Antec P280 Case Review
By Gabriel Torres on November 18, 2011
The new P280 from Antec is a mid-tower case (or “super mid-tower,” as the manufacturer calls it) with nine expansion slots, allowing you to install XL-ATX motherboards and four dual-slot video cards. It is part of the Antec Performance One series, which brings several features to reduce the noise produced by the PC. Let’s take a good look at this new product and determine if you should buy it.
The P280 has a very sober look, and both panels are solid.
The air filter for the power supply fan is accessible from the left side of the case, which makes it easier for you to clean this filter. On competing products, this filter is removed either from the rear or the bottom of the case, which means you have to move or lift your case. (Depending on your configuration, it may be very heavy.)
The Antec P280 features a front door with a stylish anodized aluminum face and magnetic latch. Based upon how they are implemented, doors can be an Achilles Heel for the case. For example, some products have the USB ports and on/off switch behind the door, so you must open the door every time you want to connect a USB device or turn on your computer. In such cases, we prefer that the case simply didn’t have the door. On the Antec P280, however, all buttons and connectors are not located behind the door, so what we’ve just described doesn’t happen.
The manufacturer decided to add a door for a few reasons. First, a door keeps the same design style of the Performance One series. Second, the door helps reduce the noise generated by the PC, as it features a dampening foam behind it. See Figure 5. Third, it allows more airflow for the optional front fans, as there is a 0.6” (16 mm) gap between the front panel and the front door, and the sides and bottom of the door are completely opened.
Another important feature of the door of the Antec P280 is that it can be opened 270° to the left, and you can put it flush against the case’s left panel. (See Figure 5.) This is very important, as in most cases the door opens 180°; the risk of breaking it is high because the door will be in the middle of the way. (For example, if your case is on the floor and the door is opened, you can easily break it by hitting it with your chair.)
Unfortunately, you can’t reconfigure the door to be opened to the right side. So, depending on where you want to keep your computer in your workplace, the direction the door opens may be an issue.
The front panel of the Antec P280 has three external 5.25” bays, using solid covers. It supports two 120 mm fans, but they don’t come with the case. An air filter is available for these fans. See Figure 6.
The case comes with two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, and the traditional audio jacks. The USB 3.0 port uses an internal connector, so make sure you install a motherboard with an internal USB 3.0 header. They are located on the top part of the front panel. The power and reset buttons are located on the front part of the top panel. See Figure 7.
The top panel of the Antec P280 has a mesh with two 120 mm fans, called “TwoCool.” These fans are connected to individual two-speed controllers located on the rear panel, and spin at 900 rpm at “low” and 1,500 rpm at “high.” No air filter is available for these fans.
The bottom panel has a mesh and air filter for the power supply fan, and the Antec P280 doesn’t support optional fans on its bottom panel. The air filter is removed from the left side of the case, as already discussed.
The rear panel and the interior of the Antec P280 are painted black.
The power supply is installed on the bottom part of the case.
The Antec P280 comes with a 120 mm fan installed on its rear panel, identical to the ones used on the top panel. It also features an individual two-speed controller.
Another highlight of the reviewed case is the presence of nine expansion slots, making this case compatible with XL-ATX motherboards and allowing you to install three or four dual-slot video cards, if your motherboard supports these configurations. Usually, cases come with seven expansion slots. All slot covers are vented.
This case has two holes for hoses of liquid cooling solutions, all using rubber covers. These holes are 1” (25 mm) in diameter.
In Figure 11, you can see the three two-speed fan controllers. The case has a “power hub” inside, allowing you to feed all fans using a single peripheral power connector coming from the power supply.
Let’s now take a look inside the Antec P280.
Both panels are attached to the chassis using black thumbscrews, and they have a sheet of polycarbonate glued to them in order to absorb the noise produced by the computer. See Figure 12.
The motherboard tray has a huge hole for you to access the backplate of the CPU cooler without having to remove the motherboard from the case, several holes protected with rubber covers for you to route cables behind it, and several metallic clips for you to fasten cables using cable ties.
In Figure 15, you have another overall look inside the case. Expansion cards are fastened using thumbscrews. The Antec P280 supports video cards up to 13” (330 mm) long and CPU coolers up to 6.7” (170 mm) tall.
The Antec P280 allows you to install two 120 mm fans on the side of the hard drive cage, featuring quick installation mechanisms that don’t require the use of screws. See Figure 16.
The power supply is installed at the bottom of the case. Note that it can be installed with either its bottom fan facing up or facing down, so you can decide if you want the fan of your power supply pulling air from inside the case or from outside of it.
The Antec P280 has three external 5.25” bays, six internal 3.5”/2.5” bays, and two internal 2.5” bays between the 5.25” and 3.5”/2.5” bays. The 5.25” bays have tool-less installation mechanisms.
Each 3.5”/2.5” bay is actually a small drawer featuring rubber rings to absorb vibrations from 3.5” devices.
The main specifications for the Antec P280 include:
One hundred and forty US dollars may sound expensive for a mid-tower case, but the Antec P280 is more than a simple mid-tower case. With nine expansion slots, it fits the needs of the high-end user who otherwise would have to buy a big and expensive full-tower case. For users looking for the features present on this product, the Antec P280 provides a terrific cost/benefit ratio.