Antec P280: Performance One Refresh

Cases|Damping
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AUDIO RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

Each recording starts with ambient noise, then 10 second segments of product at various states. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The newest Performance One is about a third lighter than the P183 without sacrificing much in structural integrity. The P280 feels a bit less substantial overall as a result, but still quite sturdy against its competitors. Some of the features left behind in the P183, like the partition separating the power supply and the big removable drive cages, won't be missed. The top panel seems a bit weak, creating some unfortunate acoustic side effects, but this is an issue with most cases with two fan holes in the top. The dampened side panels have a slimmer profile than the ones on the P183, but our real issue with our sample was poor fit, a result of the catches on the inside being bent. It's an easy fix and the problem might be isolated to our review sample.

Airflow is excellent throughout, with more vents in the back and the big gap around the periphery of the door. The relatively noisy TriCool fans have been replaced by the much smoother sounding TwoCools, an improvement we've been awaiting for five years now. The new fans have just two speeds rather than three, and the fan hub they connect to has been placed in a remote location. A molex chain has to be stretched all the way to the top corner to power it and it's too far away from a potential fourth fan at the front.

Working inside the P280 is pain-free, thanks to the luxuriously spacious interior, good clearance for the various components and, of course, folded metal edges. Cable management is great, with lots of twist/zip-tie hooks and routing holes placed around the motherboard tray. The tool-less locking mechanism for optical drives is a welcome change as 5.25" drive rails are a pain to line up with the front bezel and leave ugly holes on both sides. Moving to a side-mounting hard drive cage made drive access quicker, and the plastic caddies seem to limit vibration well. Even getting at the air filters and front fans is easier.

The end result is a user-friendly product that competes well against modest silence-oriented cases like the Fractal Define R2/R3 and Antec Solo II, but also more performance-oriented enthusiast cases. It's not in the same league as over-the-top cases with crazy cooling like the In Win Dragon Rider, but performs comparably to the In Win BUC and LanCool PC-K59. Like the Solo II, the P280 is significantly improved without losing the special identity of is predecessors. With quiet and dignified on one side, and well-cooled and user-friendly on the other, the P280 walks the fine line between them.

Antec P280
PROS

* Good performance with both low and high configurations
* Stock fans have improved acoustics, fan speed switches
* Spacious, plenty of clearance for heatsinks, video cards, etc.
* Great cable management
* Front USB 3.0 with internal header
* Solid construction
* Dampened side panels
CONS

* Top mounted fans unusually loud, particularly at the center
* Possible issues with side panel fit
* Inconvenient fan hub location

Our thanks to Antec for the P280 case sample.


The Antec P280 is Recommended by SPCR.

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Articles of Related Interest
Antec Solo II: The Legacy Lives On
SilverStone Temjin TJ08-E: MicroATX Evolved
Cooler Master Silencio 550 Quiet ATX Tower
In Win Dragon Rider Enthusiast/Gaming Tower
LanCool PC-K59 Midtower Case
In Win BUC ATX Tower Case

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