Like most manufacturers, Antec produce a range of cases. Some are designed for the all-out gamer, some for the low power user, some for the SFF builder, and some, like the P100, for the enthusiast who is looking to put together a PC where a low sonic signature is of prime concern. The P100 is the newest member of the "Performance One" series and is currently only available in Black. Other members of the Performance One series, such as the P280 are available in white, and with a window, so perhaps we might see the range extended if I proves successful for the company.
In simple terms what we have with the P100 is what we see in a great many "Silent" cases on the market today. The P100 offers a sleek uncomplicated exterior, with the high gloss metal effect front panel adding a hint of class, foam padding to interior panels which is aimed to reduce vibration, and decent accommodation inside. The Devil though, as we all know, is in the detail, and with a fair amount of competition out there for King of the silent case hill, the P100 is going to have to deport itself well.
|Motherboard Support||ATX, M-ITX, M-ATX|
Front: 2x120/140mm (1x120mm fitted)
Rear: 1x120mm (fitted)
Roof: 2x120/140mm (Optional)
|Drive Bays||2x5225", 7x 3.5"/2.5"|
|Front Ports||2xUSB3.0, 2xUSB2.0, Audio In/Out, Power/Reset.|
|Max GPU Length||317.5mm|
|Max CPU Cooler Height||170mm|
|PSU Mount||Standard ATX|
Up Close: Exterior Overview and Roof
As is the case with most if not all silent cases, the exterior of the P100 is largely featureless. The thinking behind this of course is that windows and meshed fan grills allow noise to escape from the enclosure. There is though a thin line to be walked between reducing the noise output and starving the case of precious cooling air. In an effort to make an otherwise featureless monolith of metal look sleek and attractive Antec, like a good many other manufacturers have opted to bling up the door a little. Although plastic, like the door the metallic sheen effect is very well done, and like other cases we have reviewed recently required close examination to check it wasn't actually metal.
Airflow into the case comes courtesy of large slots down either side of the front edge. These slots are created by virtue of the front door being stood off slightly from the case front panel, thus creating a decent sized aperture.
The roof sports a mesh ventilation area which stands slightly proud of the rest of the roof, presumably to aid rigidity, as it otherwise deflects from the clean aesthetic lines. The area is unfiltered, but is able to accept a pair of 120mm or 140mm fans, with inter-fan holes of 15mm and 20mm respectively. By default the P100 ships with blanking plates in place in this position. they are however easily removed from the outside should you so desire.
On he leading edge of the roof/front panel we find the Front I/O. A pair of USB3.0s sit beside a pair of USB2.0 sockets. Between them and the power/reset buttons we find the usual brace of Audio input/output sockets.
Up Close: Exterior, Front, Rear and Base
Being otherwise held shut by a small magnet, the front door panel opens by means of a non transferable hinge on its left hand side. If you're thinking this might be inconvenient if your case sits on the right of you on the desk fret not because the door will actually swing open by 270 degrees, getting it well and truly out of the way and enabling easy access from either side.
The whole of the door interior is lined with foam to help reduce noise and vibration. The foam is of a relatively low density giving the door quite a light feel to it. Opening the door reveals the 2x5.25" bays situated a the very top. The bay blanks are solid as opposed to meshed which is in keeping with the low sonic footprint aims for this case.
Beneath the drives we find the front intake area. Popping out the mesh filter panel we see the case is able to house either a pair of 120mm or 140m fans, the P100 comes with a black OEM style fan fitted as standard. Look closely though at the image below right an you'll see that for some reason Antec have chosen to locate the front fan using only 2 bolts as opposed to four. This has left the fan slightly wobbly and we feel prone to vibration. Come on chaps, surely times aren't that tough that you can only spare 2 bolts? Black mark for Antec!
Up Close: Exterior, Rear, Sides and Base
The rear of the case is a standard ATX affair. A 120mm fan lies internal to the hex meshed area, this time secured with the full four bolts as opposed the two bolts we saw the front fan attached with.
Beneath the rear fan and I/O area there are 7 PSI slots flanked by a mesh area which is penetrated by a pair of grommeted tubing holes. At the vey bottom we find the PSU cut out. One small detail that might have eluded you is the row of ventilation holes that run from top to bottom down the motherboard edge of the case. This is an excellent touch as it allows the rear of the motherboard area to vent some of the heat that builds up back there as a result of he CPU back plate temps
The side panels are foam lined internally. The foam is quite light weight compared to the bitumen material we've seen on the likes of the Nanoxa cases, it'll be interesting to see if it does as good a job
The case stands on 4 rubber capped feet, and is otherwise unremarkable save for the filtered mesh area that lies beneath the PSU.
Interior: Overview and Drive Bays
The interior of the P100 is finished in the same Satin Black as the exterior with the motherboard tray being dominated by an oversize CPU cut out, which will make changing CPU coolers up to a max height of 170mm a doddle. Cable management gets off to a good start with three good sized vertical, and one horizontal rubber grommeted management holes. The grommets are robust in the extreme thanks to a fixing method we'll see more of when we come to look at the reverse. There are also a couple of non grommeted holes up near the roof of the case which we think will come in handy for feeding the front I/O cables through on their route down behind the mobo tray.
Two 5.25" bays may seem a little meagre, but with optical devices on the decrease it's more than plenty in a modern case of this size. Tool-free fitting is de-rigueur these days and of course with the P100 Antec are no different. One thing that does concern us though is the lack of space available to accommodate the front I/O cables as they exit rearwards. If you're going to be putting a device in the top slot you'd best be carefully to route these cables carefully first so as to avoid any interference.
There are a total of seven 3.5" drive bays, each of which doubles up as a 2.5" bay. The drives are housed in meal trays with rubber isolations being provided for the 3.5" drives. Sadly the bay is neither modular or removable as it is with many of he competitions cases, so what you see is what you get, and although the case can accommodate GPUs up to 12.5" there's no option to extend this.
Interior: Base Rear and Roof
The base of the case has no ventilation other than the cut out for the PSU. And aside form a rather nice "Antec Design" logo embossed on the floor there are no other features. We mention this as we're starting to see manufacturers make use of this area more and more as an individual 2.5" drive bay mounting area.
The P100 is able to take full length ATX PSUs but has very little in the way of vibration and sound dampening, with only four very thin foam pads on raised plinths battling the forces of PSU resonance, neither is there a foam strip or any isolation round the PSU opening, an odd choice for a "Silent " case. Further up we come across 7 vented PCI covers. Antec are not alone in choosing vented covers for their silent cases as opposed to more sound limiting solid covers, but we think it an odd choice none the less.
Heat is extracted by a single 120mm fan in the traditional rear of case position. There is however the option of removing either or both of the two foam covered panels in the roof, either leaving them empty to naturally radiate heat, or adding either 120mm or 140mm fans as desired.
Turning the case round we see that the rear of motherboard area is finished to the same high standard as the front. There are however only six cable tie points. They are large and appear to be well placed but we'd rather have had more smaller ones. We'll have to see how we get on when we get to the build section. The rubber cable management grommets are excellent, some of the best we've seen in fact, proving almost impossible to dislodge with even a concerted effort. The reason for this is that they are actually held in place by small barbed location tabs. Nice one Antec.
Although the image below right shows 30mm of room back here Antec actually quote 20mm. This ambiguity is in a small way down to the padding on the inside of the doors. Our own feelings are that 25mm best represents the space available for cable management.
In the blurb that comes with the product Antec claim to be doing their bit to save the planet by not including a traditional paper instruction manual. Instead they point you at their website and the access to an e-manual. Unfortunately when you get there, the cupboard is bare, and although there is a header showing you where the manual should be located there's actually nothing to download. For those of us in firm possession of their Man card this is no big deal, we're men after all and we can work this out for ourselves. If however you're a namby pamby "new age" sort of person who has "feelings", or are perhaps new to the PC case and PC building world this could be a cause of perturbation.
The PSU when inserted doesn't efface the side of the case. We assume that rather than poor measurement tolerance being the cause Antec have actually designed it this way deliberately to reduce the vibration of the PSU through to the motherboard panel. With the cables fed through it's clear to us that we're going to have to find another route for the front I/O cables as feeding them through the hole immediately above the tie points doesn't leave enough length for them to reach their destinations.
In the image below left you can see how busy the roof of the case is. We think we can get it a bit tidier than this though. Certainly down at the base of the PSU the management hole is perfectly placed to allow cables to exit cleanly.
Things are looking a lot tidier now, with the front I/O cables re routed to a hole beside the 5.25" bay. The USB and Audio cables are still routed through the original hole, partly because they have enough length to make it all the way, but mainly because they won't fit through the other hole. There are cable tie points that could be used to route your 8pin CPU cable diagonally up to the edge of the case, however we've chosen our usual route which involves stuffing the cable into the side panel recess well out of sight and mind. All in all not a bad job
The CPU cut out is more stuffed than a Turkey on Christmas day but is still holding on thanks to those clever grommets. Up top you can see how we've split and re routed the Front I/O cables. Any other way and they just won't reach.
With everything in we can get an idea of proportion and interior space. All is present and correct with lots of room to work in, especially around the CPU cooler area. We're particularly pleased with the grommeted management holes.
As usual to better enable you to visualise how much room there is and how this case compares with others, we've lobbed in our old faithful NZXT Havic 120 CPU cooler. With the P100 able to accept Coolers up to 170mm in height the 160mm of the Havic is not a problem.
Taking the roof panels out might allow more sound to escape and increase to sonic footprint of the case, but on the plus side ventilation and cooling are hugely improved. We are though quite surprised that Antec don't make a mention of the P100s native ability to accommodate 240mm and 280mm rads up here. Just a shame those inter fan screw holes aren't slotted to permit greater compatibility.
With 68mm of room between the roof and the edge of the motherboard it's entirely feasible to get any rad up to about 40mm thick in here.
With the 240mm rad inter-screw spacing at 15mm and the 280mm at 20mm the P100 is ideally suited to take a range of todays sub 40mm radiators such as XSPC RS, AX and EX series, as well as the EK Coolstream PE 240 and many others, just head over to Special tech and take a look at the range available. As usual we've shown the case with a XSPC RS 240 which at 35mm thick best shows how much space you have. More likely though is that you're going to be putting an AIO solution up there. If this is the case then you'll be pleased to know any of the smaller or even large AIOs on the market today will fit just fine. Unfortunately, the NZXT Kraken won't fit as it has a 15mm screw spacing and the P100 has a 20mm screw spacing for it's 140mm fan mounts.
Antec may have been strangers to the pages of OC3D of late, but they are no strangers to PC case manufacturing. An aimless amble through their website will leave you in awe of the sheer number of cases they produce, and that's before you even look at some of their recently discontinued lines. For its part in this massive brand the P100 joins the "Performance One" line, and as you might suspect from looking at it, the emphasis is on low noise and elegance as opposed to balls out high airflow gaming. That's not to say though that you can't build a perfectly decent gaming rig in here, because as we'll see later in the conclusion the P100 is no slouch when it comes to cooling options, even if Antec don't seem to want to honk their own horn.
As always let's dissect the case and see what it's about, warts and all. The build quality of the P100 is good, Ok so it's not blow your socks off good as is the case with the likes of Silverstone and Lian-Li for example, but good none the less and at a greatly reduced price premium as a result. There were a few things that particularly caught our eye, for example the bloomed metal effect finish of the front panel was so good we actually had to go back and check it was in fact plastic. We were also very impressed by the Rubber grommets, being held in place as they are by small rubber barbs they are near impossible to dislodge. These might seem like little things, and to you they may not matter, but to us they do, as its attention to details such as this that separates what is essentially one PC box from another.
The P100 is also well specified inside. A huge CPU cut out dominates the interior, surrounded by rubber grommeted cable management holes. There's room for 7x3.5"/2.5" drives as well as 2x5.25" drives. Seven PCI slots mean that Tri SLI is on the cards should you so desire and with 12.5" of room you should be able to get a decent if not huge GPU in there. It'll certainly take both the R9 290 series and the 780 based cards with no problem.
We mentioned that Antec don't appear to want to blow their own trumpet when it comes to cooling. Sure, they say that the P100 can accommodate a CPU cooler up to 170mm in height and that there are tube routing holes in the rear for external rads etc, but they totally fail to mention that the P100 has native water-cooling support in the roof. With 68mm of space to play with it's entirely possible to pair some 25mm thick fans with any sub 40mm thick, 240mm rad and even some 280mm units. Given the lack of a window to show of your custom loop though it is perhaps more likely that the P100 will be paired with a 240mm or 280mm rad based AIO solution. Just watch the inter-screw spacing on the 140 fan mounts though as at 20mm the Kraken X60s 15mm spacing is not supported. Still, an H100i will fit just fine.
The P100 is priced well at £75 but that's not to say it isn't without its competitors. Both the Fractal design ARC Midi and Silencio 650 fall into this price category and both offer much the same in way of build quality, if not slightly better. The Fractal case offers greater water cooling support at the expense of low noise, where the Silencio although lacking water cooling support gets our silence award. The P100 then appears to offer a little of the best of both in that you have a low sonic foot print combined with native water cooling support.
In looking at cases, or any item we review for that matter we always like to look at where the item could be improved. Sometimes we're just picking nits (we are OC3D after all) and sometimes we have to point out more serious failings. We think that with the P100 the only real trick that Antec have missed is not making the 3.5" storage rack modular, or at the very least removable without getting the drill out. In doing so Antec would have enabled the accommodation of larger GPUs as well as opening up the option of having native water cooling in the front of the case. Oh, and while we're at it Antec, how about you start securing your fans with four screws and not two.
We doubt what we've mentioned above will impact on your decision as to whether to not to buy the P100, after all, there is very little that passes through our hands that we don't find some kind of issue or fault with. The niggles do however prevent it from getting the coveted Gold award. It is, at the end of the day a pretty damn decent low noise case. It has sleek, elegant and understated looks, a good feature count and more than acceptable build quality. It can take decent sized CPU coolers and GPUs and despite Antec's reticence to tell us about it, it also has native water cooling support. If you're looking for a Silent case the P100 needs to be on your short list.
Thanks to Antec for sending the P100 in for review, you can discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.