Antec P183: The P182 Gets More Air

Cases|Damping
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TESTING

System Configuration:

Measurement and Analysis Tools

  • CPUBurn K7 processor stress software.
  • FurMark stability test to stress the integrated GPU.
  • GPU-Z to monitor GPU temperatures and fan speed.
  • SpeedFan to monitor system temperatures and fan speeds.
  • Seasonic Power Angel AC power meter, used to measure the power consumption of the system.

Stock Fan Measurements

Stock Fan Noise Level
Fan Speed
Rear
Top
High
33 dBA
40 dBA
Medium
27 dBA
33 dBA
Low
17 dBA
22 dBA

The P183 shipped with two 120mm Antec TriCool fans installed in the rear and top placements with manual 3-speed switches attached to the back of the case. When we turned them on we noticed immediately how much louder the top fan was. The top-mounted fan measured 5 dB higher when set to low and medium speed, and 7 dB higher at high speed — the rear fan was completely drowned out. When the two fans were removed and allowed to spin in free air, they sounded identical, so it was clear the problem lay in the fan mount.


Top fan placement from the inside.

At the top of the case, cutouts in the metal allow air to pass through. We believe the remaining metal outline of the fan hub and struts is the reason the top fan sounds so much worse when mounted compared to the rear fan. As a result, the top of the case vibrates heavily when a fan is mounted in this position. Why a complete circle wasn't cut instead is a mystery — there is absolutely no reason to leave a metal tracing of the fan structure. In addition, as the top panel of the case cannot be removed, and there is little clearance between the metal and the plastic grill above it, cutting this piece out will prove problematic. Decoupling the fan would certainly help, but this is also no easy task, as only one side of the fan is secured with screws. The other side has two metal tabs that keep the fan flush against the metal surface. This is an odd annoyance in an otherwise well evolved case.

Baseline Noise

Noise measurements were made of the case with the two supplied 120mm fans at standard switch settings and configurations we think most silence-oriented users will try. The air cavity resonances inside a case amplify fan noise, as do any vibrations transferred from the fans into the case, so these measurements can be regarded as the baseline SPL levels for the P183 with the stock fans. Changing the fans is a very simple option, as a huge variety of 120x25mm fans are available in the marketplace; it should be easy to obtain ~2 dBA improvements in any of these configurations with better fans.

Antec P183 Baseline SPL
The back exhaust fan was a constant; the other fan was positioned either on the top panel as an exhaust or at the front as an intake. L=low spedd; M=medium speed. Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle left/front of case.
back exhaust
top exhaust
front intake
SPL
L
-
-
15 dBA
L
-
L
17 dBA
L
L
-
21 dBA
M
-
-
25 dBA
M
L
28 dBA

The perceived noise is low and smooth with all configurations when both fans are set to Low. Turning any of the fans to Medium pushed the SPL too high for us to consider acceptable in a quiet PC. With both fans set to Low, the quietest configuration was back panel exhaust and front panel intake, which measured 17 dBA, a significant 4 dBA lower than when the front fan was moved to the top. Removing the front fan dropped the SPL by 2 dBA, which was clearly audible in the anechoic from a meter away, but perhaps it would not be as plainly audible in a room with higher ambient noise. Depending on exact case positioning vis-a-vis the user/listener, closing up the top vent could effect a slight reduction in noise, but as that vent actually plays some role in bringing cooler outside air to the CPU area, cooling might be affected. As with the earlier versions of the case, experimentation with fan configuration for your particular setup is worthwhile if you seek the very best results.

Test Results - Configuration #1 (IGP)


Case with test system installed (integrated graphics).

For our IGP test configuration we left only the rear system fan on low speed.

System Measurements (IGP)
State
Idle
Full CPU + GPU Load
CPU / Rear
Fan Speed
70%* / Low
Noise Level
19~20 dBA@1m
CPU Temp
30°C
50°C
SB Temp
35°C
38°C
HD Temp
36°C
37°C
*70% speed is equivalent to 8~9V
Ambient temperature: 22°C

Housing a system with a 125W CPU, quality CPU cooler, and integrated graphics, the P183 did very well even with a single exhaust fan. Southbridge and hard drive temperatures were both below 40°C, and barely increased with load. The CPU fan was run at 70% as doing so increased the noise level slightly. The CPU temperature increased by 20°C when the system was stressed.

The noise level of the system measured between 19 and 20 dBA, and was very benign and smooth. The multi-layered panels do a good job of helping to damp and soften the internal component noise. Antec would do well to decrease the speed of their TriCool fans, however, as their medium and high speed settings are much too loud. The Antec CP-850 power supply performed well, not adding any perceivable noise to the system.



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