[to the tune of "American Pie"]
A long, long time ago... / We can still remember / How that P182 used to make us smile.
But now what really makes us squeal / is this case covered in stainless steel / so this blog post, we are forced to compile...
Seriousness aside, Antec has set a new level in exterior achievement with its P182SE case. And I say that as I do just because, as one might expect, the 182SE is nothing more than Antec's old P182 case with some steel attached to the side. The Millennium Falcon approach to case design, if you will. But just as everyone loves that ol' hunk of bolts, I do enjoy the shiny addition to this pleasantly designed case.
Just as a matter of business, Josh Norem reviewed Antec's P180 case in the 2005 Holiday issue. And while the 182SE obviously differs from said P180 case, I'm talking about minutia here; for all intents and purposes, the insides of the 182SE are damned near identical to the 180. With that said, Josh gave the case a 7. He thought building a system inside the case "requires extensive and aggravating cable routing through the cramped compartmentalized interior." Just wanted to get that out there, so you can have a nice, neutral path when reading the rest of this post.
Seeing as I didn't actually install a system in said case, because this isn't a straight-up review, I can't really speak to Josh's concerns over the potentially cramped interior of said chassis. The exterior, however, is decidedly beautiful. Provided you don't ever touch it with anything other than a feather duster; after getting poked and prodded by various coworkers, the 182SE on my desk is a bit smudged up with fingerprints. Antec goes to great lengths to include a little polishing rag, but it just isn't the same. When you're picking this case up from wherever you intend to buy it from, grab a few bottles of Windex as well.
And again, this isn't a review, but I definitely wanted to make a note of Antec's front-panel design. Aka: brilliance in a box. I would like all the case developers that read this blog to sit back and take a minute to admire what Antec's done. First off, the door is nicely weighted -- it's not some flimsy pieces of plastic, nor is it some irritating, heavy-as-heck, swinging gate. It's pleasant. And opening said door reveals a nice, flat front. Instead of having to open the case and remove screws, or pop off the front panel entirely, you can just pull out the drive bay covers right there. Three-second job. Also cool, the front fan covers are attached via one of those little press-in-pop-out devices, which makes accessing (and cleaning!) the fan filters an absolute... wait for it... wait for it... breeze !
The back of the case is fairly ho-hum, save for two little rubberized water cooling holes. It's great to see more cases nowadays including these little guys, and I'm glad Antec's following suit. Shown here:
And while I'm on the topic of conveniences, I enjoy the P182SE's interior design. Like I said, I can't speak to the potential constraints involved when sticking a system in the case -- here's hoping your 8800 GTX doesn't create a giant wall between the top and bottom halves of your rig. But the hard drive bays are a real gem. Grab the ring, pull 'em out, and stuff your storage on the rubberized mounting holes. And if you're worried about keeping them cool, well as you can see (and somewhat-see), there's a fan in front of the power supply for the lower bays, and you can mount a fan in front of the drives for the upper. Neat.
Unfortunately, I hope your power supply is the size of a guinea pig, because that's about all the room you'll likely have to work with in the bottom of the case. Unless you remove the cooling fan, of course. But the prospect of that saddens me greatly; fans are you friends.
So that's that. The P182SE. Seriously, the fanciest part is the exterior, which I'm quite a fan of; I've always wanted to have a mirror at my desk, and now I have achieved that dream. Were I not flying to Chicago this weekend, I would totally build up a system in this case so I could blog about how awesome/crappy it is come Monday. Alas, though. That will have to wait. But like I said, if you enjoyed earlier versions of Antec's P-number-number-number line, you'll find striking similarities with this new version.