Antec NSK4480 Case Review
By Gabriel Torres on April 3, 2008
NSK4480 is one of the simplest cases from Antec, targeted to users that want to build a mainstream PC with a good 380 W power supply (this model comes with an Antec EarthWatts 380 W power supply already installed) and prefer having a smaller PC with a more conservative looks, but with a good construction, a 120 mm rear fan and side duct.
This case uses the traditional “mini-tower” size, with three external 5.25” bays, two external 3.5” bays for floppy disk drives and three internal 3.5” bays for hard disk drives. It also has a very conservative front panel, with only two USB 2.0 ports, on/off (“standby”) button, reset button and power LED. No headphone and microphone jacks are available.
On the side of the front panel you can find several holes where the air enters the case.
In Figure 4, you can see the rear panel, using the very traditional ATX design, but with the addition of one big 120 mm fan there.
The way this case is opened is very different from traditional cases. The side panels aren’t screwed to the rear case. To remove them you need to unscrew the top panel and then slide the panels up. Even though this case is targeted to the mainstream market, this case uses thumbscrews to hold the top panel, feature only seen on high-end cases.
Even though you can remove the right panel (the panel behind the motherboard) the metallic plate where the motherboard is installed is permanently attached to the case, so you can’t remove it to facilitate the motherboard installation.
The left side panel (the panel you remove to build your PC) has a small mesh and a duct to improve internal airflow, matching Intel’s Chassis Air Guide Design 1.1 (translation: the correct requirement for mini-tower cases). You can adjust the height of the duct to better match the CPU cooler you are using, as this duct is used for improving CPU ventilation (read our How to Correctly Assemble PCs with Pentium 4 Prescott tutorial for an in-depth look at the role of this side duct). You can also attach an 80 mm fan to this duct, if you’d like (this fan doesn’t come with the case).
In Figure 8, you can see an overall look inside the reviewed case, while in Figure 9 you can see the rear 120 mm fan, which has a three-speed controller, and in Figure 10 the place where you can install an additional 80 mm fan below the hard disk drive bays (this fan is optional and doesn’t come with the case; if you decide to install one, it must be installed blowing air from outside to inside).
As we mentioned before this case has three internal 3.5” bays for hard disk drives. What is different here is that these bays have rubber rings on the holes where the screws are inserted to fasten the hard drives to the case. The goal of these rings is to work as little shock absorbers, preventing the vibration produced by the hard disk drives (as they are constantly spinning) from propagating to the metallic frame of the case, thus reducing the noise level. This feature is normally found only on high-end cases.
Another interesting feature of this case is the existence of a place for holding the power supply unused cables right in front of the power supply, as you can see in Figure 12. This way you can organize the cables better inside the case, improving internal airflow.
By removing the power supply you can also see that you can easily install a longer power supply, if you want – even though we think that someone willing to buy a bigger power supply will choose a different case anyway.
As we already mentioned the power supply that comes with this case is an Antec EarthWatts 380 W. We haven’t reviewed this model yet but we were really impressed with EarthWatts 500 W, which showed to be an outstanding power supply in our review. We will try to review this 380 W model in the near future.
Antec NSK4480 case main specs include:
* Researched at Shopping.com on the day we published this review.
This is a good case for the mainstream user that is looking for a good mini-tower case but doesn’t want anything extravagant. For Average Joe one of the best features of this case is the fact that it comes already with a good 380 W power supply. Keep in mind that 380 W is far more than any average user will ever need. It also comes with a rear 120 mm fan with speed control (three speeds) and rubber rings to reduce the noise produced by the hard disk drives.
Of course this isn’t a case that will please all users: it has only three internal hard disk drive bays. While this is more than enough for Average Joe users willing to build a RAID array or have more than three hard drives will need to choose a different product.
Another down side of this product is the absence of the headphone and mic in jacks on the front panel, an important feature even for regular users, as it easily allows you to install your headset for talking on Skype or playing games without disturbing other people.