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Antec P190 Case

 

Today, some six months, after the expected launch, this case is finally available on the US market. We at Bjorn3D have every intent of giving the review sample of the Antec P190 that we received the most thorough review possible. If it’s as good as it sounds on paper this case may markedly change the way we look at building and powering our cases in the future. If not we’ll be one of the first to let you know. Join us in our own Bjorn3D lab as we examine every nuance this case has to offer.

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INTRODUCTION

Back in September, 2006 the enthusiast community started getting the first vibes about the Antec P190 case. This case was initially reputed to be a larger, more performance oriented version of already popular P180 that contained two power supplies. As time went on the first pictures made their way to the Internet and more valid information about the cases actual specifications began to surface. It was initially predicted that this case would make its way to the US shores sometime in early 2007. As I understand it, various problems with the power supply’s certification prolonged the launch date by several months.

Today, some six months after the expected launch, this case is finally available on the US market. We at Bjorn3D have every intent of giving the review sample of the Antec P190 that we received the most thorough review possible. If it’s as good as it sounds on paper this case may markedly change the way we look at building and powering our cases in the future. If not we’ll be one of the first to let you know. Join us in our own Bjorn3D lab as we examine every nuance this case has to offer.

 

Antec Corporation:  A Brief Overview

The year was 1986. Starbucks had only a few stores. Don Johnson was actually cool. The average PC had less memory than today’s cellphones. And in Fremont, California, a little company named Antec was born. Antec’s first employees never imagined that their upstart firm would rise to the very top of the high-performance computer components industry. But rise it did. And rather swiftly, too.

So what can Antec do for you? That depends on who you are. If you’re a computer user, and you’d like to upgrade your existing computer or build a new one yourself, we’ve got the computer cases, power supplies, cooling fans, lighting components, and accessories that you need. If you’re a system builder or VAR, we’ll help you deliver reliable and cost-effective systems to your customers. And if you’re a retailer, we’ll help you reach an explosively growing market: namely, “do-it-yourself” computer users who enjoy building and upgrading their own computers.

How do we do all this? Our product lineup includes a wide variety of unique computer cases, such as the elegant Lifestyle Series, ultra-powerful Performance One and Performance TX series, and the cost-effective Solution Series. Our world-class power supplies – including the TruePower 2.0 and SmartPower 2.0 lines – have won countless international awards for their reliable performance. Our flexible rackmounts are ideally suited to the demanding ISP, telecom, and networking markets. And for those of you who’d like to add a little visual flair to your computers, we offer an eye-catching range of fans, lights, and other PC accessories.

We’re headquartered in Fremont, California, with additional offices in the Netherlands, Europe. We’ve also established distribution partnerships throughout Australia and Southeast Asia. So you’ll find Antec products in over 25 countries. But no matter how large we grow, we’ll never forget our mission: to give you the power you need to create the computer you really want. That’s the Antec way. That’s the Power of You.

FEATURES & SPECIFICATIONS

Features

  • Dual chambers structure. The power supplies reside in a separate chamber to isolate heat from the system and lower system noise
  • Dual-layer sound-deadening panels for Quiet Computing
  • Flexible snake light (installed), lights your way while working inside the case
  • Cable organizer behind motherboard tray minimizes cable clutter
  • Fits up to ExtendedATX (12″ x 13″) motherboards to fit your dual processor board, or any other board you could possibly have
  • Rubber grommeted ports on the rear for liquid-cooling tubes allow you to easily mount external liquid-cooling hardware
  • Neo-Link 1200 Watt dual power supply system:
  • One 650 Watt Neo Power is responsible for powering the motherboard and add-in cards, while another 550 Watt, handles your drives and other peripherals
  • Advanced cooling system – Even larger fans than previous designs, move more air and turn slower for even quieter operation
    • 2 top 140mm TriCool fan (standard)
    • 1 rear 120mm TriCool Fan (standard)
    • 1 lower chamber 120mm TriCool Fan (standard)
    • 1 side 200mm Big Boy fan with air filter (standard)
  • External fan control on the rear panel (for the 2 top fans and 1 rear fan in the upper chamber)
  • Front-mounted ports provide convenient connections
    • 2 x USB 2.0
    • 1 x IEEE 1394 (FireWire®, i.Link®)
    • Audio In/Out (AC’97 & HDA)
  • Dimensions: (H x D x W)
    • 20.28 x 23.35x 8.07 (in)
    • 51.5 x 59.3 x 20.5 (cm)
  • Net weight: 43.2lbs / 19.6kg
  • Gross weight: 51.1lbs / 23.2kg

Specifications – TriCool Fans

 

Antec 200mm Big Boy™ Fan
Size:  200mm X 200mm X 30mm
Rated Voltage:  DC 12V
Operating Voltage:  10.2V – 13.8V
Speed Input Current Air Flow Static Pressure Acoustical Noise Input Power
High
800 RPM
0.3A 134 CFM 0.69 mm-H2O 30 dBA 3.0 W
Medium
600 RPM
0.17A 108 CFM 0.40 mm-H2O 27 dBA 2.04 W
Low
400 RPM
0.08A 83 CFM 0.20 mm-H2O 24 dBA 1.0 W

 

140mm TriCool™ Fan
Size:  140mm X 140mm X 25.4mm
Rated Voltage:  DC 12V
Operating Voltage:  10.2V – 13.8V
Speed Input Current Air Flow Static Pressure Acoustical Noise Input Power
High
1500 RPM
0.28A
Max
95 CFM 1.685 mm-H2O 31.8 dBA 3.36 W
Medium
1100 RPM
0.20A 67 CFM 0.934 mm-H2O 21.4 dBA 2.4 W
Low
700 RPM
0.15A 47 CFM 0.40 mm-H2O 19.8 dBA 1.8 W

 

120mm TriCool™ Fan
Size:  120mm X 120mm X 25.4mm
Rated Voltage:  DC 12V
Operating Voltage:  10.2V – 13.8V
Speed Input Current Air Flow Static Pressure Acoustical Noise Input Power
High
2000 RPM
0.24A
Max
79 CFM 2.54 mm-H2O 30 dBA 2.9 W
Medium
1600 RPM
0.2A 56 CFM

 
1.53 mm-H2O 28 dBA 2.4 W
Low
1200 RPM
0.13A 39 CFM 0.92 mm-H2O 25 dBA 1.6 W

CLOSER LOOK:  External

We have reviewed countless numbers of Antec® products over the years and have yet to be disappointed in the packaging of their products, it is amongst the best in the case manufacturing industry! We received the P190 Case in perfect condition, due in no small part to the precautions taken by Antec®. The case was first packaged in it’s original thick cardboard container that contains approximately 3 inches of foam which completely surround the products inside. Next the case was placed in a secondary thick cardboard container surrounding the primary package. Remember though we received this case directly from Antec.  Your experience may vary depending on the vendor you order your products from. As you can see from the size of the package in the image below the case is truly massive. The sheer size of the package was somewhat reminiscent of the day I purchased my first “dorm sized” refrigerator in college and very nearly as heavy.


The Package

 


P190 in Package

 

Before we begin showcasing the images of the Antec P190’s exterior I’d like to say photographing any object that is black on black with little contrast variance is difficult at best. Even with our Nikon D-40 and exterior lighting adjustments some of the best images we produced do not do the quality of this case justice.

Viewing the full view of the case from front to rear shows much of the quality of workmanship this case exhibits. As I recently alluded to the entirety of the case’s exterior is a stylish flat black. The only drawback to this color choice is fingerprints are quite readily evident and somewhat more difficult to remove than on the glossy enamel finish Antec uses on cases such as its SOLO or Sonata. The meshed grill on the side provides excellent airflow for the 200mm Big Boy™ fan. Currently we are not aware of a windowed side panel for this side of the case.


Antec® P190 … Front View

 

The rear of the P190 on the top left hand corner shows  a fan speed control that allows adjustment of the RPMs for the two top 140mm and rear 120mm fans. Moving down the rear we see honeycombed rear fan grill with large openings to provide minimal resistance to air flow. This grill pattern is used uniformly for all fans found on the P190. Continuing downward we see that Antec has increased the versatility of the P190 by adding two rear rubber grommeted ports for hoses to and from an external watercooling unit. Finally, the entire lower portion of the cases rear shows the two Antec Neo power supplies that provide you with up to 1200 Watts of power.


Antec® P190 … Rear View

 

The right side of the case is for all intents and purposes unremarkable from the exterior view, we’ll look at the panel’s construction in much more detail when we move to the case’s interior view.


Antec® P190 … Right Side View

 

CLOSER LOOK:  External cont.

The top of the case reveals the two 140mm blow holes and the TriCool 140mm fans which can remove between 94 CFM (low setting) and 190 CFM (high setting). This amount of air movement coupled with the cases other fans can help to significantly lessen the heat in even the hottest rig.


Antec® P190 … Top 140mm Blowholes

 

The front bezel is quite stylish and has a door that is extremely easy to open and close. The door is double hinged and opens fully to 270 degrees which definitely keeps if from being in the way. When shut the door is held firmly in place by a magnet. The magnet is located just above the door’s indentation used to open it, because of the way the door is engineered it takes very little force to open it.


Antec® P190 … Front Bezel & Door

 


Antec® P190 … Front Panel Controls

 

With the bezel door opened you can readily see the ventilation grills that the P190 provides. Behind the upper grill on the inside of the case you can mount an optional 120mm fan. The lower grill serves only as a fresh air channel for the center mounted 120mm fan located in the cases lower compartment. Both grills provide filters that are easily removable.


Antec® P190 … Front Grills

 

A full view with the bezel door opened also shows the four 5.25 inch device slots available for mounting optical drives, fan controllers or even additional hard drives. A 3.5 inch slot is also available between the two grills for mounting a floppy drive or another hard drive.


Antec® P190 … Front with Bezel Door Opened

 

The exterior of the Antec® P190 Case can easily be likened to their extremely popular P180 and P182 cases. The material design which is entirely of steel with the exception of the bezel makes for a much sturdier case and thusly much heavier, 43.2 lbs without a single component installed. Externally this is a very stylish case that follows pretty much a contemporary design theme. The only possible negative is the flat black finish is somewhat proud of displaying its owner’s fingerprints. So far we really like what we see!

Accessories

Included with the Antec® P190 are the following accessories:

  • 1 – bag of assorted mounting screws
  • 1 – bag of motherboard mounting screws
  • 1 – Users Manual
  • 8 – Plastic rails for mounting 5.25 inch devices
  • 1 – Plastic rails for mounting a floppy drive
  • 2 – Mounting clips for center fan
  • 3 – Modular PSU connectors each with 3 four pin molex connectors
  • 1 – Modular PSU connector with 2 SATA power adapters
  • 1 – Adapter which converts 1 four pin molex connector to 2 floppy drive connectors
  • 1 – Plastic card holder which attaches to center drive bay

Antec® P190 … Included Accessories

 


Antec® P190 … More Accessories

 

CLOSER LOOK:  Internal

The interior of any case is more important in every respect than the exterior. I say this because you can have the best looking case available from an outward view and if it does not have ample room to install the components coupled with good airflow dynamics then all you have is a nice looking yet non-funtional enclosure. We are very happy to see that the P190 is finally deep enough (23.35 inches) to easily facilitate the mounting of one or two of the larger 8800 GTX graphics cards with plenty of lateral room to spare. The P190 at just over 20 inches in height is described by Antec as being a “Super Mid Tower”.


Antec® 190 … Interior of Case

 

As you can see Antec has continued with the two chamber design that it uses in both its P180 and P182 cases. The idea behind this design is to locate the power supplies and hard drives in the lower chamber and provide separate ventilation for them. The upper chamber is then left for the motherboard, CPU, graphics card, and optical drives with a plethora of different cooling combinations available.


Antec® 190 … Lower Compartment

 


Antec® 190 … Lower Compartment Center Cooling Fan

 


Antec® 190 … Front to Rear Interior View

 

A unique device Antec terms as a “flexible snake light” is included with the P190 and mounted so it is hidden behind the upper left channel for the side panel. For those that decide it’s unnecessary it removes easily with one screw from the rear of case.


Antec® P190 … Flexible Snake Light

 

CLOSER LOOK:  Internal cont.

The next images show both the 5.25″ drive bays and the top 3.5″ hard drive cages from an interior view. The P190 allows you to have up to four optical drives or other 5.25″ devices installed. There are two removable hard drive cages. The center cage accommodates two hard drives mounted horizontally and the lower cage holds four mounted vertically. Rubber grommets are included to reduce hard drive vibration and to help keep noise to a minimum.


Antec® P190 … 5.25″ Drive Bays

 

You have several options when using the center hard drive cage:

  • Option 1:   You can mount an optional 120mm fan behind the cage and mount two hard drives or other 3.5 inch devices
  • Option 2:   You can mount a single optional 120mm center fan on the outer portion of the cage using the supplied metal clips to help cool your graphics card(s); in this scenario the cage cannot be used to mount drives
  • Option 3:   You can mount an optional 120mm fan behind the cage and an optional 120mm center fan on the outer portion of the cage creating a push-pull scenario with the fans and giving you additional airflow to help cool your graphics card(s); again no drives can be mounted when using this option

Antec® P190 … Center Cage Mount for Hard Drives

 


Center & Lower Hard Drive Cages Removed

 

Antec even included a small plastic storage area on the center hard drive cage.


Antec® P190 … Center Cage Mount for Hard Drives

 

A look at the right hand side of the P190 with the side panel removed shows the excellent cable management system Antec has engineered in this case. There are a number of indentations and pass-through channels on the rear of the motherboard panel to easily facilitate excellent cable management. Plastic cable straps can be situated in a number of places along the panels to retain your cables neatly.


Antec® P190 … Center Cage Mount for Hard Drives

 

The Big Boy™ 200mm fan used on the left side panel of the case for additional cooling is unique to say the least. It can provide up to 134 CFM of airflow to help cool even the hottest of systems. Antec has done an excellent job of engineering this fan with a sliding filter to help keep dust intrusion in you case to a minimum. The only issue we had with this fan is that its depth allowed the fan blades to initially contact the protruding PCI-e power connectors on our 8800 GTX card we installed for testing. Even with the best cable management we could muster there was less than .25 inches between the spinning fan blade and the PCI-e power cables.


Antec® P190 … Side Panel with Big Boy™ 200mm Fan

 


Antec® P190 … Big Boy™ 200mm Fan with Filter

 

We would be remiss if we left this section of the review without discussing the sound deadening technology used on each of the side panels in the P190. As we understand it, Antec uses layers of metal and plastic sandwiched together to achieve the sound deadening on the side panels. This construction coupled with the fact the the side panels are constructed entirely of steel make each of the side panels quite heavy. There is also a rubber or silicone layer approximately .25 inches in diameter lining the entire outer edges of each panel to completely seal each panel when closed.

POWER SUPPLIES

A number of case manufacturers today offer enclosures that will effectively house two power supplies. To the best of our knowledge, Antec is the only manufacturer currently supplying two power supplies with their case. To our knowledge the Neo Link 650P and Neo Link 550S which mate together to form the power plant for the P190 are a one-of-a-kind item used strictly in this case. Prior to their introduction the largest power supply in Antec’s Neo line of power supplies was a 550 Watt Neo HE.


Antec® P190 … Neo Power Supplies

 

Next we’ll take a look at each of the individual power supplies and the capabilities each has to offer.


Antec® P190 … Neo Link 650P

 

Neo Link 650P Cabling

  • 1 – 24/20 pin main power connector
  • 1 – 8 pin 12V mother board connector
  • 1 – 4 pin 12V mother board connector
  • 4 – 6 pin PCI-e power connectors (two of the cables offer 6+2 pin capability)

 


Antec® P190 … Neo Link 550S

 

Neo Link 550S Cabling

  • 2 – cables each with three 4-pin molex connectors (hardwired)
  • 2 – cables each with two SATA power connectors (hardwired)
  • 3 – cables each with three 4-pin molex connectors (modular)
  • 1 – cables each with two SATA power connectors (modular)
  • 1 – Adapter which converts 1 four pin molex connector to 2 floppy drive connectors

 

The two power supplies effectively function as one and neither will operate independent of the other. How is this achieved? The two units are connected by an umbilical cord that runs from the 24 pin power connector on the 650P and connects to the inner body on the 550S.


Antec® P190 … Neo Link Duo with Connecting Cable

 

While using two power supplies for driving a powerful enthusiast grade system may contain some sound logic; we have a few issues with the choices used for this system that we’re not certain we understand the rationale for. First, why only 650 Watts for the primary power supply. Imagine the scenario your’re running two 8800 GTX Ultras in SLI configuration and each is demanding we’ll say conservatively 225 Watts at full load, that only leaves 200 Watts for the motherboard, CPU, and add-on cards. We’ll give this 650W PSU the benefit of the doubt and say it’s 85% efficient, we’re not giving this unit much headroom and are pushing it close to 100%. Secondly, why in the world would you relegate the task of driving fans, optical drives, hard drives, and other yet to be determined components to a 550 Watt power supply? Seems like tremendous overkill to us!

Finally, if you intend to remove or change the power supplies the only way to accomplish this task is by using what we’ll refer to as the trap door in the panel separating the upper and lower compartments. It’s a pretty tight fit to say the least.


Antec® P190 … Power Supply Trap Door

 

INSTALLATION

Installation of the components was relatively easy. Finally a mid-tower case that offers sufficient space to install everything without the perception of being extremely cramped. The longest part of the whole process was routing the cable neatly and it took around 30 minutes. We feel that the Antec P190 offers the best ability to hide and effectively route cable of any case we’ve seen in the last several years.


Antec® P190 … Finished Installation Full View

 


Antec® P190 … Finished Installation Upper Compartment

 

TESTING

Test Platform

Processor

Intel E6600 Core 2 Duo at 2.4GHz

Motherboard

Gigabyte GA-P35-DQ6

Memory

2GB Mushkin XP-2 8500 DDR-2
(5-4-4-10 @ 2.2 volts)

Drive(s)

2 – Seagate 750GB Barracuda ES SATA Drives

Graphics

XFX GeForce® 8800 GTX XXX

Cooling

Enzotech Ultra w/ 120mm Delta Fan

Power Supply

Neo Link 650P & Neo Link 550S

Display

Dell 2407 FPW

Enclosure

Test Enclosure #1:  Antec P190
Test Enclosure #2:Lian Li G70 (highly customized with 6 120mm Scythe Fans)

Operating System

Windows XP Pro SP2

 

Test Methodology:

We have covered design and installation now it’s time to see how this enclosure functions. Our intent with this testing is to first determine how well the additional fans and airflow dynamics of this case improve the overall component cooling of our test system. We’ll accomplish this by measuring temperatures on our primary temperature indicators: System (Motherboard) temperature, CPU temperature, and GPU/VPU temperature. We’ll measure each one of these parameters at both idle and full load with the fans running at High (12 Volt), Medium (7-8 Volt) and Low (lowest possible operating voltage).

Idle system and CPU temperatures were achieved by allowing the system to run unimpeded for a period of 20 minutes prior to measurement. To achieve full load on the system, we ran dual sessions of Prime 95 for 30 minutes. Full GPU/VPU load was obtained by looping 3DMark 2006 for 30 minutes at 1920 x 1200 resolution with Anti-Aliasing set at 8 and Anisotropic Filtering set at 16. The ambient room temperatures were kept between 21.5 and 22 degrees Celsius during the entirety of the testing. System and CPU temperature measurements were ascertained using both Core Temp and Everest Ultimate Edition version 4.00.976 and an average between the two taken. GPU/VPU temperature measurements were achieved using ATITool. Sound pressure measurements in dBA at one meter’s distance from the case were obtained using our Omega HHSL-1 sound level meter.

It should be noted that we initially tested with and without a center fan configuration using both single and dual optional 120mm Antec TriCool fans. As we saw no improvement to our GPU temperatures in any configuration we opted to remove the center fan, the center hard drive cage, and only run a single 120mm Antec TriCool in the area behind where the center hard drive cage was mounted.

TEST RESULTS

CPU & System Board
Temperature Test Results
Case Fan Speed System  (° C) CPU  (° C)
Idle Load Idle Load
Antec P190 High 26 29 29 46
Medium 28 30 30 48
Low 29 32 31 50
Lian Li G70
High
27
29
30
46
Medium
28
30
32
49
Low
33
36
33
52

 

Video Card  (GPU)
Temperature Test Results
Case Fan Speed GPU   (° C)
Idle Load
Antec P190 High 54 68
Medium 56 72
Low 57 75
Lian Li G70
High
55
70
Medium
58
76
Low 59 77

 

Sound Pressure Level Test Results
dBA @ 1m
Case Fan Speed SPL
Antec P190 High 66
Medium 60
Low 46
Lian Li G70 High 56
Medium 50
Low 42

CONCLUSION

The Antec P190 case certainly has pulled out all the stops when it comes to taking a popular design (the Antec P180) and taking it a step further. We were very impressed with the case’s overall performance other than a few small niggles. We’re not truly enamored with the dual power supply design used as we feel it’s somewhat unbalanced and feel that an 850 Watt Primary and 400 Watt Secondary might have been much better received. The cable management system and connector pass-throughs are some of the absolute best we’ve seen on any case that we’ve reviewed.

The P190 can be purchased currently for a price in the $375.00 – $400.00 USD range. While this may seem overly pricey until you think what an extremely high quality case with only a fraction of the features the P190 would cost. Couple that case with 1200 Watts of high quality power (be it a single PSU or two) and you’ll see the price is not out of line at all for the quality of product you’re receiving. As a matter of fact you’d be hard pressed to purchase separate but equal components this cheaply.

We were somewhat alarmed at how loud the fans in this case were at any setting above the lowest range, but the cooling improvements of the extra CFMs were quite obvious. In some cases we were seeing as much as a 4@° Celsius improvement. We spent just over 20 hours reviewing this case and are reasonably sure we may have missed some things that could tweaked to quiet the audible insult. The sound dampening material used on the side panels helped considerably but when you open holes as large as 200mm in the side and 280mm on top much of the benefit is lost. At the lower RPM levels this case was as quiet as anything on the market and the temperatures were quite cool as well. While we like the TriFlo fans we’re not huge fans of the speed dongles draping from each one which must be manually changed to regulated the fan’s speed. We’d truly like to see Antec develop a rheostat controlled wiring bus that all of the fans plug into and would be powered by one or two 12V molex connectors.

We like this case and can heartily recommend it to almost anyone that is looking for the complete package all in one!

Pros:

+  Excellent cooling
+  Use of only 120mm and larger, quieter fans
+  Generally quiet operation at lower RPM settings
+  Full steel construction
+  Excellent airflow dynamics
+  Nice matte black finish
+  Optional center mounted 120mm fan
+  Excellent design of honeycombed metal fan grills
+  Excellent cable management
+  Twin power supplies providing up to 1200 Watts of power
+  Excellent metal fit and finish

Cons:

-  Very loud at higher RPM settings
-  Lacks removable motherboard tray
-  Price may prove to be too much for the average consumer
-  Very close fit between 200mm side fan blade and GPU PCI-e power connectors
-  Heavy

 

Final Score: 8 out of 10 and the Bjorn3D Seal of Approval

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