Last week I moved my current desktop hardware to a new enclosure. My old Antec Solo
has been replaced by an Antec P183 v3.
I bought my Solo case in 2006 along with some Nexus fans (yep, I was mainly inspired by SPCR reviews
), and have been happy with it ever since. The old case has been used for 2 HW upgrades. But after 5 years of service I decided it was time for a change: the power button broke (1 of 2 glued parts came loose, only to come l loose again even after trying some superglue), the elastic bands holding the HDD were getting very worn out (can be replaced of course) and I didn’t seem to find a proper place for my SSD. I just tucked it away between some cabling behind the mobo tray. Not ideal I guess.
After reading some reviews I decided the P183 would be a worthy upgrade to the Solo.
While I was at it, I looked around for some new fans to see if I could further reduce the system’s noise. I placed my hopes on the Scythe Slip Stream M
As an alternative I also bought 2 of the slower L variant
(800RPM). I even threw in some Nexus acoustic dampening sheets and a Scythe Kaze server fan controller to replace my Zalman FanMate2’s that are glued to the back of the Solo.
I currently have 3 Slip Stream M fans installed. The intake running at 570-600RPM. The CPU fan & exhaust running at 600-630RPM. This is the slowest all three can achieve. Any slower and they just stop completely. I’m not sure if the difference in speed is due to the fan controller, or production variance of the fans.
I nice thing about the Scythe fan controller is that the fans can be stopped completely. This way it’s easily made possible to evaluate individual sound levels of fans running or not.
Fan1: middle intake - Fan2: CPU fan - Fan3: Exhaust - Fan4: PSU fan. The 4 temp sensors are always near the fans.The good:
• The build quality of the case is simply excellent. The Solo was a quality case, but it’s even surpassed by the P183.
• The side panels of the P183 really sound solid. If you tap them with your nails, it makes a low thump. Doing the same on the metal panels of the Solo, even with the dampening sheet on the inside, that still sounds metallic.
• There’s room for a 120mm intake fan. In the Solo only a 92mm fan will fit at the front.
• The P183 is very roomy inside. Of course I’m only using a µATX board in an ATX case. Still, the Solo is also an ATX case, while being a bit more cramped. The P183 is higher and a bit deeper, so it’ll take some more space on the desk.The bad:
• The 4+4 pin CPU power cable is barely long enough when mounting my Enermax Pro82+ the normal way (fan at the bottom). Although the case’s manual dictates to mount a PSU down-side-up, this simply can’t be done with this PSU: that cable is simply too short. The cables of this PSU should be of average length though.
I’ve done some web searching and found posts saying it doesn’t actually matter which side goes up/down, so I’m keeping it the way it is.
• Related to my previous point I would have liked to see an intake cut-out directly under the PSU. My Silverstone GD05 HTPC case has this feature, and that works very well for me. The downside of this would be there’s no real air circulation for cooling HDD's if you install those in the bottom section. But that wouldn't be that much of a problem for green HDD's.
• There’s room for 2x 2.5” drives, but only when not mounting a fan to that middle drive cage. Because I do use an intake fan there, I mounted the SSD next to the 3.5” HDD with 1 screw. Not 100% as I’d like it to be, but it’ll do.
• The 5.25” drive rails aren’t suited for short devices like the Scythe Kaze server. It needs some cable ties to be secure.
• Closing the right side panel is difficult. Don’t really know why. It’s definitely an improvement over the Solo, but there could be a bit more room for cable management at that side I guess. The P183 features some cut-outs for better cable management though.
• If silicone grommets are used to secure an exhaust fan at the back, those grommets get squashed when closing the left side panel. It’s not really a problem though.
• The metal clip for fixing the intake fan on the middle drive cage doesn’t fit well on Slip Stream fans. They should be smaller. I don’t think the fan will fall though.
My first impression of the case wasn’t overly positive: I couldn’t help to feel a bit disappointed by the upgrade. I expected more from a €135 case. Maybe I had my hopes up too high about the noise improvement compared to the already solid Solo case, I don’t know… Don’t get me wrong: this is really a quiet setup, but no real noticeable difference to what I had before.
After digging deeper where the remaining sound came from I think it’s safe to say it’s simply the fan of the PSU (idle = 570RPM) and the HDD (WD Green). No wonder I didn’t notice any real difference: those components were in the Solo as well…
So… things left to try to get the sound levels down even further:
• Replace the fan in the Enermax PSU with a quieter one (Slip Stream L?)? However that's not advisable: there’s a remark in the SPCR review of this PSU saying not to mod the fan. And it’ll void my 3 year warranty.
• I still need to cover up the grill at the top of the case. I’ve got a hold of some plexiglass today, but still need to cut it to the right size.
• As said earlier, I have some acoustic dampening sheets now, but don’t really know yet where to glue them. The side panels of the P183 don’t seem to need it. Maybe only the bottom section, where the PSU & HDD are located.
Perhaps also the top of the case, and maybe a bit on the back.
I don’t think it’ll help much to use it on the inside of the front door?
• I can also replace 2 of the 3 fans with the slower M models. But according to SPCR review they’ll push less air at around the same sound level. And by stopping all 3 of them with the fan controller I don’t really hear a difference between stopped and running at minimum speed.
• I could cut out the metal grill covering the exhaust hole. I’ll need to buy a metal snip though. And I’m a bit reluctant doing these kind of mods on brand new hardware…
• The dust covers at the front are also something I could check out. They seem to be less restrictive than the ones on the P180/2 though.
Any other advice?