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 But you could argue the designs are starting to feel a little outdated, and while Antec's recent Solo II was an interesting step forward, it felt like a tentative one.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

    I really liked the concept of the P180 Mini because I hate big bulky cases. I will never have more than 2 HDs and 1 SSD and I will never use more than 1 gfx card. I also like uATX motherboards. Any idea if there are plans for a P280 Mini or sorts? Reply
  • danjw - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    I was looking at the product page for the P180 mini a couple weeks ago and that was up said "P183 mini", it has since been changed back. So that suggests they are getting close to a release of an update to it. Reply
  • danjw - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Opps, just reread this I meant, "... the image that was up ..." Reply
  • albiglan - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Wasn't there a problem on the P183 that the USB3 connections for the front panel were routed in a "flimsy/cheap" manner? I assume from the lack of coverage on the built in wiring that all is well and good now? Thx for the review! Glad to see Antec is on a better path with this case... Reply
  • haukionkannel - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    It would be nice to see how this new P280 compares to P183. The P280 is easier to assemble, but how about acoustic and temperatures. Are they better or worse in P280?
    I am happy owner of original P180. It is really a pain in tha ass to assemble, but otherwise very good and quiet case. So it would be nice to see some results of how taking the dual cahmber away has change the things.
    Reply
  • tomek1984 - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    I got one of the first versions of P180, and it's still one of my favorite cases today. I never saw any real advantage of the dual chamber but it did help in cleaning big cable cluster. The only problem i had with this case, was trying to install long video card, basically you cant, unless you take out top hard drive cage. So this new design is quite an improvement.
    My only hope is to see a case which will equal Cooler Master Cosmos 1000 in exterior appearance. It was the first case i had to use a grinder during assembly and the case quality control is not existent ( most screws barely aligned and cable management was completely useless), but that case is second to none in exterior appearance ( together with P180 the only two options i will ever consider in my living room), handle bars also come in very handy when you have to move it around.
    Reply
  • Metaluna - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    The main advantage of dual chamber is that you can cool the hard drives using the PSU exhaust fan only (the middle fan is pretty useless unless you've got four 15k rpm SAS drives down there). It also isolates the PSU from the GPU, though you probably get most of that benefit from just having the PSU at the bottom without the partition.

    That said, I've always hated the removable drive cage down in that chamber. Such a pain to work with.
    Reply
  • bobbozzo - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    And mounting spinning drives vertically (in the P180) often is discouraged, forcing one to move the drives to the other bays. I also moved the lower bay fan to the front of the upper drive bay. Reply
  • bigboxes - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - link

    It makes no difference on a drive's orientation. Also, the P183 has removed the fan from the middle. However I added a 120mm in front of the hard drives... all mounted vertically (that's the C: drive and three download drives). The only drive that has died in this case was mounted horizontally in the upper hard drive chamber.

    http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh175/bigboxes/...
    Reply
  • 8steve8 - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    full size ATX is dead, (or should be)

    other than graphics, no one buys expansion cards... micro-atx should be the large board for people who want custom features/expansions, and mini-itx should be the mainstream size.

    I wish chassis developers would put more effort into smaller sizes.
    Reply

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