CPU cooler installation follows the same process outlined in our big cooler round-up with one major exception: the CNPS12X actually fits this motherboard and RAM in the correct orientation for our intended case fan configuration. Those big improvements come from shorter memory heat spreaders and a motherboard with extra space between its top PCIe slot and CPU interface.
Front fans screw into place after unsnapping the Antec P280’s filtered intake grille.
Antec connects its included exhaust fans to a four-fan, three-pin power bridge. We wanted our motherboard to control fan speed dynamically in response to heat, so the fans were re-oriented to allow their power cables to reach corresponding motherboard headers.
Antec’s speed controls are hard-wired onto its fans, with switches clipped into a convenient bracket on the P280’s back panel. Re-orienting the top fans to use motherboard power requires that their switches be unclipped from this bracket. All three fans are mechanically set to full-speed mode, giving the motherboard the widest possible range of electronic speed control.
Like most Seasonic power supplies, the SS-860XP’s drive power cables are oriented for top-mounted power supplies. The connectors can be removed by simply unclipping the back and sliding the cable out of the connector’s blades. Reversing the process allows the connectors to be re-installed facing in the opposite direction.
Note that the connector’s outer key is next to the yellow (12 V) wire in both photos, and beware that arranging wires in the wrong order will certainly damage components.
A huge black chrome-looking CPU cooler adds big visual highlights to the inside of a system that most people will never see, since its side panel has no window. On the other hand, our lack of graphics cards in a CrossFire arrangement could make empty space this system’s most noticeable feature.