Antec has updated its popular NSK with a new power supply and some tweaks to airflow and cable management. Can Antec make a good thing better? October 21, by Devon Cooke. In recent years, Antec has built an extensive, popular lineup of computer cases based around solid thermal and acoustic ideas.

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Antec has updated its popular NSK with a new power supply and some tweaks to airflow and cable management. Can Antec make a good thing better? October 21, by Devon Cooke. In recent years, Antec has built an extensive, popular lineup of computer cases based around solid thermal and acoustic ideas.

It has evolved from the NSK , which we reviewed here a little over a year ago. Since then, is has evolved through the NSK to its current version. In both cases, the biggest change was not in the case itself but the power supply bundled with it:. The internal layout and airflow are almost identical to the original, so we can expect most of the conclusions reached in our review of the NSK to apply here as well.

We strongly recommend reading the older review as well as this one. Yes, that is an Plus logo on the lower right. The only visible difference from this angle is the expanded top vent. A side vent for CPU cooling has also been added. The change to an ATX power supply is also clearly visible.

Airflow is divided into two zones, one for the power supply, the other for the rest of the system. The upper chamber is pysically separated from the low main chamber — an inverse of the P , where the PSU is in a separate chamber on the bottom. The only other components that can go into the upper chamber are an optical drive and a hard drive.

This arrangement keeps heat from other components in the system from getting into the power supply. The upper chamber is completely separated from the main chamber. This view shows the inside of the upper PSU chamber. The increased vent openings on the top panel is a good thing, as the top chamber could potentially be very crowded. However, it does mean that the case is vulnerable to having items placed on top of it. It would not be hard to accidentally block the airflow by placing a book or a newspaper on top of the vent.

Access to the interior requires no tools, as before: Remove the top panel by undoing two thumbscrews, then either of the side panels can be lifted up and off. The side ponels have locking bayonet mounts that use gravity and the top panel to keep them in place. The main chamber has changed very little. There is also a smallish vent on the rear panel, and all the PCI slots are vented. The only significant change in the main chamber is the addition of a side panel duct above the CPU — as recommended by Intel — to provide fresh air to the CPU.

On the whole, the case breathes very well; the fan grills are not restrictive, and the front bezel — one of the best aspects of the original NSK design — has remained unchanged. A side panel duct to provide fresh air to the CPU. Aside from the airflow tweaks, there are a couple other minor changes that we spotted. One is the feet. Antec has apparently stopped using the squishy, semitransparent silicone feet in the NSK Our sample came with black rubber feet.

The rubber is much harder than silicone but is still fairly soft for rubber. In theory, the case may now be more prone to transferring vibration to the surface it is placed on, but the situations where this is a problem are quite limited in our experience, especially if the rest of the system is well built.

Hard rubber feet provide less vibration damping than before. Another minor change was the addition of a grounding screw to the front panel connectors. Presumably, this is to prevent ground faults between the front ports and power buttons and the motherboard, which can sometimes cause things like random restarts or burnt out switches. The front panel connectors are now grounded to the side of the case. Antec has improved cable management by moving the access port between the two chambers to the side, out of the way of tall heatsinks.

The PSU output cables are longer and there are more of them than before. Two locking straps to help route the cables down into the main chamber.

Cables now leave the top chamber along the side of the chamber. A sliding plastic cover helps maintain the seal between the two chambers. A secondary port just below the power supply is ideally suited for running an IDE cable or two for the drives in the top chamber. A handsome rubber plug is included to block the port when it is not in use. A major criticism we had of the NSK was the limited number of short power cables.

This problem has now been fixed, but Antec may have gone a bit too far in doing so; there are now so many cables that it is difficult to find space for all the spares.

The logical place to leave them is in the top chamber, but there are so many that they block the front intake almost completely if there is an optical drive installed. With a hard drive in place at the same time, the cables would need to be routed out of the top chamber to prevent the power supply from overheating. In the main chamber, there are more options. If there are only one or two spare cables, the locking strap on the plastic port cover might hold them, but there is not enough clearance under the side panel for a lot.

Our favorite solution is shown in the photo below: The floppy bay is an ideal place to stuff spare cables. We put the unused output power cables in the floppy bay. The biggest change is the switch from a small SFX12V power supply to a full-sized, 80 Plus power supply. The change was made despite the very short depth of the case, and the photo below shows just how little space is left for drives in the upper chamber.

The power supply occupies close to half the depth of the case. That said, most users should have no need to replace the stock power supply. Our review found it to be reasonably quiet, very efficient, and well made by a reputable manufacturer Seasonic. A familiar label…. Several of the cables have been shortened, and the SATA cables have plugs just six inches from the back of the power supply — just where they are needed in the top chamber.

The main ATX cable is pre-routed through the side cable port, as it does not fit through properly without having to remove the power supply. All the remaining cables are tucked into the top chamber, waiting to be routed as the user desires.

While the larger power supply is more convenient for replacement, it does come at the cost of space in the upper chamber. Antec states that optical drives longer than 6. Part of the problem is the position of the cables as they leave the power supply along the right side of the case.

With the access port between the two chambers on the left side, this means that the cables must run with full width of the case in the upper chamber — and then back down again to reach the motherboard on the other side. The fix is simple enough: Turn the power supply upside down.

Antec has conveniently designed the backplate to allow the power supply to be mounted in either orientation owners of mm fan PSUs take note! Even better, flipping the power supply gives the short ATX and AUX cables an extra four inches of slack and keeps the cables out of the intake airflow.

The photo below shows how neatly the cables leave the top chamber in this configuration. The upper chamber is much neater with the power supply mounted upside-down. We refer you to the results of our original NSK test for details.

Overall, we were very pleased with how the NSK performed both thermally and acoustically. The NSK should be identical. The top chamber, however, has seen more substantial changes. The different power supply undoubtedly has a different fan, and a different fan speed to power output curve, which may affect noise levels.

Our test therefore focussed on how the top chamber had changed. To this end, we used our power supply testing system to duplicate exactly the loads in the original test without rebuilding the system inside. We were concerned only with the thermal and acoustic properties of the PSU under various loads in its chamber. A Zalman heatsink running at 5V was hooked up in the main chamber to approximate the noise profile of the original test.

As the power supply fan was the only variable source of noise in the original test, any audible changes in this test reflects the new EarthWatts power supply. The ambient noise was unchanged. At idle, the noise profile was about the same as the older version of the case. The reason was quite simple: In both cases, the dominant source of noise was the TriCool mm system fan, which mostly produced the whoosh of turbulence noise.

The default noise level was quiet and easy on the ears, but not quite silent. With only the power supply fan running, much of the turbulence noise disappeared, and the overall noise level dropped to 22 dBA 1m. Both the system and the power supply could probably be swapped for slower, quieter models, but most users will have no need to do this.

Although the noise measurements did rise slightly across the range of tests, the audible effect was nearly imperceptible. At no time did the PSU fan change in speed audibly; the increase happened slowly enough that it was inaudible. Subjectively, there was a sense of a slightly greater volume at full load, but this was noticeable only under close listening. For practical purposes, the power supply fan may as well have been running at a constant speed in our test.

This is a significant improvement over the original NSK, in which the power supply fan started to ramp up at a much lower load, and became easily audible under the highest loads.

These recordings were made with a high resolution, studio quality, digital recording system and are intended to represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review. Two recordings of each noise level were made, one from a distance of one meter , and another from one foot away.

The one meter recording is intended to give you an idea of how the subject of this review sound in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject.

For best results, set your volume control so that the ambient noise is just barely audible. The one foot recording is designed to bring out the fine details of the noise.


Antec NSK3480 Micro ATX Case with 380W

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Antec New Solution NSK3480 - tower - micro ATX Specs


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