Antec NSK1480: The Fusion gets Smaller

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System Configuration

Measurement and Analysis Tools

Baseline Noise

A baseline noise level for the NSK1480 was established by "jump-starting" the PSU and testing the fans in various configurations. No components were installed for the test, so the baseline tests outline the minimum noise possible before any further noisemaking parts are added. All the the TriCool fans were tested in "Low" mode only; past experience has taught us that higher speeds are too noisy to be satisfactory and cooling is only minimally impacted.

Antec NSK1480 Baseline SPL
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle left/front of case.
One exhaust fan (L)
21 dBA
Both exhaust fans (L)
21 dBA
Both exhaust fans (L) +
Intake fan (L)
23 dBA

Of the three configurations we tested, only the last increased the noise level significantly above the minimum noise level. Unfortunately, the minimum was limited by the fan in the PSU, which is not especially quiet. Given that neither the PSU nor the PSU fan are easily swappable, the PSU effectively limits how quiet the case can be*.

Although the intake is the same model as the exhaust fans, it seemed noticeably louder than the others by virtue of its position at the front of the case. The effect showed up in the measurement results as a 2 [email protected] bump above the other baseline results.

While the 21 [email protected] minimum is not loud per say, it is louder than much of the competition, and it is likely to be audible in the average living room. If the goal is an inaudible system, some level of advanced modding is required. Subjectively, the noise has a bit of hum to it, but there weren't any bothersome pure tones.

Unfortunately for Antec, the TriCool fans that come standard in all of their cases are starting to seem a little dated. While we've always considered them not bad, there have always been better choices. And, in the past year or two, an increasing number of these better choices have been showing up as stock fans in cases made by Antec's competitors. So, while baseline noise results in the 21~23 [email protected] range might have been quite good in years past, they don't look so good anymore.

*See the postscript where we do, in fact, swap the PSU fan.

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