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 But you could argue the designs are starting to feel a little outdated, and while Antec's recent Solo II was an interesting step forward, it felt like a tentative one.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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  • Renzhe - Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - link

    I've got a P180 and generally like its acoustic and cooling properties, and I don't really care about the dual chamber design; I only assemble a computer once in a few years. The P182 got it right IMO, as it enabled using longer power supplies. This P280 is kinda ehh for its price. There's the Fractal R3, for half the price or less, whose fit and finish isn't as good, but does pretty much the same thing. Reply
  • macheesy - Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - link

    i could use this for sure Reply
  • Urinal Mint - Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - link

    I'd love to revamp my case setup on my HTPC with a 10-yr-old Antec housing it. Reply
  • chrcoluk - Thursday, November 24, 2011 - link

    this to me fixes the main weaknesses of the p180 design.

    My p180b is good but in my view has 2 key weaknesses.

    The bottom chamber is too compact.
    The hdds are too much work to take in and out especially when add the fact removing the hdd tray upsets the cables which are hard to keep away from the fan.

    In addition I think the fan placement in the bottom tray isnt optimal for hdd cooling, the fan is better as an intake on the front of the case, which is the situation on the p280.

    So for me the p280 looks a great evolution. However I wont be buying one soon as the p180 is working well enough for me at the moment and I dont fancy rebuilding my rig
    Reply
  • JohnnieBeBlue - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - link

    Was thinking about the Corsair 650D, but this is giving me second thoughts. Any input? Reply
  • hardwarehero - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    i really think this case is amazing and it would be awesome if i won..i saw an unboxing of this and thought this could be the perfect gaming case and great for my first build Reply
  • Rushedman68 - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    Nice review, although I'm used to that here.

    I do prefer Antec's cases whenever I can, and I like the look of this one. I usually harp on the need for cooling when I build boxes for friends, and this would be one I'd be easily able to suggest using.
    Reply
  • dagor - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    I am putting this case into serious consideration after reading the review. I really don't like the fan and blowhole at the top of any case though. Not only does it usually leave a potential place for noise to leak through, it can easily be blocked or covered by items. I like to leave a cleaning cloth on to of the case for cleaning the screen. If this cloth gets pushed too far back on this case it could mean a disaster for potential overheating. Heat rises naturally, but let's push it out the back, away from danger with all these fans that we have in our cases. Reply
  • DJShadow - Friday, December 02, 2011 - link

    I like the clean face of the case. Very smooth. Reply
  • kmetek - Sunday, December 04, 2011 - link

    ANTEC P183 V3
    ANTEC P280
    FRACTAL DESIGN DEFINE XL USB 3.0

    i have ANTEC P182 atm.
    Reply

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