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ANTEC P280 Boxshot

Antec P280 Super Mid Tower Chassis Review

  1. Introduction
  2. Packaging and Specification
  3. External Impressions Part 1
  4. External Impression Part 2
  5. Internal Impressions Part 1
  6. Internal Impressions Part 2
  7. Test Bench and Installation Experience
  8. Conclusion
  9. View All

Antec is a company that makes PC cases, power supplies, CPU Coolers and Thermal pastes, fans and other accessories- pretty much what a lot of companies do- and maybe even more. At this time of age, people need good hardware and many manufacturers good stuff for your money’s worth. Hardware with an added advantage, however, is first defines as first preference, followed by rest as an alternate- or something that’s chosen for a specific purpose- or simply fanboyism.

In one corner we have those who look out for smaller size desktop, however, it goes without saying that one ignores that for specific purposes, you need a lot of storage space and something large enough to enclosure high-performance hardware. Companies concentrate on having best cases with good enough fans, good amount of cable management and features. P280 under Performance One Series- covers all that- also has 0.8mm polycarbonate on both the sidepanels to dampen the noise coming from the system.
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The Antec P280 is a super mid tower case made for those who have quite computing in mind. The came has anodized aluminium front door and rest of it painted with gunmetal. The case has 9 PCI slots and therefore officially accommodates XL-ATX form-factor motherboards.

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To be honest, for a Super Mid- Tower that is mostly made of steel, it feels pretty light.

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Antec’s features are covered on the rear of the packaging while the front and the sides give a rough idea about its looks. The top is where you get to see the case’s specification. One thing that’s missing is handling cut-outs on the sides. The packaging is light but its still big.

The packaging is where I began to appreciate this case. It is nice to see someone using something much better and far more reliable than a Styrofoam, a material that I clearly pointed is unfit to protect certain cases.

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Polyethylene Foam is a material that I consider is best for protecting cases. They are not damaged easily unless you cut them and acts as a cushion. Some manufacturers have said that (when it comes to India) the package handling is extremely substandard. That is true, but you can’t deny that a lot of people have that issue- and since companies have a terrible habit of cutting corners, boxes and foam protection are usually the first.

Remember, your case travels a lot even if you are around the Asia Pacific region- from the manufacturer to the exporters to the nationwide distributors and then it reaches retailers. If you order it online, that’s another shipment that such packaging should withstand. At first, I used to think that aluminium cases should have such protection but it applies to steel cases as well, especially Super- Mid-tower cases. Imagine the horror you have to go through if you get a damaged case. You’ll never know at what point these cases were damaged and hence you will probably end up being at dealer’s mercy for a replacement.

To a large extent, Antec packaging in this case pretty much has your back. Polyethylene foam is THE material to use to protect such cases- period. Styrofoam, especially if it is not thick enough and depending on the care taken during shipment- will face certain bashing irrespective of where you live.

Like P180, a great pc case back in the days is plain and simple with no flattery designs- usually made for those keeping gamers mind. Unfortunately, most of these really good cases with XL-ATX form factor but pretty much everyone makes plastic moulds on the front and top panel and aim towards gamers. Don’t misunderstand. I am not saying its wrong, there are people who wouldn’t need all that. P280- least by the looks of it, takes that sweet spot.

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The case comes with the required screws, few extra brass standoffs and a spare silicone grommet for the HDD tray, but the case doesn’t come with a detailed instruction manual so you’ll need to get a copy via online. A Little bit of inconvenience, but if you know what you’re doing/ you can figure how to put a system together, no worries here!

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Moving on…

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The case has a door on the front panel with aluminium finish (note: not brushed aluminium finish), you open it up and you’ll see 3x 5.25″ bays with a removable air filter for 2x 120mm fan mounts.

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There are no front panel fans mounted on the top, but rather Antec mounted their 2x 120mm fans on the top panel and connected it to their fan controller hub (you’ll get to know about it) where you can access it at the rear I/O. Antec lets you mount 2x 120mmx 25mm fans only. There’s no optional mount for 140mm fans. Also, as can be seen in the top Corsair AF series (with blue ring installed) fans, the case lets you install on 2 opposing corners. Not really a con, but it could use a rubber grommet between on fan mounts (unless the fans you have come with pre-installed fan mounts).

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The door has 2 hinges, one is to open the door and second one is to push to the door towards the left side panel, incase you want to keep it open at all times. There’s also a handle on the bottom to support while carrying, however I wouldn’t really recommend using it with all the hardware mounted inside the case.

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The quality of the plastic door and the front panel body is of very good quality with sturdy build and matte black finish. Also, there is a large enough routing holes for the fans, big enough even to push through the Molex connectors. The door has a magnet bit to keep it in placed while its closed, but do note that the magnet on the door is stuck with a glue and in in my case the magnet did come out. Antec needs to use a stronger glue but not that strong that would damage the part of plastic that holds the magnet. The inner part of the door has a foam-type material for dampening sound.

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From left: LED light, Audio jacks, 2x USB 2.0 and 2x USB 3.0 followed by another pin hole LED light.

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As mentioned before, there are 2x 120mm fans mounted towards the top as exhaust followed by a Power and Reset button on the top. Rest of the top panel is plain. There are no 140mm mounts on the top panel as well.

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The under-belly of the case is as plain as it can get- and there’s no additional 120mm mount on the base. At first I thought the case-feet are hard plastic, but the actual feet is made of silicone.

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The feet is very soft gel type surface. Also, Antec has a removable dust filter for the power supply that slides out from the left panel view. This is the first time I realized that since most of the systems will have their Rear I/O section faced against the wall, it makes a lot more sense to have slide in/out from the sides, mostly from the left sidepanel view. This is smart!

The sidepanels are large and plain with gunmetal finish. There’s really nothing special on the outside.

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Moving on to the rear I/O section of the case:

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The rear section is where there are a lot of vents: towards the left between the right sidepanel (left side in this view) and the rear section of the motherboard tray internally, on the 9x PCI slots and around the rubber grommet. With the experience that I had with certain mid-size cases in the lower price range, an impression was made that having a lot of vents on the Rear I/O could result in a weaker metal, but that isn’t the case at all here. You can also see over here and on the bottom panel that I talked about above where Antec is showing off their rivets. Good enough thickness and proper riveting are essential for a sturdy case. This is how you do it properly.

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There are 3 out of 4 (why one of them is missing?) speed controller for the fans on the case at the rear I/O section.

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The fan controllers are meant for the top and rear fans. This is a good addition. Antec is making a very good impression on me so far. The rear section has a 120mm fan to push the air out. Again, just like the rest of the part of the case, there’s no mount for 140mm fans.

When I removed the screws for the sidepanel, I’ve observed Antec uses a standard screw with a plastic grip. Its not worth mentioning it and its not really important to note, unless the plastic comes out- which doesn’t seem to be the case here. The actual screw with the Phillips head is of metal. Even the quality of the plastic on these screws are pretty good.

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There are 2 notable features here: One is that it uses and thick sheet of polycarbonate on both the sidepanels to dampen the sound the system would produce.

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The second is that the sidepanels clips on the case perfectly that it is going to stay in place even if the side panels are secured by the screws.

Moving on…

Fan controller hub’s connectors are between the rear 120mm fan and the top 120mm fan.

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The internal part of the fan controller is conveniently installed and its pretty easy to access.

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Antec provides 3x TwoCool 120mm fans with 7 blades and 2 speed toggle controller that’s attached on the rear I/O panel. The low setting is rated 600RPM that pushes 21.3 CFM of air and produces 17.0 dBA of sound and in high setting is rated 1200RPM rated to push 42.6 CFM with 23.7 dBA of sound. _MG_8075

The hub requires power from a 4 pin Molex to power up the fans that use 3 pin header fans. I initially thought why is there an empty hole for the controller when one could have just made the hub for 3 of those controllers. I have one of the fans from Antec 900- a personal favourite- its a 3 speed step controller ball bearing type 120mm fan with Blue LED- back in the days when blue LEDs were more of a plus point rather than annoying. It clips on that empty hole perfectly and I can access all the 3 step controller from the rear.

It is this point I realized that other fans that Antec sells possibly with the same controller that can be clipped on it. Could you possibly use it to control the fan speed for the CPU cooler? Do note that only Antec fans come with these controllers- and hopefully the fans (I couldn’t make it out long they are and which one had the controllers). Just so that you want to know…

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The motherboard tray has a very large hole for those who want to install the CPU cooler while the motherboard is mounted on the case. There are 2 holes on the top of the motherboard tray to re-route fan or the Molex Connector for the fan controller and even the 4 pin ATX/8 pin EPS cable to power up your motherboard.

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There’s also an internal mount for 2x 120mm fans, but this isn’t the first case that uses this. Corsair has been doing it for a while. I don’t give attention to this part usually because when there are cable that come in the way around that area, especially the PCIE power cables for the graphic cards, you have to take care of the cables not touching the blades and the best way to ensure that is if you using a finger guard on the fans.

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There’s also an extra hole between the 5.25″ bay and the motherboard tray to re-route more cables should you require. Vaguely judging by the space between the top panel and the section of the motherboard tray where the board is mounted, it looks large enough to mount a 120mm radiator on the top.

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There could have been a clip or a support so that it can keep the cables and front panel headers all together before its routed through the rear motherboard tray. The 5.25″ bays secure the devices using a clip that can be seen from the case’s left sidepanel view and it simply slides in from the other side. There are 6x HDD trays that lets you install 2.5″ and 3.5″ drives, but also there’s a dedicated slide for 2.5″ SSD drives right on the top.

The interesting part is the way how you’ll mount a 3.5″ hard drive in all 6x trays. This is the first PC case I am reviewing where the hard drive tray uses the bottom mounting holes on the 3.5″ drives. To a certain extent, paired up with 4 silicone mounting grommets on the tray.

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This should be more effective to reduce any vibration from the mechanical hard drive. Ofcourse when you’re keeping such a mount, there should be more space between the trays compared to those cases that use mount holes on the sides of the drives.

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Throughout the case, Antec has done a pretty good job when it comes to riveting a case together. No matter how thick the sheets a manufacturer uses, its equally important that the case is properly riveted together.

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Unlike certain cases that I’ve suspected of using steel over brass standoffs, Antec has 6 brass standoffs preinstalled and provides few more incase you’ll need it.

There are 4x Rubber grommets for you to route your cables through:

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The rubber grommets are clipped on the motherboard tray to ensure that it stays in place even if the section is over-crowded with a lot of cables routed through. The size of the grommets are generous enough, but how good is it with the notorious cables from TX750 is something we’ll see later on.

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There are adequate number of cable tie loops on the rear part of the motherboard tray that should help to reduce most of the clutter even if you use the maximum potential of the case. Remember, this case is made to help to mount an XL-ATX form factor boards, so imagine mounting triple/quad GPU setups. That’s how good such cases should be.

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As said previously, the rubber grommets clipped in its place so that they will not come out that easily. There’s also vents on between the right sidepanel view and the rear part of the motherboard tray.

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You get all the headers you’ll require, provided with Audio header (forgot to click it during the review), USB 3.0 header and a USB 2.0 header.

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There’s a plastic frame to slide in/out the air filter for the power supply vent, but there isn’t any rubber grip on it which is usually provided in bottom mount cases that come till this point. Also, there’s no second 120MM fan mount on the bottom that cases have.

What I dislike is that the case uses push pins to mount the case feet.

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Not that its a problem, but it is far more assuring and more reliable if it used standard screws over plastic push pins.

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It gives me great pleasure that companies such as Asus, Gigabyte, Kingston, Western Digital and Coolermaster who give me hardware support by updating my test rig no strings attached. Its because of these guys that I get to test only only their hardware but also from others. Thumbs up to these guys!

I would like to thank

  • Gigabyte India for providing Gigabyte 890GPA UD3H Rev 1.0 motherboard
  • Asus India for providing Asus 990FX Sabertooth motherboard
  • Kingston Taiwan for providing hardware support with memory kits and SSD drive.
  • WD India for providing WD 300GB HLFS Velociraptor Hard Drive.
  • Coolermaster India for providing Coolermaster GX450 RS-450-ACAA-D3 Power Supply

 

Test Setup for: Antec P280
Motherboard+ Processor Gigabyte 890GPAUD3H Rev 1.0+ AMD 965BE+ Thermaltake Big Typhoon
Memory Kingston KHX1600C9D3P1K28G HyperX Genesis 8GB 1600MHz DDRIII
Primary OS drive Kingston HyperX 3K 90GB
Secondary Storage(s) 3x WD Green, WD 3000HLFS Velociraptor 300GB; WD 320GB BLUE 320AAJS; WD 3TB Red
Power Supply Corsair TX750

I’ll start with installation of HDD drives.

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You’ll need to use the screws provided. It is not a big deal as long as it does the job.

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Other than that’s there’s really nothing special about the HDD mounts.

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Initially, I wasn’t confident that the grommet for cable management, especially for cable routing from the power supply, will be big enough, but it does just fine.

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I had to use a tool to properly install the rest of the brass standoffs properly at first. I and many don’t mind installing the standoffs on our own, but installing some of them may require you to use a tool to properly install them. Also, depending on the power supply you have, you would end up stretching the 8 pin EPS cable a bit in order to install it on the board. Antec could have provided an extension like how Coolermaster did with Trooper.

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There’s also one more inconvenience when you mount the top 2.5” mount. When you slide the drive in the SSD drive doesn’t go all the way in and there’s a grove inside the slide that stops the drive from being pushed any further, there’s a lot of space between the drive when installed till the right sidepanel. You will need to remove the first 2 HDD trays so that you can more room to install both the SATA cables. But take care when you’re sliding in the first HDD tray since it may disconnect the cables on the first slot. Make sure you don’t use the right angled SATA cable too.

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The space between the rear motherboard panel and right sidepanel is a very assuring 1.5”. Even if there are Molex or other connectors that come in the way that may be an obstacle to secure the right sidepanel, this isn’t the case here. The only case you need to take is towards the left side of the HDD tray (from the rear motherboard panel view) that cables are not over-crowded. As you can see, the 8 pin EPS cable is stretched, so depending on the power supply you’re using you may have a tough time. I also wish the Audio header was long enough to be routed from the bottom cable management grommet. If you have few cards in the middle- like your graphics card, you can route that cable between the space of the graphics card and motherboard, to keep it hidden as much as possible. Alas that wasn’t the case and the only way I could install it is running across the board.

Do note that I routed 4x 5 pin PCIe cables to the front and all the cables are utilized and all SATA power cables are used. There is about an inch of space between the top mounted fans and the motherboard.

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The space between the front panel USB slots are 1cm- so this way even if you have a thick USB devices, the space ensures that the drives aren’t obstacles for another USB device, even if that one is thick as well.

All it needs are certain minor improvements:

  • The case feet should use screws rather than push-pins.
  • Magnet needs better glue.
  • Could have put 140mm fan mounts on the front and/or rear.
  • An 8 pin EPS extension would be a lot more helpful.
  • If one uses internal section for front fan mount, it needs fan guard
  • Could use longer Audio Cable.
  • The 2.5″ HDD/SSD slide on the top should be allowed to slide all the way in so that the rear section can be the same level as with other HDDs, this way you can not worry about the SATA cables being disconnected.

After a usage of 2 weeks with fans running on full, the fans are pretty silent for what its’ worth, although a lot would most likely mount those fans on the front- unless they will use their own preferred fans.

Incase you’re wondering- there’s a space between the door and the front panel on both the sides when closed, this way the front fans push the air in coming from the sides.

In any case, the case is pretty good if you want to mount a multi-GPU setup- and to sweeten the deal, Antec provides 3 years- that is a year more than what almost all provide.

India (Approx.) U.S. U.K.
Rs. 7,900/- $115.09 £89.99

This is a very reasonable pricing and a very good case all things considered. Some may or may dislike the top Power/Reset buttons- but that’s more of a preference. Even considering the minor hiccups, you simply cannot go wrong if you choose this case and you are getting your money’s worth. Remember, since most cases provide about 1 inch of space between the rear motherboard tray and right sidepanel, the extra 1/2 Inch is very much welcomed. The case gets a medal of VFM and 4 stars.

6 comments

  1. theres also another flaw in the push pins. You push the pin in to remove in, but when you have to put it back in, you’ll need to remove the rubber base and push it from inside. gum on the feet will eventually wear out. why not just using the usual screw, washer and nut method? the case looks plain but its awesome. a poor man’s lian li super mid tower….

  2. i am very tempted to buy this case, but does have an option like Lian Li where you can change the top/front panel like how lian li has? Antec should update this case with 4x USB 3.0 ports on the front, followed by 2x 140mm fan mount on the top.

    can you suggest me any cases around $130?? i live in south airport line, Texas.

  3. Did you check out SilverStone Temjin SST-TJ04B-E and Corsair 650D? Prices for cases in Amazon seem to have magically got a $10-$15 on its own so do check out the reviews on other sites.

    I am afraid I can’t say about these cases. 1 because I dont silverstone for reviewing and Corsair is blacklisted as they’ve asked me to do favourable review of a particular product to which I refused to do so and series of situation escalated that the communication is terminated. besides I doubt the cases I’ve mentioned support xl-atx form factor.

    That’s why I gave Antec P280 an award, despite being an older case. If they update it with a 140mm mount with a 120mm optional mount on the top panel, this will be great.

    If you need more help, you’ll have to mention the system configuration.

  4. oh wow! never thought a brand like corsair would do that…

    but I wanted with xl-atx since I am planning for dual GPU setup and
    haswell. i dont want to spend a lot of money on a case so p280 made
    sense. do you think thinking of grabbing 800D makes more sense?

  5. depending on your system configuration. this supports eatx formfactor officially, but I think you could squeeze in a board with xl-atx formfactor but i’ll need to confirm it. but if it works out and you can afford it, yeah.

    personal preference is solid steel. you can take a look at cm storm stryker/trooper as well if you’re still sticking with xl-atx formfactor type, plus you’re getting a lot for your money’s worth.

    This is the review link of the CM Storm trooper. Stryker is the white version of the case
    https://hardwarebbq.com/product-review/cm-storm-trooper-sgc-5000-kkn1-pc-chassis/

  6. looks like bitfenix ripped the designs of p280 and improved it…

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