Case Conundrum: Affordable Midtowers Compared

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I've always been of two minds regarding drive doors. On the one hand, they can give a case an impressive minimalist feel or incorporate an attractive finish. On the other hand, you've got to open it. Then close it. And I've actually kicked one off before (don't ask). Still, Antec's P280 makes a heck of an argument for keeping them around. On the P280, the door is double-hinged and can fold flat back against the side of the case.

 

The front panel features two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports with a pair of audio jacks to keep them company. The power and reset switches have relocated and the top of the case can mount a pair of fans for 240mm radiator configurations. The P280 supports nine expansion cards rather than the typical 7-8, and that's a handy feature if you plan to use a multi-GPU configuration.

Inside, the P280 looks an awful lot like the Corsair 700D. There are significant motherboard cut-outs designed to ensure aftermarket cooler compatibility, and the included fans can be configured in low and high speed.



The case uses internal foam padding to further dampen noise. A definite nice touch.



The fan grill is easy to remove and clean and the foam padding on the door further quiets the system. The top-mounted pair of 120mm fans allows for 240mm liquid cooling mounting as well.

 

The case's entire back panel--Note the rubber seals for water pipe housing and the external mount hardware for a reservoir at the top of the case. The 9 expansion slots are also visible.Building inside the case is easy and straightforward; cable-management options are excellent and there's ample room behind the case for routing wire.

I really like the P280's flat-folding drive door and the polycarbonate sides that reduce the case's weight. Nine slots means you've got room to mount an XL-ATX motherboard, though actual boards built on that standard are admittedly few and far between. There's room for a 240mm radiator up top, and there's plenty of room in back for working with cabling.

I'm less fond of the negative air pressure, but that's the only significant negative.
 

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Great article, Joel! If I were in the market for a modestly-sized PC, I'd be jumping all over that Fractal R4. So clean, a bit classy and has a pretty intuitive interior.

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Feeling the same way RWilliams love the fractal
Great review

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Thanks for the review Joel. Well done.

Fractal makes good cases. I just did a build with their Arc Midi and I'm very happy with it's performance and features too.

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Great review. One question tho, does companies(Corisar, Rosewill) matter that much? Cause some products feel weak inside, like plastic pieces can easily break off. Any opinion?

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Nice review. I had a buddy do a build with the C70 with an old AMD and H60. His board was a mini ATX but he loved the amount of room and his ability for cable management (even though he didnt have alot) but said hes recommend it.

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