Antec NSK-3480: 80-Plus Case

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Airflow is divided into two zones, one for the power supply, the other for the rest of the system. The upper chamber is pysically separated from the low main chamber — an inverse of the P182, where the PSU is in a separate chamber on the bottom. The only other components that can go into the upper chamber are an optical drive and a hard drive. This arrangement keeps heat from other components in the system from getting into the power supply. The PSU's thermally controlled fan should not increase in speed unless the system is placed under an exceptionally heavy load.

The upper chamber is completely separated from the main chamber.

This view shows the inside of the upper PSU chamber.

There are two intake airflow paths forv the power supply:

  • The top vent (shown below), which has been expanded to five times its previous size.
  • One of the optical drive bays, if it is left free, provides access to the vent inlets all around the circumference of the front bezel.

The top vent has been expanded to ensure the power supply is well cooled.

The increased vent openings on the top panel is a good thing, as the top chamber could potentially be very crowded. However, it does mean that the case is vulnerable to having items placed on top of it. It would not be hard to accidentally block the airflow by placing a book or a newspaper on top of the vent.

Access to the interior requires no tools, as before: Remove the top panel by undoing two thumbscrews, then either of the side panels can be lifted up and off. The side ponels have locking bayonet mounts that use gravity and the top panel to keep them in place. It's quick and simple.

The main chamber has changed very little. Airflow is provided by one of Antec's ubiquitous TriCool fans, and it is possible to install two 92mm fans in the front panel. There is also a smallish vent on the rear panel, and all the PCI slots are vented.

There is space for two 92mm fans in front, but most users won't need them.

The only significant change in the main chamber is the addition of a side panel duct above the CPU — as recommended by Intel — to provide fresh air to the CPU. Given how open the case was already, it's unlikely this will change much, but it may be helpful in systems where the CPU is the hottest component.

On the whole, the case breathes very well; the fan grills are not restrictive, and the front bezel — one of the best aspects of the original NSK-3300 design — has remained unchanged.

A side panel duct to provide fresh air to the CPU.


Aside from the airflow tweaks, there are a couple other minor changes that we spotted. One is the feet. Antec has apparently stopped using the squishy, semitransparent silicone feet in the NSK-3480. Our sample came with black rubber feet. The rubber is much harder than silicone but is still fairly soft for rubber. In theory, the case may now be more prone to transferring vibration to the surface it is placed on, but the situations where this is a problem are quite limited in our experience, especially if the rest of the system is well built.

Hard rubber feet provide less vibration damping than before.

Another minor change was the addition of a grounding screw to the front panel connectors. Presumably, this is to prevent ground faults between the front ports (and power buttons) and the motherboard, which can sometimes cause things like random restarts or burnt out switches. We're not sure whether this was added in response to a specific problem identified with the NSK-3300, but it certainly can't hurt.

The front panel connectors are now grounded to the side of the case.

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