Conclusion: A Matter of Time and Preference

It was probably unreasonable to expect better thermals out of the Antec P280. The enclosure isn't a homerun, at least not in its stock configuration, but it's most definitely a strong base hit. While competing with Corsair's Carbide 500R and Obsidian 650D means taking a look at what your priorities are, it really invites direct comparison to Fractal Design's Define R3, an enclosure that many enthusiasts found themselves recommending over the incumbent P180 series.

That comparison is a tough one. The Fractal Design enclosure is cheaper, has more room for 3.5" drives, and I'm frankly more enamored with the acoustic dampening in it than I am with Antec's P280. Having those internally covered mounts is a nice touch, giving the end user more flexibility with how they want to configure the R3. On the other hand, I like the looks of the P280 more. The enclosure is bigger and easier to work in, and has more room for expanding the system inside. There's plenty of space for mounting a good, thick 240mm radiator at the top, cable routing is slightly better, and the two internal fan mounts invite experimentation. Antec's P280 also has better ventilation in the front for taking in fresh air. Test results suggest a close match up, but I just get a better feeling from the P280. It's a situation where I can easily see some users going for the Define R3 and some users going for the P280; if it were my money, I'd personally spend the extra dosh on the P280, but I wouldn't dream of faulting anyone for choosing the Define R3 instead.

Antec's engineers made an awful lot of changes when they designed the P280, and it's fantastic to see the kind of innovation here that I used to expect fairly regularly from them. They took a lot of the best ideas from existing designs and applied some of their own, and the result is an enclosure that in many ways feels like a grand experiment. If you like tinkering with your system, I probably couldn't recommend the P280 enough. If you were in the market for a silent performance case in the sub-$200 range, either the Define R3 or P280 would serve you well (going north of $200 means picking up my personal favorite, the SilverStone FT02.)

The P180 saw two important revisions in its lifetime, with the P182 and P183 both improving somewhat on their predecessor's designs. I think the P280 is an excellent first draft that I could happily recommend, but what I'm really curious to see is where Antec opts to revise the design. There are a lot of good ideas here and the more adventurous users will probably have a lot of fun with it. I'm not entirely certain this was the enclosure you were waiting for, but it's definitely a strong step forward and certainly worth considering.

Noise and Thermal Testing, Overclocked
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  • Rob3 - Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - link

    I sort of like it. Looks like a nice box. Built a few. This box looks like a nice one. Reply
  • Jerryph40 - Friday, January 6, 2012 - link

    My first build was in a P180. As a novice I found that it was an excellent first choice, but strictly by accident. It forced me to learn things that I wouldn't have learned otherwise. It turned out to be an excellent case that went through many modifications and upgrades. I am glad to see Antec finally upping their game for the next generation. Am building a gaming rig now in a Cooler Master case because it met my needs and I really wanted the industrial look for this build. I am currently, though, gathering parts for a folding@home computer and only have the case and mobo left to complete. I really like the sleek lines of this case and if it is only half as quiet as my old P180, well the decision is easy. Just need to get my hands on one... Thanks Antec. And thanks Anandtech for the review. Reply
  • peter29 - Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - link

    Would you recommend this case for installation of one lowend card (display) and 2xgtx580? Iam building PC for CAD/GPU rendering. My concern is balance between noise and thermals. Iam looking for case which keeps system very quiet while iam modeling/drawing. But it must hold temperatures below 85C when rendering (2x gtx580 under full load - yes i know it wont be quiet when rendering). Motherboard will be Asus Maximus IV P67 + i5 2500k slightly OCed. Thank you for help. Reply
  • HyperDuckling - Thursday, May 30, 2013 - link

    which one should i pick: Bitfenix ghost, Antec P280 or Fractal Design Define R4? i'm looking for a silent case which still has a pretty good airflow (at least has to be better than CM Elite 430!) Reply

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