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Antec Sonata II: What's up with the "optional" front fan?

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Old 03-23-06, 11:17 AM Thread Starter   #1
darknem
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Antec Sonata II: What's up with the "optional" front fan?


This case was advertised as having an optional 120mm front fan.

So I got the case and I am searching endlessly where the slot for the front fan is and it turns out it is supposed to be mounted behind the 3.5" drive bays. Putting it almost in the middle of the case. The front bottom does have an opening/filter but will a fan behind the 3.5" draw air from the front? or will it just create turbolence in the case?
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Old 03-23-06, 12:02 PM   #2
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The "front" fan on a Sonata is all but useless. I had a fan installed on mine (back when I had a Sonata) and unplugged it just to see what would happen. I didn't see ANY change in temps--there may have been one, but I couldn't detect it. The Sonata is not a good case for cooling if you're using modern hardware. Three to four year old stuff will work just fine, and the case is pretty (though I hated the door) and the quality of construction, at least on mine, was excellent. But, when I moved the system I had in the Sonata to a Lian-Li PC-61 my temps dropped 8C even though the PC-61 only had 3 80mm fans; and when I added a 4th 80mm fan in the top blow-hole the temps dropped another 3C. I had swapped out the stock fans for Sanyo Denkis, but I'm running them at 7v so I attribute the temperature drop to case design, not fan quality--the stock fans probably would have done just as well.

If you're using older hardware and just like the look of the case, go ahead and try it without an intake. You're temps might not be too bad, though with the negative pressure the inside of the case will get dusty quickly and you'll have to regularly clean it (I was vacuuming mine about every 3 weeks). But, if you're using newer hardware, I'd return the case and get one that is set up for a real intake fan.
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Old 03-23-06, 01:01 PM   #3
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i must agree, its not much of an intake fan and its pretty restrictive since its screwed into the side rails of the 3 1/2 bays. I think if anything, it acts more as an expansion card cooler more than anything else.
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Old 03-23-06, 01:21 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoodleHead
... it acts more as an expansion card cooler more than anything else.
It doesn't even do that very well. As near as I could tell, the "intake" for the rear exhaust fan were the gaps around the optical drives and the holes in the side panels that spelled out "Antec", or at least that's where most of the dust build-up began. There was almost no dust build-up on the bottom-front of the case, inside or out, so I don't think any outside air was being pulled from there at all. The most that "intake" fan could have been doing was recirculating the air in the lower portion of the case but without fresh "outside" air it couldn't have been doing much cooling.

Antec, promotes the Sonata as a "quiet" case, and it is. But, they sacrificed a lot to get that "quiet" and a well designed case with quiet fans works a lot better. I barely hear my undervolted Sanyo Denkis and if I've got music playing I don't hear them at all.
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Old 03-23-06, 05:13 PM Thread Starter   #5
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I'm going to give this case a try because I don't feel like spending anymore money but if I have to I suppose I will get a better case.
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Old 03-23-06, 05:13 PM   #6
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My sonata II's front intake fan makes horrendous noise, probably due to the small hard drive slits (not much room for air intake). If I had known it would have been this bad at cooling I never would have gotten it. alas.

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Old 03-23-06, 06:02 PM Thread Starter   #7
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Yeah this case is pretty disappointing. Oh well. Maybe I'll just let this be the case that I mess up by cutting new holes in different places.
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Old 03-23-06, 06:54 PM   #8
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I get superb cooling performance out of my Sonata. Hmm, we must be doing something different.

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Old 03-24-06, 01:02 AM Thread Starter   #9
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Hey my case didn't come with any tubes...

Lol, I don't think I'm ready yet to make the leap to water cooling yet. I was thinking of maybe cutting the case up a little bit to create at least a side intake fan and possible a blowhole up to top.
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Old 03-24-06, 05:39 AM   #10
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Side blow hole will improve things, but that would be true with any case. With a back 120 exhaust I dont see a top blowhole being needed but its up to you.

As far as the Sonatas front mount it does help with disk drive cooling if you use it.

I may have wc'ing but air still needs to get in through the rad and out efficiently. The Sonatas design for airflow is highly efficient, as you can see from the pic am not even using the rear 120. There's a 120 in the PS and thats all I need to handle exhaust duties - classic ATX spec LOL. The thing I like about that front arranement is it blows air right across the vid card. Plus the path to the exhaust locations is direct.

Good luck with your cooling efforts. Its a much better case then has been suggested.
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Old 03-24-06, 02:22 PM   #11
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The intake air flow for the Sonata II is substantially better then the Mk I version. I replaced the front panel on my Mk I with a Mark II and immediately saw 2-5C reduction in case, northbridge and voltage regulator load temps (no change in CPU temp with XP-120). I've heard of no advantages from the Mark II CAG duct, and my system is noticeably noisier and warmer if the "Antec" holes in the side covers are taped closed.

The intake fan mounted on the inside of the HDD cage does help with HDD cooling, and definitely helps with my passively cooled VGA. It's nicely quiet running at 5V (840 rpm), and doesn't need to go faster. I'll do a test this weekend with that fan off to see what changes. The Antec silicone fan mounts do a good job of isolation, so if a fan is horrendously noisy, then I'd suspect fan quality, excessive speed, or mounting.

Yes, there are better cases now available for air flow and noise control, but the sig system in my Sonata I/II has responded nicely to quieting and cooling mods. BTW, the original TP380S PSU was one of the greater noise contributors. Idle and load temps (at 20C ambient) with XP-120 fan in "suck" direction:

CPU 33 47
Vreg 29 48
NB 39 46
Case 26 29
HDDs 28 30 Samsung (primary), 35 37 Seagate (backup)

Noise is extremely low at idle, a little more air movement noise at sustained 100% load.
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Old 03-24-06, 02:25 PM   #12
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nice setup calvin, i didnt know that a dual 120mm radiator could fit inside the sonata II, now i got proof!
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Old 03-24-06, 03:06 PM   #13
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Your pump must be part of the res, am I right? That's a pretty slick setup, I might have to make the plunge soon....

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Old 03-24-06, 04:40 PM   #14
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Quote:
Your pump must be part of the res, am I right?
That would be correct, MCP350 pump/res combo:



Way it looked before I added the gpu to the loop, with my old AC pump/res combo:



What I like is that I never had to cut anything or mod anything with the Sonata ...

Quote:
The intake air flow for the Sonata II is substantially better then the Mk I version. I replaced the front panel on my Mk I with a Mark II and immediately saw 2-5C reduction in case, northbridge and voltage regulator load temps (no change in CPU temp with XP-120)
Details please. What is the differance? I thought it was just the internal ducting that was different? Did you order from Antec? Part #? I have the Mk I version.
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Old 03-24-06, 06:49 PM   #15
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I ordered the entire front panel assembly from Antec. Don't remember the part number (have it on the receipt at home), but the Antec tech knew just what I was requesting. My original interest was in the full-swing door, and the entire panel must be replaced for that. In mid-2005 it was $19.95 + shipping, and that included all the switches, LED's (still very bright), and wiring. It's a plug-n-play replacement. Besides the door (which, ironically, I'm not even using now), the other change is the internal ducting beneath the front bezel, as you guessed. The side slots are larger, there's no bottom slot, and there are shaped elements on the panel beneath.

I'd already modified my Mk I bezel to enlarge the bottom and side slots (and I have a newer Mk I Sonata with the larger openings in the metal front panel), so I was really pleasantly surprised when my load temps immediately dropped. I had started a series of PC tests several months before (which continues now), so there's plenty of data for comparison that shows at least a 2-3C consistent improvement. The "TP anemometer" also shows a distinctly less feable airflow through the front bezel openings.

Enough details?
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Old 03-25-06, 01:21 AM   #16
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OK, I did a comparison test under sustained 100% load tonight with my Sonato intake fan turned off, then repeated the test with it turned on at 5V (840 rpm), the speed I always use.

With the fan off, case and HDD temperatures under load were 2-3C hotter then with it on. CPU and northbridge temps didn't change, but PWM (voltage regulator) temp dropped 2C with the intake fan off. Noise increased with the fan off since my exhaust fan is rigged to speed up as case temp rises.

I repeated the same test sequence that I've used for over 75 tests in the last year, made sure that the ambient temp at the computer was the same for the fan off/on comparison, and waited long enough between these tests to start from the same idle temperatures.

Considering how slow and quiet this fan is, that's definitive proof to me that the fan does something worthwhile, but the PWM change is surprising.
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Old 03-25-06, 04:30 AM   #17
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dfrost - thanks for responding. Not sure I can visualize all of what you are describing (shaped elements?) but the benefit seems clear based on your investigations. I'll have to pull up Antecs site and noodle around.....

OK - Antec have blown isometric drawings available on their site for both the Mk1 and Mk2. Now I see. The Mk2 intake does look more flow efficient. Interesting, thanks for sharing your knowledge. Upgraded a lot of things, but never a hood scoop, always a first time

Last edited by calvin; 03-25-06 at 04:52 AM.
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