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 But you could argue the designs are starting to feel a little outdated, and while Antec's recent Solo II was an interesting step forward, it felt like a tentative one.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

    With that ugly front it's a no no.
  • tarv - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Me want ones!
  • LeeF - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    ... now if only you guys would actually compare it to them. :)

    I'm still rockin' the P180 I bought in 2005. It is a PITA to swap out hardware, but I've never minded because of the looks and the quiet. I actually prefer its looks to the P280, but I think I'd still happily switch to the P280 for the ease of upgrading and the drive rails that accommodate 2.5" drives. I just installed an SSD in mine, and I had to use a horrible kludge of adapters to mount it in a 5.25" drive bay because I couldn't find any 3.5" adapters that would line up with the screw holes in the P180s HDD rails or lower drive cage.

    The noise and cooling performance will be the crux of the decision for me, though. I have a Zalman CNPS 10k Quiet cooler which fires toward the back of the case, so the top fan positions are entirely superfluous (and possibly detrimental) in my case.
  • ZappedC64 - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Decent case.
  • TGMGroup - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    I remember when Antec was the best of the best, before companies such as SilverStone and Fractal Design came out. It's nice that they're doing their best to get better.
  • NoWayMan - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Would like to build a new system in this case - a lot easier than the P180 I have.
  • cstuss - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    It's been a real struggle to find a decent case with top port access that was quiet and not covered in 'cool' led lights. This case looks like a winner to me. I'd love to build a system in this bad boy.
  • Upinsmokes - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    another nice case from antec. great review too.
  • racerx_is_alive - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    I like to install those USB card readers in my computers, and they usually fit in the 3.5" bay- but this case doesn't have one of those. Do they have a faceplate to adapt one of the 5.25" forward facing slots to handle a 3.5" drive like the card reader?
  • MKBL - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Is PSU to be mounted downward? I have Antec HCG-620, which is sitting upward at the bottom of Three Hundred. and by the look of its branding, I thought it was naturally built to be mounted upward. Can it be reversed, upside down?

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