Antec P101 Silent Mid-Tower Case Review

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Anytime there’s a discussion about “your favorite case” it doesn’t take long for Antec to get mentioned. That’s because Antec has been producing high-quality cases for longer than many of us have been alive. New for 2019 is the Antec P101 Silent mid-tower case. The new chassis is designed with a minimalistic elegance and engineered for utter silence. It features sound damping panels and eight removable hard drive bays. It’s safe to say this case is geared towards customers who are serious about their quiet time and maximizing data storage. We’ll break it down, build it up, and tell you what we thought!

Antec P101Silent

Specifications

Here’s a list of the specifications per the Antec website.

Antec P101 Silent Specifications
Manufacturer Antec
Model Number P101 Silent
Available Color Black with white accent
Materials 0.8 mm SPCC + Plastic
Dimensions (LxWxH) 527x232x506mm / 20.7 x 9.1 x 19.9 inch
Motherboard Support E-ATX, ATX,Micro-ATX, & ITX
Expansion Slots 8
Drive Bays 1x 5.25″
8x 2.5″/3.5″
2x 2.5″
I/O Port USB 3.0 x 2
USB 2.0 x 2
Mic In & Audio Out (HD)
Reset button
Power button
3 Speed Fan Controller (High/Stop/Low)
Pre-installed Fan(s) Front: 3x 120mm
Rear: 1x 140mm
Fan Support Front: 3x 1200mm or 2x 140mm (installed from inside only)
Rear: 1x 120mm or 1x 140mm
Liquid Cooling Support Front: ≤ 360mm
Rear: ≤ 140mm
Clearances CPU Cooler: ≤ 180mm
GPU Length: ≤ 450mm
PSU Type and Length: ATX PS2; ≤ 290mm
Cable Management: APX 18mm
Dust Filter Front & Bottom
Warranty 2 Years
UPC Code 0-761345-81103-3
Price Newegg $109.99 / Amazon $122.91

Features

  •     Swing open front panel
  •     Sound dampening foam on the top, front, and both sides
  •     8 x 3.5” HDD removable drive bays (compatible with 2.5” SSD)
  •     4 x white blade fans pre-installed
  •     LED USB ports

Packaging

Keeping with the minimalist approach, the packaging is made of common brown cardboard with plain black print. The front of the box displays an isometric view of the P101 Silent along with the model number. The right side of the box lists specifications in four different languages including English (under the shipping label). There are four more lists of specifications on the left side in various languages. Finally, the back of the carton shows the major features along with an exploded view of this case’s internals including storage possibilities and fan locations.

Opening the box we are immediately greeted with a warning not to pull the case side panels to the rear during removal. These side panels are clearly not typical. However, the inner packaging is typical safely sandwiching this case with Styrofoam end caps and wrapping it in a large plastic bag.

Packaging 1

Packaging 2

Packaging 3

Packaging 4

Contents

Hidden inside the case, in the lowest hard drive tray, is where the accessories box is stowed away. The box is white cardboard with the Antec labeling printed in black. Inside we find five small zip ties, a bag of black painted screws, and a folded information pamphlet.

Contents

Exterior At A Glance

The P101 Silent is painted with a satin black finish, with three white slotted accent pieces on the front panel. It is primarily heavy gauge steel with the front panel and door being made of plastic. This case is devoid of any windows and you won’t find any RGB lights either. Antec has clearly built this case with a purpose in mind, silence.

Isometric View

Front

The majority of the external features reside at the front of the case. The satin black finish of the plastic matches the steel panels very well. There is a gray ‘Antec’ label at the bottom left of the front door and the only place where it is advertised. At the left side of the door, as mentioned earlier, are three white trim pieces that are slotted to allow this case to intake cool air. These slots seem small and there is some curiosity as to how well this case will fare in the thermal testing. While the right side has a beveled edge that adds a hint of character.

The front door gently swings open to the right and stops at about a 90° angle. It is secured by two round and two rectangular magnets that have foam pads glued to them. Even opening and closing the door is nice and quiet. This is a nice touch. The entire inside of the door is lined with a noise dampening foam. At the top of the chassis, there is a 5.25″ ODD bay for those whose still utilize their optical drives. Just below this is a louvered fan filter. This filter is attached via a squeeze tab at the top. Removing the filter allows us to see the three 120mm front fans. These are black framed with white blades.

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Left & Right

The left and right sides are identical. There are sturdy solid steel side panels that secure using a pair of black thumb screws. The feet are wedge-shaped and on either side display the ‘Antec’ logo.

Left Side

Right Side

Close-up Feet & Captive Screw

Top

At the top of the case is where the Input/Output (I/O) panel is located. Starting at the left we can see the power button, reset button, HDD indicator, fan speed switch (High/Off/Low), microphone jack, HD audio jack, a pair of illuminated USB 2.0 ports, and finally a pair of illuminated USB 3.0 ports.

Top I/O Panel

Rear

Spinning the case around to the back we find the rear exhaust. There are slots for a 140mm and 120mm fan and we see the included 140mm fan pre-installed through the steel mesh. Adjacent to the exhaust is the standard motherboard IO cut-out. Below the motherboard cut-out are eight PCIe Expansion slots. They are alternately painted in black and white – another nice detail. At the very bottom of the back is the PSU mount which is removable to aid in the assembly process. Notice, absent from the back panel is additional venting holes. This is to assist in reducing any unwanted noise from escaping as well as airflow management.

Rear View

Bottom

Looking at the undercarriage we can see the nearly full length lower filter. At the bottom of the four feet are rectangular rubber pads the prevent the P101 from sliding around on a desktop and absorb vibrations.

Bottom View

Stripped Down

We’ll start by removing the left side cover. Remember, this panel does not pull back but swings out to the side after removing the two thumb screws. These side panels are unique in that they have a pair of pins that clip into the chassis. This is very nice for those who access the inside of the case often as they may choose to forgo the thumb screws altogether.

Inside the case, there is a lot going on. Starting at the white painted motherboard tray we see the massive CPU mount access hole, five rectangular cable pass-through holes. These lack grommets, but as a windowless case, that is not a concern. The motherboard standoffs are pre-installed for an ATX build. Moving to the top rear of the case is the 140mm exhaust fan and below that is the PCIe expansion slots. The top of the case is fully lined with sound deadening foam and features additional cable passages for the rear and front of the motherboard.

At the front of the left side is the removable ODD bay. There are four individually removable HDD caddies that house two HDD trays each. Below the HDD caddies is a removable mounting plate. We’ll touch more on these in the storage section. Finally, the PSU shroud is not removable and is fully enclosed, effectively separating the PSU from the main portion of this chassis. What is puzzling about this case is with the HDD caddies and mount removed, we can see the bottom filter extends well past the PSU section, but there is no option for a bottom mount fan.

 

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Right

Now we move to the right side of the case. The first thing to notice are multiple openings for the HDD cables and a plethora of tie-down points to the left. In the middle is where the majority of the cable management will take place. Again, ample locations to utilize zip ties, both vertically and horizontally. Two SSD’s can be screwed to the black SSD mount located just below the CPU cut-out. Finally at the bottom is the PSU area. The PSU will sit atop four foam pads to further reduce any noise due to vibration.

Right Side Open

Close-Up HDD Fastening & Tie Points

Front

Most of the front panel was covered already in the earlier section. The panel itself is removed by grasping the bottom and giving it a firm pull. With this panel removed it is then possible to remove the ODD cover plate via the two tabs that hold it in place. Also included in this section is a close-up of the front filter. It is a fabric filter with fine mesh and will serve well to reduce dust build-up inside the case.

Front Panel

Front Panel Back

Close-Up Front Filter

Top

The P101 Silent lacks any top exhaust so instead let’s look at the cables that connect to the I/O port. There is the standard mix of cables including the power switch, reset switch, HDD indicator, USB 2.0, HD audio, and USB 3.0. Also up top are the pass-through, Molex power connectors for the fans speed switch and the LEDs for the four illuminated USB ports.

Top I/O Panel

IO Connectors

Close-Up Fan Connectors

Bottom

A close-up image of the bottom filter shows that this one is made of the same fine mesh fabric as the front filter. It should be mentioned that the pull handle for this filter is recessed far enough beneath the case that it is a little difficult to get to. It’s only a very minor inconvenience, however, with the fact that a good third of this filter is unused makes it worth mentioning. There are four screws located here used to remove the HDD caddy mount.

Bottom View

Close-Up Bottom Filter

Fans

There are a total of four fans included with the P101 Silent. Three 120 x 25mm front fans that spin at approximately 950 RPM and a single 140 x 25mm that rotates at 1000 RPM. There are no specs listed for these on the fans or the Antec website. These speeds were taken from CPUID’s HWMonitor during the thermal testing. Naturally, these readings are only available when connected directly to the motherboard as the fan speed switch that they are connected to by default is driven by Molex power rather than a PWM motherboard header. It would have been nice to see a PWM control here. Most motherboards these days offer case fan control based on temperature and it would have been a good addition. But, I digress, the included fans are so quiet it is difficult to tell if they are even on, even at full speed making this a moot point.

Fans

Storage

For housing data storage the P101 Silent utilizes a combination of methods. Equipped with a 5.25″ removable ODD bay one can still use CD’s, DVD’s, or Blu-Ray devices. This case can be loaded up with up to eight 3.5″ HDD’s using the four hard drive caddies. Each caddy can house up to two 3.5″ drives or two 2.5″ drives. The smaller drives must be secured using screws while the larger can utilize the plastic pins inside the trays making them tool-less. Each HDD tray is fitted with four rubber pads on the outer sides to reduce noise that may be caused by spinning drives. The HDD caddies slide and lock into one another and are also secured to the case via thumb screws. There is also a HDD caddy mount at the bottom of the case that could be considered optional if all the caddies are not needed. Finally, behind the motherboard, there is an SSD tray for mounting two additional 2.5″ SSD’s.

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The Builds

We’ve reviewed each section of this case, so now it’s time to grab some parts and look at its full potential. Let’s see the P101 Silent’s ability to house custom water cooling components as well as large air coolers.

Water Cooled Build

The first custom water loop mock-up build highlights a typical build. When using a 45mm radiator up front there are no issues with the HDD caddies. As there is no designated pump mounts one must either use a pump/reservoir combo and eliminate a few HDD caddies or get creative and mount the pump with two-sided tape. Even with all the HDD caddies in place, there is still room to pass tubing under the ODD bay. This is a very nice consideration.

If one wanted to go the big water route with this case than the only option is to eliminate the HDD caddies. Here a 360 x 60mm thick radiator is mounted with push/pull fans to demonstrate its full potential. One would have no issues mounting an 80mm thick radiator. In this scenario, we’ve removed the front ODD cover to make it easy to access the fill ports.

Typical Water Cooled Configuration

Typical Water Cooled Configuration Max Storage

Big Water Cooled Configuration

Big Water Fill Ports

Air Cooled Build

Keeping with the silent theme a Noctua NH-D14 was selected to be the large air cooler. Even with this monstrosity installed there was plenty of room to access the cable at the top of the case.

Typical Air Cooled Configuration

Cable Routing

The Antec P101 silent provides 18mm of clearance between the back panel and the motherboard/drive tray/baffle. This isn’t a lot by any means but is adequate for most applications. Something to note is with the side panels not needing to slide to the rear for removal it makes it easy to squeeze in some of the thicker cabling.

Cable Clearance

Cable Management

Thermal Testing Procedure

Now that we’ve seen what this case can house it’s time to test whether it is getting adequate airflow. With the case in its stock orientation and all the fans at full speed, an overclock will be applied to the CPU and GPU. The overclock will be as high as possible, maintaining stability and staying within the thermal limits of the components. To apply a load to the CPU and GPU, Aida64 Extreme and 3D Mark Firestrike will be run together for about a half hour. This will provide the maximum internal case temperature. Then, remove the side panel and continue for another full run of Firestrike measuring the temperature drop. If the case is getting proper airflow then the case temperatures will remain within a few degrees of the original result. If there is a significant temperature drop with the side panel removed then the case is starving for fresh, cool air.

Thermal Testing Set-up

Antec P101 Silent Testing System
Case Antec P101 Silent
Motherboard Asus M5A97
CPU AMD Phenom II x6 1090T 3.95Ghz @ 1.56v
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-D14 (without low noise adapter)
Memory Patriot 8Gb (2x4Gb) 1600hz CL9
GPU Sapphire HD7950 Vapor-X
Storage OCZ Agility3 SSD 80Gb
Power Supply Seasonic Focus+ Gold 750FX
Operating System Windows 10 Home 64 bit
Stock fans Antec 1x140mm 1000RPM & 3x120mm 950RPM
Temperature Probe Amprobe TMD-52
Ambient Temp 19°C

Thermal Results & Comparison

Looking at the results the Antec P101 Silent has a 5°C lower temperature with the panel off. This is not excessive, though we would generally like to see a lower difference where possible. While in other reviews we’ve seen temperature drops of a couple of degrees. The P101 Silent will handle most loads but will do so with slightly higher temperatures than other cases, but the case is meant for quite, not superior cooling capabilities.

Conclusion

The Antec P101 Silent is a solidly built case. It has a lot of great features and the design and layout are executed nicely. There are a few options for water cooling and will house nearly any air cooled build. While this case does not excel at thermal efficiency, it is effective enough for most builds. At the heart is its ability to provide the user with silence and ample storage and it does this exceedingly well. Any individual who is building a silent personal server, network attached storage or gaming computer will be pleased to work with the Antec P101 Silent.

Finally, the last aspect to consider is the cost. The Antec P101 Silent retails for $109.99 at Newegg and $122.91 at Amazon. These are reasonable prices for a case of this quality and puts it right on par with other silent cases currently on the market. For the price and the features presented here, this makes the Antec P101 Silent an Overclockers.com Approved choice.

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-John Nester (Blaylock)

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