Antec P280 Midtower

Antec P280

No matter the age or skill level there is a handful of brand names that any user that has built a system will know. Fairly high on that list, if not top, would be Antec. Antec has been making cases since 1986 and since has had several cases that are very popular, like the Gaming series Ninehundred. Some were instant love/hate scenarios like the latest Dark Fleet series. Antec also has cases for enthusiasts who want a case that can perform, but not be decked out with lights and flashy looks. For those users Antec has the Performance One series. It has classy outer looks and quiet operation, but the space to hold even the largest of system parts.

Antec P280 panel space

Lately, Antec has been having an issue designing a case with proper cable management. The last several of cases from Antec had very little room to run cabling behind the motherboard tray. Antec has said with the P280 chassis they have fixed this, and boy did they. The P280 sports a whopping 1-inch of clearance between the side panel and the motherboard tray.

Antec P280 front panel

With the Performance One series one of running complaints was the power and reset buttons were behind the door on the front of the case. Antec has fixed this as well. They moved the power and reset buttons from the front to the top of the case. Now the only reason to open the door will be when you will need access to the 5.25" bay devices or to clean the front intake filter.

Antec P280 drive tray

Antec has also updated the internal layout of the P280. Gone is the thermal chamber separation the past Performance One cases had. This is changed to a more open design. This gets a simpler internal layout, no complicated drive cages, and lowers the overall weight of the case a touch as well. With the old style drive cages gone Antec moved to a drive tray setup that can accept either 2.5" or 3.5" drives.

Antec says the P280 will carry an MSRP of $139.95. Now if that is a little too much, or you prefer the Gamer series, no worries. Antec will soon be releasing the Eleven Hundred for the Gamer Series. The Eleven Hundred is based on the same internal structure as the P280l. We first got a glimpse of both cases back at BlizzCon 2011.

Let's take a look at the features and specifications of the Performance One P280, then on to the P280 itself.

Features of the Antec P280

Specifications of the Antec P280

  • Cooling
  • Maximum Graphics Card Size: 13” / 330 mm (up to 4 GPUs)
  • Expansion Slots: 9
  • Front Panel: 2 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, Audio In/Out, Power, Reset
  • Product Weight: 22.3 lbs / 10.2 kg
  • Product Dimensions (HxWxD): 20.7x9.1x22.1” (526x231x562mm)
  • Unboxing the Antec P280

    Antec P280 box front

    The box for the P280 is sturdy; on the front is a nice image of the case.

    Antec P280 box left side

    One end has a nice image of the inside of the P280.

    Antec P280 box right side

    Other side has another overall image from another angle.

    Antec P280 box top

    Top has the specifications list in various languages.

    Antec P280 box back

    Back has images of the features with a small description of each.

    Antec P280 packing

    The case comes wrapped in plastic and cradled in foam end caps.

    External Impressions of the Antec P280

    Antec P280

    The P280 looks like the Performance One cases of the past. It has clean sides with an anodized aluminum door. Unlike the case before it, the power and reset buttons are on top the case. No more having to open the door to turn the system on.

    Antec P280 front panel

    With the power and reset buttons on the top of the case there is less need to open and close the door all the time. The front I/O panel is also accessible without opening the door. The front I/O panel consists of HD Audio ports, two USB2, and two USB3 ports.

    Antec P280 door

    When you do need to open it, the door can swing completely around to the side. The door is held open and closed with magnets. On the inside of the door is foam sound damping material.

    Antec P280 front intake

    Below the 5.25" bays is the front intake filter. Behind the filter are spots to mount two 120mm fans.

    Antec P280 door gap

    With the door closed there is about 1/2" gap for air to be pulled in from the sides of the door.

    Antec P280 top

    At the very top are two 120mm Antec TwoCool fans setup as exhaust fans. Our P280 has silver screws on the top fans, but this will be changing to black based on the feedback of Legit Reviews to Antec.

    Antec P280 side

    The sides of the P280 are both solid with no windows or fans, but there is something different.

    Antec P280 power supply vent

    The lower vent screen for the power supply slides out the side of the case, not the rear. Depending on how your case sets in/on your desk this could be good or bad. For me, the way I have the case on my desk, it's a good thing. No more having to slide the case out or tip in and up to pull the screen out the back of the case.

    Antec P280 back

    Round back the P280 has a single 120mm rear exhaust fan, just above that is the individual speed controls for the top and rear fans.

    Antec P280 expansion slots

    The P280 sports 9 vented expansion slots, and also has two water cooling tube pass though holes. There is also a large vent that runs the entire height of the right side of the case. This is to the space behind the motherboard.

    Antec P280 bottom

    Looking at the bottom of the case there are four case feet and the single vent for the power supply.

    Antec P280 case feet

    Each of the case feet snap into the case frame, and have a white silicon insert glued into it. The silicon takes up vibrations from the system and also helps prevent the case from sliding around.

    Moving Inside the Antec P280

    inside Antec P280

    Those familiar with the previous Performance One cases will notice the rather drastic layout change. Gone is the separate thermo chamber design to a more open layout. The layout gets a couple things I like, a less complicated drive cage arrangement and 9 expansion slots.

    Antec P280 drive bays

    There are 4 tool-less 5.25" bays, 2 dedicated 2.5" drive bays, and 6 drive trays that can hold either 2.5" or 3.5" drives.

    Antec P280 fan mount

    On the inside of side of the drive cage are tool-less fan mounting spots for an additional pair of 120mm fans.

    Antec P280 power supply area

    In the lower back is the power supply area. The vent screen is inside the case. Its guide rails are what the power supply rests on.

    Antec P280 expansion slot covers

    Above the power supply are the expansion slot covers. The covers are held in with thumbscrews.

    Antec P280 TwoCool 120mm fans

    At the top and back are three TwoCool 120mm fans, with individual speed controls.

    Antec P280 power distribution block

    A little different from Antec cases in the past, there is a power distribution block that powers all the fans from a single molex connector.

    Antec P280 front panel wiring

    The front panel wiring has a change or two as well. The P280 has USB3 on the front panel. If your board doesn't have USB3, for an additional charge of $2.50 you can get a USB3 to USB2 converter cable. There is also only HD audio connecton for the front panel audio connections. This could be an annoyance for someone moving an older system with AC97 audio to a new case.

    Antec P280 wire routing holes

    Moving around to the right side, there are 4 grommeted wire routing holes down the side and bottom of the motherboard and 2 open wire routing holes at the top. Antec also provided many places for wire ties to help keep things tidy. The CPU cutout in the motherboard tray is massive; there should be no issues getting to the back of CPU sockets.

    Antec P280 tray space

    From the tray to the side panel is 1", absolutely cavern-like compared to past Antec cases. Plenty of room for even the beefiest power supplies' main 24pin cable.

    Antec P280 cage space

    There is over 2" in the hard drive cage area -- plenty of space for connections and wires.

    Antec P280 side panel

    The side panels have a layer of polycarbonate that acts as a sound barrier.

    Installing parts into the Antec P280

    Antec P280 parts

    Antec provides a bag of hardware, a sheet to point out parts, and a couple of wire ties.

    Antec P280 hardware bag

    In the hardware bag is an assortment of items needed to mount the motherboard, hard drives, and fans.

    Antec P280 hard drive tray

    The hard drive tray has both 2.5 and 3.5 mounting points. The 2.5" mounts are solid to the cage. The 3.5" have silicon vibration isolators.

    Antec P280 dedicated 2.5

    Since I'm using an SSD, I chose to use the dedicated 2.5" cage. The drive does stick out a little, but no further than the drive trays. There is a positive stop to keep the drive from going too far in. There are pressure fingers in the slot that hold the drive nicely, but you can also secure the drive in place with a screw.

    Antec P280 overall install

    The overall install was quick and I only found one issue and a small annoyance.

    Antec P280 front panel wires

    Both are in regards to the front panel wires. The power, reset, LED activity lights could stand to be a couple inches longer. No matter how I routed the wires I could not get the HDD activity LED wire to the connections on the board. Not so much an issue for me, as I don't hook it up, but others do. So, if your motherboard front panel connections are low and to the rear like mine are on the Intel DX58SO motherboard you may have some issues. As you can see in the image I used one of the holes created for the wire tie tab to run the switch wires through, and I ran the front USB cable wires between the board and the tray. Another wire routing hole in place of that one wire tie tab would be very nice.

    Antec P280 wire behind the tray

    There was a TON of room to run wire behind the tray. I had no issues back here with anything.

    Antec P280 behind 2.5 bays

    If using the dedicated 2.5" bays I would suggest hooking them up first before putting any dives in the trays. To get my hand in far enough to hook up the cables I had to take the top tray out.

    Antec P280 wire routing holes

    The wire routing holes at the top of the tray made it easy to get a cable up to the power distribution block for the fans.

    Final Thoughts and Conclusion

    Antec P280

    Antec set out to right the ship, so to speak, and fix a couple of the main issues a lot of users had with the last couple cases. I think they hit the mark. The Performance One P280 has all the looks that the Performance One series is known for, and with the updates to the design makes for one nice case.

    Antec P280 insides

    With Antec moving away from the separated thermo chamber design it may make some users that liked the design mad, but I think it will be a small number. The new layout works well. There is space for long video cards, six 3.5” and two 2.5” drives, or eight 2.5” drives. With the dual 120mm fans at the top there is a place to mount water cooling units like the Corsair H100 without mods or running into the clearance issues with the rear exhaust. Same for mounting Antec's own Kuhler 920 to the rear exhaust and not having clearance issues with the top exhaust fans.

    Antec P280 drive tray

    The drive trays are not tool-less, but not a deal breaker for me. When I build a system for personal use I’m not constantly changing parts out like I would for a test system. So a couple of minutes extra to install a couple of screws is not a big deal. Same goes for expansion cards. Now Antec did put in thumb screws for the expansion cards so it is slightly tool-less, and you can pull a card to clean it without tools if you had to.

    Antec P280 tray space

    The change that I think will make the most users happy is the increase of space between the motherboard tray and side panel. The extra space made all the difference running cables.

    Antec P280 front panel switch wires

    The only issue I ran into running cables was with the front panel switch wires being a tad short to reach the motherboard connections. Mileage may vary depending on the placement of the connections on your motherboard.

    Now if you are a gamer or just prefer the look of the gamer line over the performance series, the Eleven Hundred is coming. It will bring with it an updated design as well. So sit tight, gamers will get some love soon.

    Antec says that the Performance One P280 will carry an MSRP of $139.95. This is not too out of line for the Performance One series cases. Price-wise the Antec P280 falls in-between the P193 and P183. So, if you are in the market for a classy looking case with the room inside for high-end parts, give the P280 a good look.

    Legit Reviews Recommended Award

    Legit Bottom Line: Antec set out to update the Performance One series based on customer feedback, but keep the style that is the Performance One series. They did just that, and released a nice case in the process.