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 But you could argue the designs are starting to feel a little outdated, and while Antec's recent Solo II was an interesting step forward, it felt like a tentative one.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

    Antec should consider including an insert to cover one of/both the top 120 mm spaces. This will help with reducing noise, while leaving open the radiator option.

    I was also surprised that given the height of the case, an additional 120 mm front fan couldn't be squeezed in. This will probably help with cpu temps, as it can get more cool air. Perhaps even accommodate 38 mm thick fans. These are quite efficient. From all the cutouts in the case, these two things will be needed to even have a semblance of a positive pressure case. Copious tape will probably help, and I suppose I could swap out the expansion slot covers.
    Reply
  • Davidlim - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    I'd be happy to win one of these. Reply
  • matchan1 - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    This case rocks. Watchout cooler master Reply
  • Sabresiberian - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    What I want from Antec is a Lanboy that will hold a 10-slot mainboard.

    A redesign of the Skeleton might get me, but it would have to be a serious re-think, as the Skeleton was an enthusiast's wannabe, which ended up hampering access that it should have made easier. A 10-slot capable Skeleton redesign could be interesting, to me.

    ;)
    Reply
  • auralcircuitry - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    This is actually the case I have been hoping Antec would make for several years now. I love most of their features, but am hesitant to spend $200+ on a housing for my PC.

    I just built a PC about two months ago and ended up using a cheap NZXT that already has dead fans and is falling apart. Lesson learned, spend the money and buy a real PC case! If this model existed two months ago I would have bought it without hesitation.
    Reply
  • KUColBond - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Looks like a real step up from the Three Hundred I've got now. Reply
  • hudey123 - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    My many, many years old Super LanBoy is really starting to show its age. Even though I love the size and the brilliant little tool drawer under the front door, I'm ready to move on. I LOVE the looks of this case, and that to me is mostly what a case is all about. Great review, thank you! Reply
  • pentijum - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Great case... I want to build a 100% silent PC and I am 100% sure that this will be the case I will use... Reply
  • confused one - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Water cooling is becoming mainstream, with both processor manufacturers offering water cooling as a factory option. You mentioned the case is designed to accept a cooler but you don't test the fitment. I know you can't try all the options; but, I though you all might start test fitting oem radiators and letting us know how well (or not) they fit. Thanks. Reply
  • knurdtech - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Looks perfect for a server build Reply

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