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 But you could argue the designs are starting to feel a little outdated, and while Antec's recent Solo II was an interesting step forward, it felt like a tentative one.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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  • ezorb - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Its highly suspect that you would not include these legendary cases when reviewing a "quiet" case. even if the price point is off by more than $100, people seeking a quite case need to know if the extra $100 is worth it. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    The FT02 is fair, but unfortunately we never got a P183 in to test and compare. :( Reply
  • mtoma - Monday, November 21, 2011 - link

    I should also mention the Fractal Design Define XL. It should be a good match for Antec P280. If only Dustin could do a review of that case, many enthusiast would be at rest. After all, the holidays are coming... Reply
  • danjw - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    This doesn't seem to be in the channel yet, any idea when I could buy one? Also, can you measure the space between the top and the motherboard. I would like to know how thick of a radiator + fans can be mounted there. Reply
  • geogecko - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Antec's site says the max CPU cooler height is 170mm. Reply
  • danjw - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Radiator, not heatsink, as in liquid cooling. He indicated there was plenty of room above the motherboard for a "thick" radiator, but doesn't say how thick. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    That's less than in my P182. And that couldn't take a Thermalright Archon. Mhh.. I guess I'd rather have the space on top of the motherboard than behind it.

    MrS
    Reply
  • danjw - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Hmm, the Archon is 170mm, which is what Antec says this one supports. Why do you think the 182 would support a taller heatsink then this one? Reply
  • lithium451 - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    I have the P182 also and at some point I found a FAQ on Antec site that the maximum height was about 160 (maybe 162) - which pretty much matches what I see with my 158mm cooler.

    Sounds like its about 8-10mm more room.
    Reply
  • danjw - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    On another website, I found that their is 38mm between the motherboard top edge and the pre-installed top fans. So a 35mm thick radiator should work fine on this case, if anyone else was wondering. Reply

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