Just about a year ago I took a look at the P180B from Antec and it had been my case of choice ever since. Well today I'm taking a look at Antec's follow up, the cleverly named P182B. To be honest there wasn't a whole lot I could find at fault with the P180, but what I did find was also the biggest complaint from EVERYONE about that enclosure, so I was anxious to see what Antec had changed for the new revision.
By far the biggest complaint about the P180 was cable management, well actually it was lack of cable management. With all of the great features of the P180 the less than stellar options for cable management was a deal break for a lot of people. There simply was no way to effectively route/hide cables in the P180. Antec heard the cries and went back to the drawing board, and just about a year later we had the P182.
Just to give you a refresher of what the finished install on my P180 looked like, here is a picture I took right before I pulled everything to install it in the P182.
It's not pretty, luckily there is no side window on a P180 or I would have been ashamed to have that sitting on my desk. Later in the review we will see if Antec's redesign had any effect on cable management, but first lets take a look at the features of the newly redesigned P182B.
- Attractive gun metal black finish
- Dual chambers structure: The power supply (not included) is located in the lower chamber to isolate heat from the system and lower system noise
- Special three-layer side panels and front door (aluminum, plastic, aluminum) dampen system generated noise, making this one of the quietest cases available
- 0.8mm cold rolled steel for durability used through the majority of the chassis, 1.0mm cold rolled steel around the 4x HDD area
- 11 Drive Bays:
- External 4 x 5.25”; 1 x 3.5”
- Internal 6 x 3.5” for HDD
- 7 Expansion Slots
- Cooling System:
- 1 rear 120mm TriCool™ Fan (standard)
- 1 top 120mm TriCool™ fan (standard)
- 1 lower chamber 120mm TriCool™ Fan (standard)
- 1 front 120mm fan (optional)
- 1 middle 120mm fan (optional) to cool the VGA
- External fan control on the rear panel for the top and rear fans in the upper chamber
- Motherboard: Up to Standard ATX (12” x 9.6”)
- Double hinge door designed to open up to 270º
- Rubber grommet ports on the rear for liquid-cooling tubes allow you to mount external liquid-cooling hardware
- Front-mounted ports provide convenient connections:
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 1x IEEE 1394 (FireWire®, i.Link®
- Audio In/Out (HDA & AC’97)
- Cable organizers behind motherboard tray minimize cable clutter
- Case Dimensions:
- 21.3”(H) x 8.1”(W) x 19.9”(D)
- 52cm (H) x 21cm (W) x 51cm (D)
The feature list looks identical to the P180 except for three things, Cable organizers behind motherboard tray minimize cable clutter, External fan control on the rear panel for the top and rear fans in the upper chamber and Rubber grommet ports on the rear for liquid-cooling tubes allow you to mount external liquid-cooling hardware.
Since the P182 is a revision of the P180, and not a new case I will be focusing on the revisions made and briefly touching on the other features that I covered in the P180 review last year.
I would have sworn that the same driver that dropped off this package was the same one that dropped off the P180 last year, I believe he was still cussing me. This case is no lightweight, so unless you enjoy back pain and self abuse I wouldn't recommend hitting any LAN parties with it.
Just like the P180 before it, the P182 arrived double boxed. The retail package is the same, sleek and classy looking box as the P180 and the case itself was suspended by two cut to fit foam inserts.
Included with the case is the owners manual and warranty info (Antec provides a 3 year warranty) One thing I did notice about the manual is it says it is for the P180, a quick glance through the manual didn't provide any info on the new features, but honestly they aren't hard to figure out so reprinting a new manual for them seems to me like it would have been a waste. An insert would have done the trick, but that wasn't included either. After doing a bit of unpacking you will also find a bag of assorted hardware like standoffs, fan retention clips, drive rails and tie down straps.
At first glance there isn't a whole lot of difference in the P182B and the P180B. There is a slight color difference, the P182B is "gun metal" black and the P180B is just plain black. I tried to get a good photo of the difference, but it just doesn't show up well in a picture. The "gun metal" black has kind of a charcoal look to it and the plain black is just that... plain black. I think the gun metal black looks a little better, I cant explain why... it just looks sleeker.
Aside from the slight color change the P182B appears to look exactly like the P180B until you get around to the back of the enclosure. (So that's where we will start) On the left is the P180B and on the right the P182B. As you can see not a whole lot of difference, but the couple of small changes are pretty significant.
One of the great features of the P180 was it's 120mm TriCool fans. They could be set to low for silent running, or cranked up a notch or two if you needed a bit of a cooling boost while gaming. The only drawback to these fans was that in order to change the fan speed you had to pull the side panel off to access the three position switch for each fan. So, you had a great feature that was more of a PITA to use than it was worth. Antec resolved that problem (well 2/3rds of it anyway) by adding switches to the back of the case for the rear and top fans. You'll still have to pull the side panel to get to the switch for the fan in the lower chamber.
The other addition is the rubber grommet outlets for tubing if you happen to be into water-cooling. Water-cooling is what happened to be the cause of me wrecking the P180 I reviewed last year so IMO the addition of these outlets is a step in the right direction. They wouldn't have helped in my case, but they have gotten me to consider trying again. What would work best is an external system like a Koolance EXOS, although I have seen, and even attempted an entirely internal W/C set up.
The rest of the exterior is identical to its predecessor, from the double hinged door allowing you to swing it open and completely flush with the side panel so that it is out of the way, down to the filtered front panel vents.
The "skin" of the P182B is the same sandwiched aluminum-plastic-aluminum, which is what adds all of the weight, but it is also what keeps the noise level down.
The P182 uses the same dual chamber design to help separate the PSU which is one of the main sources of heat from the rest of the components. The upper chamber contains the motherboard and optical drives and the lower chamber contains the PSU and hard drives. Dividing the two chambers is a sliding "door" that is secured with thumb screws. This sliding door is also where you'll see one of the first changes to the interior design.
In addition to the sliding door there is another opening on the edge of the door which wasn't present on the P180. At first I assumed this was for running tubing for water-cooling, but it is a single opening, water-cooling would require two, one for the feed and one for return. After thinking about it for a few minutes I remembered how crowded and cluttered it was in the P180 with all of the cables ran through the sliding door section. You could use this new opening for running your molex leads for your drives and it would help sort out some of the clutter.
Anyway, back to the lower chamber, as stated before this is where your PSU and up to 4 HDD's will be housed. The HDD cage is removable and slides in and out on plastic rails. The drives are installed vertically and are secured by long screws and padded by rubber bushings to help prevent vibration noise. The proximity of the HDD cage to the 120mm fan located in the lower chamber is still an issue for me, and I feel could be easily resolved by adding a grill to the fan mount in the lower chamber, or by moving the fan location entirely. The fan could be moved to the front of the case, leaving the PSU fan to do the job of keeping the rear of the case cool. Another benefit of moving the fan to the front of the case would be Antec could add an external switch to control this fan as well, rather than having to pull the side panel to adjust the fan speed.
The PSU mount is basically a strap. There are four screws, two on each side (so it requires you remove the backside panel to install a PSU) The "cage" goes over the PSU and is then secured to the elevated platform with the four screws. The cage and the platform are rubber insulated to reduce vibration noise. The last picture is just something I noticed was a small difference in the 180 and the 182, I'm not sure if it was intentional or if it "just happened that way" On the backside on the P180 there was a small notch on the fan mount, this notch was not big enough to fit any wiring into to run it around to the hard drives so I bent it out of the way. On the P182 it was just the right size for running my SATA cables around the backside to my two HDD's.