Each of the three Antec products featuring the exclusive fan regulation system, I am going to test them at each speed setting. This will also help present the results in a more readable manner. But first I want to tell you how I installed my HDDs in each of them.
The two 74GB disks were installed into the top tier of the HDD rack in the Sonata IV. The pair of 150GB disks were installed into the bottom tier. Thus, all bays in the HDD rack were filled in.
In both Performance One series products I installed the 74GB disks into the top HDD rack following the standard order. The 150GB disks were placed in the vertical bays of the bottom rack as far from each other as possible.
I didn’t install extra fans into any of the system cases.
This is the most important test from a practical point of view since each of the three products is positioned as a system case for a quiet computer.
My apprehensions about the Sonata IV’s ability to cool the components properly with its single rear fan didn’t come true. I was concerned about the HDDs but they turned out to be colder than in many system cases with active HDD cooling even at the minimum speed of the fan. I have no doubt that the Sonata IV can keep ordinary HDDs (with a rotation speed of 5900 to 7200 RPM) as cool as 40°C or lower in quiet mode.
Take note that the HDDs had the lowest temperature when the computer was under high graphics load. I don’t think that’s mere coincidence. The graphics card’s cooler worked at its highest speed then, exhausting the hot air out of the chassis and facilitating the intake of fresh air through the vent holes in the HDD rack.
The mainboard’s chipset is cooled well, too. On the other hand, the CPU and graphics card are hotter than in most other system cases that I’ve tested so far. Anyway, I guess Antec engineers should be given credit for implementing efficient ventilation with the help of a single low-speed fan!
Antec P183 V3 (low)
The junior Performance One series model is somewhat better than the Sonata IV in terms of CPU and GPU cooling, but the mainboard’s chipset is hotter here. The HDDs are considerably hotter than in the Sonata IV, too. Well, the P183 V3 allows installing front fans right opposite the HDDs, an opportunity that most users will make use of, I guess, whereas the Sonata IV does not provide a way to install such a fan.
Antec P193 V3 (low)
The largest model is better than its series mate in terms of GPU, CPU and mainboard cooling at the minimum speed of the fan. They are comparable in the other parameters. This result might be expected because the side fan ensures better cooling for the mainboard and graphics card. The additional top fan helps cool the CPU whereas the larger interior negates the benefits of the intensified air flow for the HDDs.
The next diagram compares the system cases at the minimum speed of the fans with the open testbed: