Antec's existing Performance One series, peaking with the P183 and P190, has become a standard for silent, high performance computing. These enclosures have been extremely popular from the word "go," and for a long time the P180 and its descendants have been easy recommendations. But you could argue the designs are starting to feel a little outdated, and while Antec's recent Solo II was an interesting step forward, it felt like a tentative one.

The new P280, on the other hand, is a major evolution. Intended not as a refresh of the P183 but to exist alongside it, the P280 features some radical changes for Antec in terms of design while lowering the cost of entry for the entire line. Is it a smart evolution, or did Antec's engineers split too many decisions in trying to appeal to both silent computing and high performance markets?

Speaking candidly, I think any enthusiast worth his or her salt was more than a little interested when Antec first announced the P280. The Performance One line has practically been an institution for a long time, but Antec's engineers have gone back to the drawing board with the P280 in a very big way, implementing a host of new ideas while adopting some of the modern design cues brought forth by vendors like Corsair and SilverStone. I had a chance to meet with Antec's representatives, including one of the designers of the P280, and it's pretty clear where they were coming from when they made this case: as enthusiasts first who had the opportunity to design the case they wanted to see and use.

Antec P280 Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor XL-ATX, ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX
Drive Bays External 3x 5.25"
Internal 6x 3.5"/2.5", 2x 2.5"
Cooling Front 4x 120mm fan mount (two in the front, two internal behind the drive cage)
Rear 1x 120mm Antec TwoCool exhaust fan
Top 2x 120mm Antec TwoCool exhaust fans
Side -
Bottom -
Expansion Slots 9
Front I/O Port Mic and headphone jacks, 2x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0
Top I/O Port Power and reset buttons
Power Supply Size ATX
Clearance 13" (Expansion Cards), 180mm (CPU HSF), 300mm (PSU)
Weight 22.3 lbs. (10.2 kg)
Dimensions 20.7" x 9.1" x 22.1" (526mm x 231mm x 562mm)
Price MSRP $139

I'll concede that I haven't been wholly impressed by Antec's enclosures as of late, but the P280 is a completely different beast. It has the DNA of the Performance One series, but internally you'll find a design that diverges radically from its predecessors, and your first clue should be the nine expansion slots. Antec calls the P280 a "super mid-tower," but at this point the lines between a mid-tower and full tower have been so heavily blurred that each enclosure should be taken on a case by case basis (pun wholly intended.) The fact is, the P280 is big, but it has a lot going for it.

In and Around the Antec P280
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  • PCHPlayer - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Not sure if it's worth upgrading from the P180. Perhaps in the next system build. The isolated PS chamber was interesting in the P180, but it did make the power cable routing a bit tricky. Reply
  • dacrazydude - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    The P series were never really big enough to require dual chambers imo. Reply
  • hescominsoon - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Definitely an improvement from the mediocre cases I have seen from Antec Lately. Reply
  • Rakanishu - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    I'm using the P180 now and I dread having to install or un-install a piece of hardware from it. HDs especially, the new outward facing design is 100 times better imo. Reply
  • AntiNova - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    I won't deny that this is a nice looking case. I was just hoping that it would be more "adaptable" features... it just seems like a polished up redesign of previous cases Reply
  • rrohbeck - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    now that the new version is available. It seems that most of the wishes/concerns that the other posters have are answered by the Define XL. I love it (except that the finished system is back breakingly heavy.)
    Yes it looks like Fractal Design has shamelessly stolen ideas from Antec and others but that's a good thing IMHO.
    Reply
  • stretchmonkey - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Comment! Reply
  • camerone222 - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Beautiful case. I hope I win, good luck to everyone. Reply
  • n3com3300 - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    Finally, an Antec chassis that can accommodate the H100 water cooler. Reply
  • tryb - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    Antec has always been my choice for cases and this is a step in the right direction. Losing the dual chamber is a plus in my opinion. After switching from the P180 case back to my aluminum P160 Antec case, the following features are just two reasons to make me finally upgrade my case.

    "The enclosure is bigger and easier to work in, and has more room for expanding the system inside. There's plenty of space for mounting a good, thick 240mm radiator at the top, cable routing is slightly better, and the two internal fan mounts invite experimentation."

    "Toolless locking mechanisms for the 5.25" drive bays are in place, as well as six drive trays that can support both 3.5" and 2.5" drives, with silicone grommets for the 3.5" drives to minimize vibration."

    "There's now a massive cutout in the tray to maximize compatibility with aftermarket cooling, and rubber-lined holes surround the tray for routing cables to the back."
    Reply

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