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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  • geniekid - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    You're right. The temperature of the air around the CPU is probably the peak temp in the entire case.

    Because hot air rises and there are two fans on top, I think the CPU cooler is kind of fighting against the flow of air in its current configuration. I wonder if a CPU cooler blowing upwards would have an improvement in this scenario.
    Reply
  • Strunf - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    I don't think it would matter, natural convection doesn't have much to say when you have fans creating a flow of air, also if you turn the radiator by 90° then you'll be "aspirating" the air around the graphics card and that's counter productive. Reply
  • Folterknecht - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Take a Corsair H50 or something alike. Mount the the fans in the rear of the case (push/pull) and you ll get much better cpu temperatures - promised ;-) Reply
  • Folterknecht - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    addition: The fans should blow/pull the cool from the outside Reply
  • welshy992 - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    ANTEC TAKE MY MONEY! Reply
  • futurepastnow - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    This may replace my old P150, which now has some noticeable chips in its paint, and is awfully cramped inside now that I have a real video card. Reply
  • Belard - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Hope you don't just give them money.... they have enough. Give it to me.

    And then I'll buy the case and send you photos.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    I think I missed a trend. I have a Gigabyte P55M-UD4 and the CPU fan control is very adequate, silent in idle and good cooling under load when I want to. Are other mainboards from GB so bad concerning fan control? Because it's been mentioned in a few articles here and in comments.

    Other than that, good article and good case. Though too big for me. :-)
    Reply
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Don't know.. been using 5 different Gigabyte boards (home + work) during the last ~2 years. Fan control via PWM and SpeedFan has been fine, just not with their own utilities.

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

    I quite agree. Read the manuals of Gigabyte boards and you learn that they control fans through both PWM and Voltage variation. There is one exception I saw (PWM only), but on all the rest, Gigabyte boards sure beat my PWM-only Asus board. Of course, you must enter BIOS to set this up, and if you haven't read your manual or thoroughly explored your BIOS you might miss it. Reply

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