Antec P183 Advanced Super Mid Tower Page: 1
Introduction
 
Founded in 1986, Antec have grown into one of the best known manufacturers of PC upgrades, enclosures and components. Based in Fremont, California with offices around the globe, Antec have been working on becoming the market leader in providing efficient, quiet and reliable products.  Today for your visual pleasure, I have the privilege of taking a look at one of their latest products - the Antec P183, successor to the P182, which was reviewed by Graham Newton and received the OC3D Recommendation back in 2007. Will the new Antec P183 live upto the family name?
 
 
 
Specifications
 
I have shamelessly lifted these specifications and features directly from the Antec site, hey its not as if I could make them up.
 
• 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 (aluminium, plastic, aluminium) 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

• 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)

• Cable organisers behind motherboard tray minimise cable clutter

• Front-mounted ports provide convenient connections:
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 1 x eSATA
- Audio In and Out (HDA and ACÂ’97 compatible)

• Double hinged door opens up to 270?/li>

• 7 expansion slots

• 0.8mm cold rolled steel chassis for durability

• 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
 
Let's take a look at the packaging shall we......


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Packaging
 
Antec have upped the ante a fair bit with the packaging for the P183. The company logo, along with the striking yellow stripe down one side, catch the eye. An excellent picture of the case itself features on the front of the box. On the side we are presented with some design features and an inside picture of the chassis. Moving around to the back of the box, we are treated to some more facts and features in English, French and German. It’s good that Antec have made these changes as the P182 packaging was a bit bland, in my opinion. This should really make the case standout on the shelf.
 
 
The box itself arrived in excellent condition, and the way the case was packed inside, inspired confidence. I don’t know about you, but when I receive something the first thing that catches my eye is the way something has been packaged. Opening the box, we are presented with a case that’s very well protected! Antec have used the same packaging which was present in the P182 and its older brother the P180. Why change what is already an excellent solution?
 
There are 2 foam surrounds, which are moulded to protect the front and rear of the case and an additional cardboard wrap around the main body of the case itself. I think this is an excellent method of protecting your product while it’s in transit and kudos to Antec for continuing to use it.
 
 
So lets take a look at the case itself shall we?


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Closer Look
 
Taking a closer look around the exterior of the case, we can see
some immediate changes which stand out compared to its older siblings. Gone is the spoiler from the top of the case, this has instead been replaced by a far cleaner looking honeycomb grill that is integrated into the top panel. The front door now also features some black chrome vents, while looking fantastic, they also allow more air to be drawn into the case. The same can be said for the side vents, these have also been increased in size without effecting the overall quality or finish of the front of the case. Another change which may affect some users, is that Antec have dropped the Firewire port in favour of an eSATA port, while the audio and USB ports remain the same. The whole exterior of the case just has a really nice tactile feel to it and the Gun Metal finish just oozes quality. This is something that has been present across the P180 series but feels even more so with the P183.
 
 
 
 
 
If we open the front door we can see that the entire front panel itself is now vented and covered in mesh. This includes the 5¼” bay covers and the single external 3½” bay cover. The design has changed from the P182, as the filters are now an integral part of what were the filter doors, these open easily with a slight push in to release the catch. You now have to remove the doors themselves to clean the filters which I am not so keen on. The doors only have a small plastic hinge which could easily be broken while attempting to remove or re-fit when cleaning. The vented blanking plates however, are of sturdy construction and very easy to remove and replace, so there are no such concerns there.  Another nice feature which is still present, is the lockable front door, this won't stop someone who was determined to gain access, but for keeping little fingers away from the power switch - it's ideal. 
 
  
 
You can see from the picture of the PSU backplate, that the whole rear PSU plate is now removable. This is to accommodate the new PSU form factor CPX which was introduced by Antec in early February. The larger form factor allows for better PSU design with improved airflow also, hopefully cutting production costs which can then be passed onto the consumer. Here’s hoping! The first PSU to be released onto the market using the CPX form factor is the Antec CP-850. We will have to wait and see if this standard takes off or not, but on paper it certainly makes sense though. You can find out more information on the Antec CP-850 here
 
Lets take a look inside shall we? 


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A look inside
 
Upon opening the case you will find a small cardboard box which contains a collection of drive rails: 4x 5¼” and 1x 3½”, some cable ties and enough screws to build your PC twice over. Also included is a wire fan mount kit which is for attaching a 120mm fan of your choice to the middle drive cage.
 
 
Also present is the user guide. It’s good to see that Antec have updated the guide for the P183, as the previous incarnations were taken from the P180. It's little attentions to detail like this, that add to the overall user perception of a product. You also receive a pin out guide for the front Audio, USB and eSATA connections, which is useful along with the excellent Antec 3 year warranty. I have to mention Antec have reps present on many forums including our very own. This speaks volumes about their commitment to customer care.
 
Looking over P183's predecessors, Antec have listened to users feedback and has made changes as required.  As with previous P18x series cases, the chassis is split into a dual chamber design with the PSU and the primary hard drive cage which has space for 4 hard drives (mounted on rubber grommets to improve noise dampening) being located in the lower chamber, while the upper chamber houses the main components; such as your motherboard, CPU, graphics cards and optical drives.  The upper chamber has room for an additional 2 hard drives, 4x 5¼" external drives and 1 external 3½" drive.  The two chambers are separated by a series of cabling channels which, in turn are covered by a movable plastic panel. This is designed to keep any heat produced by your PSU and hard drives away from your main system components. You will also notice the lack of the lower chamber middle fan; this has now been relocated to in front of the hard drive cage, a very welcome change indeed. PSU cable management is now far easier than with the P180 or P182, this change was to help accommodate Antec's new CPX form factor PSU.
 
 
On the reverse side of the P183, Antec have not needed to make any changes. We still have the cable ties and the pre-cut cable routes, which are a god send. Neat cabling is not such a mission when you have convenient channels to route cables through. There are plenty of opportunities to hide and tie down cables here and other case manufacturers could learn to take a leaf out of Antecs book. Also present is the storage compartment, quite why they put it here is a mystery. If you were to open it while it was still inside the case, the contents would spill out all over, not to mention its a bit of a pain to get to. I feel a far better solution, would have been to use one of the external 5 ¼” drive bays as a draw which could be removed should you need to use the bay. 
 
Lets see what its like to work with. 


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Installation
 
To really test the Antec P183, I decided it needed to be tested with a CPU setup which I knew generated alot of heat, so in went the Intel Core i7 gaming setup which comprises of the following:-
 
• Intel Core i7 920
• Asus P6T OC Deluxe Palm
• 6GB of Corsair Dominator Ram
• BFG 295GTX
• 1 x Western Digital RE3 250GB SATA HDD
• 1 x Samsung Sata DVD R/W drive
• BeQuiet 1200w PSU
• Nexus XiR-3500 CPU cooler
 
This should give us a good idea on how easy the case is to work with and how well it copes with high end components
 
 
The build process itself was pretty straight forward as Antec have kindly pre-installed the main ATX system board standoffs and supply additional spares if needed.  I was disappointed to find
the motherboard tray is permanently fixed in place; it would have been nice if this was removable but it didn’t really hinder the build process in any way.  Before starting your build, it’s a good idea to remove the upper and lower drive cages as this frees up alot of space in which to work within the case, allowing you to install your motherboard and route cables without any issues. After installing the motherboard I moved onto fitting the PSU. Without the lower chamber middle fan in the way, this went in without a hitch (the BeQuiet 1200w PSU is a big beast) and cables were routed via the back of the motherboard tray. I have to mention, I had no issues with the PSU cables not being able to reach their respective homes on the motherboard. However I did have some problems with the cabling in the lower chamber itself, purely due to the size of the PSU the cables encroached into the lower hdd chamber, but this was manageable and far better than the P183's siblings.
 
Next to be installed was the hard drive. This simply screwed into the primary hard drive cage and was cushioned by rubber grommets. These help eliminate any vibrations and keeps the noise of your drives to a minimum.
 
If you are looking for a toolless case, the P183 is not for you. This has never been an issue for me, as most toolless cases I have looked at have had poor implementations in place for securing your add in cards and hard drives, so no great loss there. Moving on to installing the graphics card, space is at a bit of a premium, as I had to remove the drive rails from the middle chamber so that I could fit in my 295gtx. You can of course remove this upper cage totally, but that would mean sacrificing the drive bays. Also, with the cage present it acts as a duct for cool air coming into the case straight onto your graphics card. 
 
Lets move onto the testing and results. 


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Testing Method and Results
 
 
To really test the cooling capabilities of the Antec P183, I ran a series of simulated load tests on the Intel Core i7 920 setup in my existing Silverstone TJ07 case and then transferred the full setup into the Antec P183.
 
Test Setup:-
 
• Intel Core i7 920
• Asus P6T OC Deluxe Palm
• 6gb of Corsair Dominator Ram
• BFG 295GTX
• Creative X-FI Titanium
• Western Digital RE3 250gb Sata HDD
• BeQuiet 1200w psu
• Nexus XiR-3500 Cpu cooler
• Arctic Cooling MX-2 TIM
 
As some of you may be aware, my usual setup in my TJ07 has my Intel Core i7 920 in a water cooled loop: this was removed for the period of the testing and my Silverstone TJ07 was re-fitted with its stock cooling fan compliment. I used the Nexus XiR-3500 heat sink from a previous review, as my heat sink of choice.
 
The following applications were used to simulate load on the systems, temperatures were recorded and the average calculated:
 
• Everest v5.02 – Overall system temp monitor
• Core temp 0.99.5.20 Beta – To measure cpu temps
• Prime95
• HD Tach – To Simulate Random Reads on the hdd
• ATI Tool
 
I settled on the following testing methods: Prime95 was used in blend test mode to simulate overall load on the CPU/Memory and motherboard. HD Tach was then ran a total of 6 times concurrently on the random read test to simulate hdd activity and finally Artifact Scan in ATI Tool was used to load the GPU.
 
As the Antec P183 features speed selectable fans, the test series were ran a total of 3 times on each fan setting to see how the results were affected. Please note, that both cases were tested with their stock compliment of fans, as the Antec P183 now only ships with 2 tri-cool fans, which is a shame as the P182 shipped with 3 as standard.
 
 
So let's take a look at the idle results. As you can see from the graph above when the system is at idle the Silverstone TJ07 has the edge in most tests. That is until you crank up the fan speed on the Antec P183, at this point the motherboard benefits from the 2 exhaust fans mounted near the CPU socket, the motherboard temperatures drop by 4° from 43° to 39°.  Switching to medium or high on the fan speed also saw a healthy drop in the CPU temperatures down from 44° to 42° on both settings.  I feel that they would have been reduced further had Antec included at least 1 intake fan as stock with the case, Antec missed a trick here.
 
 
 
Looking at the load tests reveals a bit of a surprise, well I certainly was.  The Antec P183 (with only 2 fans!) holds its own and in some tests even exceeds the performance of the TJ07.  In fact, the only test in which the Antec P183 fails to better the temperatures of the Silverstone TJ07, is in the Graphics Card test.  Again this is easily rectifiable by including an intake fan in the middle chamber.  This only shows some of the potential that this case has.  With additional fans added to the equation things could only get better.
 
Time to wrap things up.  


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Conclusion
 
Antec have certainly improved on the P183; with great looks and a striking Gun Metal finish, the case certainly looks the part. But even more so, thanks to the inclusion of the front vents finished in what appears to be black chrome, with enlarged side vents and the vented drive bay covers, the cooling capacity of the case has been improved beyond my expectations.  I certainly did not expect the Antec P183 with, only 2 fans present, to out perform my Silverstone TJ07 which had its stock compliment of 6 fans.  
 
Working with the case was a pleasure and the install was pretty much painless.  You will have to sacrifice using the middle drive cage if your running a high end GPU but thats no biggie.  PSU installation is far easier than with its older siblings and with most modern PSU's i dont think you will be needing a cable extender, I certainly didnt; if you do they are readily available.
 
It would seem all the changes Antec have made are for the better, both asthetically and performance wise. This maybe due to a greater customer care initiative by Antec; listening to feedback, both positive and negative, through a variety of media, such as user forums and product reviews.   
 
There are a few areas in which Antec could improve on the case: I would have liked to have seen thumb screws used on both side panels and also used for retaining your add on cards.  Also, I would have prefered  Antec to have included a 3rd fan that was present in both the P180 and the P182. Why did they exclude it from the P183? This would have only enhanced the performance of an already great case. Antec are onto another sure fire winner with the P183 case.
  
At the time of writing this review the cheapest place to purchase the case was from Ebuyer
 
 
The Good
+ Great Air Flow
+ Improved Looks
+ Excellent Build Quality/Finish
 
The Mediocre
+ Steel Construction
+ Lack of thumbscrews on 1 side panel and retention screws internally
 
The Bad
+ Only ships with 2x 120mm fans out of a possible 5
 
 
Recommended Award Silence Award 
 
Thanks to Antec for sending the P183 in for review. Discuss this review in our forums