Assembling the Antec Three Hundred Two

Given that the Antec Three Hundred Two is a fairly simple and staid affair to begin with, it stands to reason assembly would be just as simple and staid. That's mostly true. It's not as easy to put together as something from Corsair might be (currently my standard for ease of build), but it's close enough.

Antec graciously has four motherboard mounts already in place, something Cooler Master couldn't be bothered to include in an enclosure four times as expensive, and once again it's a small touch but it's a welcome one that speeds up the assembly. Where things do go a little bit south is in the wiring for the two Antec TwoCool fans that are included; their fan controllers are both externally accessible on the back of the enclosure, but the 140mm fan requires a four-pin molex connector while the 120mm fan's three-pin cable is too short to actually reach the fan header on the motherboard. As a result I had to use an adaptor cable I had laying around to actually wire the rear fan. Obviously, choice of motherboard plays a role here, so YMMV.

Nearly everything else after that point was smooth sailing. The toolless rails that Antec includes for mounting 3.5" drives are slick pieces of engineering; they slot into the screw holes on the drive, but you can actually pick up the drive by the rail and it won't fall off. 5.25" drives also benefit from a toolless locking mechanism that's among the best I've seen in the enclosures I've tested, feeling remarkably secure despite only locking in on one side.

The two places the assembly got at all hung up were the 2.5" drive mount on the bottom of the enclosure, and the metal extrusion from the motherboard tray that holds the power supply in place. I'm still not a fan of having to screw a 2.5" drive into the bottom of a case, and there's just no good way to orient it. If you face the drive's ports to the open side of the case, there's barely enough space to get a power cable in there, much less a SATA cable. If you face the drive's ports to the back of the case, there's no cutout in the tray to route the cables and you have to feel them out.

Mounting the power supply was a bit of an ordeal until I just grabbed a pair of pliers and bent the metal extrusion upward. It took some pressure off the power supply, but also allowed me to fit the thing in there to begin with. Problem solved. Again, component selection could help here; our SilverStone Strider 750W PSU is by no means massive, but it is 180mm while other PSUs are only 160mm.

Wiring everything up after all of this was mostly a breeze, though the Three Hundred Two would've benefitted from slightly bigger routing holes in the motherboard tray. They're rounded off to make things safe, but they could stand to be larger. That said, most of the complaints in assembly are minor; the Three Hundred Two comes together quite well, and getting the back panel on was surprisingly easy. Where assembly is concerned, the Three Hundred Two is a smart design.

In and Around the Antec Three Hundred Two Testing Methodology
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  • Stuka87 - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    I own an original 300, and the filters up front do a VERY good job of keeping dust down inside the case. I get almost no dust build up after 2 years of running. I just clean the filters every 2-3 months.
  • Ratman6161 - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    I've had my original 300 from (I think) about 2 years ago that I got for $39 at Microcenter. This case just can't be beat for the price.

    My experience with the filters is also very good. We have 4 cats in our house and once a week or so I just run my hand over the front of the case and wipe the accumulated hair off of it. None gets in the case through the front. Some cat hair and dust does get in via the side fan though.
  • Montrey - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Odd, my experience with my 300 is just the opposite. I have it on a stand about 18" off of the floor, and it is the only machine in the house that gets dust on the inside, despite the filters and a not particularly dusty house. I have the 120mm mounted on the front behind the filter, and the 140mm on the top exhausting, both set on low. I have to blow out the fins on my Arctic Freezer 7 at least every month or they get completely clogged. I suppose I could try upping the speed on the front intake fan, but I trade the convenience for quiet.
  • MilwaukeeMike - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    I experience this with my Antec P180. It uses negative pressure and I get dust build up on all the little cracks around my unused 5.25 drive covers. The filters do their job and get most of it, but i do have to spend a little extra time cleaning because of the setup.

    I should just move my fans and be done with it.
  • rodrigu3 - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    As I understand it, negative pressure systems work if you have a large filter that allows for low resistance airflow. The majority of air will flow through the path of least resistance and so will probably enter through the relatively large opening in the front of the case through the filter, rather than all the tiny little openings. So, the majority of air entering the case will be filtered, although some dusty air will still get through. You can minimize that on this chassis by putting high resistance filters on the side panels without any fans and just using the two fans that come with the case.
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    The original is a fantastic budget case that really is impossible to beat for the $30-40 on sale with free shipping you can regularly find on Newegg. Guess that will be coming to an end as its replacement is finally here but it was great while it lasted. Just starting to read the review but wanted to mention this before I forgot.
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    Wow I'm shocked you didn't give at least a silver award for this case!?!?! Similar to the original this case's performance is far beyond its pricetag.
  • Stuka87 - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    I have an original 300, and i love it.

    However, I am looking at this case, and it looks like it only came with 2 fans, rather than the previous generations four fans? The first 300 had two intake fans on the front behind the filters. This case doesn't have those fans, or the filters?

    I am thinking it would have been a bit cooler if it had them, although possibly a bit louder. Although mine set to low is barely audible.

    I am also glad they made the opening behind the CPU larger, as I had to cut this area on mine to get the rear bracket for my CPU heatsink on there.
  • ZekkPacus - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    The original stock 300 only came with 2 fans (top and rear), it was the Illusion that came with 4.

    Anyway, though I do think AnandTech does some of the best reviews on the net when it comes to cases, I'd love to see them start using the fanbays in these cases. For example I just swapped cases (from a 300 actually to an 1100), and instantly added two more fans to the stock two. That turns the case from a negative pressure design to a neutral or slightly positive pressure design, which improves dust and also lowers temperatures somewhat. Negative pressure is easiest to achieve when you're talking only stock fans, which is why these designs are so common, and when a manufacturer's making a sub$100 case, they need to cut corners to make a profit out of it. Getting positive or neutral pressure out of a stock design of only two fans would involve a high-RPM screamer in the front bays and the 140mm top fan. That config would likely please no one.

    But it's very very unlikely that anyone buying these cases will be using them with stock fan configuration, a little bit of sense from AT concerning where your fans would be best placed out of the many options (I agree with the earlier poster about the uselessness of behind-the-CPU fan bays) and what you can expect out of them would be great.
  • SBTech86 - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    looks okay but for $79, i would go for corsair 400R (64 ish when sale)

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