There is a lot to like about the Antec P280. Sure, she's a little chunkier than her predecessor, but the added internal space can be put to good use housing everything from quad-GPU monsters to ironic mini-ITX builds. The P280 can tuck away more hard drives than most sane people would consider installing—especially at today's street prices—and it features plenty of forward-looking SSD mounts as icing on the cake.
Antec has also retained much of the clean and elegant styling that made the P280's progenitor a lusted-after commodity. (The new design eschews elements like the rear roof scoop and compartmentalized internals, though.)
My post-mortem wish list for the P280 is fairly short, since Antec has already addressed the silver screws and the USB 3.0 adapter. I wish the case supported 140-mm fans like most other recent mid-towers. It would also be nice to have a magnet to hold the door open and longer, sheathed wires for the front-panel lights and buttons. However, I'm hesitant to lodge a formal complaint about the lack of an external 3.5" bay adapter; those are rapidly becoming an acceptable exclusion in modern cases.
With a $130 street price, the P280 is cheaper than its predecessor. While alternatives like the Fractal Define R3 and NZXT H2 offer similar capabilities, layouts, sound proofing, and aesthetic cues for a little bit less, I'd drop the extra scratch on the P280 for its roomier internals. Of course, when shopping for mid towers in this price range, it's not terribly difficult to justify another $20 or $30 to upgrade to something like the Corsair 600T. There are options aplenty in this segment of the market.
We've already established that the P280 is a great case that's easy on the eyes, reasonably quiet, and serious about cooling. Does it have what it takes to become a legend? Only time will tell, but I fear that the P280 doesn't break away from the pack enough to endure like the old P180.
The P180 was something different, something unexpected, and a bit radical when it was released six years ago. Even though the P280 does just about everything the original can and more, its feature set is somewhat more pedestrian by today's standards. The P280 is a very safe bet for Antec; very little risk was taken with the design. Where elements were changed, they were brought into alignment with current trends. These changes result in a generally improved enclosure, but they also erase some of the distinctiveness and allure that the old design brought to the table.
Regardless, I would happily recommend the P280 to anyone looking for a solid enthusiast enclosure. This is a very good case, even if it lacks the rare uniqueness of its predecessor.
48 comments — Last by sethiol at 10:49 PM on 02/14/12
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