Antec Performance P120 Crystal Review
In the introduction we proffered that Antec appears to have something of a Jekyll and Hyde design team, producing quite tame, vanilla and gentlemanly cases, such as various generations of the classic Sonata and all of its spin offs,alternatively, they're taking a sip of the potion and letting the monster off the leash with cases such as the Skeleton, and the current Torque and Striker cases. Yes there are a few cases in the middle ground, but these are manly 'normal' chassis with added plastic trim and a some RGB LED lights, not that there's anything wrong with this, and it's a practice undertaken by practically every other case manufacturer in the market. We also appreciate that cases making extensive use of tempered glass have been around for quite a while now which begs the question as to how the P120 Crystal varies. What does it bring to the party that the other glass paneled cases don't?
Looking a the specs we see that the The P120 Crystal measures 476x234x485mm (LxWxH) fitting right smack in the middle of Mid Tower territory. Both the front and left side panels are made from thick tempered glass, with the roof being a solid sheet of Steel, interrupted only by the front I/O. Ventilation comes from either the right hand side panel or the base of the case, with both of these areas being able to accommodate up to 360 rads. The Crystal can take a pair of 3.52 drives with the caddies for these being pl;aced at the front top corner, and so visible through both the front and side windows, which we're not sure is a great idea. they can though be simply removed, and even if we weren't installing a rad in the front we think we'd still remove the caddies for purely aesthetic reasons. Round the back there's a set of two quick release 2.5" mounts, and what with high capacity SSDs on the market and the ever increasing use of cloud storage for images etc, these should be more than plenty. From a practical standpoint, the case will take GPUs up to 450mm, CPU coolers up to 185mm and PSUs up to 294mm long, so it has the essentials well covered.
Where the Antec differs from every other tempered glass case on the market is that although the front of the case is tempered glass, it does not in fact have a front fan or rad area as such. If you look at other cases with front glass panels which are able to take rads in the front, they front glass panel is usually stood of from the main chassis by a ventilated slat area, invariably the slats are quite small, and inevitably they mess up the aesthetic. Not so the Crystal, as it's 'front'cooling area is actually rotated 90 degrees with the rad and fans mounted against the right hand side panel which has a full length filtered ventilation area. On the inside there's a huge amount of room for thick rads and fans without even getting close to compromising airflow.
The other area in which the Crystal varies is that it has its PSU up in the roof directly above where a PSU would be traditionally located. From a thermal dynamics aspect, this is a better choice, as the PSU will not be disgorging heat into the case. Conversely, as the fan on the PSU is actually sucking air from the interior of the case, there's a chance that if this air is too warm, it will adversely impact on the performance of the PSU. In reality, we think this factor is of little relevance.
as always we look for negatives where we can, and the only things we can really come up with are the total absence of any included fans. Looking at this more critically though we can see whey this decision was made, and the answer is simple. Pretty much everyone who's going to build into this case is going to be making use of their preferred brand of RGB-LED fans, so to include a set of OEM fans, however fancy would be a waste of time and also raise the price unnecessarily, which none of us want. The only other thing that we would perhaps have liked to see is the use of rubber grommets over the cable management holes, but we really are being picky.
In a market where Performance and aesthetics rarely make good bed fellows, our over-arching opinion is that the Crystal 'works'. It looks good, and with the hardware and cooling support it looks like it will still get the job done.
Oh, and did we mention that it's only £85?