Antec 900

This is the old version of the Antec 900, which I purchased used. For me, the critical feature that I needed was nine 5.25 inch front bays. I will be mounting my Supermicro 5 bay hot swap rack in it, as well as one or two Coolermaster 4-in-3 modules to hold hard drives for my file server. The case is made of lightweight steel and features quite a bit of ventilation. There are two 120mm front fans (which have blue LEDs to serve as power indicators). These hard drives are attached to three 3.5 inch hard drive mounts, and serve to cool the hard drives as well as the case's power indicators. There is no case power led, so the fans serve that purpose. I removed both hard drive bays, in order to use my Supermicro hot swap bay and the Coolermaster 4-in-3 module (to fit more hard drives in 3 bays.) There is an optional side mount 120mm fan, a rear 120mm fan, and a monster 200mm top rear fan. All of the fans have 3-speed switches. The 200mm fan is speced at 82cfm at 400rpm, 108cfm at 600rpm, and 134cfm at 800rpm. Since this is the old version of the case, it has two USB 2.0 ports and a firewire port in the front. The new version of the case has two USB 3.0 ports. The case has a solid motherboard tray, with no access to the back of the heatsink. What is worse, there is no way to route cables behind the motherboard tray. The new version has a big hole to access the motherboard heatsink as well as holes to route cables behind the tray. The case is quite cramped with wires, which makes working on it pretty messy. It also compromises the air flow. There is no handle on the top, which is a very nice feature that the Raidmax Seiran has.

Like most cases of this size, a computer with a lot of hard drives will be quite cramped. Not being to route wires behind the motherboard tray was a significant problem (fixed in the new version of the case). I ended up taping up the ventilated motherboard bay covers. I am still baffled why anyone would want ventilated bay covers. I also taped up the two grommets for external water cooling. I also taped up the optional side mount 120mm fan hole. Unfortunately, this side of the case is pretty flimsy and pretty noisy. If I covered it with some dampening material, I would likely have to cover quite a bit of clear plastic as well as steel which will be quite ugly.

Antec P180B Computer Case

At work, there are several of these cases. The biggest difference between the P180 and P180B is the holes for liquid cooling on the back of the P180B. This is a very sophisticated case, designed with consultation with Mike Chin of SilentPCReview It has many interesting features. First, there are two compartments, one for the power supply, and up to four hard drives. The hard drives are mounted via the same silicone washers as the Antec NSK2400. They do require longer screws, which are supplied. The hard drives are mounted vertically, which is a good idea. There is a fan between the hard drives and the power supply. You may need long power supply cables and long hard drive cables in order to route the cables through the hole between the upper and lower compartment.

The upper compartment holds the motherboard and features a rear mounted 120mm fan as well as a top/rear mounted 120mm fan for cooling. The front features a removable, washable grill in front of the hard drive rack. This rack is very similar to the Antec Super-Lanboy, with three slide out trays with the same silicon washers. Unfortunately, the bottom of the tray covers the bottom of the hard drive, which is the hottest part, and the part that most needs cooling. Antec should have some something like they did on the bottom of the case.

The front of the case has a nice door that can cover the external 5.25 inch drives. All around the front door, and the entire front perimeter are slots behind the front which are designed to let air in. There are enough of them to do a very good job. The case sides are made of three layers of material which are designed to be non-resonant and to absorb sound. They do quite a good job, and this is one of the quietest cases you can buy.

(Updated) Well I finally moved my main computer into this case. The good news is it is a bit quieter. The best reviews noted this is not a case for beginners. With care, a very quiet computer can be built. The case is a little bit smaller than my Coolermaster Stacker 810 case. However, it is much harder to install parts and wires in the P180. The power supply is firmly clamped in by metal coated with silicone on four sides. I am not sure why this is necessary - perhaps for really noisy fans? This case accommodates standard sized ATX motherboards. Mine was a bit of a tight squeeze on the bottom, due to the power supply compartment. Wiring up the motherboard was a bit tricky, as I routed the 24 pin power and aux power on the backside of the motherboard tray. This minimized the wires in the main compartment. Of note, the motherboard tray is solid, so you will likely have to remove the motherboard to switch CPU heatsinks. The cables for my power supply were a bit tight, but did fit.

For reasons unknown to me, the rear of the case has a lot of passive ventilation. Perhaps this is a good idea in a case with no fans, however when there are fans, passive ventilation means that the air doesn't flow from front to back as it should, rather air flow is 'short circuited'. For example, the area around the power supply has holes on all sides. If the power supply fan is blowing air out, the air around the back of the case can get sucked in through the holes around the power supply, and then out through the rear of the power supply. This is useless for cooling the computer interior. So I taped up the four sides of vents around the power supply. It is interesting that for the P183, Antec removed the vents. Also the pc card metal brackets are ventilated. I also taped them up. The first generation Antec P180 has more vents above the metal brackets. On the newer case they replaced these vents with 2 big rubber grommets which could be used for liquid cooling the case. I taped them up too.

Next, I wired up the lower drives in the power supply compartment. The good news is there is a dedicated fan to keep the drives cool. The drives are organized vertically, and use thick silicone washers to minimize conducted vibration. This really works, as I can't hear my hard drives any more. The problem is wires. The power supply wires have to exit the compartment, and then re-enter the compartment to attach to the drives. There isn't much space between the drives and the fan behind the drives. In addition, the data cables have to go from the motherboard into the power supply compartment, and attach to the drives. It is really, really crowded in there. To change a drive, you have to remove the drive carrier (which is an easy process). It is quite likely you will have to remove all the wires as well in order to change drives. This is almost as bad as the Coolermaster stacker 4-in-3 modules as far as hassle factor. The newer, Antec P183 got rid of the fan in between the power supply and the drives, and put the fan in front of the drives. This is likely a tiny bit noisier than having the fan in the middle of the case, but far superior from a wiring perspective. What would be even better would be to rotate the drives 90 degrees, and pull them out from the side, like my Gateway 6400 case. I suppose it would be difficult to use the silicone washers if the drives were sideways, but cable routing would be much better. Also the fans could be on the inside of the case, not at the front of the case. I will likely build a molex to 4 sata power cable adapter and rewire the lower drive compartment with it.

The rest of the motherboard wiring was a bit tight. Right below the lower edge of the motherboard is the power supply divider. This made hooking up the audio, firewire, USB, and front panel connectors difficult and time consuming. If I had cards in the lower two slots, it would have been virtually impossible to change wires on the bottom edge of the motherboard. The front 5.25 inch bays were easy to install drives in. A few diagrams would be an improvement in the instruction manual, which was quite terse. Another improvement the P183 made was to not stack the external USB ports, and to put them further apart. My Coolermaster stacker had 6 USB ports. It isn't documented anywhere I could find, but there are two HDD LED's. One is just above the reset switch and one is just below the reset switch. I am using both, as one is for the onboard HDD controller and the other is for a LSI SAS controller I am using. They are blue and they are not visible when the door is closed. It is unclear if that is a bug or a feature. There is a power LED which is also blue, but it is much less bright than the HDD LED's and it is visible when the door is closed.

The Antec P280 doesn't have the power supply divider, so there is much more around the motherboard. Also the fans are in front of the hard drives, and the hard drives are rotated as I mentioned. There is a big hole in the motherboard tray to access the back of the motherboard where the CPU coolers mount. The side panels aren't as well damped as the P180 case. Also the back has lots of ventilation. I really don't get it. It might be great for a passively ventilated case, but it sucks for an actively ventilated case. Also there are two 120mm fans on the top. Not sure why so many fans are needed, but it shouldn't be difficult to remove a fan and seal up the vents.

Well, I put a Supermicro X7DTL motherboard in the case. It turns out that some mostly standard ATX motherboard mounting holes are not used. Unfortunately for me, most of the standoffs are permanently mounted to the motherboard tray. With sufficient violence, they can be removed, but will be next to impossible to put back if needed. My CoolerMaster Stacker cases have all of the standoffs screwed into the motherboard tray, which is a far better and more flexible solution.

Antec P280 Computer Case

I recently updated my computer case from the Antec p180B to the p280. There are a number of similarities as well as differences. Both cases are designed to be high performance, and reduce noise.

The sound deadening is a bit less through in the p280, though it does a good job. Of particular note, the side panels are nicely dampened. I added some sound deadening to the top front area of the case, as it is thin and resonates too much. I also added some sound deadening to the bottom of the case for the same reason.

The P280 has a vent under the power supply for air to come in. I think that would be a dust magnet, even with the dust filter, so I taped it shut. I want the power supply to take air from inside of the case, and exhaust it out. Both cases have very well ventilated rears. I have no idea why. On the P280, there is a 120mm rear exhaust fan, and two 120mm top exhaust fan. Letting air in from the rear will only get it exhausted by one of the rear or top fans. I want the air to come in the front, cool the hard drives, and then get exhausted out the back. I taped all the rear vents over. Perhaps there is a use for them in a passively cooled case, but as long as there is an exhaust fan at the back, the vents seem like a silly idea. I also taped over the unused I/O port slots.

One improvement with the P280 is that the motherboard standoffs are removable. I had to rip one out of my P180B. Unfortunately, the P280 has a huge cut out in the CPU area, to allow the CPU fan to be replaced without removing the motherboard. Unfortunately, I was only able to secure my motherboard with 7 screws to the motherboard tray. It would be nice to have a few more holes drilled out for mounting motherboards. I am not sure having such a large cut out for CPU fan mounting is really necessary.

The P280 doesn't have a firewire port, but does have 2 USB-2 and 2 USB-3 ports. And they are accessible without opening the case door. Also access-able are the power and reset switch. The P180B had 2 leds for hard drives, but the P280 has only one. Since I have lots of hard drives and a hard drive card, I could use two leds for hard drive indicators. In fact one could use the LEDs for almost anything, including network activity.

The P280 comes with 3 fans, which have speed selector switches at the back of the case. Also at the top, back of the case is a 'fan bus', where you supply power for the fans. It is in a very inconvenient location and it is also hard to access. I hooked the fans directly to the motherboard so their RPM could be monitored.

I really didn't like the way hard drives mounted in the P180B. The bottom 4 were really cramped, and they way I wired it up, you had to remove both side panels to change a hard drive. I managed to break a SATA connector because the wiring was so close to the cooling fan.

The P280 has all of the hard drives mounted sideways, which is much better. It has 6 hard drive mounts like the P180B, and it has 2 dedicated 2.5 inch hard drive mounts. What is not obvious is that the hard drives come in from the side where the motherboard is visible, though all of the wiring is done on the other side. This is nice because the wiring is out of the airflow for the motherboard. This is bad because you have to remove both side panels in order to change a hard drive. My Gateway 2400 case has sideways mounting hard drives, and all of the wiring was on the motherboard side of the case. In fact, the other side of the case was not removable at all. It sure made it easy to change hard drives by simply removing one side of the case. Like the P180B, the hard drives are mounted with soft silicone washers to minimize vibration. For the P280, the carriers are black plastic and fit loosely. The hard drives can wiggle around quite a bit, which I think is a bad idea. Since they are spinning and can effect each other, they should be firmly mounted, like they were in the P180B. I saw no obvious way to reduce the amount of wiggling due to the black plastic mounts.

Also, the 2.5 inch drives mount very far back, making it hard to access the wiring. In order to wire them up, you need to first connect the cables and then install them. This isn't a big deal, except the hard drives go in the opposite side that the cables go. So you need to disconnect the other end of the wires in order to attach them to the 2.5 inch hard drives. I would move them closer to the far side. As for the 3.5 inch drives, I would move them further from the far side, as there is plenty of room, and it would make the wiring curve less tightly.

The dreaded metal divider present on the P180B has been removed. I suppose there is some elegance to separate the hard drives and power supply from the main case area. However, the divider makes it much harder to wire up the motherboard. Having it gone in the P280 makes it really easy to access the connectors at the bottom of the motherboard. If I am feeling adventurous, I might remove the partition in my P180B.

Antec NSK2400 Media Computer Case

I have a computer hooked up to my TV set A.K.A. a media center computer. I decided it would be nice if it was in my rack of VCR's, rather than being in a mini-tower computer case. Unfortunately, desktop or media center cases are much less common than tower cases. I got two used desktop computers in hopes of adapting the cases to my computer. Neither proved suitable. Most media center cases are vastly overpriced, and have poor cooling as well. I had read a wonderful review of the Antec NSK2400 Media PC Case at one of the few sites I hold in high regard. It was a bit expensive, but I was able to get it from Antec as 'B Stock', which means factory second. It even comes with a high efficiency power supply, also with a wonderful review Antec SU380 power supply at I found the case to have no visible problems. Shipping was a bit high at nearly $20, but it was a good deal overall.

This case features two 120mm cooling fans, as well as separate zones for the hard drives, optical drives, and motherboard. It only accommodates a micro-atx motherboard, and does not accommodate a floppy drive. It does a great job of cooling the computer without making much noise. Much thought has been put into this case unlike many other media PC cases, and it was designed in consultation with Mike Chin, owner of, who I think very highly of.

I assembled my computer which started out its life as a E-Machines computer which broke and was sent to a recycling center before I got it. I turned on the power, and the fans started spinning, but nothing else happened. After some debugging, I found the Antec power supply wasn't working. I found others on the internet had the exact same problem. I put in my old power supply, and the computer was working fine. It was only after I tried to use a USB flash drive that I realized that one of the two front panel USB connectors wasn't working.

I used the web form at to submit my problems. I didn't hear from them the next day, so I contacted them. They made sure my motherboard had the Intel standard connector for USB plugs, which it did. They sent me a new front panel circuit board as well as cabling. It turned out that the cabling to the front panel was bad, and I replaced it, and the USB ports are working fine.

As for the power supply, they asked if my motherboard needed the -5 volt line from the older ATX 1.2 power supply standard. I wasn't sure (it turns out that -5 volts is used by EISA pc card slots, which haven't been used for several years), so I clipped the -5 volt wire on my working power supply, and it still worked fine. I told them that it wasn't the problem, and that my motherboard was for an AMD 2000 processor, and the brand and model of the motherboard. They told me to ship back my power supply, and they would send another one. They wanted me to pay for shipping, which I thought a bit odd, as I had just paid $19.72 for shipping for the case. I asked them to pay for shipping, and their manager agreed to send me a new power supply with a return shipping label. I got the new power supply, and it acted just like the broken one. I tried the old one out on another AMD 2000 system I had, and it worked! I also tried the old one out on a dual Pentium 933 system I had, and it also worked. So there is something odd about my E-Machines motherboard. I send Seasonic (the real manufacturer of the power supply) an email asking for assistance, and they told me to ask Antec. I already knew that Antec was pretty clueless about power supplies. I have never had this problem with a power supply before.

I really like the Antec NSK-2400 case. I thought it a bit surprising that the front USB port didn't work, but Antec took care of that. I also thought it quite odd that the power supply works on some AMD 2000 motherboards, but not on others. I had really wanted a quiet, high efficiency power supply for my media computer, but now I a somewhat reluctant to buy one for fear that it won't work. I consider Seasonic to make the best power supplies overall, but I am dismayed that it doesn't work on my motherboard. It isn't really Seasonic's job to debug the problem with my motherboard, but it is clearly beyond the ability of the Antec techs to debug it. Perhaps I will eventually buy a decent power supply locally, where I can return it easily if it doesn't work.

Antec Super-Lanboy Aluminum Case

Several years ago, I looked at the Antec Super-Lanboy case. It has a nice 120mm fan to cool the hard drives. It has a nice 120mm fan to exhaust air from the case. It is quite light (which I don't care about). The only problem with it is the way the hard drives are mounted. The hard drive cage is sideways, like the Gateway 6500 Server Case, which is good. The hard drives mount on aluminum 'sleds' that have quick release tabs which mount to the hard drive cage. The hard drives are bolted onto the sleds on the bottom of the hard drive, using long bolts which go through silicone washers that are attached to the sled. This is no doubt designed to minimize vibration. The problem is the bottom of the hard drive is the hottest part of the hard drive. Rather than having air flowing over that part, it is blocked by a solid piece of aluminum. Air can freely flow over the top of the hard drive, so it shouldn't cook, but I don't think I will be putting any of my 10,000 rpm or 15,000 rpm drives in there.

I decided to buy the Super-Lanboy case because it was on sale for $15 after rebate. I decided that I could deal with the problem of warmer hard drives. I have heard that the air intake isn't as free as it seems, and that there is a somewhat restrictive plate of aluminum with a bunch of small holes that restricts airflow. I haven't taken a look to verify this. If it is a problem, there is always the hole-saw...

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