Antec NSK1480: The Fusion gets Smaller

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Antec NSK1480 HTPC case

November 17, 2009 by Devon Cooke with Mike Chin

Product
Antec NSK1480
Mini Desktop / HTPC Case
Manufacturer
Market Price
US$100~150

Ever since their original P180 case, Antec has slowly been revamping their case lineup to include the concept of isolated chambers. We've seen the P180 morph into the P182 and then the P183, we've seen it cut down to the Mini P180, we've seen it transformed into the entry-level NSK3480, and we've seen it adapted for the HTPC market as the NSK2400 / Fusion.

Now we have the NSK1480, which is essentially a "Mini Fusion". Well, actually, when it's dressed up with a fancy VFD display and a metal fascia, it's called the MicroFusion Remote 350, but the basic version that we are looking here lacks the fancy marketing name and sticks with a simple model number. For those of you lost in the babble of model numbers above, it's a low profile desktop-style case (remember those?) with reduced dimensions to follow the miniaturization trend in that the desktop market has been going through (though the "fits in any environment" claim is a bit exaggerated). It is limited to MicroATX motherboards (and smaller) and half-height expansion cards, but these restrictions are less onerous than they used to be. A fully featured MicroATX motherboard that doesn't require outboard graphics is surprisingly easy to find these days.

The NSK1480 seems to suffer a bit of identity confusion. Although it's billed as a "desktop" case, virtually nobody uses cases in a desktop configuration (monitor sitting on top of the system). It's supplied with two "feet" that let it be positioned vertically in a tower configuration, but the design and layout is clearly meant for a horizontal orientation. The real market is probably low end media PCs, but given the propensity for AV nuts to shell out huge amounts of money for their gear, Antec probably doesn't want to dilute their Media Components line with "budget" models, which is why this model is in the NSK line. The NSK1480 does have one advantage over it's high end brother: The lack of a front panel display leaves room for an additional hard drive bay.


A colorful, elegant box like all Antec products.


A thin sheet of fabric protects the plastic fascia.

The design of the NSK1480 is essentially a shrunken NSK2400 / Fusion. The reduction in height is probably the most noticeable, but all of the dimensions have been reduced by about three inches. The change is primarily aesthetic, since a smaller space is a bit of a headache as far as thermal engineering and usability are concerned. Nonetheless, the essence of the design has not changed, and the compromises made seem well chosen.

Like all of the NSKxx80 line, an 80 Plus certified power supply is included in the package. A proprietary form factor (some variant of TFX?) is used to conform to the space requirements, so swapping the power supply for a different model could prove challenging.

Antec NSK1480: Features and Specifications
(from the product web page)
Low profile desktop height fits in any environment
Dual chamber structure for HDD and motherboard to separate heat and reduce noise
2x80mm side fans to exhaust air from CPU & VGA card
80 PLUS® Certified 350 Watt ATX12V v2.1 power supply directly draws fresh air in from outside the case to maximize quiet and cool operation
  • Universal Input and Active PFC
  • 80 PLUS® Certified means increased energy efficiency without any reduction in performance and saving you money on your power bill
Removable HDD tray with extra soft silicone grommets in a separate chamber for maximum quiet and cool operation
80mm intake fan to cool the HDD
Drive Bays   • External 1 x 5.25"
  • Internal 2 x 3.5"
Expansion Slots 4 (half height)
Cooling System   • 2 x 80mm TriCool® 3-speed exhaust fans in motherboard chamber (standard)
  • 1 x 80mm TriCool® 3-speed intake fan for HDD cage (standard)
  • Adjustable Air Guide directs cool external air through CPU
Compatible Motherboards   • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x eSATA
  • Audio In/Out (HDA & AC' 97)
Unit Dimensions   • 4.5"(H) x 15.1"(W) x 16.1"(D)
  • 12cm (H) x 39cm (W) x 41cm (D)
Weight   • Net: 11.29 lbs / 5.12 kg
  • Gross: 15.7 lbs / 7.14 kg


Notable accessories: Cable ties, an airflow guide, and an "L" VGA adapter.

The accessories package includes a number of nice extras, including feet for "tower" configurations, a pair of straps for cable management, four rubber feet, and a lego-like "airflow guide" to reduce the amount of short-circuit airflow lost as the exhaust fan pulls air directly through the intake without cooling the case. This was a feature of the NSK2400 as well, and, while it's nice to have the option to manage airflow in this way, it's not really obvious what the guide is for — especially to users who aren't used to thinking about airflow. A little more explanation on Antec's part would be welcome here, since paying attention to airflow really does have an impact on system cooling.

One accessory that deserves special mention is the VGA "L" adapter which routes the VGA cable (typically the bulkiest cable with the biggest plug) sideways rather than directly back. This should make it easier to position the case flush against a back wall (of a cabinet, for example). Our one complaint: We wish a DVI version had been included as well.


This VGA adapter allows the case to be placed tightly against a rear wall.



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