Plenty of space to build; spacious cutouts; modern, yet classic
Ho-hum stock cooling; rubber grommets fall out too easily
From afar, there’s little to distinguish the Antec P280 from such long-in-the-tooth predecessors as Antec’s P183. The steel side panels are all black, without mounting holes for additional fans or windows to provide a look inside. There’s no LED glow, either. The only exterior visual clues that reveal this to be an entirely new chassis are the front-panel connections, including two USB 3.0 connectors with an internal header, which are located above the case’s front door.
The P280's front door doesn't, for once, hide the power and reset switches; Antec's engineers moved them up where they belong.
Remove the sound-dampening side panels, and you begin to discover just how modern the P280 is. Measuring 22.6 inches high, 11.4 inches wide, 24.8 inches deep, and weighing 26.5 pounds, this steel chassis is one of the most spacious we’ve built into this year. Unlike the P183 and its ilk, which kept the motherboard and PSU in separate compartments, the wide-open P280 supports motherboard form factors as large as XL-ATX. The cavernous interior is painted matte black, and the motherboard tray is endowed with one of the biggest CPU backplane cutouts we’ve ever seen. It also contains four cable-routing cutouts with rubber grommets, and an oversize cutout for an 8-pin auxiliary ATX power cable.
The fan controller inside the rear of the cases can power four two-speed fans.
Unlike Antec’s previous P-series chassis, the P280 doesn’t contain a removable hard drive cage. But this didn’t prevent us from installing even extremely long videocards without needing to move anything else inside the case. Each of the case’s six hard drive bays slide right out, and the drives are secured from beneath through thick silicone gaskets that eliminate noise and vibration. Thumbscrews secure each of the nine PCIe slot covers, and each of the three optical drive bays is outfitted with a plastic latch. Two 2.5-inch drive bays at the top of the hard drive cage can harbor SSDs.
Antec ships the P280 with three 12cm exhaust fans, two on top and one in the rear. We connected them to the handy fan controller that’s built right into the case, plugging each fan into the controller, and then powering the fan controller with a single 4-pin Molex connector from our power supply. The controller can set each fan to spin at either low or high speed.
If you want more cooling, the P280 can accommodate two 12cm intake fans in the front, and there are two sets of clips for 12cm fans on the hard drive cage. You’ll want to use them if your hardware puts out any heat. When we ran our test bed (an overclocked Core i5-750 and a GeForce GTX 590) at full load, CPU temperatures hovered around 70 C—a full 10 C hotter than the same parts running inside a Corsair 800D.
The P280 offers a spacious interior with all the modern amenities.
Antec’s P280 is a modern rendition of an old classic. It’s spacious, elegant, and a joy to build into. It could use a few more stock fans, but its classic looks, quiet performance, and roomy insides make this a good choice for builders with refined taste.