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 But you could argue the designs are starting to feel a little outdated, and while Antec's recent Solo II was an interesting step forward, it felt like a tentative one.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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  • tzhu07 - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    I agree. I would only buy full ATX if I was going Crossfire or SLI. Since I don't, microATX covers everything I need. Reply
  • kmmatney - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    it's still nice to have a large case, even if you don't have any expansion cards. I have a P-183 just for low noise. It can easily passively cool my HD4890, and I even have a few of the internal fans turned off. If you want a real quiet (but high performance) system, it easier to do with a full ATX system. The room has to be dead quiet to hear any noise from my system. Reply
  • Zoomer - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    I have a microATX board, and thought it was enough. I thought wrong. Between leaving a slot (preferably two) open next to the gfx card, and a sound card, there's only 1 other slot left. This is frequently slot 0, or right between the gfx and cpu. Non optimal.

    My next buy would be a ATX board. To be honest, I think the best place for the GPU is the very last slot, so that there's plenty of space for the oversized cooler and some clearance, while not blocking any other slots.

    Sound card
    TV Tuner card (for kicks)
    SATA / HW Raid Card or two. This case support 8 storage drives + optical drives. Your recent Intel chipset doesn't.
    Additional nic cards
    Serial/Parallel card for tinkering with microcontrollers (Thanks Intel)
    Extra Firewire, USB
    Reply
  • danjw - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Not so much. There are X79 boards that are coming with 8 memory slots. You aren't fitting that on a Micro ATX case. It looks like they may be working on a mini P183, that should satisfy you. Reply
  • rum - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    Not really, especially when it comes to cable management and the such. A bigger case allows you more room to put cables in their place, and when it comes time to upgrading components, you don't have to worry if your case is "big enough" to accomodate that new extra long video card.

    Not saying this is the right size for everyone, but not everyone has small hands and dainty fingers that makes working with a small case easy.
    Reply
  • kevith - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    I'm almost sure, that if you added two front intake fans, the case would be very much cooler. It's only fair to review the case out of the box, but two additional fans is a relatively small cost. In my Antec Sonata 3 that made a very big difference.

    In a Zalman 100 GS I had, I reversed the two top fans to intake fans instead, and turned over my Arctic Freezer 90 degrees so the CPU fan was blowing downwards. That took 4-5 degrees off overall.

    I think the possibilities for different configs makes this a better choice than the Fractal.

    And I think it was a good idea with a comparison to the 182/183 as well.
    Reply
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    I also wonder why they used 120 mm fans on top. With a case this wide they could have gone for at least 140 mm, maybe even larger.

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

    6x 3.5" internally just still doesn't cut it for me. Especially on a case of this size. I'd rather lose one of the 3x 5.25" and get at least 8x 3.5" Reply
  • rrohbeck - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Define XL FTW: 10x 3.5". I just built with one.
    Similar looks, design and price but bigger and better features.
    Reply
  • emgarf - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Congrats on an informative review, although it unfortunately doesn't help those of us using a P182/183 decide whether the P280 is acceptably quiet in comparison. It does certainly seem more convenient to work with. Reply

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