in the
International Pavilion where small companies can get CES exposure for less money
than the big-guy displays in the main halls and we counted that nearly 25% of
the booths had some sort of iPod dock on display. The phenomenon was not limited
to the low-rent district of CES, even the rarefied halls of the High End Audio
suites housed at the Venetian Hotel were not immune, although to be fair, the
single iPod dock that we spotted there was the $2400 iLink system produced by
But never fear, we were able to pick out a few new silent PC oriented items
that had enough of the elusive gee-whiz about them to get our attention.
In keeping with their usual mode of operations at CES, Antec eschewed the
hustle and bustle of a show floor booth and instead offered invitation-only
presentations of new products at their off-site hotel suite. It's very nice
to be able to talk to the company representatives without shouting over the
din, and to be able to actually hear a running product when it claims to be
The Expanded Performance One Family
Featured at the presentation were two new cases derived from the original
P180 - an improved version with minor tweaks that will be sold as the P182,
and an extended, enhanced ventilation model, the P190. Antec bills the P190
as being designed to handle systems that contain multiples of essentially
every PC component, from CPU's, to GPU's, to stacks of HDD's.
The P182 we are very exited about - the modifications to the original P180
design seem very logical, and should help make an already quiet case even
better. The P190 we are not as sure about. It adds large amounts of open area
on the top and left side - the sides that frequently directly face the user
- allowing more noise to potentially escape. Few people seemed to complain
about systems overheating in the P180, so all the extra airflow may be overkill.
Shared improvements of both cases include:
- A revised motherboard panel placement that adds about a centimeter of space
between the tray and the side of the case for easier behind-the-board cablegami.
- The addition of two watercooling grommets on the back panel.
- External adjustment for the TriCool case fan speeds.
- Improved cable pass-thru at the divider between the motherboard and PSU
compartments to alleviate routing issues caused by having large PCI cards
occupying slots at the end of the motherboard.
The motherboard trays have been raised to make behind-the-board cable
The chamber divider has been revised to ease cable management.
P182 Front and back; note the fan speed switch
at the rear top.
The P182 featured a new color that is to replace the all black
P180B. It proved nearly impossible to photograph properly in the warm lighting
of the Bellagio, but in person it is a very striking titanium gunmetal gray.
In addition to the shared upgrades with the P182, the P190 adds:
- Extra case depth to accommodate E-ATX motherboards and even the longest
- A pair of 140mm exhausts on the top in place of the P180's single 120mm.
- A huge 200mm fan on the side panel, with a slide out washable air filter.
While big, the 200mm fan is also slow: maximum speed is only 800 RPM, and
it features the same Tri-Cool three position speed adjustment of Antec's other
fans. Its spec's are: 400/600/800 RPM, 83/108/134 CFM, and 24/27/30 dBA respectively,
at the three speed settings.
- Dual PSU's as the stock retail power configuration. Every P190 will ship
with a pair of Neo PSU's; one at 550 watts and the other at 650, providing
a total of 1200 watts of rated capacity spread across no fewer than six 12
The P190 features E-ATX Support...
...and a massive 200mm TriCool fan.
P182 Special Edition
Unlike every other product Antec had on display, the P182 Special Edition
is not destined for immediate retail release. It is the PC equivalent of a
concept car: a one-off creation shown to test consumer reaction and interest.
Functionally it is identical to the stock P182. The differences are purely
cosmetic, but oh boy is it different. In place of the outer aluminum layer
of the typical P180 "sandwich panels" is a layer of mirror polished
stainless steel. The polish is protected by a layer of automotive quality
clearcoat finish for scratch and fingerprint resistance.
The appearance upgrades continue to the interior, where the inside of the
door and the entire steel chassis are powdercoated matte black. The aesthetic
difference between the matte black and the typical gray found in nearly every
other case is really quite shocking. While the mirror exterior is a bit of
a love-or-hate effect, the all-black interior is probably The Next Big Thing
for high-end cases. It is rather surprising that there are not more cases
out there with it, particularly for the window and cathode set.
As stated above, the Special Edition is not going to be produced for retail
sale, but given enough customer interest Antec will make it available on a
limited basis. So if you like it, let them know. If ever sold, expect it to
cost in the range of $50 more than a typical P182.
Black is the new gray..
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