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A quick Antec NSK2480 user review…

Recently grabbed an Antec NSK 2480. I had been looking for something a little smaller than my large CM Scout tower, hopefully something a bit quieter, and hopefully something a little lighter.

The NSK 2480 didn’t quite hit the mark in those areas. However, it’s a great case nonetheless.

There are plenty of other reviews out there that go over the thing in detail, so I’ll try to avoid repeating most of that and go over particular aspects I noticed.

First, the size.

In most of the images out there, it looks deceptively petite. It isn’t. Above you can see it standing on it’s side, with the CM Storm Scout (a full size ATX case) beside it.

The NSK2480 is almost as wide as the CM is tall. It’s nearly just as long.

The only substantial difference is that the NSK is thinner. If you’re looking for something that fits where your current ATX case doesn’t, the Antec might not fit the bill. If you’re looking for something to act as an HTPC and are planning to put it in the cabinet of your home entertainment system, make sure your cabinet’s deep enough.

It’s also quite heavy. It’s not an aluminum case, and the steel is quite thick. It’s a very sturdy case, but not one you want to be moving around frequently. That’s the trade-off that’s been made here.

The interior

A number of other reviews have gone over the interior layout, so I’ll skip an explanation (I’m sure you can figure out what-goes-where). However, it’s worth noting that an SSD (or a 2.5″ laptop drive) can be installed beneath the  CD/DVD tray. That said, there’s an issue you may run into while installing an SSD in this case – more on that later.

I tried to get in a little closer on the PSU area. You can see 3 sections of “grill”. This is essentially the only place the PSU will pick up air from.

You can swap in another PSU if you want – most standard PSU’s should swap in easily. However:

  • There is NO room below the PSU. So a PSU with a bottom-intake is out of the question.
  • Since there is NO room below the PSU, one that’s slightly “taller” probably won’t fit unless that extra “tallness” is at the top. If the extra “tallness” were at the bottom, it would hit the case-bottom, elevate the PSU, and the screw holes wouldn’t line up (though I suppose you could drill new ones in the case).
  • Even a slightly larger PSU will start to block some of the grill. If that happens, your PSU might start pulling warm air from the other compartments (they’re not *perfectly* sealed off or anything).

A little more focus on the motherboard tray area. If you look at the motherboard mounting screw positions, you can see they’re not too close to the fans, which is good. The fans don’t really interfere with anything (though you’ll probably have to tie down a few wires to keep them from bumping into the fan blades. Of course, I’m sure somebody somewhere makes a CPU cooler that is so honking wide it’ll cause problems, but most should clear the fans.

An mATX (micro-ATX) motherboard fits in rather perfectly, though it can take a little manoeuvring to get it in. Don’t run any wires inside this section until the motherboard is in, or you probably won’t get the motherboard in.

SSD Problems!

Above, I’ve pulled out the CD/DVD tray, and installed an SSD in the space below (there are holes at the bottom of the case, and Antec included screws to attach the SSD).

Unfortunately, Antec made a rather large oversight here.

The SSD is nearly flush with the bottom, which means that the SATA power connector you use must be at the END of the power cable run.

To clarify, the cable you see touching the SSD in the pic… it won’t plug in. Having wires on both sides (incoming/outgoing) means it won’t fit. If you try to bend the wires enough to force it in, it still won’t fit and chances are that you’ll snap the connector off your SSD.

The good news is, many power supplies have runs with a SATA power connector at the end.

The really bad news is, the PSU included with the case does not. The SATA power connectors are all mid-stream.

If I wanted to use the SSD mounted here, I’d have to buy an adapter/extension, or use a different PSU.

Pretty big oversight, Antec!

Ok, now we have everything installed. If you click to zoom in, you’ll notice that the 4-pin 12V line on the motherboard didn’t interfere with the fans, and the Noctua NH-L12 doesn’t hit the fan either (I actually left the heatsink on the motherboard when I put it in the case).

You might also notice the SSD sitting willy-nilly, unsecured, near the PSU.

Obviously, I didn’t bother to tie down any of the wires (I’ll be popping the motherboard into another case soon).

Issues, Thoughts, Results

I’ve gone over the SSD power-connector issue pretty adequately, so I won’t repeat it here. That’s the only huge boo-boo Antec made.

Sound and cooling

The thing is very quiet. And while I didn’t bother to install the top-fan for the Noctua NH-L12, it din’t really matter – the 2x12mm fans that Antec included surprised me by performing better than my CM Storm Scout case did. On LOW SPEED.

Seriously. I’m blown away by the cooling performance. The CM Storm Scout had 2x120mm intake fans and 2 exhaust fans (one of which was 120mm and the other of which was massive). And these 2 piddly Antec fans on low speed lowered the idle temp by about 3-4 degrees.

For reference, this is with the same CPU heatsink (I didn’t even dismount it when swapping the motherboard, so there’s no chance that I just seated it better or anything). This is also on an undervolted i5-2500k. I would assume the NSK2480 would have to perform worse on an overclocked machine pumping out ridiculous heat, mind you.

In any case, it worked extremely well. Maybe it had to do with the fans being so close to the Noctua heatsink, and the orientation being perfect. Or maybe it’s just an impressive airflow design. Either way, I’m impressed.

As for the sound, Antec really went all-out to rubberize most of what could possibly vibrate. I was hearing some noise (which I assume to be the “hidden” Noctua CPU fan), but I’m sure it wouldn’t take much work to bring the thing to near-total-silence.

Even as it is, I can’t tell that the thing’s on when I walk into the room (I’ve been going “uh oh… my stress test must have shut down the computer” until I stop and listen). High marks here.

Filtration = non-existant

One thing I loved about the Antec Sonata was the filter. A cheap piece of plastic, probably cost them under a buck to make, easily removable, and filtered well.

It’s a shame they didn’t manage to add some sort of filtration to this system. And it’s not something you can really “mod” in either, because there are so many avenues for intake air that it would be a pain to maintain anything you might hack together.

To be fair, the only way to “easily” add filtration into the design would be to reverse the 2 fans, use that as the intake, and add filters there. However, that would undoubtedly change the cooling dynamic of the case – the old intakes would becomes exhausts, aren’t in the greatest place for exhausts, etc.

Would have been nice to have filtration, but I understand why perhaps they didn’t.

The PSU

This really disappointed me….

The old PSU I was using was a CoolerMaster 700W PSU. One of their junkier (budget) versions.

The PSU that came with the case is an Antec 380W PSU – an 80 PLUS variant.

The system uses under 150W at load, so either should work fine.

Before swapping the motherboard into the case, I’d undervolted like a madman, and tested the system like crazy to make sure it was stable. Unfortunately, with the Antec 380W PSU, my undervolt isn’t stable anymore. OCCT errors out within 3 minutes now. Since literally everything is identical about the setup (except the case, fans, and PSU), I have to assume it’s the Antec PSU not feeding stable voltage to the motherboard. Heck, the thing’s running *cooler* now so it can’t even be a heat issue.

Update: Narrowed down the culprit. Gigabyte’s “Performance Enhance” option won’t work on the “Extreme” setting with the Antec PSU. I was able to keep my undervolting, but the Performance Enhance setting had to be dialed down to maintain stability on the Antec.

Very disappointed, Antec. You were beat by a 700W CoolerMaster – their junky budget line.

To sum it up, it’s a great, quiet, desktop case.

It was very well thought out, aside from the SSD power isssue. It definitely feels like a quality case.

However, it still nears the relative size of an ATX tower, and isn’t particularly light. So it wouldn’t be ideal if you need something somewhat-portable, or need to fit it in a tight space.

The PSU is probably reliable (being Antec and all, I doubt it’ll ever burst into flames), but I’m dismayed that the system didn’t remain stable.

Overall, well worth the money. That said, the weight and size isn’t a great fit for me – I’ll be checking out other cases in the near future.

  • Michael

    Also ran into the SSD issue, for my 2.5″ drive. I chopped of the molex connector and swapped around the wires so they pointed up. No space for the external drives but that’ not an issue for me. But agree with you, bad design – prob an afterthought.

    Still not quiet enough for me, maybe it’s the PSU fan… the quest continues.

  • big bert

    Firstly, thanks for the review – I have one of these cases and was trying to remember where the SSD mounting position was…

    For the SSD power ‘issue’ – look in the pack that came with your box, you will see that there is a molex to SATA power converter, pop this on to the end of the power run that is in that side of the case and you will have no problem in getting power to your SSD.