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Antec P183 Midi Tower Case & 1000W PSU

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Introduction

Founded in 1986, Antec is recognized as a pioneer in the high-performance computer components and accessories for the gaming, PC upgrade and Do-It-Yourself markets, and has maintained its position as a worldwide market leader and international provider of quiet, efficient and innovative products. A few weeks ago we reviewed their 902 gamers Midi Tower case along with a highly efficient 750W PSU and found them to be worthy of praise so it was with great anticipation when we received their P183 Midi Tower case and 1000W TruePower PSU.

The P stands for Professional and unlike the 902 has a different set of criteria with the emphasis being on low noise hence only 2 fans as standard unlike the 5 (including a monster 22cm top fan) on the 902. A 1KW power supply is the largest we have ever tested and is indicative of the trend towards more powerful systems spurred onwards by ever more power-hungry graphics cards in dual and quad SLI or Crossfire configurations. Would the cooling this case provides be adequate for such a rig? 2 fans and a 1KW PSU certainly implies a wolf in sheep's clothing and we will see during the course of this review how well it fares.

Quiet computing has been something close to our hearts and we have conducted several reviews with this in mind over the years - you can see them on the review pane to the left of this page. While some people will put up with a screaming banshee of a PC just to get that extra bit of overclocking, others will strive for a decent level of performance that does not leave them with permanent ear damage. This case is aimed at the latter and we will see how well this is achieved compared to past products and what compromise, if any, is needed to attain the objective. 

We’ll start with the case and then move to the PSU.

 

Case Specifications

  • Dual chamber design isolates heat and noise: the power supply resides in a separate chamber to isolate heat and reduce system noise
  • No power supply included
  • Power supply option: comes with a power supply mounting adapter to mount either a standard size power supply or Antecs exclusive CP Series power supply
  • Innovative three-layer, sound-deadening side panels and front door (aluminum, plastic, aluminum) dampen noise and ensure Quiet Computing™
  • 11 drive bays
    - External 4 x 5.25"; 1 x 3.5"
    - Internal 6 x 3.5" for HDD
    - Internal 2 x 2.5" HDD mount
  • Cooling system:
    - 1 rear (standard) 120mm x 25mm TriCool™ fan
    - 1 top (standard) 120mm x 25mm TriCool™ fan
    - 1 lower front chamber - 120mm fan (optional)
    - 1 upper front chamber - 120mm fan (optional)
    - 1 middle chamber - 120mm fan (optional)
  • CPU cut-out allows for easy installation of CPU coolers
  • Cable organizers behind motherboard tray minimize cable clutter
  • Front-mounted ports provide convenient connections:
    - 2 x USB 2.0
    - 1 x eSATA
    - Audio In and Out (HDA and AC97 compatible)
  • Double hinged door opens up to 270?/li>
  • 7 expansion slots
  • 0.8mm cold rolled steel chassis for durability
  • Maximum video card size: 15.5"/394mm (Note: some video cards may require removal of the adjacent hard drive cage)
  • Compatible Motherboards: Mini-ITX, microATX, Standard ATX
  • Case dimensions:
    - 20.25"(H) x 8.1"(W) x 19.9"(D)
    - 514 mm (H) x 205 mm (W) x 507 mm (D)
  • Net weight: 30.9 lbs / 14 kg
  • Whats new in the P183:
    -Front door vents, as well as wider vents along the door frame, improve airflow into the chassis.
    -Filters and filter doors are integrated as one unit. The doors themselves have been modified to provide greater airflow, resulting in cooler system temperatures.
    -Drive bay covers are vented and include air filters to provide better airflow.
    -Lower chamber fan is now located in front of the hard drive cage, allowing for installation of longer PSUs as well as easier cable routing between the lower HD cage and the power supply.

 

Case Packaging

Clicking on any picture in this review opens up a larger, more detailed image and in some cases may be the only way to spot fine details such as the front opening filter releases etc..

 

Shipping in a sturdy box the P183 is surprisingly light compared to the 902. Speaking of which, we were pleased to note the same soft flexible foam and not expanded polystyrene surrounding the case. This offers better protection, lasts longer (for case re-use later) and does not break off in small particles when taking the case out. Although the package we received was densely covered in bubble wrap, this will not be the case with most units sent by courier and over the years we have receive cases sent only in their boxes and resulting in damage to the case inside. It's good to see Antec use such sturdy material with attention to detail such as extra thick foam to separate case sides from the box no doubt providing significant additional protection.

 

The Antec P183 Unveiled  

 

With a gunmetal grey finish the front and sides look imposing leaving the impression that reinforces the serious aims it espouses. Unlike cases aimed at gamers there is no exposed grill at the front, no side window and no fluorescent lights that many find so quaint. More significantly, everything interlocks snugly and there are no gaps that can leak noise. Gone are the front fans which in our experience are the noisiest (most cases of this type tend to be placed under a desk) and indeed there are no front grills which perplexed one of us with an aeronautical engineering background until he totaled up the cross-sectional surface area of the vents around the door frame (sad even for PC fanatics) and concluded there is ample air intake for the rear and top fans.

Having no front air intake means there is no direct path from fan to front of case for noise to escape and sound waves must balance off several (noise dampening in this case) surfaces before they can escape which significantly reduces noise, especially the annoying high frequency range.

The back shows the usual I/O shielding which is generic so we advise using the shield that comes with a motherboard if one is supplied. Two rubber coated holes are provided to allow an external radiator to be used enabling water cooling to be fitted without modification. In fact, water cooling will make up for the lack of fan numbers by transferring heat outside the case and also keep noise down by avoiding the need for fast and noisy CPU coolers.

The PSU mounting has an adaptor (fitted by default) to allow the use of standard power supplies but will have to be removed to use one of Antec's high performance power supplies which we are using today.

 

Looking at the inside of the side panel we can see the 3-layer construction of metal, plastic and metal to dampen vibrations. The top view shows the 12cm fan well recessed inside the case to minimize noise leakage.

 

Opening the front door reveals a more traditional layout. Two big intakes for optional 12cm fans and removable air filters covering everything. This is good news for those that don't like dust to accumulate inside their PCs. The photo on the right shows how easily the filters come off for washing in seconds unlike the filters on the 902 which required the removal of 20 thumb type screws to get to them (one of the few gripes of an otherwise excellent case).

 

This is how the P183 is shipped and shows the dual compartment nature. A sliding plastic mechanism separates the two and can be adjusted as needed to allow cables through (the cable tidying is done by routing cables against the other door to keep them out of sight.

 

Both 3.5" bays slide out and are held in place with just a single convenient thumb screw. Drives are attached directly to slide out trays using silicon grommets to reduce vibration. The lower bay is recommended for hard drives (which are mounted vertically) as it has better cooling (thanks to the PSU fan) and better noise isolation.

 

Here we can see what comes with the case including the SSD compartment (SSD not included), cable ties, drive rails for the 5.25" bays and the assorted screws required. A manual is also provided (a more detailed one can be downloaded from www.antec.com) and a 3 year warranty which shows the faith that Antec have in the quality and durability of this product.

 

Case Performance  

The results are somewhat surprising in our test configuration. Firstly, there is little difference between high and low fan settings (we didn't bother with medium) and, more importantly, the performance is far better than anticipated, being almost as good as the open air Antec Skeleton. Noise levels are astoundingly quiet with no hard drive noise and only a gentle whoosh of air reminding us that the PC is on.

The real test of the monster PSU is being pushed to the limit and so we used an extreme configuration of overclocked i7-870 (4GHz) and dual Radeon 5970s (equivalent to 4 Radeon 5850s). At an estimated 630W under load the power supply showed no signs of effort other than the fan spinning slightly faster. The system was rock solid although the case temperature approached 40 degrees so it may be an idea to use the provided outlets on the back of the case for a water cooling system in such extreme circumstances.

We were tempted to attach some Akasa accoustic dampening material to the inside of the doors but the noise levels were so amazingly low (even with 2 Radeon 5970s operating at full capacity) that we concluded from past experience that it would not make a difference.

 

PSU Specifications

  • Unique power supply construction compatible with the following Antec cases:
    - Twelve Hundred
    - P183
    - P193
  • NVIDIA™ SLI™ - Ready certified
  • Advanced hybrid cable management improves airflow and reduces clutter
  • Meets 80 PLUS® certification standards
  • Electrical compliance with ATX12V version 2.3 and EPS version 2.91
  • Dual PCB layout optimizes cooling efficiency and allows for heavy duty components
  • Quiet 120mm PWM cooling fan
  • 4 +12V output circuits
  • Industrial grade protection: OVP (Over Voltage Protection), SCP (Short Circuit Protection), and OCP (Over Current Protection)
  • Universal Input with Active PFC
  • Two 8-pin(6+2) PCI-E connectors and two 6-pin PCI-E connectors
  • SATA connectors for Serial ATA drive
  • MTBF: 100,000 hours
  • Safety approval: UL, FCC, TÜV, CE, C-tick, CCC, CB
  • Unit Dimension
    - 119mm (H) x 175mm (W) x 200mm (D)
    - 4.7" (H) x 6.9" (W) x 7.9" (D)
  • Package Dimension
    - 160mm (H) x 230mm (W) x 330mm (D)
    - 6.3" (H) x 9.1" (W) x 13" (D)
  • Weight
    - Net : 7 lbs / 3.2 kg
    - Gross : 9.5 lbs / 4.3 kg

 

PSU Packaging

The first striking feature of the CP-1000 box is its sheer size and weight. Shoppers at their local PC World or equivalent who pick up a CP-1000 would do well to consider if it will fit in their cases before purchase. Fortunately this is clearly labeled on the packaging. There are 3 cases which Antec currently certify the CP-1000 to be compatible with and they are listed in the specifications. The P183 needs to have its PSU adaptor panel removed to accommodate this massive PSU.

 

Opening the box shows that the power supply chassis is securely packaged in the same foam that Antec uses for its cases which is sturdy yet allows a degree of compression. As with other modular power supplies, the core cables are attached as standard with additional plug-in leads available for use as needed depending on configuration to avoid the clutter of unnecessary cables.

  

PSU Build and Cabling  

 

Cables are provided for every possibility including quad SLI or quad Crossfire (the 8-pin plugs can fit into 6-pin sockets if needed by overlapping 2 pins - its all explained in the downloadable manual from www.antec.com).

The power cord we received had a 2-pin plug but rest assured that retail products will have the appropriate plug for the territory in question.

 

It's worth making a note of the capabilities of the different rails and planning accordingly, for example to make sure that each graphics card is drawing power from its own rail etc. Such attention to detail during the construction of a PC will yield great benefits in terms of system stability and peace of mind.

 

The back is ventilated right to the edges unlike some power supplies which allow peripheral components to get unnecessarily hot. The size of the coils shows why this PSU is rated so highly in terms of efficiency.

 

A quick analysis of the remaining sides of the PSU shows the all round sturdy construction and in  particular the size of the fan (bear in mind this PSU is a monster to start with). Having the fan on the inside means less noise than if it was at the back pressed against the rear of the case. Also of note are the modular connectors (you may need to click on the photo to see the more detailed larger shot) where the orange ones are best reserved for high drain items like graphics cards and the default connectors are not sufficient (really only if you have 4 cards needing 6-pin or 8-pin PCI-E connectors or 2 cards requiring both).

  

PSU Performance

The Antec CP-1000 PSU handled everything we threw at it with ease including a truly insane Quad Crossfire system based around an overclocked Intel i7-870 and two Radeon 5970 X2 GPUs in dual mode (effectively 4 Radeon 5850 GPUs). Noise levels were very low due to the design and placement of the PWM fan and we encountered no issues.

  

Conclusion

It's always good to see something different and Antec have a long history of innovating by doing just that. They pioneered glowing fans and now have a remarkably good quiet PC case that seems to have been designed for low noise from every angle. The 3-layer construction is far better at acoustic dampening than we have seen anywhere and even specialist material we have used in the past cannot produce results as good with other enclosures. Initial expectations for performance were far exceeded for a case with only 2 12cm fans and temperatures are almost as low as Antec's performance gaming enclosures.

Silicon grommets are used for mounting hard drives to reduce vibration and internal compartmentalization separates the PSU and HDDs for better efficiency and even a space for SSDs is present. Thoughtful touches like the easily removable washable filters and stylish finish make this a very desirable enclosure to own in terms of aesthetics and show that high performance can be attained without compromising on environmental quality and noise pollution.

Purchasers of Antec's P183, P193 and 1200 series of cases would do well to consider a matching CP-1000 power supply. Given the length of warranty provided and future power requirement trends such a pairing will provide superb performance now and enough headroom to cope for many years to come.

The combination of P183 Enclosure and CP-1000 PSU is undoubtedly the quietest we have ever tested and we have no hesitation in awarding both products our Gold Award. 


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