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 But you could argue the designs are starting to feel a little outdated, and while Antec's recent Solo II was an interesting step forward, it felt like a tentative one.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

    Dustin your reviews are spot on and very detailed. Keep up the good work.

    Where's the P280 Mini? This would be money in the bank.

    I have an Antec Sonata II and Sonata III and love them both, because they are so quiet and elegant looking.

    But there are a few things wrong with these cases. The cable routing is non-existent. The motherboard tray doesn't have a CPU cut out for mounting after market coolers. The back panel isn't removable. And changing out hardware is a royal pain in the behind.

    Fractal Design turned my head today, because I discovered they make cases that incorporate all this functionality and look elegant at the same time. The ARC Define MID Tower, Define R3 and Define Mini are everything I’m looking for. The drive sleds look like they were taken right out of my Sonatas and painted white. I can’t believe it! This is where Antec should have taken their Sonata line up in the last few years. What happened Antec?

    The P280 is a step in the right direction for Antec and the design incorporates changes that people want to see nowadays, but the case is way too big for my taste. Shrink it into a P280 Mini and it might just win me over.
  • War - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    My first build was with an Antec case. After that I tried a couple other brands but my favorite by far was Antec. This new case looks like it holds to excellent engineering that they started with and does it one better.
  • StepanPepan - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    I have no idea, why did they put only two in the top? Why not three? There is enough place for them and having ability to place 360 rad there would be very nice!

    I have a question for reviewer: what is the gap between side of the HDD cage and left door? I placed pump there in R3 and the gap is large enough to conveniently pass the tubes there. I am wondering if this could be done in this case too?
  • lithium451 - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Considering the two year wait since P183 I'd say somewhere between a single or double.

    - I'd love to see 140mm capabilities for the fans

    - Can't see from the pictures, but I'm guessing the power and reset button on the top may be too easy to get pressed by accident.

    - Where their main competitor provides covering for unused fan openings, it seems like a pretty big oversight for Antec not too.

    - Not exactly sold on the pointy corners at the top of the front door. Would at least like to see darker color door option to de-accentuate.

    The big selling point for me is the 170mm cooler clearance (I think Define R3 is published as 165mm).

    The pricing I've seen online ($120-125) does seem a medium premium for a medium increase in quality over the R3. Not sure which way I'll go, but the good news is the R3 price online does seem to have just dropped back to $99 (from $109).
  • Gabby-Dave - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    I have owned a couple of P180's, which I liked. Except for the dual chamber - a real pain.

    Although it's a bit heavy, if it helps keep it quiet then that's OK. I especially like the connectors placed at the top front of the case for convienience. And the interior is a rock-solid layout too.
  • DrForBin - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Antec installed a vent for the PSU. With a filtre no less! Good on them.
  • infoilrator - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Changes (updates) were needed and it looks like all "issues" have been more than addressed. I like it.
    Design and Egineering were looking ahead, and succeeded.
    Workable, buildable, quality, longevity.
  • ouch8s - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    now that I've moved all my HDs out of my main workstation and put in an SSD, i'm ready for a new case that will help reduce the noise even more. looking forward to playing with this one.
  • tmheroes - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    22.3 lbs. seems rather light.
  • hawktrio - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Back in the late 90's I owned a computer shop and the best decision we ever made was to use Antec cases and power supplies in all of our system builds for customers. After mucking about with cheap PSUs in enclosures (very common in those days) that used to tear your hands apart worse than your neighbours cat, I hardly remember an Antec PSU coming back for warranty! Years later my shop is long gone but I am forever keeping tabs on Antec and still own a number of their fine cases... something like the P180 series and now this new P280 will only continue to pique my interest... thanks Anandtech and Antec... I love you both!

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