Antec P183: The P182 Gets More Air

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Test Results - Configuration #2 (CrossFireX)

For our second test configuration we added two Radeon HD 4870's in CrossFireX. As this increased the overall noise level, we felt it prudent to move the fan at the top of the case to the front of the hard drive cage directly adjacent to the graphics cards. This provides the system with some extra intake airflow to the video card area while generating no extra noise.

System Measurements (CrossFireX)
State
Idle
CPU + 1 GPU Load
CPU + 2 GPU Load
CPU / System
Fan Speeds
70%* / Low
100% / Low
100% / Low
Noise
23 dBA
27~28 dBA
35 dBA
CPU Temp
38°C
51°C
58°C
SB Temp
61°C
62°C
69°C
HD Temp
39°C
39°C
39°C
GPU #1 Temp
79°C
89°C
99°C
GPU #1
Fan Speed
1100 RPM
2170 RPM
3030 RPM
GPU #2 Temp
79°C
78°C
89°C
GPU #2
Fan Speed
1150 RPM
1130 RPM
2400 RPM
*70% speed is equivalent to 8~9V
Ambient temperature: 22°C

The addition of two, high-end graphics cards made a noticeable impact on system noise and temperatures. At idle, the noise level increased by 4 dBA, and the heat radiating off the graphics cards made the CPU temperature jump an additional 8°C. The most drastic thermal effect was on southbridge temperature, which increased by 25°C. Not only did the cards themselves generate more heat in the southbridge area, they also cut off airflow around the southbridge heatsink, making it the meat in a CrossFire sandwich.

When load was applied to the system, we increased the CPU fan speed to 100% as it did not generate any additional noise, being easily masked by the video card fans. With the CPU and a single GPU being stressed, the CPU heated up by only 13°C, while the southbridge and hard drive temperatures remained virtually unchanged. The temperature of the stressed GPU went up 10°C and the fan ramped up by almost 1100 RPM, resulting in system noise increased by 3~4 dBA.

With both GPU's stressed, things started to get ugly. The noise level increased by 7 dBA, and the CPU and southbridge temperatures went up by an additional 7°C. The cooler on the 4870 occupying the top PCI-E slot was having difficulty keeping its GPU cool. Spinning at just over 3000 RPM, it struggled to keep to keep the GPU temperature under 100°C. No doubt this was due to the heat radiating off its twin in the position below it, which ran much cooler, measuring 10°C lower with its fan spinning at 2400 RPM. It should also be noted that the system power draw increased from 620W when we began stressing the system to 636W when the temperatures had finally stabilized. As the cards got progressively hotter, increased inefficiency resulted in higher power consumption.

Despite the high temperatures all-around in the CrossFire setup, the system was perfectly stable. That's not to say we would recommend such a configuration — it just barely handled it, and noise level was unbearably high by SPCR standards. We would recommend either using aftermarket coolers for both graphics cards, or a case with a side fan that can blow directly over them.

 

Comparison

Antec P183 vs. Silverstone Raven
(CPU + 1 GPU Load)
State
Antec P183
Silverstone Raven
CPU Fan
Speed
100%
70%*
100%
Front Fan
Speed(s)
Low
70%*, 70%*
100%, 100%
Rear Fan
Speed
Low
N/A
Noise
27~28 dBA
27 dBA
29 dBA
CPU Temp
51°C
59°C
56°C
SB Temp
62°C
60°C
HD Temp
39°C
32°C
30°C
GPU #1 Temp
89°C
87°C
86°C
GPU #1
Fan Speed
2170 RPM
2160 RPM
2060 RPM
GPU #2 Temp
78°C
GPU #2
Fan Speed
1130 RPM
960 RPM
920 RPM
*70% speed is equivalent to 8~9V
Ambient temperature: 22°C

Compared to the Silverstone Raven at similar noise levels, the P183 delivered better CPU temperature, probably due to its rear exhaust fan (the Raven's 120mm rear fan was too loud for our liking, so we removed it during testing). The Raven's two 180mm interior fans and its bottom-to-top airflow design resulted in slightly better GPU and southbridge temperatures as well as lower GPU fan speeds, and a significant improvement in hard drive cooling. Though we did not test the Raven with both GPUs fully stressed, we believe the cooling performance difference would've widened more.

If we consider just the Baseline Noise measurements, the Raven's two 180mm fans at 9V match the P183's two 120mm front and back fans at Low — both measured 17 dBA@1m. In those configurations, which is ideal for the mid/low thermal systems most silent PC enthusiasts build, the cooling of the Raven has to be superior. Its larger fans are probably moving double the volume of air of the Antec's 120mm fans.

The Antec CP-850 power supply performed well. Efficiency as measured from the wall was similar to the Coolermaster Silent Pro we used to power the test configuration in the Silverstone Raven. The PSU air exhaust was warm, but not overly so, even as the system's AC power draw increased past 600W. Look for our full review of the CP-850 in the near future.



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