I will first discuss the performance of each system case individually.
The first HDD is installed into the middle of the top cage; the second HDD is in the top guide of the bottom cage.
Even when the fan speed is at the minimum, the Antec Mini P180 copes well with cooling all of the components, including HDDs. Take note of the low temperature of the CPU. This is due to the reduced clock rate, but the system case will surely cope with hotter and faster CPUs. The clever configuration of airflows shows its benefits here: the two fans in the corner of the chassis are successfully pumping a strong stream of air through the entire case.
The system case should also be praised for its quietness. It is almost silent at the minimum speed of the fans. You can only hear a soft rumble of the HDDs’ heads. And even the HDDs are far quieter here than in standard system cases due to the 3-layer panels. The large fan is good, too. It is silent at low speed – you can hear a soft hiss of the airflow only if you put your ear right next to the fan!
However, when you switch to medium speed, the case becomes audible: the fans are not quiet anymore. And finally, the noise is downright irritating at max speed and is mostly produced by the 200mm fan.
I also tested this system case at the max speed of the fans.
The effect is obvious: every component is cooler now in every mode. The graphics card and HDDs benefit the most from the stronger airflow when under load. I don’t think the increased noise is worth the improvement in temperature, though. Every component is quite comfortable even at minimum speed, so why should you lose your own acoustic comfort? If you do want to improve cooling efficiency, you can try to install a couple of slow and quiet fans on the front panel.
That was not the end of my test, though. If this system case is so good at cooling, perhaps it can handle the CPU in passive mode? I did not look for a special cooler for that. I just unplugged the fan cable of the already installed Zalman CNPS9500 AT. The system fans worked at minimum speed again.
The Antec Mini P180 passes this test! Of course, the CPU temperature is high under load, yet remains within acceptable limits. Thus, you can us passive coolers even for rather fast CPUs in this system case to reduce the overall noise of your computer even more.
The HDDs are numbered from top to bottom.
The Antec NSK6580B is very good and cools every component well. I should note, however, that the HDDs are rather hot, even though not as alarmingly hot as 50°C or higher. This might have been expected because system cases with only one exhaust fan are usually not very good at cooling HDDs (and the HDDs used in this test are very hot themselves). The NSK6580B seems to have proper ventilation in the front part of the case. The fact that the HDDs are installed with gaps rather than next to each other must have helped, too. The second HDD from top is a good example of that point: being the only HDD that is squeezed between two other HDDs, it has a considerably higher temperature than the others in every mode.
It is all right about the noise factor, of course. The high quality of manufacture guarantees the lack of undesired noises whereas the single 120mm fan cannot be loud at minimum speed. Thus, it is the HDDs that were the main source of noise in the system. Frankly speaking, the difference from the Mini P180 was easily perceptible. The buzzing of the rotating platters and the clatter of the heads during the IOMeter: Access Time test was much clearer and louder.
Now let’s compare the system cases with each other.
So, the Mini P180 is obviously better when idle. The 200mm fan on the top panel greatly improves the cooling of the system components.
The 200mm fan also contributes to the cooling of HDDs. But again, the NSK6580B is very good for a system case in which there is only one exhaust 120mm fan and four 10,000rpm HDDs working at their full speed.
It is not quite correct to compare these results because the CPU worked at a reduced frequency in the Mini P180. However, you can note that you don’t get much by switching the fans to their max speed. The benefits are small and inconspicuous for ordinary usage (you can achieve the same effect by using a more efficient type of thermal grease). The option of passive cooling of the CPU is appealing, too. The temperatures are far from dangerous even then.
Finally, here is the gaming load. The graphics card is cooled much better in the Mini P180 when you switch the system fan to max speed. However, noise is an issue. I would instead prefer to install an additional fan on the front panel opposite the graphics card. The CPU with passive cooling feels all right under gaming load.