Most folks who have been around computers for any length of time know the name Antec. These folks have been around since 1986 and since that time created a solid image of a company whose goal is to make high quality components for the DIY crowd.While they have delved in several niche markets in that time, their reputation for making high quality power supplies and enclosures is practically legendary.Enter the newest product to fall into their prestigious "Performance One" series category, the P190. While based somewhat on the tried and true P180 enclosure, it weighs in with not only a hefty feature set, but a price tag to match. Our goal today is to help you determine if the high price is worth what is being offered.So, kick back and settle in as we tear into one of the most feature-rich enclosure computer cases available on the market today!
ExteriorOn the Outside
Beginning our tour at the front shows a design that is sleek and readily accessible. There is nothing out of the ordinary and nothing that appears overbearing. Though the bezel is made out of plastic, you will have no problems with a flimsy feel due to the overall weight of the enclosure.To give you a quick run-down on the size of this thing, consider the overall dimensions of 20.28" x 23.35" x 8.07" (51.5 x 59.3 x 20.5cm). Add to this the steel construction and a total weight of nearly 50 lbs (or 23.6 kg) and you can easily see that we have a monster on our hands. But enough with the numbers, it is time to delve into this case and see what makes it tick!
Opening the front access door shows a clean design with everything you would expect to find on a mid-tower case. Let's break it down a bit to get a better look at the different areas of the front bezel.
At the top we see there are four externally accessible 5.25" drive bays. Whether you are looking to have a lot of optical devices or are looking for a handy place to stash that 5.25" water reservoir, you will find the room you need here.
Moving to the middle section shows the front I/O ports as well as a single externally accessible 3.5" drive bay. A quick glance shows that these I/O ports are in a very handy location and they can be used even with the front panel closed. This is a nice change of pace from having these ports on the side of the enclosure where you sometimes need to pull the system out a bit to access these ports.
The bottom portion is taken up mainly by ventilation grills to allow for ample airflow into your system components. What is more, Antec has listened to reviewers like myself who are always stating that any intake area ought to be filtered. Take a look at this:
Simply push in the doors and it allows you to open the filter for easy cleaning. They come out easily and can be cleaned with either air or with a mild solution. I always maintain that filters are needed for all intake areas where air is moving into the case and Antec has hit the nail on the head with this setup - nicely done indeed!
While windows are getting to be nearly commonplace on modern enclosures, the P190 went with a more refined look and only consists of a grilled area for a monster side fan. Be forewarned, however, that you WILL NOT
want to purchase this case with the intent of modifying the side. While we will cover this feature shortly, the side panels are covered with a sound-dampening material that would make it a foolish idea to ruin for a window.
Turning once again shows the back of the enclosure. While it is nearly a normal looking design, a glance is all it takes to notice that the power is coming in from the bottom of the case rather than the top. There are a few other features in this area as well so we'll break it down.
The fan you see above is a very nice 120mm TriCool fan that also has three fan speed settings. To change the fan speed, simply flick the toggle switch on the right (situated in the upper left corner of the back panel). The other two switches you see are for the pair of 140mm fans that are mounted in the top of the case. All three of these fans are exhaust and so are not filtered.
Here is a nice feature that shows that Antec is thinking of the enthusiast; two rubber protected ports to allow for any commonly used size of tubing for water cooling. This allows those who prefer to have an externally mounted reservoir and/or pump to gain easy access to the blocks inside the system. The rubber grommets ensure that your tubing will be perfectly safe and even the slight vibration caused by the moving water will not harm your tubing. It goes without saying that the P190 is designed for the enthusiast / overclocker and it shows with features like this.
As noted earlier, the bottom of the back panel is where you will find the power mounted, but what do we see here? The P190 comes with not one, but two power supplies already mounted into the enclosure. What's more, this is not a redundant PSU setup, but a well thought-out dual design where a pair of power supplies work together to provide a very hefty 1200-watts of power for your high-end system needs. One PSU handles the needs of the motherboard, processor(s), memory and PCI-E components while the other handles the components within the system itself and the fans. This is a very interesting setup and unique from what I have seen so far, so it will be interesting to see how it works.As for size, if you feel that a pair of power supplies isn't for you, the slots above are each sized for an industry standard PSU. A quick shout to Antec indicated that they are not making immediate plans for future dual PSU's like this with higher power outputs, so you will be covered in the event that 1200-watts just isn't enough for you.
Finishing out tour of the outside brings us to the top panel. We noted just a bit ago that you can adjust the fan speeds of the two top-mounted fans, and these are the ones we were referring to. This is a pair of 140mm TriCool fans to help get all of that heated air from the inside to the outside, where it belongs. As with the rear fan (and all the fans included in this case for that matter), you can adjust the speeds to handle your desire for either performance or silence. While not an entirely quiet experience, I found that these fans do not put out that much noise for the amount of cooling that they provide.
InteriorOn the Inside
We begin our look inside by dropping the side panel. I generally don't pay a lot of attention to this portion of an enclosure, but there are two main features that need to be noted.
The first feature is a behemoth of a fan, affectionately called "Big Boy" by the folks at Antec. This monster is a massive 200mm TriCool fan and also includes a removable filter to boot. Since this is an intake fan, the filter is a good addition. The filter material is a light meshing that is easily cleaned with either air or a mild solution.
The other feature with regards to the side panel is something that I briefly mentioned earlier, the soundproofing material mounted to the inside of the panel. It is a plastic based material that is mounted directly to the side panel and also has small grommets to handle any light vibration that might be transferred. This helps keep noise from reaching your ears, and this is a good thing given the massive fans being used in the P190.
Going into the actual interior shows nothing out of the ordinary with regards to the optical drive bays. There are four, all of which are externally accessible, and all have round guides for use with the included rail system. The rails are the same as past models and while they do require the use of screws still, they are simple to install and work flawlessly.
Moving down the drive tower shows one of the two 3.5" bay trays. This top one is located in the primary component compartment and is designed for two 3.5" hard drives. This tray contains a pair of removable carriers complete with rubber mounting grommets to install your primary storage system and make sure that vibration is not an issue.Directly below this tray is a single 3.5" drive bay that is externally accessible. This is for those who still make use of a floppy disk drive. Alternatively, there are several manufacturers now making media card readers that fit into a 3.5" bay, so this could be used for that as well.
Traveling to the bottom compartment shows us another 3.5" drive bay tray that will fit up to four more hard disk drives. While we do not see the removable tray system like shown above, Antec has made sure to include rubber grommets on all four insertion points to make sure that vibration isn't an issue. A simple thumb screw is removed to allow you to take the entire cage out of the system for easy hard drive installation.
Going back into the primary compartment shows the two top-mounted fans. They are powered by a standard Molex connection and offer adjustable fan speeds by means of the switches on the back of the enclosure. If you pay attention to the long tube just above the fans shown above, you'll note another unique feature of the P190...
That little tube is in reality an LED light that allows you to see what you're doing when you don't want to pull the entire box out from under your desk. It is mounted on a flexible rod and is powered by either a Molex (comes on with the system) or by means of plugging it into a spare USB header on the mainboard (light comes on as long as the motherboard is powered). This was a very nice convenience item and it can make things a lot easier when fiddling around under the hood while the system is still under the desk!
The rear fan is pretty basic and has adjustable fan speeds as noted earlier. From this angle you can also take note of the retention system for system for peripheral add-on cards. While not a tool-free design, the lip of the enclosure is small enough to keep from causing problems when installing graphics cards or other add-on components.
Power for the P190 is supplied by two Antec power supplies. The unit shown on top is a 650-watt NeoLink and is responsible for getting the necessary juice to the motherboard, CPU and graphics systems and so forth. The bottom unit is a 550-watt NeoLink and handles the needs of all fans, storage devices and peripherals. They work as a team and not individually, and here is the important note to make sure you don't damage your system:
See the green/black wire? One comes from the 20+4 pin power block and the other comes from the 550-watt PSU. MAKE SURE THAT YOU CONNECT THESE TWO CABLE SYSTEMS TOGETHER!
Big bold letters; makes you get the feeling that it is kinda important, huh? Well, it is! That little green/black pair of wires is what allows both power supplies to start up together when you power up your system. It is also where the term NeoLink
comes from. If you forget to make this connection, only the motherboard and associated components will get power - the peripherals will not know that it is time to come to life.
Now that we have the nagging out of the way, it is time to take a look at these power supplies and see what we can expect. Using the cabling that comes directly from each PSU, you have at your immediate disposal a 20+4 pin primary power block, a 4-pin and 8-pin auxiliary power connector, two PCI-E connectors, two PCI-E8 connectors, six Molex, and four SATA. If we were to stop here we would have a very workable power solution, but there is more.
The unit on the left, the one that is responsible for peripherals, also contains modular blocks to make use of extra cabling that is included with the P190. In addition to what was mentioned above, the modular cabling will add another nine Molex and four SATA connectors, and also includes a Molex splitter that has a pair of FDD connectors on the end. This makes for a huge amount of flexibility when adding components to your system. When was the last time you needed 15 Molex and 8 SATA connectors?
Since this P190 is a split cavity enclosure, Antec decided to keep the power supplies in the bottom compartment. Since the motherboard and peripherals are in the top portion, a removable panel was included to allow you to get your cabling set up properly. After you have it properly routed, you simply replace the panel and it keeps the cavities separate - it is nice to see that some folks still believe in attention to detail.Oh, and while it is not easily visible in the shot above, there is another 120mm TriCool fan (complete with adjustable fan speed controller) directly in front of the PSU cabling harnesses. Using included zip ties, you can easily keep the cabling away from the fan blades and this will maintain a solid airflow through the power supply compartment to ensure a stable system.
Final ThoughtsFinal Thoughts
I have looked and played with a lot of enclosures over the past several years, but I have never seen one as feature-rich as the Antec P190. This product is geared specifically toward the enthusiast crowd and includes a lot of refined enhancements to make your goals of overclocking more easily attainable. With a weigh-in of nearly 50 lbs or just over 26 kg, it is not meant for that monthly LAN party, but for sitting in your room keeping everything nice and cool plus quiet as well.The base setup comes with five fans; a pair of 140mm fans on top (exhaust), a 120mm rear fan (exhaust), a 120mm fan in the power supply compartment (intake/intermediate airflow through power supplies), and the 200mm "Big Boy" mounted on the side panel (intake). All intake areas are filtered and overall airflow is huge throughout the system. There is a mounting bracket included for an additional fan for the hard drives, but this is unfortunately empty.As noted early on, this enclosure is large. A lot of the extra dimension numbers are for the depth of the case, which allows for motherboard up to the 12" extended ATX models. It also gives plenty of room for the newer graphics cards (such as GeForce 8800 Ultra and HD 2900 XT) hitting the market that are longer than what we have come to expect. Even better, the P190 comes with a plastic bracket that can be used to secure these long boards firmly in place, so there is no need to fear damage to the component or of it slipping out of socket during operation.The power that is default to the case is also massive, just like the case. With 1200-watts to make use of and enough connectors to jump start three rigs besides your own, you should not ever have to fear about not having enough juice to get the job done. In the event that this just isn't enough power for you, the dual mounts for the power supplies will also allow you to install an industry standard PSU of your liking. Just make sure of length measurements before your purchase.Another feature that we have covered is the soundproofing material used in this case. This material is used on both side panels and is meant to help keep the noise from escaping to the outside world. While this isn't a totally silent enclosure, the amount of noise is certainly minimal when considering the amount of airflow being moved around. With fans on the LOW setting, I can barely hear them running. Even with all fans set to HIGH, the noise is far less than the noise made from the high-end graphics cards being sold today.Price is going to be the major fear factor with the P190. This behemoth has a MSRP of $499 USD but can be found online for roughly $450 USD in the United States and around $550 AUD in Australia. While this is a huge amount of cash for a case, consider what you get. The average cost for 1200-watts of power is currently $350 - 400 alone. This is the power you will receive with this product, which brings the comparative cost of the case
down to a more respectable $50 - 100. Considering the features included in this thing, this really isn't a bad deal after all.Bottom line... If you have been looking for the be-all end-all in enclosures and want more features than you will ever need, the Antec P190 is definitely for you. It is huge, has excellent cooling, and more power than even a hardcore gamer could ask for. It also has a price tag to match, but still doesn't come in as a bad bargain.- Pros
Large enough for Extended ATX boards and long graphics cards1200-watts of power and a huge number of connectorsExceptional cooling with fans up to 200mmIncludes soundproofing in both side panelsAll air intakes filtered- Cons
Has an empty fan socketExpensiveRating - 9.5 out of 10 and TweakTown's "MUST HAVE" Editors Choice Award!