Oversized thumbscrews allow access to the interior of the chassis and expose the chambers within. As expected, in a micro-ATX setup, the compartments are a bit on the cramped side even in an enclosure as large as the Mini-P180. Pulling the cables to one side, we checked that the motherboard standoffs were indeed pre-installed in the correct locations. The rear plate was then fitted directly beneath the rear-mounted fan.
The motherboard we’re using for this build – an Intel DG45ID – wouldn't fit in directly and we found that the best way to get it to align correctly with the I/O plate was to remove the lower drive cage and angle the board in towards the back. It really was a tight fit as not only did we need to clear the rear fan mount, but the drive cage separator as well, which is not removable. Overall, there was less than an inch of room to play with. Once in, the board was secured by placing screws into their respective holes, but we left the drive cage out so we could properly run the cables to the headers on the DG45ID--connecting the front panel pins is next to impossible otherwise. The cables were banded together and after separating them, we can see that, thankfully, they are clearly labeled making installation less of a chore.
We fed the PSU into the cramped lower quarters sideways, and then tucked the cables into the front bay area. Only cables that were needed to power up components were snaked through the opening between the zones to keep things neat and prevent any restriction to proper airflow in the middle chamber.
To install 5 1/4" drives, the door was swung out the full 270 degrees, and then the connector points on the metal protective sheet were broken off. There are two rails for each drive, making drive installation a quick and easy process. We chose the uppermost bay to install our DVD drive as this bay is not only easier to access than the lower two, but doesn't run into the mess of PSU cables stored down at the bottom. Again, make sure to check the length of your drive first, as longer drives will butt up against the oversized fan mounted at the top of the Mini-P180.
The hard drive cages are a bit different. To remove them, we undid the thumbscrews and pulled the ring towards the outside of the case. The cages slide easily and fit solidly back in when done, although the positions of the cages cannot be swapped. Drives are mounted vertically in the upper cage using the silicone grommets and the specialized screws provided. Don't over-tighten these, Antec warns, as this would lessen the sound-dampening effects of the grommets. The lower cage is divided into two sections using removable drive trays each with their own set of grommets, and drives go horizontal here. Note than the metal rings have clips to keep them secure, again to prevent any vibrational effects. Optional 120mm fans can be installed using mounts at the front of the Mini-P180 to enhance CPU or VGA cooling. In order to do so, however, one of the drive cages must be sacrificed as they cannot co-exist with a fan in the same bay.