I'll try to be concise throughout this review, but the astounding number of features Antec has incorporated into the P-180 may take a while. Please bear with me.
My sometime associate, Mr. Bones, just back from a whirlwind publicity tour of Hollywood , Scandinavia and the Sub-Continent has graciously offered his assistance for this review. Mr. B. finds the front door treatment of the P-180 chassis to be both appealing and utilitarian. I agree. While many manufacturers have been placing the front ports on the top or side of the chassis, Mr. B. thinks the front ports should be…well…on the front. He's old-skool, that's how he rolls. A cutout in the door reveals the standard Firewire, USB and audio ports, as well as a barrel-type lock to secure the components from any shifty types who may have designs on them.
The door is one of the most unique and innovative features of the P-180. By using a double-hinge arrangement, the door can swing a full 270 degrees, allowing it to lay flush against the left side of the case when fully opened. This door configuration addresses major issue I have with doored cases, namely that the optical drives are not easily accessed from the left side with the door open. As much as I like this door arrangement, I'm troubled by it as well. The door itself seems a bit flimsy, as do the hinges. I had no problems with them during the review, but the hinges don't inspire much confidence.
The front of the plastic bezel also has some interesting features. Just below the four 5.25-inch drive bays are two grilles separated by the single 3.5-inch floppy bay. The power and reset buttons are to the right of the top grille, just above the front ports, and are covered by the door when closed. As we'll see a little later, LEDs behind the buttons indicate power on and HDD activity. Air intake is achieved through ventilation slots along both sides of the case, and a larger cutout in the bottom of the bezel.
Pressing the right edge of each grille releases a catch, allowing them to swing open which in turn gives access to the washable filters. The filters are easily removed to reveal slots for two 120mm fans, which are not included. (Don't freak out yet! There are more fans to come.)
After removing two thumbscrews at the rear, the side panel comes off in the conventional manner to reveal a very interesting internal arrangement. Both panels consist of a 3-layer design consisting of a plastic core sandwiched between two aluminum sheets, dampening system noise. But, between these panels is where the P-180 really shines. While this is a heavy, very strong steel case, it's anything but conventional. Follow along as we explore the interior of the P-180 and see what Antec has done to make this a cool quiet chassis. The features will be coming fast and furious. Please try to keep up.
At the top front of the chassis we see the four 5.25-inch bays, the drives are installed via drive rails. Moving down, two removable hard drive cages are separated by a 3.5-inch floppy bay. The cages are secured with thumbscrews and glide out effortlessly using the chrome rings. These cages have some unique features and we'll talk more about them shortly. Antec has divided the P-180 chassis into two distinct thermal zones with the lower quarter of the case isolated from the upper portion. The lower zone houses a drive cage, a 120x38mm fan and the PSU. This design isolates thermal effects generated by the drives and PSU from the motherboard area.
Just above the PSU is a device that Antec calls an air duct. We'll take a closer look at this feature a little later. Two 120x25mm exhaust fans keep warm air from building up in the motherboard area.