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Switching from Antec Solo to P183 v3

Posted: Sat Apr 30, 2011 10:49 am
by Freeco
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 My old Antec Solo has been replaced by an Antec P183 v3.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 (1200RPM model).
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.

Some pics…


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?

Re: Switching from Antec Solo to P183 v3

Posted: Sat Apr 30, 2011 11:14 am
by fumino
excellent build.

how's the weight of those nexus sheets, they look pretty interesting.

as for suggestions... buy a psu cable extension and flip your psu the other way, then uses silicon mounts at the back and rest it on foam. suspend that hard drive. line the bottom section with the damptek...

i really dont know what else you could do. going from quiet to silent is a very tough step.

Re: Switching from Antec Solo to P183 v3

Posted: Sat Apr 30, 2011 11:28 am
by Freeco
The 3 Nexus DampTek sheets weigh 2.5kg. Don't know if that's good or not. I've read they're less effective compared to Acousti, but they're cheaper as well. And I couldn't find a shop that sells Acousti anyway. So easy choice then :)
Padding the bottom section is on my to do list. Maybe tomorrow morning, if I have the time.

I didn't know there are PSU extension cables. I'll check that out.
Silicone mounts for PSU's? How does that look like?
The PSU is already resting on some padding btw... It's one of the case's features.
Another option would be to replace the Enermax PSU with a completely passive model, but I don't want to spend the money for this replacement. It'll have to do.

I think the silicone grommets securing the HDD are soft enough. Making some suspension like the Solo has wont help that much. I could try making the evaluation by holding the HDD in my hand and hear if it sounds any different.

Re: Switching from Antec Solo to P183 v3

Posted: Sat Apr 30, 2011 1:36 pm
by fumino
i suppose the silicone mounts are very effective on the p-1 series chassis'. i should have thought of that given my experience. i suspended a drive and havent noticed a change in noise levels. i guess rather than just jumping into everything it'd be best to first figure out if the noise is from vibration, or just airborne. along with that, try to figure out where the noise is coming out of the case. for my case, the door is the guilty party. i dont run with any of the fan shields, filters, or grills though.. so i think my situation might be a little worse off than yours.

for the top panel hole on my mini p180, i made a thick sandwich of cardboard and foam. its been effective, but i would think that plexi, with a layer of foam on the inside would work wonderfully.

if the shop you bought the nexus sheets from has the nexus blocks, you might consider building your hard drive a little box out of that stuff to cut down on the sound.

looking at my other post... my suggestions were rather crap. especially considering what ive experienced with my case. sorry about that.

random note: i was wondering about the effects of adding foam to the door. i have a bit on my door, but not enough to add weight or really impede the flow of air or noise. so just as an experiment, i slipped a tea towel in my top drive bay, so it hung down over the entire front behind the door. it ate up the rest of the free space, and had a noticeable impact on the sound levels.

temps at full load only went up a degree or two. it looks like adding something like foam in a thick enough layer would really kill the sound from the front of the case. this might be a good application for that wave surface to not completely kill off airflow... but im sure a few layers of that nexus material would be just as effective.

Re: Switching from Antec Solo to P183 v3

Posted: Sat Apr 30, 2011 6:42 pm
by matchu
Great comparison! I'm looking to buy a p183 v3 myself with similar fan setup myself. This was very helpful :)

Re: Switching from Antec Solo to P183 v3

Posted: Sun May 01, 2011 3:18 am
by flemeister
matchu wrote:Great comparison! I'm looking to buy a p183 v3 myself with similar fan setup myself. This was very helpful :)
Take a look at these vids, same fan setup as Freeco (and myself with a P182) is using.

It's a simple but highly effective setup in the P18x case:

* The intake fan is deep inside the case, away from the front, and so further away from the user -> less noise. It blows fresh air straight onto the video card/s, as well as providing some incidental airflow for the CPU cooler to take in
* The CPU fan gets some air from the middle-intake fan, and can get additional air from any unoccupied 5.25" drive bay openings
* The exhaust fan takes care of hot air from the CPU, and if you're using a fanless GPU cooler like an Accelero S1, it'll remove that heat as well

Re: Switching from Antec Solo to P183 v3

Posted: Sun May 01, 2011 5:02 am
by Freeco
This morning I glued some of that Nexus DampTek material to the inside of the case, mostly on the side panels.

Both pictures are from the left side panel, but the right side panel looks like this:
I've left the top part unpadded, cause I need to room for cable management. Only the bottom section is padded for some extra dampening of the HDD & PSU compartment.

The surface of left side panel has been padded completely, except for some places where the case's frame touches.

Small DIY project: a piece of 13x12cm plexiglass, spray painted black & 2 holes drilled in it. The holes are just for cosmetic reason: there are 2 screws at the top of the case to secure the exhaust fan.

I simply glued it to the top with some superglue (to avoid vibration) & used the 2 screws as well.

That's about all the noise dampening material I've used so far. I glued a small strip above the exhaust fan, and a square at the top panel between that left out fan and the ODD's.
I'll probably glue a square on the bottom of that plexiglass cover. I didn't think of that this morning...

It's too early to make my conclusions about the DampTek effectiveness. For the moment there's too much ambiant noise coming from outside the house. It won't do any harm anyhow :)

I also used some on the top panel of my Silverstone Grandia GD04 HTPC case.
As I still have about a sheet and a half left over, I'm also thinking of gluing some to the inside of the front door. Not sure if that will help much though, and it'll look "ugly" when the door is opened.

Re: Switching from Antec Solo to P183 v3

Posted: Fri May 06, 2011 9:25 pm
by Steeva Reno
Hi there Freeco:

I have the same case and also use an intermediate fan. Even at 550 RPM, it reduced the mobo temp. by 6°C.

I put my SSD on a 3½" adapter and slid it into the floppy bay (perfect). If you aren't married to that card reader...

I also have a Kaze Server, and as for the drive rails, I slightly spread the Server's side brackets by a degree or so. This splayed the rails so they maintain an outward pressure. This results in a better, more positive, fitment (no slippage and no cocking).

Re: Switching from Antec Solo to P183 v3

Posted: Sun May 08, 2011 1:03 am
by Freeco
naaah, I really want to keep that internal card reader: I'm an amateur photographer and use it quite a lot for faster transfers from my CF cards.
I do have an external CF reader as well, but I don't like too much things lying around on my desk. :P

btw: didn't have the time yet to add some more dampening material... Maybe later today.

Re: Switching from Antec Solo to P183 v3

Posted: Wed May 18, 2011 5:24 am
by Freeco
A couple of days back I've added some more of that DampTek foam to the top compartment, about another sheet in total. I glued some on the back, top & bottom of that compartent. I can't say it makes a real audible difference. (not that I think AcoustiPack will do a better job)
In the bottom compartment only the 2 side panels are padded. I guess it's not needed to pad the top of that section, as the other side of that metal panel is already padded. The bottom I didn't pad

I think the only things still audible are, as said before, the fan of the PSU & the HDD. Maybe the exhaust fan a little bit, but only very very faint. That fan is only noticable when I pay close attention, so I don't really bother.
As I don't want to buy another PSU (passive?), the only thing still to check out is if suspending the HDD makes any difference. I should make some time for it... When I do I'll make some pics of the extra padding as well.

As Fumino already stated "going from quiet to silent is a very tough step". Can't disagree on that :) Maybe the easiest way will be putting the case UNDER the desk instead of ON the desk...
But I don't want to put it directly on the ground. It'll suck more dust in via the vents. If I can find some kind of trolly/stand I think that'll be a good option for me.

edit: ow yeah, also forgot to mention I did do some padding of the front door...

Re: Switching from Antec Solo to P183 v3

Posted: Wed May 18, 2011 12:37 pm
by justice99
The Fractal Designe R3 would be better, i bought it 110€, and you havent to add Nexus DampTek material because it contain all these stuff.

At idle, my Enermax PSU run at 300RPM, you should let you system control the psu's fan or upgrade to a better model.
You also have too many fan, i think that 3 is enough : cpu, front and back.

Re: Switching from Antec Solo to P183 v3

Posted: Thu May 19, 2011 12:21 am
by Freeco
Have you read the review on both cases, Justice99? I remember they're pretty close... I don't remember what exactly but there was something about the R3 that I didn't like and convinced me to go for the P183.
Padding the P183 isn't necessary either as it's side panels are very sturdy. But I did it anyway, just to give it a try. Can't harm...

I only have 3 fans installed, you know: intake + CPU + exhaust. Just as you say...
Well yeah, the 4th one is in the PSU.
I'm curious which Enermax PSU you have though.
According to the specs of the Pro82+ the idle fan speed should be 450RPM, and according to SPCR review it's actually 490-510RPM. In mine it's running at 570RPM (idle = ~75W), but it could be the accuracy of the Scythe Kaze fan controller is a bit off.

As mentioned twice before I'm not buying another PSU. And if I would, I'd go for the Seasonic X-400 Fanless. But that's an investment of €120! I really don't want to go that far. Putting the case under the desk will be cheaper :wink:
Well, if my Enermax breaks, I'll think about the Seasonic as a replacement. But I still have 2 years of warranty left, so that's unlikely to happen any time soon.

Re: Switching from Antec Solo to P183 v3

Posted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 1:50 am
by marqetry28
Can someone explain how that intake fan is mounted? Is it just drilled in to the HDD bay?


Re: Switching from Antec Solo to P183 v3

Posted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 8:13 am
by protellect
the intake fans have sort of a fan sleeve that clips to the case. they are sorta tricky to take out unless you know the trick, you have to bend the big piece of plastic a bit.

i broke one on my P180 a long time ago :) learn from my mistakes.