Buying a ready-made PC the user bases his choice on the computing capacity of the CPU and graphics card, the amount of system and disk memory and extra features, but is usually limited to a few basic models of the system case. When the user has the PC assembled according to his particular preferences, there are wider opportunities for choosing the system case, yet few people take them. Most users don’t pay much attention to the choice of the system case. This approach may be just fine for someone, yet I am often surprised to see balanced high-performance configurations assembled in noisy inexpensive cases that often have cooling-related problems.
But when you are assembling your system with your own hands, you care about the system case you use. People who often upgrade their PCs (gamers, for example) and people who use top-of-the-line components that must be cooled normally are also meticulous about this matter. It is for these user categories that this article is written for.
This roundup covers six completely different system cases from Antec. Founded in 1986, this company is a renowned manufacturer of system cases, power supplies and coolers. Antec’s products belong to the midrange and higher price category and may seem expensive. Let’s see what is offered for that money, though.
I’ll start out with the largest and perhaps the most advanced model in this review. It is called Antec P182.
This system case is splendid, yet stern-looking. The glossy paint of the side panels is especially impressive as these panels are matte in most system cases. Of course, this surface gets easily soiled and scratched, but it is indeed beautiful when clean.
The vent hole of the front fan fits into the design perfectly. It is implemented as a grid surrounding the front panel.
There is a lock in the bottom right of the front panel. It locks the door with the buttons and external bays – a very useful feature if you’ve got a small child who has a passion for every button he’s seeing. A standard selection of connectors is located nearby: a FireWire port, two USB ports, and two audio connectors.
Behind the front door you can see Power and Reset buttons together with a blue Power indicator.
The side panels of the case are not just a sheet of metal but a three-layered sandwich made up from aluminum, plastic and aluminum again. This makes the system case more expensive, but suppresses the noise much better than purely aluminum cases do. When you tap on the P182 with your finger, you hear a dull sound because the panel doesn’t resonate in response.
The front door is a three-layered sandwich like the side and top panels and should be as good at suppressing noise, but it has a flimsy fastening mechanism and low rigidity. It can be accidentally damaged or even torn off.
The pair of small doors flips open on your pressing them lightly, providing you access to the filters. You can see no fans, though. The bottom fan is installed behind the HDD cage while the top fan is missing in the default configuration. Anyway, the filters are easy to clean because it takes mere seconds to take them off and put back again.
The side panels lack any vent holes, so I can proceed right to the back panel. The manufacturer has provided two outputs for the pipes for your external liquid cooling system if you’ve got one. Next you can note the somewhat nonstandard layout of this system case. The power supply is at the bottom while the mainboard (and, accordingly, the back-panel connectors and expansion card brackets) has moved up. The 120mm back-panel fan is placed higher, too.