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 But you could argue the designs are starting to feel a little outdated, and while Antec's recent Solo II was an interesting step forward, it felt like a tentative one.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

    Thanks Dustin for the great article! Of all the sites I read every day, Anandtech is the only one with consistent quality, thanks for the effort guys!

    Back on topic, I like most of the changes in the P280 (compared to my good and aging P182). I only find a couple things to improve: covers for unused ventilation holes (as previously mentioned) and I'm not sure if I like the HDD arrangement, you need to take off the right panel to replace a disk. P182's 3.5" lower cage is a pita to work with, but you only needed to take out the right panel.

    Question: compared to P18x, does the construction feel solid enough? are the new acoustic panels on par with the old generation?
    Reply
  • lvang - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Nicely revised from it's predecessor, a little surprised at the overall temperatures though. Either way, it wouldn't hurt to sport one of these! Reply
  • Etern205 - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    A proper Antec case! It looks simple, sleek, and elegant.
    Did they canned that guy who design cases for 12 year olds?
    Note that Antec 300 wasn't that bad, except wire management sux.
    Reply
  • Zoomer - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    It's also $40. IMO it needs to be updated for usb3, ssds and a not so bright blue led and it'll be good for another 5 years. Seriously, the blue led is ridiculous. I took a back sharpie to it and it's still kinda bright. Reply
  • romany8806 - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Hey Dustin, thanks for the review. Tempting case - I abandoned my P180 because it was horrible to work in and the door hinge eventually gave out because of the constant wear and tear to access power, ports etc.

    I'm running a Cooler Master 690-II Advanced at the moment and love it, but wish I had an 8th expansion slot. Curious to see how the two compare performance-wise. I don't suppose you've got access to one for testing?
    Reply
  • Belard - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    I checked newegg....

    It looks very much like the case I need for a build.
    Reply
  • GhostMagic - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    I've owned two antec cases, but for my next build I'd been looking at corsair just because it felt like Antec's cases were standing still. This one looks nice, maybe I'll win one? Reply
  • KDu - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Nice case, glad they updated the Sonata series Reply
  • corvisrex - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    good, review, it is nice to see the reviews themselves giving actual numbers relating to sound dampening and noise. Major issues for me when case hunting, and too often merely observational, rather than real data. Reply
  • EliteOrion - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Man this case looks slick!!! Reply

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