Regardless of what type of computer you have, AMD, Intel or Mac there's one things ALL computers have in common, an enclosure... more commonly known as a case. If you have been in the "modding" scene for any length of time you are most likely very familiar with Antec. Their SX series of cases is probably the most modded case ever produced. I still have two of the many lookalikes that were produced in my basement. At the height of the modding craze the SX series was THE case, lots of room and huge modding potential. Not ones to just sit back and rest Antec kept putting out new cases that continued to wow, most notably the P160, and last year the silver P180.
And now, finally a black P180. The P180 is referred to as an "Advanced Super Midtower" and is designed to address the needs of both the performance enthusiast as well as those seeking the ultimate in quiet computing. Antec has a pretty good reputation for delivering products that perform extremely well, lets take a look at the P180 and see if it's up to snuff.
When UPS dropped off the package, I thought the driver might have a hernia carrying the box up to the door, it was HUGE. I was pretty eager to see this case so I wasted no time in getting the package open to see what was inside. Everything was well packed (double boxed and with padding) so the P180 arrived unharmed. The package art is very stylish and professional (no gaudy colors or weird cartoon characters jumping out at you) and it also gives a few details about the case. Inside the box the case itself is suspended by foam inserts to give additional protection for when the box is shipped, stored, stacked etc.
In addition to the case itself you'll also find in the box warranty info (3 year warranty), users manual and a sheet of paper with additional pin assignment info.
The features below were taken from Antec's website, if you are familiar with the silver P180 you may notice the lack of the "cooling duct" that came with the Silver version. This was a duct that attached over the graphics card area that you could install an 80mm fan into to blow air down onto your GPU's. Instead of the cooling duct, there is a place for an optional 120mm fan that can be attached to the upper drive cage. Smart move if you ask me considering 80mm fans aren't known for their silence. More on the optional fan later.
- Unique upper and lower chamber structure The power supply resides in a separate chamber to isolate heat from the system and lower system noise
- Innovative three-layer side panels and front door (aluminum, plastic, aluminum) dampen system noise, making this one of the quietest cases available
- Cooling System:
- 1 rear (standard) 120mm TriCool™ Fan with 3-speed switch control
- 1 top (standard) 120mm TriCool™ Fan
- 1 lower chamber (standard) 120mm TriCool™ Fan
- 1 front (optional) 120mm fan
- 1 middle (optional) 120mm fan to cool graphics cards
- Upper drive cage can be used as a duct to provide fresh air to graphics cards
- Maximum expandability with 11 Drive Bays
- External 4 x 5.25"; 1 x 3.5"
- Internal 6 x 3.5" for HDD
- Motherboard: Fits micro and standard ATX
- Double hinge front door designed to open up to 270º
- 7 Expansion Slots
- Front Ports
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 1 x IEEE 1394 (FireWire®, i.Link®)
- Audio In and Out
- Material: 0.8mm cold rolled steel for durability through the majority of chassis, 1.0mm cold rolled steel around the 4x HDD area
- To optimize performance of your P180 the choice of your power supply is crucial. Antec strongly recommends choosing from our Phantom, NeoHE or TruePower series
- Silicone grommets in the hard drive cages absorb vibrations and reduce noise
- Built in washable air-filter
- Dimensions: 54cm (H) x 20.5cm (W) x 50.7cm (D)
21.3"(H) x 8.1"(W) x 19.9"(D)
The first thing that came to mind when I removed the black P180 from the box was "classy" even with the protective film still attached to the sides and top I could tell it was a very sleek and stylish case, this is definitely an enclosure you wont want to hide away under your desk. The exterior "shell" is a combination of aluminum and plastic, both of which blend together really well and add to the sophisticated look of the case.
Starting with the front, the door covers the entire face from top to bottom, there is a "notch" out of the door that allows you to access the front USB, Firewire and audio ports. In order to access the power and reset buttons you are required to open the door..
The door is double hinged, which allows the door to swing 270 degrees and lay flat against the side panel, rather than sticking out at a odd angle from the case. I don't know about you, but I have broken two case doors because they were just in the way.
Behind the door you will find 4 bays for optical drives as well as one 3.5 bay for a floppy drive (if you still use one) or one of the number of bay devices made for 3.5 drive bays. You will also find two vents the spring open with the push of a button to give you access to the removable and washable filters. I'm generally not a fan of doors that cover the entire face of a case due to the restriction in airflow this usually provides. Antec have tried to alleviate that by make the sides of the front bezel perforated as well as leaving a sizable open area at the bottom to also provide increased airflow.
Moving to the sides, the side panels look pretty standard, no windows, now fans etc. But when you take one off you'll notice there is in fact something different about them. They are constructed in three layers, aluminum > plastic > aluminum. This provides additional noise reduction but also adds a significant amount of weight. Although this case is for the most part aluminum, the additional plastic added to help reduce weight packs on a few extra pounds. The top of the case has a single 120mm blowhole that is positioned towards the rear rather than the center, there is a wire mesh grill that looks a lot like a hood scoop on a classic hotrod (except it is facing the wrong way) If you don't like the wire mesh hood scoop, it can be removed.
Moving on to the back of the case, the first thing you will notice is the PSU is on the bottom rather than the top, other than this there is nothing out of the ordinary on the rear of the case. There is a single 120mm fan to exhaust the hot air out of the case, and continuing with the openness of the front the back is also well ventilated to aid with moving cool air in and worm air out. Before moving to the internals, there's one more thing on the exterior worth mentioning, since one of the goals of this enclosure is silence, Antec has taken a lot of steps to reduce vibration (one of the leading causes of noise) On the bottom of the case you will find four rubber feet. Using softer rubber rather than the hard plastic on most cases should reduce vibration significantly.
Next we will take a look at the internals and deal with installation.