Models and packages
The P190 is cosmetically and architecturally similar to the P180B, except it is slightly longer in depth, has dual power supplies preinstalled, and has more dramatic cooling measures in the form of two 140mm top-mounted "blowhole" fans and a gigantic 200mm filtered "Big Boy" fan in the side panel. The P190 stands alone in the top tier of the Performance One series as of this writing -- there are no other P190 sub-models.
Electrical and physical design
The P190 is made of a tightly integrated combination of PVC plastic, sheet metal, and aluminum. Each material's strengths are used to maximum value, so the P190 ends up being durable, sturdy, and relatively lightweight. It weighs in at about 44 pounds, which is relatively heavy for a desktop chassis. Keep in mind, though, that dual power supplies come preinstalled where most cases these days don't include a power supply at all, so the weight is going to be significantly higher because of that.
Like other recent Antec chassis designs, the P190 has a bottom-mounted power supply chamber, which puts the largest portion of the computer's weight at the bottom of the case instead of the top. This leads to greater physical stability and allows more sensible internal chassis partitioning into cooling zones. The power supplies are Antec Neo-Link 650w and 550w; the 650 is for the motherboard and peripheral cards, and the 550 is for the drives. Separating the two out like this can provide for greater system stability when one part is put under sudden load. Unfortunately, having two power supplies means you need two power cords going to the machine; they are included with the P190 package.
A 120mm cooling fan blows air through the rear vent of the PSUs and out through the back of the chassis. Cables are fed up through a hole in the lower partition, and can optionally be clamped in place with a plastic bracket. Another 120mm fan is mounted on the backplane of the case near the top (approximately at CPU level). As mentioned above, two 140mm fans are mounted on the top of the P190 and they both blow upward through metal grating. A 200mm "Big Boy" fan in the side panel sucks air in through a metal grate and a fine screen. All of the fans in the P190 have external 3-mode switches for low, medium, and high speeds, with the exception of the fan in front of the power supplies, which has an internal mode switch.
|The Antec P190: stylish, but heavy|
There are two removable drive cages for 3.5" drives -- one holding two drives in internally removable sleds, and the other holding up to four drives -- one mid-mounted 3.5" slot for a floppy drive or other similar faceplate device, and one 5.25" non-removable bracket that holds up to four drives. The 5.25" drives have to have rails, which are included with the case, and the 3.5" drives in the lower removable cage has silicone grommets in the screw holes to cut down on vibration noise.
Unlike many other designs, both sides are removable panels held in by thumb screws. It's necessary to remove both panels in order to install a power supply in the lower bracket. A thin layer of foam rubber lines the inside edges of the panels, which prevents vibration in the panels, and also helps keep internal noise from escaping.
Like it's little brother, the P182, the P190 has two 1" star rubber holes on the back of the case to make it easier to feed cables from an external water cooling unit.
One unique and interesting feature of the P190 is an internal LED gooseneck lamp. When not in use, it rests neatly at the top of the case, alongside the blowhole fans.
The front panel opens from the right and covers the drive faceplates. The door is held shut by magnets strong enough to keep it shut under its own weight, but not so strong that it's tough to open. The door does not cover the various frontpanel connectors, but does cover the power and reset buttons. It is not easily removable.
Putting it to the test
I know I wrote above that 44 pounds is a little heavy for a computer case, but wow -- it really is a behemoth to work with if you're used to Antec's lighter designs like the Sonata and the Nine Hundred. Installation of internal computer parts is as easy and straightforward as it is in most other Antec models, except that most of the drives must be mounted on rails.
The power cables wind around an interesting path to get to the motherboard, peripheral cards (if necessary), and drives. The drive power cables are particularly meandering -- they go up through the lower chamber where the power supply is, then over to the drive cages, then either up to the top cage or down through another hole into the lower drive cage area. Fortunately all of the cables are long enough to go to all of the places they would conceivably need to go.
Power cables aside, internal cable management can be difficult in the P190 because of all of the cooling fans. All five of them have Molex connectors that need to connect to one of the power supplies; the top two are particularly difficult to connect without having a power cord dangle too close to the CPU fan. The solution is to put them behind the motherboard tray -- there are openings at the top and bottom of the tray that are large enough to accommodate the fan cables, and cable ties are preinstalled on the other side to assist in securing them.
|The Antec P190: armed to the teeth|
Speaking of the fans, they are not shielded internally, so working on this system while the power is on is totally out of the question -- you'd be practically begging to get your fingers or knuckles whacked by a fan. In terms of noise, the system is whisper-quiet on its lowest fan settings. When you turn the fan settings up to medium, the system gets noticeably louder; on high, the P190 is almost as loud as a traditional sheet metal workstation chassis from a few years ago. I don't see any reason to crank the fans up to the highest level -- in fact, I doubt most people will see a need to have them on anything other than low.
The 550w PSU has a control wire going to the motherboard connector on the 650w. This enables the 550w supply to power on at the same time as the 650w when activated via the ATX power switch. Both of them have rocker kill switches in the back, just like "normal" PSUs. There are enough connectors for the number of peripheral card and drive slots in the P190, so no matter what you manage to stuff into it, the case and the PSUs should be able to accommodate your hardware.
Aside from the weight, my only real complaints about the P190 are in the removable side panels. It is difficult to plug in the "Big Boy" fan because the cable is a little shorter than I'd prefer, and cable management for that particular fan is impossible. I would rather see some kind of innovative way of plugging the fan in by closing the side panel -- a power connector built into the door and the frame. Secondly, I found that pet hair from a carpet will easily stick to the foam rubber padding on the panels. While this seems to be primarily a cosmetic problem, I found it pretty annoying. I'm not really sure how that could be fixed, aside from doing more regular rug vacuuming.
The P190 is almost an engineering marvel; its design obviously required a great deal of planning and testing on Antec's part. I don't think it is possible with current technology to design a more quiet computer chassis that has this many internal air cooling measures. The inclusion of the dual power supplies immediately lays to rest any concerns about being in any way incapable of supporting the most high-powered computer components on the market.
This is the chassis I would buy if I wanted to build a high-end workstation. For gaming, I think I'd go with something a little lighter and more portable, like the Nine Hundred. If nothing else, the high price of the P190 will scare off casual buyers; if you're going to pay this kind of money for a chassis, you'd better be really interested in high performance and low noise.
|Device support||Up to four 5.25" drives; seven 3.5" drives (only one with a faceplate); ATX, microATX, Mini-ITX, and FlexATX motherboards; ATX power supply (not included); three 120mm fans; one bracket for an optional 120mm hard drive cage fan; up to seven peripheral card slots|
|Market||Desktop PC enthusiasts, workstation builders, especially for high-powered systems that need to have low noise output|
|Price (retail)||U.S. ~$430 Buy it now from Amazon.com|
|Product Web site||Click here|