SUMMARY: A Beautiful HTPC Case for under $100.00.
Today we take a look at one of Antec’s many new products in the New Solution Series cases the NSK2400, a MicroATX desktop case designed primaraly for use as a HTPC.
The attractive box is simple and details out everything you need to know about the case:
Antec NSK2400 Features:
- High-efficiency 380 Watt ATX12V v2.0 power supply
- Universal input
- Active PFC and high efficiency design for superior environmentally friendly operation
Triple-chamber structure to isolate power supply and hard drive heat for cooler & quieter operation
- Advanced cooling system — 2 side mounted 120 mm TriCool ™ 3-speed fans
- 4 Drive Bays
- Front Accessible: 2 x 5.25″
- Internal: 2 x 3.5″ removable HDD trays with silicone grommets to isolate drive vibrations
- 4 Expansion Slots
- Front-mounted ports for easy multimedia connections
- 2 x USB 2.0
- Audio In and Out
- 0.8mm cold-rolled steel construction
- Accommodates up to MicroATX motherboards (9.6″ x 9.6″)
Taking a look at the front of this case you get a sense of the understated good looks. This case can slip comfortably into an existing home theater system or simply stand alone on a desk as an object of beauty. The front of the case has a thick silver plastic bezel with 2 USB 2.0 front mounted ports, audio in and audio out jacks, bright blue HD activity light, reset button, and power button; note how the power button glows when turned on – very slick.
The only thing that could make the front of this case perfect is a firewire port and support for camera media (SD, memory sticks, and etc). I fear the latter was left out simply because it would look gaudy and if someone truly wants this feature, one of the 5.25″ bays can be sacrificed for it.
The sides of the case are vastly different from one another; the side of the case that contains the PSU and optical drive compartment has a minimal amount of openings, whereas the side of the case with the motherboard compartment is flush with openings and sports the two tri-cool 3 speed 120 mm fans. Also included are the usual assortment of screws and such is a blank-out panel for users that only want to install one 120 mm fan and not have air leakage through the other opening.
This picture shows how full an HTPC can be once fully equipped. The addition of a sound card and a video capture card (in this case, one with a daughter card) combined with the onboard TV-out features of this particular motherboard quickly fill the four PCI openings in the case.
Note also that the power supply is installed “upside down” – it came from the factory like that and after viewing pictures of other systems and reviews, this is the way they all are. I found that it can be installed in either direction but upside down makes for easier cable management. One thing to note is the punch out above the onboard connectors.
This area is just a shade too small to install an 80 mm fan; I believe with some minor modifications the 1/8″ could be made up easily, although with the two 120 mm fans, this modification likely will not improve cooling.
The underside of the case shows a large amount of punch outs in the hard drive compartment area for natural ventilation. This view also shows the two types of feet that are used on the case – the front feet are decorative with rubber inserts while the back feet are just silicon rubber. This allows the entire case to float where it is installed and not transfer vibrations to your desk or home theater enclosure – a well thought out addition.
The simple black top of the case only has a series of perforations directly above the PCI express or AGP slot of MATX motherboard.
Now let’s step inside of this case and see where the true attention has been placed. The NSK2400 is designed along the same compartmental ideas that were started in the P180. Isolate the power supply, hard drives, and motherboard from one another, allowing the end user to manipulate airflow in each area independently to maximize cooling effectiveness.
The optical drive caddy simply rocks in and out of the case allowing you to install the drives without removing the power supply unit. The caddy also sits above the bottom of the case allowing cables to be routed under the optical drives back to the hard drive compartment and into the motherboard compartment via a series of carefully placed slits.
These small openings provide easy access from compartment to compartment while minimizing the amount of air and heat that can be readily transferred from compartment to compartment. Unfortunately, only the divider from the PSU to the motherboard area is equipped with a slider that cuts off any excess space – this would be a welcome addition for the other two areas.
The hard drive is mounted vertically within the bay on a series of silicon feet to isolate vibrations and ultimately make for a quieter system. The installation of a hard drive is kind of tricky – you have to turn the case upside down, hold it up or cantilever it off the edge of a desk to install the bottom two screws. This is a little odd and although the drive does fit fairly securely without these screws, I like to have everything bolted down.
The motherboard area could not be any smaller, it is just the right size for a MATX board and nothing more. This is good, efficient design but it does mean taking some extra time in getting your motherboard in just right.
On the back of the case to help direct the airflow are a series of plastic blocks which can be added to ensure that the two 120 mm side mounted fans are sucking air off the hot components and not directly from the fresh air intake on the back of the case – another example of Antec’s close attention to detail.
Also at this point it is also good to point out that the height from the motherboard to the underside of the lid is only 4.875″ less the height of the socket and chip. Many of the “tall boy” heatsinks will not fit in this case, for example the Zalman 9500 and many of the “tower” CPU coolers.
Once all your components are installed, be aware of some tight fits – in my case the sound card loads its CD-ROM audio cables from the very top and just barely clears the top of the case. This picture also shows how close the cables to the video capture daughter card come to hitting the top of the case, it’s a close fit but everything fits snuggly. However this could be a death blow for someone using a fanless video card that has heat pipes running over the top of the card – be sure to check what you are buying first before getting this case.
The power supply that is included is the Antec SU-380, a 380 watt unit with Active PFC. There is nothing particularly remarkable about the supply itself – it should be more than sufficient for any home theater or home office PC. For those readers looking to replace the PSU, be mindful of the tight space between the PSU and the CD-ROM caddy – the stock PSU is 5.5″ long and sits flush on the bottom of the case with 1.5″ headroom clearance, so that a PSU with a 120 mm fan would have to be mounted with the fan pointing toward the top of the case.
All this for under 100 bucks? Yes – that is right.
It is a fantastic deal from one of the leading case manufactures for a system that is stylish in every way and is also fully functional in all the ways we expect an Antec case to be. Antec continues to be a market leader in design and innovation and the NSK2400 is another example of their dedication to design.
Street Cost <$100 US.