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In The End

Up And Down With Antec's P180 Case
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So what did I get for my trouble ? See below.

3DMark 05 Performance Comparison
Test P4/9800 Pro A4000+/X800 XL Gain/Loss
3DMark Score 1,806 4,120 128.10%
GT1 (fps) 7.6 18 136.80%
GT2 (fps) 5.1 12.5 145.10%
GT3 (fps) 9.8 19.3 96.90%
CPU Score (CPU marks) 4,089 4,059 -0.70%
CPU Test 1 (fps) 2.3 2.4 4.30%
CPU Test 2 (fps) 3.2 3.1 -3.10%
Fill rate - Single texture (Mtexels/s) 1,982 2,972 49.90%
Fill rate - Multi-texturing (MTexels/s) 3,026 6,344 109.70%
Pixel Shader (fps) 30.8 78 153.20%
Vertex Shader - simple (Mverticies/s) 46.1 52.5 13.90%
Vertex Shader - complex (Mverticies/s) 27.1 37 36.50%

There is no question the X800 XL flattens the old 9800 Pro. However, I’ve gotten nothing for upgraded processing. The 4000+ is the processing equivalent of a three-year-old Northwood 3 GHz CPU. The only real benefit for me will be if I decide to add more than 4 GB of memory (and run 64-bit Windows).

The hard drive bay, with a place holder for a 120 mm fan.

In fact, I have found one area where the Athlon performance is inferior to that of the Intel CPU. I frequently play two characters at once in EQ, running two separate instances of the program on a single computer. EQ has an auto follow option, so one character can follow behind the movements of another. I use that feature to move two characters at once.

However, with the Athlon, the second client lags so badly that I simply can’t auto follow. The client running in the background runs so slowly that the character falls behind and eventually stops following within seconds. I had this problem with the Intel chip, but it was never this severe. Perhaps it had to do with HyperThreading. Whatever the reason, it will seriously cramp my play style, that’s for certain.

It’s rather annoying that I’ve spent over $1,000 to upgrade my video, because when it comes right down to it, that’s all I’ve gotten. AGP is being phased out, left behind. So to get a decent new video card, not even top of the line, I had to make a huge investment. To be sure, I could have gone with a $75 case that had its own power supply. The Antec cost $159 and new power supply was another $99. But it’s still a big chunk of coin to lay out.

The other benefit is that the heat is definitely reduced. Even with the stock AMD fan, the CPU is at 37 degrees Celsius, or 98 degrees Fahrenheit, and the case temperature is a few degrees cooler. The air coming out of the top and back of the case is far cooler, and I don’t get assaulted by the blasts of heat like I used to. I used to keep a floor fan under the desk just to disperse the heat building up down there. Now it’s no longer needed. Even without direct intake fans, the Antec has tremendous suction, which means even more dust accumulation than on most cases. When I built this case, the old number one system, using the Termaltake case, was thoroughly cleaned. One month later, the dust build-up around the Antec’s intake vents is significantly worse than it is on the Thermaltake. So it will require regular and aggressive cleaning.

The assembled system, before I tucked the wires away.

Retiring the former number two computer was also a plus. That thing wasn’t just a computer, it was a heating unit. I could never put my finger on it, but that thing pumped out ridiculous amounts of heat. It was also the loudest computer in the house. The former primary computer is housed in a Thermaltake Tsunami Dream case, which is quieter and much cooler (not to mention a dust magnet of the highest order). The overall noise and heat in this place is greatly reduced for this upgrade.

Money well spent ? I’d feel more confident saying yes if I had the money to really spare.

If there is a good purchase in all of this, it’s the Antec case. The stock fans do a very capable job. They have speed controls, low, medium and high, and on medium, the sound is quiet and cooling more than sufficient. There’s plenty of room in the case for case modders to go nuts with all kinds of modifications, like liquid cooling. It takes a little more effort to assemble the case due to the funky power supply placement, but in the end, it’s a very well-constructed case.

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