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Antec P182 Performance Mid-Tower

Date: June 7, 2007
Author(s): Rob Williams

It’s a well-known fact that Antec produces some of the best cases on the market, and the P182 is a perfect example of that. We have here a case that looks great, packs a lot of smarts and is efficient, all at a price that’s easy to swallow.



Introduction


Antec is a name that most anyone will be familiar with. They have become ingrained in our minds as a company who produces very high quality products which include cooling, power supplies and of course, cases. Their cases are what most enthusiasts and gamers alike look for though, because they’ve grown a reputation of being efficient and straight-out great looking.

We have reviewed many Antec cases in the past, but this is one thats been getting quite a bit of attention, and for good reason. The P182 case is an upgrade of the already popular P180, so we already know what type of review we are in for.

The P182 is part of their Performance One series, which means that the case is designed to be as efficient as possible. This results in creative fan placements, well thought-out hardware spots and also enough room to make sure airflow will not be hampered. It also looks great at the same time, so it appears to be a winner from the get go.

Closer Look

One of the most important things about a case is the way it’s shipped. Considering that many delivery folk like to roughhouse packages, a good packing job assures that you receive the product you paid good money for is in perfect condition. As far as Antecs packaging job goes, I have absolutely no complaints.

Once released from its confined lair, you will find most of the case protected with thin plastic film that pulls off slowly, but leaves no residue whatsoever.

When you are finished with the laborious task of removing all of the plastic, you are left with one of the sharpest looking cases on the market. The P182 is not only sleek and classy, but a great color as well… gun metal black as Antec refers to it. Lets spend a few moments getting to know it better.

With a closer view, you can see the color a bit better, as well as the Antec logo in the top-most right corner. In order to access any of the drive bays, you will need to open the door which is held closed through use of magnets. Happily, you will be able to use the front USB ports even with the door closed.

Moving our way to the top of the case, we can see the 120mm fan at the back which acts as an exhaust. It has a honeycomb mesh on the outside for very obvious reasons.

With the door opened, you can see the four 5.25″ drive bays and also the two mini-doors. Mini-doors you ask? You can push the right side of each door to open them, and behind you will find a mesh used to trap dust. You can also remove it temporarily in order to install a fan on the opposite side, so that you can access the holes.

So what good would a fan do if the door is closed? That’s where these openings on each side of the door come into play. They allow air in, so that the inside mounted fan will have air to distribute. Though a functional feature, it looks good as well.

Lets take a look at the back, and insides of the P182.



Closer Look, Inside

Considering the fact that the P182 is a performance model, Antec expects watercooling buffs to have interest, so they have included two holes in the back that you can run your tubing through. It’s conveniently placed in the center, so that your tubing shouldn’t prove a hassle to route. It also has rubber protection rings to make sure that you don’t cut the tubing.

Though hard to see in a small picture, there is a very tiny fan controller at the very top left of the case. These control the top and back mounted fans, with Low, Medium and High being the available options. Sadly, no lightspeed option was present.

Also on the back you can see the placement for the rear-mounted 120mm fan which also acts as an exhaust, the motherboard slots and the mounting spot for the power supply.

Time to see what’s going on inside. Taking the side door off (and putting back on) is very easy on this case. Remove the back screws and slide back 1/4 of an inch and haul it off. The door feels like no other, because it’s designed for sound dampening. It consists of three layers to achieve this goal.

Antec has put a lot of thought into the inside of their case, and when you think about it, it just makes sense. The motherboard goes in at the obvious spot, while the power supply resides underneath. Opposite that spot is where you can store a few of your hard drives. Above that is yet another spot to store hard drives, and upper still are spots for your CD-Roms and other accessories.

When all of your components are installed, they will be safe. Here you can see the drive bay boxes, which can be easily removed once the single screw is out. The ring is there simply to give you something to pull on.

While most cases have you place the power supply at the top of the case, the P182 allows you to keep it at the bottom. This is good for a few different reasons. First is the fact that the heat will stay and the bottom, and not flow into the rest of the case like in other models. Because there is a 120mm fan mounted behind it, the heat produced should be pushed out the back quickly.

The inside is left clean so that you can get to work quickly. Various fan cords are hanging there, which are attached to the rear and top mounted 120mm fans as well as the fan controller in the back.

With this view, you can see exactly how the drives will sit inside the case. No screws are needed for your optical drives, as we will touch on shortly.

Accessories include hard drive/optical drive bay sliders, screws and a guard of sorts that will be mounted above the top 120mm fan. Its purpose is to slow down any objects from getting near the fan, such as crumbs or people. It won’t do a fantastic job of stopping liquid.

Antec makes great use of soft rubber with the P182, this being the first example. The feet are so soft, that you can feel safe placing it on your expensive flooring. Because of the material, it will also help reduce vibration, although that’s not going to be a huge problem to begin with unless you have a jet motor powered fan cooling your CPU.

The bays, as mentioned earlier, slide in and out. You can see the grooves which are designed to keep the bays in their place without moving an inch. In behind each one of the boxes is a spot large enough for a 120mm fan. This is a great way to accelerate airflow and also to keep your drives cool.

Now that we have covered all of the bases, lets move right into our installation.



Installation

The included manual with the P182 explains how to use everything, but it’s not that intuitive. The entire manual uses a lot of small fonts, so I found myself having to squint half the time to understand what was going on. That all aside, the installation was rather simple, as we will find out.

The board installation could not have been more simple. Though it’s not normally considered difficult, Antec sped up the process by having the motherboard mounts in place already, so all I had to do was set the board in.

The power supply mounting at first, confused the heck out of me. I wasn’t sure how exactly I was supposed to actually fit a PSU in there, but I managed. See those two screws there? There are two more on the opposite side, allowing you to remove this bottomless frame.

Once thats removed, you need to put the frame over your PSU, and then place it into the case. Sounds simple, but it is a tight squeeze. Once in, apply some screws and it’s secure. The cables route up through the hole seen here.

Now, I made a mistake with the hard drive installation, but I will explain why exactly shortly. This is the middle box that you see. Once hauled out, you can set the hard drives into the trays and slide them in. It’s very easy, once you know what you are doing. The trays utilize rubber mounts in order to reduce vibration. Essentially, the only thing standing between your hard drives and the rest of the frame, are those rubber mounts.

Also, on the opposite side of that box (not pictured) is a small case that allows you to store leftover screws. Very handy. Optical drive installation was as easy as can be expected. You need to first pop out the plastic piece and then remove the metal blocker. That is an experience that could have been made easier, but it was out in about two minutes.

After applying the plastic mounting pieces to each side of the drive, you can slide it right in, and be left with a clean looking result.

When all the drives are installed, it will look like this.

One fact I learned quickly was that the bottom slot of your motherboard may be deemed unusable because of the power supply cables that run through. Here you can see I tried to install an AGEIA PhysX card, but was unable because of those cables. Depending on how long the card you are trying to install is, you may have a difference experience.

Remember earlier when I mentioned that I goofed with the hard drive installation? Here is precisely why.

The mammoth 8800GTX card is so big, that it was unable to be installed with the hard drives installed. Actually, the trays had to be removed as well, in order to fit it in there. Begrudgingly, I removed the trays, so that the card would fit. This is not the fault of the case, as it’s not designed around such a large card. This problem is taken care of with the P190, although I am unsure to what extent.

Back to installing the hard drives again. The bottom box has you install the drives in a similar manner, except you don’t need a separate tray. I have to say though, that the mounting method is incredibly smart. The rubber mounts are easy to deal with, and are really effective in keeping vibration to a minimum.

Once the rest of your stuff is installed, routing the wires in the most efficient manner will be fun. In the photo below, you can see that there is a mess of wires all grouped in one spot. The good thing is that this is really the best place for them. Although difficult to tell from that photo, below the middle hard drive tray, is an empty area that will allow you to push some of the cords into.

Here is a top down view of the top fan guard. Its ultimate use may be questionable, but it looks great regardless.

Before I finished up, I wanted to install a single 120mm fan behind one of the drive bays. Considering nothing was now placed in the center hard drive box, I installed it there.

After opening the front door, I removed the mesh in order to access the screw holes. After that, it’s as easy as putting the fan in place, and using large screws in order to secure it.

One feature I didn’t elaborate on too much is that the P182 gives you the ability to cleverly route some of your cables up through the backside of the case. If your PSU cables are long enough, you could route them through the back, as you can see in the photo below, and then around the side to reach their destination. That effectively rids the clump of cables shown above.

Finally, here is the final result of all the effort.

Overall, I don’t have any large complaints about the installation process. Some things could have been made easier, but those gripes are overshadowed by the overall sensibleness of the layout and design. Some things are a little more difficult to place because once finished, they are secure and in an optimized spot.



Testing & Final Thoughts

To test the cooling efficiency of the case, I first made sure that the cables inside were tidy and not in the way anything to block airflow. All fans were used, including the extra 1200RPM 120mm fan. Despite an eVGA board being shown during installation, the final testing was completed using a slightly different setup.

All temperatures were recorded using Everest 4.0. The graphs explain the gains from using the case with the fans at the lowest, medium and highest speeds. Two full runs of 3D Mark 2006 were run in order to push the CPU and GPU to its highest levels. Room temperature was 72°F.

Final Thoughts

Simply put, Antec’s P182 is easily one of the best cases I’ve ever used. If that quick answer doesn’t satisfy you, allow me to elaborate. When I first received the case, I was unsure how well I was going to like it. After all, I am not particularly a case guy. I’m normally happy by anything that holds my components. After using the P182 however, I became a believer in the reasoning behind why current owners of the case are so pleased.

From the get go, we see innovative design that makes you think, “that makes sense”. The mounting locations of your components helps improve airflow, which for obvious reasons, is a good thing. The case includes three large 120mm fans, two of which are controllable by a flick of a switch on the back of the case. It’s a simple feature, but an appreciated one.

Besides cooling ability, the case is also designed for silence. At its minimum, I can barely hear a fan over the rooms ambient noise. Each door includes three layers in order to help further the dampening, and even the hard drives and computer itself are aided for silence by their rubber mounts. Even your front mounted fans will be quieter than in other cases, since you can keep the door closed while still allowing air to come in through the sides. It’s an innovative case overall.

The biggest reasons to pick up the case may very well be its looks, and price. It’s one of the cleanest looking cases I’ve come across and it’s a pleasure to see it sitting beside my desk. As for current prices, the case costs $150 on average, which is well worth it from every angle.

In the end, the P182 is a case that looks great, is efficient, innovative and is backed with Antecs legendary quality. I have no reservation in awarding this case a 9 out of 10 alongside our Editors Choice.

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