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Antec's P280 enclosure


Super mid-tower case seeks good home
— 11:51 PM on January 8, 2012

Manufacturer Antec
Model P280
Price (Street) $129.99
Availability Now

If heroes get remembered, but legends never die, then Antec's P180 series of enthusiast computer cases is likely to outlive most of us mere mortals. Six years ago, this iconic enclosure was unleashed as a follow-up to the P160, heralding a 180° stylistic departure from its forerunner. The P180 introduced a combination of performance, silence, and styling that were unmatched at the time.

Built in collaboration with Mike Chin of Silent PC Review, the original P180 melded an innovative chambered design with acoustical accoutrements galore. Rubber grommets, three-ply side panels, and thoughtfully engineered airways joined forces to create a case quiet enough that some system builders still swear by it today.

We've had the next-generation entry in Antec's Performance One series in our labs for a few weeks now, and to say it has big shoes to fill would be a gross understatement. Dubbed the P280, this new enclosure brings a wealth of updates and looks to pick up where the old model left off. We've run the P280 through our usual battery of tests to see if the case can live up to its legendary lineage.

P180 + 100
Like its predecessor, the P280 is billed as a "super mid-tower" case. Measuring 20.7" x 9.1" x 22.1", the chassis definitely pushes the limits of what can reasonably be considered a mid-tower. Most enclosures in this category top out somewhere between 16" and 18" in height and 18" to 20" in depth. By volume, the Corsair Graphite 600T is still the largest "mid-tower" to walk through our doors, but the P280 comes in a close second place.

On the outside, the P280 retains much of its predecessor's trademark styling. The monolithic door remains, although the port cluster has been relocated to a trapezoidal bar at the top of the case's front face. The power and reset buttons have been moved to the top panel, ensuring easy access when the case is sitting on the floor. Unlike the Fractal Design Define R3, whose top-mounted power button is easily depressed by jumping cats or fumbling fingers, the power switch on the P280 is slightly recessed and takes a reasonable amount of force to actuate fully. The buttons are far enough away from the front ports that inserting and removing USB devices and audio jacks shouldn't trigger unwanted power cycling.

The front port cluster includes a pair of 3.5-mm audio jacks, one for headphones and another for a microphone. Also present is a pair of small blue indicator LEDs for hard drive activity and power status. While it's a matter of personal taste, I can't help but think white LEDs would better match the case's personality.

Four USB ports complete the port cluster, and two of them (the blue ones) offer USB 3.0 connectivity. Antec connects the SuperSpeed ports to an internal header, but you'll need a motherboard with the newly standardized USB 3.0 internal connector to take advantage. That apparently didn't sit well with users, who complained about the lack of a header adapter. To its credit, Antec has responded by offering free USB 3.0-to-2.0 header adapters to anyone who contacts its support department with proof of a P280 purchase.

As you can see in the picture above, the top of the P280 lacks the sporty wind duct that helped define its predecessor's unique look. The omission probably won't matter to most people, but if you absolutely need some sort of spoiler atop your PC, Honda Civic forums are but a Google search away.