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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  • 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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