Articles: Cases/PSU
 

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An Antec AR-350 power supply is located at the back. The PSU is very compact and has a nonstandard L-shaped form-factor. It means you won’t be able to replace it with some other model if it fails.

 

The mainboard is fastened in a peculiar way. You put it down on poles and move on to the protruding hooks, fixing it in place. The two rear poles are threaded – the mainboard is secured with screws on them.

Of course, you begin the assembly by installing the mainboard with memory sticks, CPU and cooler. Unfortunately, this system case is too small to accommodate my Zalman ZNPS9500 AT cooler and I had to take another cooler for it. No cooler with a 120mm fan could fit in, but the main problem was the height rather than the width or length of the cooler. The maximum height is 65mm because the PSU is right above the processor, limiting the cooler’s height. So I eventually chose a Floston FCI7751S-4P. The Scythe Shuriken SCSK-1000 would be the best choice but I didn’t have it when testing this system case.

I’d like to recommend one modification for owners of the NSK1380 as well as for Antec developers. The impeller of the CPU cooler’s fan is rotating right below the grid in the PSU case, producing a low but irritating noise. You can avoid it by sticking a plastic bar to the PSU that would separate the airflows of the PSU and the CPU cooler as shown in the photo above (by the way, it already shows the mentioned Scythe Shuriken installed).

Next you install your expansion cards. I had no problems even with such a long graphics card as my HIS ATI HD 3870. I had no problems installing it but did have some with powering it up. The PSU installed in this system case doesn’t provide a 6-pin graphics card connector. This might have been expected as few people would want to install such advanced graphics cards into such a small system case. I solved the problem by means of an adapter.

Included with the case is a small blower that occupies one expansion slot. You may want to install it into the first slot, the closest to the CPU. The blower will then help removing the hot air away from the CPU, which is a problem in such a small system case. So if you are going to use an advanced graphics card, it is desirable that the PCI Express x16 slot is the second, not the first, slot on the mainboard. Otherwise, you won’t be able to install both the blower and the graphics card normally. Fortunately, there are quite a lot of such mainboards available in shops.

The fastening of the brackets is not handy. You have to remove the locking plate on the external side of the back panel by undoing two screws on the plate as well as four screws on the brackets since they go through the holes in the plate.

Now it’s time to deal with the drives. The optical drive goes first into the cage. It is followed by HDDs, one of which is placed flat under the optical drive while two more are positioned upright on the sides.

 

The resulting arrangement looks funny, yet very easy to deal with. By the way, the horizontal HDD is fastened with screws and rubber spacers while the upright-standing ones, with ordinary screws.

The system case can theoretically accommodate three HDDs but one of them competes with the graphics card for the same room. I decided to install two HDDs and an advanced full-size graphics card to have a rather high-performance configuration as the result. If you are not into gaming, you can use the mainboard’s integrated graphics core but install three HDDs.

The next step of the assembly process must be the most difficult one. You begin by connecting all the power and interface cables to the mainboard. Then you should put the cage with the drives into the case at an angle. You don’t put it down but leave it slanted. Then you connect power to the optical and hard disk drives. You’ll need all your dexterity for this because there is very little space for your fingers while the power cables are very short (and they must be short because it wouldn’t be possible to lay long cables neatly in such a small case).

A minute of fumbling with the cables and the system is ready! The components are packed densely. There is only free room near the front panel. The rest of the interior is occupied.

The purpose of the vent holes in the top panel becomes clear now. The CPU cooler is just opposite that spot.

The assembly process is handy overall, making allowances for the dimensions of the case. The open case is easily accessed from any side while all the drives are placed into one detachable cage.

 
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