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Measurement and Analysis Tools
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)
Both exhaust fans (L)
Both exhaust fans (L) +
Intake fan (L)
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 dBA@1m bump above the other
While the 21 dBA@1m 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
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 dBA@1m 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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