Antec P182 Advanced Super Midtower Case: P180 v.2

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May 24, 2007 by Mike Chin

Antec P182SE
Advanced Super Mid Tower Case
Antec Inc.
Market Price
~US$230; ~$160 for black finish

Two years have passed since Antec introduced the P180 case. At the time, it was an unusual, innovative case designed to provide both effective cooling and good noise reduction for high performance enthusiasts. The P180 was very well received by the DIY marketplace, and despite teething problems that led to some minor revisions, it has become a highly successful product and a familiar sight in the high performance computer arena. According to Antec, the P180 is their most popular computer case in Japan, which is surprising as it is a market that traditionally shuns large cases.

The P182 is a major evolutionary update of the P180. While core design features such as the separated thermal zones and composite outer panels remain unchanged, the revised case has many new features that speak of Antec's responsiveness to customer demand. The P182 Special Edition examined here is said to be a limited version available only through a selected number of dealers. Those dealers number nearly 30 throughout the world, however, and many of them are large online stores or chains such as NCIX and Newegg, and Fry's and CompUSA, so availability can hardly be said to be exclusive. However, Antec informs me that the number of SE versions available to North America is under 2000 units, and there's no word on whether a second SE run will be made once this stock is depleted, so it may be a case of first come, first served.

Those who have read SPCR's previous reviews of the P180 know that I have had a hand in the design of the P180. This is not true of the P182, which was produced without any direct input on my part. SPCR's P180 articles include:

The above reviews are well worth reading or at least skimming, as they form the backdrop for this article. Here's a quick overview of the P182 design for those who don't want the in-depth coverage in the earlier pieces:

These design concepts are central to the P182:

  • Separate chambers for better thermal management with less airflow.
  • Ensure direct, low-impedance airflow paths.
  • Use damping and mechanical decoupling whenever possible to minimize vibration transfer.
  • Keep any noise at the back of the case as much as possible.
  • The front bezel must be transparent for airflow yet prevent direct escape paths for noise.
  • Use Antec's unique multi-layer plastic/metal composite material for the main outer panels to eliminate panel vibration.
  • Allow the front upper chamber HDD cage and optional fan to become a cooling intake zone for hot graphics cards.

Core Thermal Design

The positioning of the power supply and the 4-bay hard drive cage in the separate bottom compartment is a key aspect of the P182's design. There is a fan mounting spot — and a supplied 120mm 3-speed fan — but the fan really only needs to be used with a fanless power supply or with more than two hard drives. In normal use, virtually any fan-cooled PSU should draw enough air from the front vent of the bottom chamber to keep up to two the hard drives cool. A good PSU should also have no trouble keeping itself cool without ramping up in speed.

From a thermal point of view, this arrangement is highly efficient in that the airflow of the PSU fan is used not only to cool itself but also the hard drives. At the same time, the heat of the PSU and hard drives are not adding to the heat of the CPU and video cards, which are the primary heat producers in today's PCs.

A top quality PSU will convert >80% of the AC power it draws into DC power. The remaining <20% of energy gets wasted as heat inside the power supply, which is what makes them get hot. If you have an 80% efficiency power supply and your system needs 300W DC during maximum peaks, then the PSU draws 375W AC, 75W of which converted to heat in the PSU. Hard drives rarely consume more than about 10W average in actual operation. If we assume two hard drives, the total heat in the PSU / HDD chamber or tunnel will not go above 95W. This is a relatively small amount of heat to be evacuated through this free-flowing air tunnel.

Following this example, in a conventional ATX case where the power supply is positioned at the top, the 75W of heat from the PSU would be within inches of the hot CPU, which could easily be producing 80W of heat. The CPU and PSU would affect each other; both would run hotter, and any thermally controlled fans (in the PSU, on the CPU heatsink) would tend to ramp up faster. The 20W from the HDDs would also be added to the overall heat in the case, adding to the thermal load. With the P182's separate PSU / HDD chamber, the thermal load on all the components is divided and thus more easily tackled.


The arrival of the P182SE coincided with that of the P190, a larger version of the P182 which will also be reviewed soon. The two cases are shown below for comparison.

The P180 box is big but still smaller than the P190 box. Lots of black ink there.

What makes the P182 Special Edition special? It has a stainless steel exterior with mirror finish instead of the standard gun metal black. It also has a black interior finish, as opposed to the standard metal. Other than that, it's identical to the standard P182. Mirror is certainly the right word to describe the finish of the front and side panels of the P182SE.

The P182SE has a stainless steel mirror finish on the sides and front panel.

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