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 But you could argue the designs are starting to feel a little outdated, and while Antec's recent Solo II was an interesting step forward, it felt like a tentative one.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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  • mwmccormick1 - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    I've used the p180 series in a few server builds and they have worked wonderfully. Reply
  • furrymike - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Just bought the Corsair 400R. Now this review has me thinking. The Corsair is diappoiningly noisy and this new Antec should be quieter and is a looker. Not quit Corsair ease of assembly but close. Reply
  • jfish2d - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Let's be honest. The flashy windows to view all the cool components are all well and good. But it's those who don't flaunt their junk who make successful ganks. This is exactly the case for doing just that. Somewhat normal on the outside (though beautiful), the Antec P280 is full of smart design and excellent execution. Reply
  • siderst - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Sign me up! Reply
  • GrJohnso - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Definitely a step in the right direction... Looks roomy enough without being quite the monster that my Corsair 800d is... Would make a nice addition to my stable... :) Reply
  • funkstrong - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    I know Antec has the straight forward design look, but this could use some help styling-wise. Reply
  • abnderby - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    in the past i have unfortunately usually opted for workstation chassis'. Mostly Intel ones due to having adequate drive options. IMO most of the so called power user and gamer cases were appalling in looks, case layout and drive options. I have never understood the whole 5 or 6 5 1/4 drive bays and only 3 or 4 3 1/2 bays for hard drives. I have 2 dvd drives and a usb card reader, I need hard disk space!

    So here we are a clean case all black inside and none of the hideous teenager looks on the outside. Very professional and adequate disk space. Way to go Antec, you did your home work.

    Question for testing though (being a Software QA guy) why is most all case testing with only 1 or 2 drives? Should we not max this thing out with the hottest PS, video cards and every drive bay filled and a fan in all slots? this would really tell us how quiet it is and just how cool it will be with everything going at once.

    i run currently 5 internal drives, OS, Temp, Data1 and data2, virtual machine drive, would run 6 if i had the room. I do not know what most power users run but normally if i have the space and connections available i fill them and use them for something.

    Anyway good article, great looking case it is a win, win for me and it would be next on my upgrade list
    Reply
  • Nightmare9 - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Did anyone else think there were 2 motherborads in the photo with the video card installed? The color of the card they used is exactly the same at the case.

    I'd love to win one, I'm just about to build a new PC.

    Thanks
    Reply
  • faZZter - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Looks like a good case, would work great on my new build I am working on for ToR release. Reply
  • doggod - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    As a P182 owner the design changes look good, the dual design in theory was good but in practice left a lot to be desired..Opening the door to power up the system was a niggle -system was rarely power down but trying to manipulate a large power supply and its cables in the bottom compartment was a pain with be having to dump the center fan. Having the motherboard a fraction on an inch above the divider was another unhappy experience with a rampage formula motherboard.

    What Ive never understood is why case designers
    (working to a standard designed between them and gpu manufactures)
    haven't put some sort of a way to funnel air from the front of a case to dump outside air as close as possible to the gpu fan which generally is the hottest component in a case, even by some sort of flexible construction.
    As it is its only the air within the case which is being heated by every other component that get drawn into the gpu .
    Reply

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