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 Post subject: Fractal R4, Antec P280, Antec 300
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:49 am 
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My computer case situation has reached defcon 3. I ordered a Fractal R4 in white, and it is a beautiful case, better than I thought it would be, but unfortunately the bitumen sound insulation smells, but worse in researching, it turns out this is a form of petroleum-based asphalt.

I don't know the science on whether Bitumen is safe or not, but having petroleum asphalt is not something I want fans blowing air over into my breathing space for months and months.

Now I have no idea what case to get. I admit to being smell sensitive, so no need to argue about that. Does the Antec P280 have any kind of smell issue other than new computer smell? What material do they use for sound insulation? And do the case panels have any resonating issue? I had read about that possibility before but maybe it's fixed.

What about getting an Antec 300 and modding it? Or what about the Corsair 550d? Or any other ideas?

My main concern is obviously a quiet case, but also the smell issue, or the materials that might be used for the sound insulation.

Any help would be appreciated.
Thank you.


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 Post subject: Re: Fractal R4, Antec P280, Antec 300
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:11 am 
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I have a P280 and have noticed no smell. My wife is very smell sensitive and hasn't complained either, but I haven't asked her to smell the case :-)

I had an Antec 300 and while it is an OK case, it is definitely not on the level of the P280 silence wise.


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 Post subject: Re: Fractal R4, Antec P280, Antec 300
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:45 am 
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DeltaForce wrote:
I don't know the science on whether Bitumen is safe or not, but having petroleum asphalt is not something I want fans blowing air over into my breathing space for months and months.

If it actually was that bad for you, they wouldn't be able to sell it or get any of the many health and safety marks that they have. :wink: If it was bad they would have to tell you to use it only in a well ventilated space, as you will normally find on many household chemicals, paints etc.

Everything has a distinct smell when new, it will dissipate quite quickly after installation and I really think you have nothing to worry about.

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 Post subject: Re: Fractal R4, Antec P280, Antec 300
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:20 am 
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I don't think it's bitumen causing the smell.

Other case recommendations: Corsair 550D, Solo II, Antec P183 V3.

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 Post subject: Re: Fractal R4, Antec P280, Antec 300
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:44 am 
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Whatever smell might come from a brand new case with this bitumen-mix dampening should dissipate in a day or two. It's only part bitumen in there and there's a cloth covering the surface. My own Define R4 didn't smell at all which surprised me but my Define R3 smelled a little when newly uncovered as the plastic bag keeps odor from anything inside like the glue or whatever from leaking out. If it keeps smelling then try putting the case out overnight in the garage or for a couple of hours outside on a balcony to weather out. It can't be a persisting problem at any rate unless you got a case with a bad mix of the dampening or some petroleum-smelling grommet or similar.


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 Post subject: Re: Fractal R4, Antec P280, Antec 300
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 6:25 am 
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Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2007 10:30 am
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Location: California
Thanks for all the replies and ideas. After doing research on a subject first then this is the best place I've found for computer advice, from a forum that understands 40db is not "quiet".

The smell of the Bitumen insulation has gone down a little, but I'm still concerned enough about the safety of Bitumen that will probably send the case back unfortunately. Again the Fractal R4 in white looks great, better than the photos. Yet the Bitumen in the case may not exceed governmental standards, or not, but that doesn't necessarily make the material completely safe either, or it is enough of a doubt for me.

Here is an excerpt on Bitumen:

"Modified bitumen, asphalt, coal tars and all related substances are made from refined crude oil and all emit substantial levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which are known carcinogens. Roofers and road workers both have a high risk of contracting cancer or other health problems when exposed to the PAHs emitted from asphalts and tars daily. For consumers, the risk levels are unclear, although it is safe to say the fumes emitted by off-gassing tars and bitumens are truly not good for your health."

Will fans blowing air over this material into the air I breath for months and months during computer use pose any problem? I don't know, and perhaps not, but I'd rather have no doubt about this.

Will research the P280 and 550D (the 183v3 looks discontinued), but in truth I did like the design of the fractal. Just hope I don't order another case to find out the noise insulation material is even worse :(


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 Post subject: Re: Fractal R4, Antec P280, Antec 300
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 6:40 am 
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DeltaForce wrote:
The smell of the Bitumen insulation has gone down a little, but I'm still concerned enough about the safety of Bitumen that will probably send the case back unfortunately.

I think you're overreacting. CA_Steve provided a link that states they don't use Bitumen anymore. It's just a normal chemical smell from manufacturing.

What I was getting at before is that it can't be dangerous, otherwise it wouldn't be available in so many developed countries. Not just from a regulation perspective but also a liability risk. Asbestos would be a brilliant material for insulating a case and could easily be encapsulated so as to not pose a risk during use. However, no sane company would do that as the risk of someone punturing the asbestos woudl be there and the liability would be ridiculous.

There's plenty of household things that should be much more of a concern to you than this. Now please take off your tin foil hat and enjoy the R4. :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: Fractal R4, Antec P280, Antec 300
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 7:29 am 
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edh wrote:
I think you're overreacting. CA_Steve provided a link that states they don't use Bitumen anymore. It's just a normal chemical smell from manufacturing.

That's not true, the R4 does have Bitumen, check the Fractal website. The Fractal rep in the link was only making the point that the rubber grommets were changed.

You seem to want to put all your faith that companies and governments will do the right thing for our health. We have different opinions, fine, and again I don't know whether this is an issue or not, and it may not be, but as a health-conscious individual there is a doubt in my mind after researching Bitumen.

One thing I am wondering about which might resolve this, is the textile cover on the side panel is what is smelling a little -is that a different material? Is the Bitumen sealed behind that material? Or is it the Bitumen insulation that is de-gassing a little?

Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Fractal R4, Antec P280, Antec 300
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 7:43 am 
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Joined: Thu Jun 07, 2012 3:05 am
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Location: Canada
Right from Fractal's website:

"Key Features

    High density noise-reducing material for an optimal silent case - To achieve a high level of noise reduction, material with mass should be incorporated which is what we strive to achieve with the dense bitumen used on the side panels"


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 Post subject: Re: Fractal R4, Antec P280, Antec 300
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 8:17 am 
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Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2004 1:51 pm
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Location: Gefle, Sweden
I think the question of health effects of chemicals is certainly important. I'd be thinking more about more modern chemicals like all the flame retardant in the case platics and whatever chemicals that the cards have been bathed in during manufacture. A lot of that will be leaking out over time without your nose being able to pick up any of it. I wouldn't assume that a material mix with bitumen in it be safe, but at least bitumen by itself is an age old material compared to flame retardants, the latter we know for a fact can accumulate and stay inside a body forever. Electronics just aren't healthy so it would be best not to upgrade anything until it breaks. Power to those who can stick to that.

The main thing I take with me about being safer with chemicals is to keep small children away from any electronics and plastics as much as possible, and to have good ventilation where you live. Another easy thing to remember is to not use stronger cleaning chemicals than you really need to get the job done.


Last edited by mkk on Wed Feb 20, 2013 8:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Fractal R4, Antec P280, Antec 300
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 8:22 am 
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To clarify: if you re-read the thread I linked, the Fractal Rep said they still use bitumen, but the smell was most likely from the rubber feet..which were subsequently replaced in the design.

It might just be the "new car smell" that everything we buy with petrochemical components has. It might fade to nothing in a couple of days...or it might not. I purchased a memory foam mattress a while back - that thing took a week for the smell to fade away.

Look for a replacement case...but hold off with the purchase/return for a week. You lose nothing by waiting a bit.

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 Post subject: Re: Fractal R4, Antec P280, Antec 300
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:53 am 
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CA_Steve wrote:
Look for a replacement case...but hold off with the purchase/return for a week. You lose nothing by waiting a bit.

That's good advice, and will wait a week. Thanks everyone for the input.

This may be a stupid question, but just want to make sure is the Bitumen the dark colored insulation, or is that the textile cover over the Bitumen?


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 Post subject: Re: Fractal R4, Antec P280, Antec 300
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 8:57 am 
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DeltaForce wrote:
This may be a stupid question, but just want to make sure is the Bitumen the dark colored insulation, or is that the textile cover over the Bitumen?


Again, from the link above:

Fractal Design wrote:
Whispercat: I must correct you on the bitumen matter - we still use bitumen on both the R3 and the Mini. The only change that's been made since the R2 is that there's a textile cover over the bitumen, making it a nicer look.

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 Post subject: Re: Fractal R4, Antec P280, Antec 300
PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 3:21 am 
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So, what did you decide? Did you return the R4? I just bought the R4 ... hasn't arrived yet, but am also concerned about bitumen use. I'm sure it's probably fine sitting on a cool shelf somewhere, but inside a computer case which could get warm and increase degassing ... yuck!


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 Post subject: Re: Fractal R4, Antec P280, Antec 300
PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:36 am 
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http://demo.rkmsuk.com/MSDS/5%20bitumen.pdf
http://www.inchem.org/documents/ehc/ehc ... Number:5.7

Material Safety Data Sheet from what sounds like a company that manufactures bitumen. WHO document about petroleum products, including bitumen.

"SKIN: Repeated exposure to hot bitumen or bitumen fumes may cause inflammation of the skin, acne
like lesions, development of horny growths on the skin, darkening of the skin and sensitization of the
skin to light. Bitumen may cause hair loss, dryness, scaling, and dermatitis. May aggravate existing
skin conditions. Bitumen contains chemicals that may have a carcinogenic potential."

There you go. May have carcinogenic material. Everybody start fear mongering. *rolls eyes* (/sarcasm)

Sorry, I think I'm being a bit of an ass here. I work in a medical field and hear these types of conversations all the time, so it gets a little bit tiring to me.

On a serious note, if you're this anxious about it now, you'll likely never be anxiety-free, because no one in their right mind will design a good study to test the carcinogenic potential of exposing a human to bitumen. All the data will be from animal models (which are super artificial) or from retrospective data, i.e. looking back at people who have certain illnesses or have been exposed to bitumen in the past and seeing if there is any correlation.

To that end, if you read the rest of the data sheet or go to the referenced WHO publication, it basically says that if you PAINT (seriously?) the equivalent of 200mg of bitumen to your skin every day for two years, you *might* have a higher chance of cancer. or you might not, depending on which study you listen to. These are based on animal studies.

Looking back at health records of humans who have *worked* in these plants or with asphalt or other of these types of things, there was NO EVIDENCE of increased risk of cancer or decreased lung function. You will note in the details that 1/96 men in one study developed lung cancer - for comparison, ~7/100 americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer per year. I think those 96 men actually did quite well. These data are based on the WHO EHC which i linked. Interestingly, mice who INHALED bitumen DROPLETS did not increase their chances of lung cancer. I know, right?

Now, all said and done, here are the facts thus far
1. bitumen contains carcinogens
2. there is no evidence that bitumen causes cancer in humans (at least that I found, please correct me if i'm wrong, since I'm not going to spend 6 hours reviewing this)

It's up to you which evidence is more important. I always tell my patients that everybody will have their own threshold for OKAY and NOT OKAY. If you're okay spending 8 hours per day x5 years sitting next to a sheet of KNOWN carcinogens, knowing that people have worked 8 hours per day x40 years in harvesting/manufacturing/applying bitumen without adverse health effects, then please go for it. If not, then get another case - you're not losing out on much in the long term.

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