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AMD A10-6800K Review ....................

Antec ISK110 VESA Case Review .............................. ....................

Antec P280 Case and HCP1200 PSU ....................

Intel Ivy Bridge i7-3770K CPU

Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR Camera

AMD Radeon HD 7870

AMD Radeon HD 7770 & 7750

AMD Radeon HD 7970 .........................

AMD Bulldozer FX-8150 CPU

ASUS EAH6970 Graphics Card

AMD Llano A8-3850 Review

Cougar GX G1050 1050W PSU

Antec HCG900 900W PSU

Rasurbo Xange Case and 550W PSU ....................

Cooler Master Storm Enforcer Case ....................

AMD Phenom II X4 980BE CPU Review

AMD 6-series Entry Level GPUs

AMD ATI Radeon HD6990 Review

Intel 510 Series 250GB SSD

ASUS ENGTX580 DCUII Review

Sapphire Radeon HD6870 Vapor-X

Antec Minuet 350 Case Review

Sapphire Radeon HD6950

Intel Sandy Bridge Processors

AMD Phenom II X4 975BE & X6 1100T

AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Thuban CPU ...............

Kingston V+ Series 128GB SSD Review

Antec P183 Case and 1000W PSU

AMD ATI Radeon 5670 Review

AMD ATI Radeon HD 5850 Review

AMD Athlon II X4 630 CPU Review

Intel Lynnfield i7-870 Processor Review

Kingston DDR3 Memory Review

ASUS Maximus III Gene Motherboard

ASUS M4A79T Deluxe Motherboard

Antec Midi Tower Case and PSU

Active Media SaberTooth SSD

More Power Protection Products ......................... ...............

DDR2 Memory Roundup

Dual Layer DVD Burners Reviewed

Dual Format DVD Burner Review

QuietPC Product Roundup

GlobalWIN Product Roundup

Sapphire Radeon 9800 AIW Pro

Athlon 64 FX-51 Review

Lian Li PC37 Aluminum Mini Tower Case ...............

Abit IS7-G Motherboard Review 

AOpen AX4C Max Review

Promise S150 TX4 RAID Controller

Silent Power Supplies Reviewed

Nvidia GeForce FX5900 Ultra ....................

Promise TX4000 RAID Controller

ASUS V9900 Ultra Review

Promise TX2Plus RAID Controller

AMD Athlon XP3200+ CPU Review

Intel Canterwood Chipset Review

ASUS P4SDX Deluxe Motherboard

Dual Athlon MP2600+ Review

Pinnacle Systems: Edition DV500

Athlon XP3000+ CPU

  ..

TwinMOS Memory

 

Leadtek K7NCR18D-Pro

Aopen CRW4850 CD Burner Review

AOpen AK77-8X Max Motherboard Review

AOpen AX4PE Max Motherboard Review

Enlight Cases Roundup

Power Protection Products Review

Creative Webcam Pro eX Review

PAPST Fans (Silent PC Part2)

AMD Athlon XP2700+ CPU

Leadtek WinFast A280 MyVIVO

Crucial PC2700 DDR333 Memory

Chieftec Wireless Desktop Review

Intel Pentium4 3.06GHz CPU with Hyper Threading Review

Hyper-Threading Technology Guide

PURE Digital SonicXplosion Sound Card

PURE Digital ZXR-500 Speaker System

Logitech Z-560 4.1-Speaker System

Global Win GAT-001 Case Review ....................

Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz Review

Belkin Omniview 4-Pt. KVM Switch + Audio

AKASA Paxmate Acoustic Matting Installation Guide

Chieftec Winner Series: WX-01BD Case Review ..........

Cooler Master ATC-710 Case Review

80mm -> 60mm Fan Adapter

TDK USB Bluetooth Adaptor

Socket-A Cooler Roundup 

Promise FastTrak SX4000 RAID Card

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Antec P280 Midi Tower Case & 1200W PSU

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Introduction

Founded in 1986, Antec is recognized as a pioneer in the high-performance computer components and accessories for the gaming, PC upgrade and Do-It-Yourself markets, and has maintained its position as a worldwide market leader and international provider of quiet, efficient and innovative products. They recently sent us their P280 case and a 1200W power supply to test. They even sent us their Kuhler 920 liquid cooling solutions so we threw that into the review as well!

We’ll start with the case and then move to the PSU and then the Kuhler 920 before examining the build.

The P280 is the latest in Antec's Performance One series (we reviewed the P183 some time ago - you can find that review in the list on the left) and is intended to complement rather than replace the P183 and P190. To this end Antec engineers have made some major design changes to include many of the latest cutting edge features found in other cases while achieving a lower price point. Some sacrifices have been made (when you compare the composite noise absorbing side panels on our P183 to the thinner standard ones on the P280) but on the whole the improvements appear to more than offset this. The P280 is big - longer and taller than our P183 and dwarfs our Antec 902 case. In fact it's closer to a Full Tower than a Midi.

 

Case Packaging

Clicking on any picture in this review opens up a larger, more detailed image and in some cases may be the only way to spot fine details.

 

Packaging is important in this day and age and not only does it help buyers make a decision in a big PC store but it shows what the manufacturer thinks of the product and their intended market. As with all Antec cases, the bold yellow stripe tells you who the manufacturer is long before you are close enough to read the name. Plenty of photos adorn the sides to give a good representation of the contents.

 

In Europe, Antec ship to many different countries so their labeling is comprehensive. It's also nice to know they have been around for 25 (26 now) years as it fills consumers with confidence.

Shipping in a sturdy box the P280 weighs in at 12 kg with only 1.8kg being accounted for by packaging material. Speaking of which, we were pleased to note the soft flexible foam and not expanded polystyrene surrounding the case. This offers better protection, last longer (for case re-use later) and does not break off in small particles when taking the case out.

 

The Antec P280 Unveiled  

Looking at the sides we can see that the gunmetal grey side doors are replaced with traditional plastic. The front side vents are widened to improve airflow and, as can be seen from the picture on the left, a visible tab is sticking out which allows the filter on the PSU intake to be easily removed for cleaning.

   

Inside we can see a lot of changes. Gone is the split compartment (a good thing in our view) so there is a large expanse of open space that can accommodate quad GPU configurations and cards of any length. Space for 6 3.5" or 2.5" drives is provided in the form of removable trays with soft standoffs to dampen vibration. SSDs can be screwed into the base of the trays and do not require the grommits. A mini cage has room for two SSD at the top of the drive area.

Clips for mounting two 12cm fans just behind the drive cage can be seen but doing so may cause problems with very long graphics cards.

A large CPU cutout allows easy access to even the largest processors and makes changing coolers much quicker. Four rubber rimmed holes allow for cable management in an ideal configuration with a huge 30mm of clearance behind the motherboard tray for this purpose. Space at the top is for up to 3 optical drives and they lock into place without screws. In fact, the only time you need screws in the P280 is for the motherboard and HDD/SSD attachment - everything else can be done by hand.

 

The front shows the impressive gunmetal grey aluminium finish which will be evident to casual viewers. The front is the only bit to be afforded this treatment for cost cutting purposes. The strange door shape of the P183 is gone and the front panel connectors are at the top fron in a more traditional placement.

Opening the door shows the full length accoustic foam material inside the door to dampen noise. A single large dust filter now replaces the many in the P183 and this is quick to detach and clean - unlike the two front filters of the Antec 902 which require removing no less than 20 thumb screws to access. There are no fans visible because they are optional and would be mounted on the other side of the drive cage to reduce noise.

At the back we see a single fan and switches for adjusting the speed of it and the two top fans. Rubber coated holes allow for custom water cooling to an external radiator.

 

 

Looking at the top we see that the power and reset switches are moved here which makes it unnecessary to open the door to turn on the PC as was the case with the P183 (we managed to use our pinky fingers on our P183 case through a grill to turn it on without having the open the door. Two 12cm fans are mounted at the top in a bid to appeal to the big radiator market for water cooling.

 

 

Underneath we see an air intake for a PSU with a right angles in/out configuration such as the Antec HCG series. We used a 1200W Antec PSU with a through and through configuration so the intake only serves to balance air pressure in our review. It's a nice touch to see a filter that can be removed without having to turn the case upside down

 

 

Gone is the E-Sata connector to be replaced with 4 USB ports (two of them USB3.0 if your motherboard has the necessary header). Our motherboard is an Intel DX79SI which does not have E-Sata even on the back so this must be a trend which will continue. Two audio 3.5mm jacks for headphones and a microphone round things off.

 

 

The case comes with everything you need and here we show the front and underside filters along with one of the drive trays which are of the "pinch to release" type.

 

Case Performance  

We will go into detail as to what we put inside the case but to keep items together, below is a chart of how well the case performed (fans were run at full speed on the Antec 920 Kuhler).

The Antec P280 performed much better than we had predicted given the lack of front intake fans and side vent. The idle performance was the lowest of our test samples and shows just how efficient the Antec Kuhler 920 is. Noise levels were very good apart from the fans on the Kuhler 920 which sounded like a jet on take-off. In practice, runing then at a lower speed makes a huge difference to noise while still providing a good cooling effect.

 

 

PSU Packaging  

As with the case packaging, the PSU box design is excellent and adds that extra bit of class. Information is provided on all sides to satisfy even the most curious techy.

 

Everything you could want to know is displayed right down to the configuration of connectors on each cable.

 

 

PSU Build and Cabling  

 

The PSU unit itself comes in a nice canvas bag and every single wire is braided. The lengths of the wires are also of a good length and only the essentials are hard soldered onto the PSU - everything else is in a modular format to reduce clutter.

 

 

The Antec logo is proudly shown on almost every side.

 

The sticker shows the important details of power by voltage and rail and it is crucial in our opinion to understand the intricacies of the power supply. The inner facing grill is of a wide spacious design so cool air can reach right to the edges. The outer facing grill is raised to utilise the full surface area of the grill and shows the single fan in use. Because the PSU is so compact in design we were unable to take it apart to photograph the insides so it will have to remain a mystery for now.

  

PSU Performance

The Antec High Current Pro 1200W had no trouble handling any of our tests with confidence and barely a whisper. The fan was more noticeable with the others in the case turned off but from a normal seated position could not be heard at all even on the highest setting above the noise of CPU and Graphics Card. We were able to run two AMD Radeon HD 6990s (sadly borrowed and not ours) in CF mode (4 GPUs in total) by carefully ensuring each pair was drawing power from a different rail and still have plenty left for the Core i7 3960X processor and other components.

 

The Antec Kuhler 920

This was an unexpected bonus and enables us to overclock our Intel i7-3960X all the way to 4.6GHz with ease.

 

 

 

That groovy retail packaging again. Now supporting the new socket LGA2011 (thankfully for us). Those who purchased the previous version of the 920 and need an LGA2011 bracket can contact Antec with their proof of purchase to have it sent to them which shows excellent customer service (Corsair charge $10 to their customers for their LGA2011 mount).

 

Everything fits neatly into the "egg carton" box. The width of the radiator can be seen clearly (5cm) and is about double that of most competitors (and its predecessor the Antec Kuhler 620). Two fans are required in a push/pull configuration to provide sufficient static pressure to get air through the thick radiator smoothly.

There's quite a lot in the box with mounts for just about every modern socket type. The thermal material pre-applied is good for one use but if it becomes necessary to remove and re-attach (perhaps to a different CPU) then it is best to clean it off and apply new paste. Antec's Formula 6 and 7 compounds are ideal for this and we use them even on our Corsair H50s and stock air coolers. The only gripe we have is that the manual could be a bit clearer. Understandably, space is limited in the box so perhaps a more detailed manual could be on the Antec site for download? They do this already for some of their cases so perhaps it's just a matter of time.

 

 

 Putting It All Together

 

 

At this point we have everything installed except the cooler, GPU and processor. Cables are neatly routed (neatly for us at least) via the nearest hole round the back of the motherboard plate. We have an SSD and HDD fitted in the drive cage. Despite the large size of the case the wires of the Antec HCP1200 PSU were just the right length to be routed efficiently without cluttering up the inside. The wires connecting the front panel of the case could have been a bit longer and required us to put our BD-Drive in the lowest of the three 5.25" bays so it did not impinge upon them.

 

 

Looking round the back we can see lots of clearance even for the thick ATX main cable. Unlike most other cases we did not have to squeaze the side panel on as there was plenty of space.

 

 

Finally we attached the Antec Kuhler 920 and as you can see, it is very large and intrusive, covering one entire bank of 4 DIMM sockets and, more importantly, the CPU fan header. This requires careful manipulation as it cannot be attached after the 920 is screwed in place so needs to be attached just before the final fixing in place. Similarly for the Molex connector right at the top which powers the top fans. The hoses are flexible rubber and everything fitted just fine. The supplied Antec fans were quite noisy on full load but this is common in the industry as Corsair (and even AMD's and Intel's new liquid coolers) also have noisy fans. Presumably it is important to hit a certain price point so compromises must be made that will be acceptable to the bulk of their intended market. We replaced the fans with Akasa Apache silent fans and got the same cooling performance with hardly any noise so this issue should not deter anyone from purchasing an Antec Kuhler 920. Placement of the top fans is ideal as they cool the chipset and VRMs - something which is lacking in most liquid cooling solutions due to the lack of a big fan over the processor.

 

 

Conclusion

We had some trepidation as well as excitement when we received the P280, having really liked the gunmetal grey finish of the P183. Realistically though, most people will only see the front of a case, and the top if not hidden under a desk so this is not a problem. The laminate panels of the P183 do not seem to have made much of an accoustic difference over the doors of the P280 so perhaps it is good that Antec are looking for a lower price point to appeal to a wider audience.

The lack of E-Sata means we have to buy a USB3.0 enclosure for our backup drive but anything that simplifies the consumer experience has to be good and USB3.0 is the way forward (we can get write speeds of over 70MB/s with our Kingston DT Ultimate USB3.0 pen drive and read speeds of 110MB/s.

The PSU is so powerful we have not stressed it despite our best efforts. The dual chamber design is gone and it makes assembling much easier.

This is a Midi case with the roominess of a Full Tower and at a very tempting price point. More subdued and classy than the flashy LED focused gaming enclosures, the Antec P280 is equally suited for intensive gaming and professional uses, such as video editing, with its flexibility to allow quad GPUs (motherboard permitting) and up to six HDDs with space for 2 SSDs in a mini cage as well. We give the Antec P280 enclosure our Gold Award.

 


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