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Antec P180 Review, Part 2: The Whole Nine Yards
http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=23386
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Author:  MikeC [ Sun Jul 03, 2005 1:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Antec P180 Review, Part 2: The Whole Nine Yards

Antec P180 Review, Part 2: The Whole Nine Yards -- or Everything you ever wanted to know about the P180 including some things you never even dreamed about. It's the longest, most comprehensive SPCR review ever. See if you can get through it without skipping any pages. :P (We'll be happy not to consider anything about the P180 ever again :roll: -- at least for a few days. :lol: )

Author:  Jordan [ Sun Jul 03, 2005 6:02 pm ]
Post subject: 

I've been eagerly awaiting this! God bless RSS feeds :)

EDIT: On page 10 in the "ROUND 4: Antec P180 vs. Antec SLK3000B, Hard Drives Seek Noise" it says SPL peak for the P180 was 39dBA while it was 30dBA for the 3000B. Is this correct?

Author:  @[email protected] [ Sun Jul 03, 2005 7:11 pm ]
Post subject: 

Jordan wrote:
I've been eagerly awaiting this! God bless RSS feeds :)

EDIT: On page 10 in the "ROUND 4: Antec P180 vs. Antec SLK3000B, Hard Drives Seek Noise" it says SPL peak for the P180 was 39dBA while it was 30dBA for the 3000B. Is this correct?


I was wondering about the same thing.

Author:  AndrewC [ Sun Jul 03, 2005 7:25 pm ]
Post subject: 

I was thinking the same thing. The text implied the P180 had a lower noise levels and the recording info backs that up. The table I assume is in error.
Quote:
MP3: P180 "Hot Potato", WD Raptor Drive, idle/seek: 25/29 dBA/1m

MP3: SLK3000B, WD Raptor Drive, idle/seek: 26/39 dBA/1m


I assume the seek readings in red account for the "9? dBA difference" from the text.
Quote:
The 9 dBA/1m difference between the two systems is quite telling


Great article other than this :!:

Author:  MikeC [ Sun Jul 03, 2005 7:41 pm ]
Post subject: 

The typos in that section (and elsewhere) have been corrected. It was a 10 dBA difference (between peaks), and the P180 was obviously the quieter one. In defense of the SLK3000B, that was a pretty tough comparison, but I think few cases would fare any better. This is why I am such an advocate of decoupled HDD mounting. If that Raptor had been elastic-suspended in the SLK, it would have been much closer to the P180. (But the side panels needed some damping, too, around where they fit against the chassis to reduce some of the vibes.)

Author:  Freelancer77 [ Sun Jul 03, 2005 8:19 pm ]
Post subject: 

SPCR,

Thanks once again. Insane amounts of time and effort went into the combined reviews, and I for one appreciate it immensely. Feel free to take a day off tomorrow. :lol:

I have a couple of questions about the performance review. First, was the 74GB Raptor a first edition model, or one of the more recently produced? I have two of the new ones (and two older 36GB Raptors) in my lower drive cage, and they make hardly any noise at all. I do not hear seek clicks or hums from them.

Based on your determination that the VGA card was affecting the CPU while using the Ninja passively, I had to ponder. Is there is a way for me to mount the fan on my Arctic Cooling Freezer64 so it blows toward the rear of the case, instead of toward the top, drawing air almost directly from the back of the video card?

About the front filter doors on the P180. I understand they are designed to minimize sound escaping, but I have proven to myself a 4~5C drop in MB and CPU temps by leaving the filters and filter doors off. The front door of the case open or closed has no real effect on temps with the grilles wide open.

Last, I like the fan bracket used in place of the vga duct in the last several pics of the Hot Potato setup, is that a retail product, or a custom device? I read it being called a Zalman fan bracket, but can't recall seeing something like that for sale anywhere.

Thanks again for all your hard work.

Author:  MikeC [ Sun Jul 03, 2005 9:05 pm ]
Post subject: 

Freelancer77 wrote:
First, was the 74GB Raptor a first edition model, or one of the more recently produced? I have two of the new ones (and two older 36GB Raptors) in my lower drive cage, and they make hardly any noise at all. I do not hear seek clicks or hums from them.

Very recent. In the P180 it's pretty quiet, as you can hear in the recording. Remember where the mic was positioned -- 15" from floor, 3" from front panel. Not where you ears are when you're working around the PC.

Quote:
Is there is a way for me to mount the fan on my Arctic Cooling Freezer64 so it blows toward the rear of the case, instead of toward the top, drawing air almost directly from the back of the video card?

Probably not, from what I recall about the way that HSF mounts.

Quote:
About the front filter doors on the P180. I understand they are designed to minimize sound escaping, but I have proven to myself a 4~5C drop in MB and CPU temps by leaving the filters and filter doors off. The front door of the case open or closed has no real effect on temps with the grilles wide open.

I don't think either Devon or I ever noticed that big a temp change. They don't do hardly anything for/against noise as long as the main door is closed. The increase in noise when the main door is open measures 2 dBA/1m. It is plainly audible to me.

Quote:
Last, I like the fan bracket used in place of the vga duct in the last several pics of the Hot Potato setup, is that a retail product, or a custom device? I read it being called a Zalman fan bracket, but can't recall seeing something like that for sale anywhere.

It was not the Intel setup, but the A64. Check Zalman's web site, it is called FB123 or 165 -- can't recall exactly.

Author:  lenny [ Sun Jul 03, 2005 9:19 pm ]
Post subject: 

MikeC / Devon, that's a great review, and all that combinations! I'm going to have to experiment with my configuration to see what works best.

Question regarding the VGA duct. When it is not in use, was it left open or was it sealed up (like the holes around the PSU)?

Author:  Vulcan [ Sun Jul 03, 2005 9:56 pm ]
Post subject: 

I'm somewhat disapointed with the vga cooling abilites of the P180. I'm hoping I will able to modify it a bit to get some decent cooling for video card. Anyway, great review. I'm pretty sure I made the right decision for my next case.

EDIT:
Anyone have an opinion on using an 80mm fan PSU like the new smartpower 2.0s versus a 120mm fan PSU in the P180, It seems to me the smart power 2.0s are just about perfectly suited the P180, the airflow i nthe bttom chambe would be a pretty straight shot.

Author:  xarope [ Sun Jul 03, 2005 10:22 pm ]
Post subject: 

Great review as usual, guys. Based on feedback from my initial assemly of the P180, I had already taped up the holes around the PSU (with silver duct tape of course :D ), and will experiment with temperatures on the two HDDs (1xsamsung 120GB and 1xsamsung 160GB) in the lower chamber, as to whether I can take out the 120mmx38mm fan.

I did leave my VGA duct off, the whole thing seemed kind of kludgy and I was thinking of switching my cooling on the X850pro to a silencer.

Now that I've seen some pictures of other assemblies, my cabling really needs some work!

Author:  Raymond [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 12:45 am ]
Post subject: 

wow, 12 pages! What a behemoth :shock:

Let's see if this gives me some inspiration and ideas about my own new computer :)

Edit: the 92mm nexus reference recording is linked to a file on c:\documents and setting, instead of a file on the website.

(dunno if this is the proper place to notify about these errors, so don't shoot me if I'm wrong :) )

Author:  Bruce Ballslap [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 1:55 am ]
Post subject: 

This has come up numerous times in the forums, but I still have to wonder how doesnt this fact end up in the "cons" list: There is not a way of blocking the upper exhaust hole other than by custom modifications. I know the article suggests that it doesnt really make audible difference whether it's closed or not. Still, there are several other reasons why it should be closable out-of-the-box: aesthetic, practical (blocking items, fluids..)... And there must be audible difference too, if the used rear fan is, say, a stock fan running at hi mode.

Otherwise, an excellent article and review. Thank you for it and all the great personal efforts.

Author:  Aleksi [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 2:21 am ]
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Quite interesting review, probably the most comprehensive case testing I have seen. Good job by Devon, Ralf (and MikeC). I really think that testing with different setups leaves very little room for speculation.

One thing caught my eye, I remember there is a line about the P180 HDD grommets along the lines "the less vibrating HDD seemed to benefit less from the grommets when compared to the more heavily vibrating". My uneducated opinion is, that this is mainly caused by the "low-tech" grommets, I suspect that using for example E.A.R. grommets would equalize the results.

It seems the P180 has also a lot of potential for custom ducts etc.., a lot more potential than the regular ATX cases. Although I must admit, that having a case like the P180 can be a bit nerver-wrecking to older SPCR users. Many newcomers seem to think this is a "silent" case, no matter what you throw in there. :roll:

Author:  Locklear [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 2:22 am ]
Post subject: 

Thanks for the great reviews on the P180, and making my choice for a cabinet that much easier :D

Imagine my surprise when I was looking for a few reviews on this cabinet, but instead found a thriving community who had an active hand in the development instead.

Can't say any of the Cons mentioned made me reconsider buying this cabinet. The only thing that would be the real icing on the cake for me would be optional covers for the VGA duct and top/PSU exhaust holes. I would even pay extra for those !!

Keep up the good work.

PS! Expect me to continue lurking here btw :twisted:

Author:  Bluefront [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 5:23 am ]
Post subject: 

This is ominous.....When I got to page 12 of the review, my computer turned itself off. Didn't crash, just turned off. Maybe it was telling me something.... :lol:

For certain this case is a tweakers dream. With so many options available, you could tweak this thing for years, without ever being satisfied. I wonder does Antec give you any help over which config is best for which components? Or do they just leave it to places like SPCR to do the hard work.....guide the way?

As heavy as this setup would be, filled up to the max......it needs a good caster system to move it. Having much of the heavy stuff on the bottom helps the stability, but it will still be a handful to move. The tall tower setup I'm using now, couldn't be moved safely without wheels.

Nice case......still needing some fine tuning...

Author:  spiffy102 [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 6:10 am ]
Post subject: 

Bruce Ballslap wrote:
This has come up numerous times in the forums, but I still have to wonder how doesnt this fact end up in the "cons" list: There is not a way of blocking the upper exhaust hole other than by custom modifications. .


I agree completely - really nice case... But I don't see what Antec left an obvious accessory out of the package.

Author:  Jordan [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 6:41 am ]
Post subject: 

So the black SPCR edition will never be seen on UK shores? :(

Author:  MikeC [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 6:54 am ]
Post subject: 

Bruce Ballslap wrote:
This has come up numerous times in the forums, but I still have to wonder how doesnt this fact end up in the "cons" list: There is not a way of blocking the upper exhaust hole other than by custom modifications. .

Added to cons list... but I have to say, having listened at length to all the systems, not only is there no measured difference from the front of the case (even with the SLM at above the height of the case), my preference was always for the top vent to be open. You'd have to hear it to appreciate it, but with it open, there is less resonance in the lower frequencies, perhaps <200Hz.

This was puzzling to me until I started to think about enclosures and how they work acoustically:

1) Any closed box has at least one major and usually, some related minor resonances. This is a property of the trapped air inside the box.
2) The air resonance can be changed quite dramatically by adding holes in the box, or even holes in ducts. It has the obvious effect of reducing the pressure in the box, especially at very low frequencies. Speaker cabinets take advantage of this for fine tuning bass response.
3) Closing the unused top vent in the P180 has the effect of increasing the amplitude of low frequency air resonance peaks, at least with the way that these systems filled the box. Hence the increased thrumming noise.
4) If the amplitude of noise sources in the case was lower, this effect would be smaller. Also, if the interior panels were lined with acoustically absorbent material, internal sonic reflections would be much reduced, along with the amplitude of the resoances. Perhaps then, closing the vent would actually sound better and quieter than leaving it open. But for most users, I think leaving it open will be preferable.
5) And if the back panel fan is set to mid or high, open or closed will be moot: Both will be too loud. :lol:

Author:  Edward Ng [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 7:01 am ]
Post subject: 

What Mike is describing here is what I've traditionally called, "baffle-effect," acoustics. It's basically that mid-low to low frequency sound that occurs when the air pressure within a damped enclosure fluctuates rapidly due to flow. By capping off the top, the effect is amplified, as there is less bandwidth to relieve rapid changes in pressure. In turn, the enclosure as a whole must contract and expand ever so slightly in sync with the cyclic change in interior pressure, creating this sound. This is similar to a bandpass woofer enclosure in a car, only unintentional. Open up a hole in a bandpass and it becomes less effective, open it up more and more and eventually the bandpass effect completely goes away leaving a standard subwoofer.

Btw other solutions besides leaving more openings for pressure relief would be to apply greater mass dampening to the major panels as Mike suggests (most feasible, though possibly costly depending on the material used), cross-brace the least-supported portions of the largest panels to reduce vibration/expansion/contraction (sort of viable, sort of not, depending on the system configuration) or redesign the enclosure so that it's ball-shaped and all sides are about equal in terms of ability to handle pressure change (definitely not viable).

-Ed

Author:  Locklear [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 7:57 am ]
Post subject: 

The top vent might be debatable depending wether you go for pure sound dampening or looks, but from what i read the PSU compartment suffers badly from the lack of of backplate when using a PSU w/fan to cool the HD rack in front (not that it would matter that much for me as i'm planning on using a Phantom PSU). To me more options would always be welcome :)

Author:  Devonavar [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 8:40 am ]
Post subject: 

lenny wrote:
Question regarding the VGA duct. When it is not in use, was it left open or was it sealed up (like the holes around the PSU)?


Both configurations were tried, and I believe sealing the vent tended to push the VGA temp up slightly, about 2°C IIRC. I don't recall it having a large effect on the CPU temp.

Vulcan wrote:
Anyone have an opinion on using an 80mm fan PSU like the new smartpower 2.0s versus a 120mm fan PSU in the P180, It seems to me the smart power 2.0s are just about perfectly suited the P180, the airflow i nthe bttom chambe would be a pretty straight shot.


I would agree, I think the design of the Smartpower would be excellent in the P180. Still haven't heard it in person yet though, so I'll have to take other people's word for it that it's quiet enough for use.

Author:  Shadowknight [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 10:44 am ]
Post subject: 

Aleksi wrote:
Many newcomers seem to think this is a "silent" case, no matter what you throw in there. :roll:

At a lot of forums, they consider anything slower than a Delta screamer to be "silent". They also refer to quieter components as "more silent than X product" instead of understanding that silent is an absolute :roll:

Author:  Mertz [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 10:48 am ]
Post subject: 

Great review, love the P180 vs SLK3000B, was hoping that someone would bring that up but didn't expect it in the review :D

Don't worry about the length, I wouldn't mind an additional 20 pages as long as it contains good stuff, like all SPCR reviews do ;)

Author:  cmcquistion [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 11:33 am ]
Post subject: 

Great review, as always.

I've got a suggestion, for the future, however. To test VGA temps, try using rthdribl (Real-Time High Dynamic Range Image-Based Lighting). This is a great little utility that stresses the video card and warms it up as much as most games, probably. The nice thing is that it runs in a window, so you can run it and watch your VGA temps, simultaneously. I use this to fine-tune the speed of my Arctic Cooling Silencer (NV5?) on my 6800GT.

I was thinking of purchasing a P180 and I was debating how I could use that VGA duct to my advantage, without a fan. I was wondering about leaving the duct in place, with no fan, closing the top exhaust port and (perhaps) partially block the front air intake. This would force air to be sucked into the case from the VGA duct. This fresh air would (hopefully) flow across the VGA card, supplying cool air to the video card heatsink/fan. If the duct opening is too far from the video card, an additional duct might be fabricated to go from the duct opening and open in front of (or underneath) the video card's heatsink.

What do you think? Is this feasible? Would it be helpful?

Author:  Thomas [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 11:41 am ]
Post subject:  Article length

I must admit, that I jumped right to the conclusion.

But that's just me, back in the happy high fidelity days, I also read the conclusion, before I read the rest of the article, when I got the latest magazine 8)

I havent read the full article yet, but I will. Actually, I look forward to having the time. I enjoy these indepth articles. I'm so tired of the trend of only touching the surface. There's so many opinions out there, but very few actually KNOW something, because they didnt searched for facts...

Somewhat, it's a little sad, that I bought a new cabinet a month or two ago... before I found this site... But I still enjoy reading these articles, because I can learn something about which demands I'll have for my next cabinet. And maybe, I'll find some inspiration for some DIY modifications, during my reading.

So, in short: Keep them coming :wink:

Author:  moritz [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 11:42 am ]
Post subject: 

Awesome article. Not too long at all, I'd love to see more really in-depth articles like this one, although I'm aware that there's a huge amount of work involved.

Author:  Devonavar [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 12:44 pm ]
Post subject: 

cmcquistion wrote:
I was thinking of purchasing a P180 and I was debating how I could use that VGA duct to my advantage, without a fan. I was wondering about leaving the duct in place, with no fan, closing the top exhaust port and (perhaps) partially block the front air intake. This would force air to be sucked into the case from the VGA duct. This fresh air would (hopefully) flow across the VGA card, supplying cool air to the video card heatsink/fan. If the duct opening is too far from the video card, an additional duct might be fabricated to go from the duct opening and open in front of (or underneath) the video card's heatsink.

What do you think? Is this feasible? Would it be helpful?


It think this could work, but would require a high speed, high pressure fan to overcome the amount of impedance in the duct. I don't know that it would be worth the acoustic price, but it might be worth a try. There's very little room between the duct and the top of a performance VGA card, so I think extending or shaping the duct is an unlikely option. The card is roughly centered in the fan's airflow, with half passing over the back of the card. Trying to duct the air directly in front of the VGA fan would inevitably seal off half of the fan opening, making for a VERY restrictive airflow path if this is the main source of fresh air to the case. And, without blocking the front (at least partially), I don't see how you're going to draw enough air.

Author:  Shadowknight [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 1:11 pm ]
Post subject: 

I did have one problem with the article: I have a 350w Phantom in my 3700AMB. I was hoping that the article would test a P180 vs. 3700Amb/3000B fanless PSU test, to compare any differences in CPU/GPU/HD/MB temps.

There was a mid-range system tested with the P180, true, but there were no comparisons in a 3700/3000B. Also, the PSU Nexus 120mm fan was tested at 12v and 7v. Will 5v be sufficient to cool off the PSU safely? Can you get away with sealing off the PSU holes in the back, or is it necessary to leave them open for a fanless PSU, even with a fan pushing air?

Author:  Devonavar [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 1:17 pm ]
Post subject: 

Shadowknight wrote:
I did have one problem with the article: I have a 350w Phantom in my 3700AMB. I was hoping that the article would test a P180 vs. 3700Amb/3000B fanless PSU test, to compare any differences in CPU/GPU/HD/MB temps.


Out of time. Sorry, can't do it all.

Shadowknight wrote:
There was a mid-range system tested with the P180, true, but there were no comparisons in a 3700/3000B. Also, the PSU Nexus 120mm fan was tested at 12v and 7v. Will 5v be sufficient to cool off the PSU safely? Can you get away with sealing off the PSU holes in the back, or is it necessary to leave them open for a fanless PSU, even with a fan pushing air?


Definitely leave them open if you have the duct fan in place. The Phantom is designed to dissipate heat through its casing, not internally. 5V is probably fine for cooling the PSU, especially since it doesn't have to deal with the CPU/VGA heat.

Author:  MikeC [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 1:28 pm ]
Post subject: 

Shadowknight wrote:
I did have one problem with the article: I have a 350w Phantom in my 3700AMB. I was hoping that the article would test a P180 vs. 3700Amb/3000B fanless PSU test, to compare any differences in CPU/GPU/HD/MB temps.

There was a mid-range system tested with the P180, true, but there were no comparisons in a 3700/3000B. Also, the PSU Nexus 120mm fan was tested at 12v and 7v. Will 5v be sufficient to cool off the PSU safely? Can you get away with sealing off the PSU holes in the back, or is it necessary to leave them open for a fanless PSU, even with a fan pushing air?

No review of any case can possibly cover every combination of components. This review tested the patience, energy and sanity of everyone involved, and the end result is probably the most comprehensive case review you will find not only at SPCR but any site out there, bar none. Still you complain!!!! :roll:

Try it yourself and you can tell us. Or extrapolate the obvious from the existing results: There's no question that any PSU can be run cooler (and usually quieter) in the P180 than in any standard scase.

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