Review: The Antec P5 Mini

Assume you need a new case for an mATX motherboard and you want a case specifically for that board size, not a regular mid tower. You have lots of options. But then you also want to use your old AIO with a 140mm radiator. Suddenly you only have a few options, but known good ones like the Fractal Design Meshify C Mini or the Fractal Design Define Mini C. But if you then also want a 5.25” slot — and be it for storing your HDD with a hard disk silencer and cooler like the Alpenföhn Alptunnel — then suddenly you are almost out of options. All the well reviewed cases fall away. One remaining choice and actually a nice case is the Antec P5 Mini, one I will review here today.

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The main features

The Antec P5 Mini is a modern mATX case. With modern I mean the style and the layout: It has the slick black box style popular with the Fractal Design cases and an interior layout without a hard disk cage. The psu gets installed at the bottom with the fan being able to point down, there is a cut out (with dust filter) to let it pull in air. The power and the reset button sit at the top of the case, together with two USB slots and the audio output. Prominent is the white power LED encircling the power button, the other design element are the feet being metallic instead of black. Though the front is also not just black, it has some structure that makes it seem wood-like at first glance.

Thanks to not having a hdd cage it supports gpus with a length up to 360mm, the cpu cooler can be 155mm high.

Main differentiator to other mATX cases is the radiator support, while still having a 5.25” slot above. At the front there is space for two 120mm fans or even a 240mm radiator, with fan holes to install one 140mm fan with out without radiator instead. The small hard disk cage at the bottom is placed appropriately far away to let space for radiator and fans. The only other fan that can be installed is a 120mm fan at the back of the case.

H90 with fan installed at the front as intake

The P5 Mini has noise isolation foam already installed. That noise isolation actually works, there is an audible difference for example when opening the hinged front panel. But the bitumen foam installed here seems to me less effective than the aftermarket noise isolation foam sold by the german vendor caseking I use in a different case. Still, it’s a nice addition and the P5 Mini is not noisy, I had no issues with vibrations and I can not hear the AIO pump or coil whine from psu or gpu when sitting next to it.

It helps that the two pre-installed fans are not bad. They are not great either and only have three pins, but they will work for you if silence is not the absolute top priority. If it is you want to install more expensive silent case fans instead.

Air flow was my big concern. After all it supports way less fans than the typical mid-ATX tower. To make matters worse, the air holes at the side of the front panel are mostly just decoration: Only the lower area is perforated completely, the upper part covered by plastic. This will help reduce the noise that can pass at the front, but it lowers air flow. Because of this I wouldn’t recommend running a 300W gpu and an overclocked Threadripper in this case, but for regular consumer hardware the thermal performance was surprisingly decent, with no overheating issues whatsoever.

P5 Mini with hardware installed

It might be that the noise isolation foam helps here and its subjective, but the P5 feels sturdy. The way the side panels don’t flex too much, how the feet are installed, how the front panel moves and how well the mechanism to remove the front dust filter works: There is some quality here that makes me like the case. It’s also not flashy at all, there is no window and there are no RGB LEDs, characteristics I quite like. That the case is not a premium case is evident mainly because of its flaws we will cover now.

Easy removable dustfilter

The Flaws

I already mentioned the fans not being PWM models, which would be a prerequisite for a higher price point (or the integration of a fan hub, like Phantek does). But also apart from that not everything is perfect: The dust filter at the front can easily be removed, the one at the bottom is less easy to reach. The two upper PCI-E slots are installed with a screw, as they should be, but the other two would have to be removed with force. Proper replacements come with the box, but they should be pre-installed. The power button at the top had two small flaws in the coating — not something you’d return the case for, but it should be mentioned here, as it point to quality control issues.

Breakout pci-e covers

Two 3.5” HDDs fit into the hard disk cage, there are also two 2.5” slots at the motherboard side of the cage and two at the back side. That’s nice and that way it supports more disk most people will ever need. But the two SSDs at the back need to be screwed in, a toolless installation mechanism would have been nicer. At least the placement is good and there are rubber pads to make sure the bottom of the disks do not touch the cases directly. The placement aligns well with the cable management features the case possesses. It would be more comfortable though if the case was one cm wider, making it easier to store power supply cables at the back side to make proper use of the cable management cutouts in the mainboard tray.

Back of the P5 Mini

Conclusion

The Antec P5 Mini is a good case. It has almost no competition if you want radiator support and an 5.25” slot in an mATX case, but even if you do not need that 5.25” slot the P5 Mini is a sound option, especially for the current price of ~50€. It looks nice, has a good layout and solid build quality, with only minor flaws like the PCI expansion slot covers and the two white spots in the coating of the power button (which might very well be specific to my model and not a common issue).

Part of the story here is that modern cases are just really good, even the basic OEM designs. As a buyer you mainly have to not buy a case with a really old layout, which is easy to spot: If the psu is at the top and the interior metallic, stay away. The modern standard instead features a lot of strengths: It supports long GPUs, intelligent HDD and SSD placement, cable management options and in general makes it easy to build in. The P5 Mini feels like a shrunk and partly improved version of that. It shares the strength of the modern default design, but also the flaws of the non-high-end price segment, including the design trend of the last ~2 years of closing the front; which looks nice and can minimize noise if it does not kill air flow completely. The P5 Mini seems to have succeeded in finding a valid compromise here. I’ll keep it.

The Radeon VII fails to beat the GeForce RTX 2080

As welcome as some healthy competition on the gpu market would be, sadly the newly launched Radeon VII is not the card to challenge Nvidia at the high end. It is a loud and expensive 300W card with 16GB very fast HBM2 VRAM that still gets beaten by the RTX 2080:

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Please check the comparison page to see exactly which benchmarks were used for this rating.

There is a silver lining: AMD almost reaching the GeForce RTX 2080 is a good thing. AMD’s fastest card so far was the Vega 64, which was also loud and energy hungry but only at the performance level of a GeForce GTX 1080. The Radeon VII delivers at least a respectable performance improvement compared to that predecessor card, even if it is not enough to win in the FPS arena. That means AMD has the potential to release good consumer gpus at the high end, which could lower graphics card prices for all of us.

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But missing gaming performance is not even what hampers the Radeon VII the most. It is just a bit slower than the RTX 2080, a price correction could make up for the FPS difference. The real issue is that it is loud and energy hungry. Computerbase reports that the gpu runs on a much higher voltage than needed, undervolting it costs no performance, the card still runs stable, it just reduces energy usage by a lot and makes the card much quieter. That’s not a first for AMD: Both Vega cards run on voltage outside the peak efficiency of their chip, also Polaris can profit from being undervolted.

AMD needs to step up its game: It is not enough to just come close performance wise. If it wants to grab market share the company needs to beat Nvidia with cards that run faster than Nvidia’s products in the same price bracket; at the very least it needs to stop releasing cards that are obviously not ready for release, that miss the crucial fine tuning with regards to default voltage and cooler quality.

Reaching the high end: Nvidia's new RTX 2060 vs Vega 64 & Co

The GeForce RTX 2060 is a good release, beating its low expectations. It was rumored that the 2060 might be a slightly bigger jump compared to its next bigger GTX variant, the 1070, than the RTX 2070 was to the GTX 1080. Remember, the RTX 2070 was only able to match the performance of the GTX 1080, it was not really faster. A slight advantage over the 1070 would have been enough for the new RTX 2060 to fulfill this mission. Instead, the new Nvidia card not only beats the GTX 1070, it also beats the Vega 56. It even comes close to the performance of the next tier, with the performance level of the GTX 1080 and RTX 2070 firmly in reach of a reasonable overclock.

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To see exactly which benchmarks were used, check the comparison page.

Performance wise this is an excellent result for a new middle class graphics card. Which leads to the drawbacks. The first one is its price.

With $349 the card costs a lot more than what the GTX 1060 did. Price wise this new card is not a xx60, it is a xx70. Given the performance that’s not unjustified: It is after all faster than the GTX 1070, and faster than the even more expensive Radeon Vega 56. But $349 - or 369€ for the Founder’s Edition in Europe - are just outside the target price of a middle class graphics card, which was traditionally 200 to 300 bucks.

There is more. Energy usage is up, it sits at the level of a GTX 1070, not a 1060. Bad for systems with a weak power supply, which happens often when making an office PC gaming ready via a gpu upgrade. And finally: The RTX 2060 still has only 6GB Vram. Which is enough for a lot of games, but is less than AMD offers with the cheaper Radeon RX 580, and the Vram difference will likely cause stutters on higher settings in coming AAA games.

Ignoring the price this would have been an excellent release. Jumping one tier, catapulting the middle class from the level of the GTX 1060 to almost a GTX 1080 would have been a dream come true for many gaming PC builder out there. But the RTX 2060 isn’t simply a new and improved GTX 1060. For that it is just too expensive. It is closer to a GTX 1070 and a Vega 56; It is more attractive than both, as such it will play a role in the market. But that makes it more a card for those who want a cheaper RTX 2070, maybe overclock it to that level, than the right card for someone who just wants a new mid class graphics card for 1080p gaming. For those a cheap Radeon RX 590 or Radeon RX 580 is the more reasonable choice.

AMD's latest GPU: Radeon RX 590 vs GTX 1070, RX 580 and GTX 1060

Given the naming scheme of AMD’s prior series with their R9 290 and R9 390 the release of a new Radeon graphics card with the 90 suffix had to happen at some point. Still, given that AMD already moved on to Vega and that the old Polaris architecture seemed to reach its limit with the RX 580 the release of a RX 590 was a surprise. The RX 590 features:

  • A turbo clock of 1545 MHz, vs the 1340 MHz of the RX 580
  • 12nm vs 14nm node size
  • A TDP of 225W, not 185W, despite the smaller node size

With those specs the RX 590 is bound to be a faster alternative to the RX 580 in our benchmark. And that it is:

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To see exactly which benchmarks were used, check the comparison page.

But the card is also only faster than a RX 580. The RX 590 is not faster than the next Nvidia graphics card that is faster than the RX 580, which is the GTX 1070, and of course that also means it doesn’t come close to a Vega card. How big the difference is depends a lot on the game, but the FPS difference is always big enough to make the GTX 1070 a clearly better choice.

AMD will have to place the RX 590 in a price category firmly below the GTX 1070. In Germany that does not work too well yet, the Sapphire Nitro for example is with 290€ still too expensive. In the US the current price of $279 looks better, as long as the game bundle is still included. But even then a cheaper RX 580 like the XFX GTS remains an attractive alternative.

I would recommend to consider the RX 590 only if you originally wanted a RX 580, but decided to get one of the better models with a good cooler. Since those are often expensive the RX 590 might be in the same price range, and at that point it’s the better choice. For everyone else a GTX 1070 or a cheaper RX 580 is still the way to go, at least with current prices.

Review of the Raijintek Morpheus II Core Edition: Big, cool, complicated

Did you ever want a quieter graphics card? Or did you have one that was running perfectly fine until a fan broke, making it overheat all the time? If you searched for a solution, you stumbled maybe already over the Raijintek Morpheus II Core Edition, its predecessors or one of the few alternatives.

The Morpheus II is an aftermarket gpu cooler. Its promise is that by replacing the regular gpu cooler with this very big heatsink and strapping two 120mm case fans on top of it you end up with a less hot and quieter graphics card. The fans you have to buy yourself, the idea is to use regular case fans. The cooler supports a TDP of 360W, which is a lot.

It is not cheap though. I bought it myself at caseking for 64.90€, in the US the best offer I see right now is for $67.99 at newegg.

The question is: Is it worth it?

To decide that I will show how I installed the cooler plus fans on a Sapphire Pulse RX 580, a card that was before that installation very loud and ran too hot. I measured temperature before and after, and made recordings of the noise difference.

A closer look

The Morpheus II Core Edition does not seem to differ much from the regular Morpheus II. It is black, that’s all, apart from that the content of the box seems to be the same.

There is for one the heatsink itself:

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It is not small, but less heavy than I expected. For the gpu that is good news, a too heavy cooler can lead to gpu sag.

Additionally included is a manual, a bunch of small heatsinks with double sided tape, thermal paste, some screws, a metal holder for the screws at the back of the gpu, a slightly bigger VRM cooler plus fitting heatpads, metal brackets that act as connectors between gpu and heatsink as well as fitting coupling nuts, and metal brackets for the fan installation.

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There is also black tape that the manual calls fan tape, I figured it goes between the fans and the heatsink and is meant to minimize the travel of vibrations, reducing noise.

What is missing from the box are the fans. The Morpheus II comes without fans, but it should definitely be combined with two of them to properly move the heat away from the heatsink and also to cool the VRM. I opted for two Arctic F12 PWM Rev 2 case fans. Those fans are not the strongest on the market, but one of the cheaper options. In my opinion they cool sufficiently well and stay quiet enough. Though I was not sure whether they would work well behind a heatsink like this.

I also had to buy a PWM Y-splitter, and a VGA PWM adapter cable to connect that splitter to the 4-pin fanslot of the gpu. That way the gpu can directly control the speed of the fans based on its temperature.

Installation

I should preface this section with a warning: The installation of this cooler takes time and is not easy. It is made harder than it needs to be by the manual, which is just very bad and incomplete. Removing the stock cooler will void the warranty, at least for most brands (exceptions are EVGA, XFX in the US, and also MSI claims to not void warranty when exchanging the cooler). Knowing that there most likely is no warranty in case something goes wrong will make the installation more stressful.

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I started by removing the screws at the back of the gpu. That way the plastic shroud holding the fans can be removed, also the stock heatsink that normally sits below. The backplate can at this point be removed easily as well.

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It was very hard to disconnect the fan cable, I had to use force to succeed here and was very worried that I just broke the fan header. But nothing bad did happen to it.

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Doesn’t the bare card look unusual, without all the usual stuff around it?

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The brackets that get screwed to the heatsink should be installed now. You see that there are several holes at the end, this is where the heatsink will be connected to the gpu later. Depending on the gpu a different combination of holes needs to be used then, for now just install the coupling nuts there.

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Now the small heatsinks (sometimes also called heatspreaders) can be installed on top of the gpu. The manual is not very clear about where they have to be installed. It is a good idea to look at the original cooler for that: The Sapphire Pulse RX 580 for example has thermal pads on the heatsink where it will touch the Vram modules around the core of the card. Its heatsink also covers the VRM, again with thermalpads making the connection.

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The small heatsinks can be glued with the included double sided (thermal) tape on top the Vram modules. Careful: Some of them need to be covered by the smaller heatsink or the Morpheus cooler will later not fit on the core.

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One Vram block I even had to cover with some thermalpad and move the heatsink to the far side of the gpu core, otherwise the Morpheus heatsink would not have fit.

The mosfets of the VRM should be covered by the small VRM heatsink that comes with the box.

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In the case of my RX 580 this does not work: The heatsink is just too long.

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After realizing that no one sells a fitting VRM heatsink I used some of the smaller heatsinks instead and hoped for the best - the tape does not hold very strongly here, and it would have been better to use the provided VRM heatsink, as that one ought to connect to the Morpheus cooler later, transporting the heat more efficiently away.

At this point don’t forget to install the VGA to PWM adapter cable.

If Vram and VRM are properly covered the Morpheus II can be installed. First step is to apply thermal paste on the core. I used a different one than included because it was already open, the difference should not matter. Then I put the heatsink on the table and moved the gpu to the right position, so that the screws holding them together would fit into the bracket with the coupling nuts installed above.

But what about the backplate? The Morpheus comes with that metal X that can hold the heatsink to the gpu, like a mini-backplate. The manual makes no mention of what to do with the real backplate, according to the diagrams it just gets left off (or rather: never existed).

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For the RX 580 Pulse I instead opted to use the metal X and the backplate together, with the backplate touching the gpu and the X coming on top of that. The screws that before hold the stock heatsink are longer than the screws that come with the Morpheus II, they were long enough to connect both the metal X and the backplate to the heatsink.

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To prepare the fans for installation I glued the fan tape to the plastic bracket, where that would touch the heatsink later. I also put some between the two fans, to make sure they can’t produce noise by vibrating against each other.

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Afterwards I put the fans on top of the heatsink… and then needed a moment to figure out how the metal brackets work. Again the manual is pretty hard to decipher, the images too small. The metal brackets work like a lever or a rocker, by pressing on the extruded part the parts closer to the heatsink can be pressed into a small gap in the middle of the heatsink. After understanding how that works it’s actually not hard, and the fans seemed to be properly installed afterwards. It’s a smart solution, similar to how Noctua coolers hold their fans, but a bit easier to install.

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You end up with a strange looking gpu that looks like it has an oversized heatsink. Which is accurate, it really is big: While regular gpus use 2 or 2.5 PCI-E slots, a gpu with the Morpheus II and regular case fans installed will need 4. It is also longer than the card was before, only barely fitting into the case.

Noise and Temperature

The big cooler also had a big effect on noise and temperature. Listen yourself:

Recording before:

Recording with Morpheus:

That’s while playing Witcher 3 with the same fan curve.

I should have used a better microphone, but the difference is very clear: The regular cooler was louder than reasonable, louder than normal. The Morpheus II is the contrary, it is very very quiet. The noise it emits depends of course partly on the fans used, as they produce the noise. But it is to a big part the heatsink that defines how many RPM are needed and thus how loud the fans are. The fans can turn slowly if the heatsink is efficient and cools well.

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Exactly that happens with the Morpheus. While before in Witcher 3 the card reached 77°C in the test case despite the fans running almost at max speed (like said, not completely normal behaviour) it now reached 57°C. That’s very good, good enough to change the fan curve and make the fans spin even slower and quieter.

Conclusion

The Raijintek Morpheus II Core Edition holds its promise: It is a very good cooler that can make a huge difference in terms of temperature and noise. It is way better than the stock cooler normally used with graphics cards. For an expensive card that would otherwise be too loud or too hot it is an excellent option.

There are drawbacks though. It is heavy (compared to the default coolers) and needs a lot of space. It is also expensive: ~70 USD or Euro plus the money needed for the two case fans and the cables to connect them, that easily adds up to 100 bucks. That’s a lot, and it makes the Morpheus unattractive when thinking about installing it on a new card. It will almost always be cheaper to get a better card instead that already comes with an acceptable cooler. Even if that cooler will not be as good as the Morpheus II.

But the biggest drawback is the manual.

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I understand that this is not a product for beginners, someone new to building PCs hopefully won’t start his first build by ripping his gpu cooler off and trying to install a cooler like the Morpheus II. But even more experienced builder would profit from getting a better manual, with bigger diagrams that better explain how to install all the parts, and that also explains in detail which components of the gpu (like mosfets etc) should be cooled with a separate heatsink.

Compatibility is also problematic. Though it must be said that Raijintek never claimed it would work with a RX 480 or 580, also the RX 470 and RX 570 are not listed in the compatibility list. For Vega there is a specialized version. Issues like the VRM heatsink not fitting are less likely to occur when getting a card from a series that is officially supported. But if all needed to support those AMD cards is to add a smaller VRM heatsink and one very low Vram heatsink one has to wonder why those parts are not included already - at least optional, at an additional cost.

The Raijintek Morpheus II Core Edition can be worth it: Either if reducing noise is of the highest priority, or if a broken cooler has to be replaced. But as it is very big, quite expensive and not easy to install it is not for everybody.