Beige cases have pretty much moved to a minority market for the enthusiast over the past couple of years, and aluminium cases are certainly cheaper and more proliferate than ever before. Go to any PC hardware site that sells cases, and you will see it's more difficult to get a beige case that isn't just cheap and cheerful. Even the cheap and cheerful cases can come in a variety of colour and materials. Along with this decline has been a move towards differing designs to distinguish differing manufacturers and philosophies of aesthetics. Much like a car, your computer can be a status symbol, an interpretation of your taste and style or simply something that you find pleasing.
Another thing that has changed with cases is the overall design from a features standpoint. Value for money no longer means just a case to house your system in but a case with ease of use and time saving features added into the mix, be it simply thumbscrews or front ports for USB and Firewire.
Manufacturers realise these things and expand on designs quite often, again with differing aims and philosophies to appeal to the differing end users. Now I think everyone by now should have heard of Antec, I think that everyone will pretty much agree that they produce some fine cases, some of the best infact. Well a new line is appearing from them, the Performance One series of cases, of which the first is the P160 which is what we shall be looking at in this review. With its Aluminium and Chrome appearance and a host of features to make life easy for the end user this case should have a lot to offer.
Case Dimensions 20.3"(H) x 19.7"(D) x 8.1"(W)
Drive Bays 10
- Front Accessible 4x5.25", 2x3.5"
- Internal 4x3.5"
Expansion Slots 7
Cooling System Up to 2x120mm Fans
1 rear (standard)
1 front (optional)
Main Board Size 12"(W)x9.6"(L)
Weight 14.3/15.7 lbs (net/gross)
Motherboards Standard ATX
Special Features Internal drive trays with rubber grommets
Removable Motherboard Tray
Individual drive trays
Front USB/FireWire Ports
Package Includes 1 Tower Case
1 set of screws and motherboard standoffs
1 Installation manual
You expect aluminium enclosures to be light but I have to admit I was surprised by the overall weight of this case. When the delivery guy carried the box down the drive and handed it over, I took it off him and almost threw it in the air; this case is light even for an aluminium enclosure. The box is full colour which is nice too see and gives you an instant impression that your money hasn't been wasted. Inside the case is protectively wrapped in a clear plastic bag, as well as supported in polystyrene, and thanks to the weight of it you won't have any trouble getting it out.
Once removed from the wrapping you are presented with what is in my opinion a very controversial styled case; some are going to be instantly impressed with the aluminium and chrome look whilst others will instantly dislike the overall appearance. I personally was of two minds about it when seeing it on the web, but up close I found it to be very appealing and very fashionable.
At the very top front we find an innovative display and control panel which house left to right, Firewire port, 2x USB (USB 2.0), Reset, Temperature, Mic in, Speakers/Headphones, Power and HDD LED's and finally the large Power button. Now the innovative part; this circular panel can be rotated upwards 45 degree's, the idea being that if the case is on the floor you can get easier access as well as the obvious visual benefits. If you have your case on your desk then you can leave it horizontal in line with the case. I personally prefer the look of it aimed up 45 degree's even though I have my case at just below desk height. As I mentioned, this panel has a Temperature display, for the two included flat temperature probes. Display can be given in either Celsius or Fahrenheit with a small push button switch inside the case, and the display switches between the two probes every three seconds. Both probes have a 55 degree warning level where upon the display will flash. Below are the 5 ¼ inch bays, the top two of which have stealthed covers for your optical drives, and they work very well indeed. The nice thing about these bay covers is that unlike most, they accommodate not only your usual eject button, but also a play/ffwd button and have a clear strip for your drives LED.
Below the top two bays you are left with normal bay covers. On the first of the two 3 ½ inch bays we can see that the top one is also a stealth bay, designed to hide your floppy/LS120/similar drive.
Moving down to the lower half of the front we have 3 distinct 'cut outs' or slots in a vertical fashion, again looking stylish with a chrome interior and black mesh background. Obviously the front intakes, they look very smart with the three blue LED's that shine down with a soft blue light under power. At the very bottom we have the Antec logo impressed into the plastic. Yes, it's a plastic front I'm afraid although you would be hard pushed to notice this on visual inspection.
Overall the fascia design is very stylish; just the right amount of chrome has been used to give you the 'BLING' effect without overdoing it and making it distasteful. The drive bays are a great idea as is the rotating top panel, but I would have liked to have seen the fascia being constructed from aluminium.