I'm sure a lot of you are fully aware of the Antec Three Hundred because Antec states it has been one of their best selling designs. However with the first iteration of things, there are little issues that come about as people try to stuff more and more components into these mid-tower chassis.
Some of the larger complaints of the original design were the lack of room behind the motherboard tray to do much for cable management, lack of room for longer video cards, ease of use and lack of tool-less features and the last drawback to the original was if you wanted to run water cooling, you had to punch your own holes to get the tubing outside of the case. Essentially the original Three Hundred was pretty bare bones as far as a lot of mid towers go.
This time around Antec really listened to the users of the Three Hundred and took the chassis back to the drawing board to see just what they could do inside of the same sized chassis, yet offer everything today's users are demanding of manufacturers in the feature set. With the newest version, the optical bays and hard drive bays have gone to a tool-less solution and the hard drive rack has been spun ninety degrees to eliminate some of the wiring mess inside. The motherboard tray is now offset and offers plenty of room back there and the expansion slots got a redesign to allow for more room inside of the chassis to fit even longer cards now.
The chassis we are about to have a look at is the Three Hundred Two from Antec and in my opinion is a redesign well worth your attention. The much improved feature set is really going to take a plain Jane, $60, mid-tower chassis of the Three Hundred and improve it in every way. What I really love, is that even with all the new additions to the design, Antec isn't trying to rake you over the coals with the pricing either.
If I have spiked your interest thus far, I really recommend you stick it out and keep reading as I go into detail about the Three Hundred Two mid-tower chassis from Antec.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
First I would like to take you on a trip around the outside. The front of the case offers a very similar bezel as the Three Hundred offered to keep the styling between them recognizable. On the top of the Three Hundred Two there is a hole backed with a 140mm TwoCool fan, with a pair of water cooling holes that have grommets in them placed just behind it. Down the left side of the chassis you will find a lot of flat steel, but there is access, behind some mesh, to install a 120mm fan there if you choose. At the very bottom there is a removable fan filter for the PSU that can be removed from this side. The back of the chassis offers eight expansion slots done differently than in the original, but the PSU still mounts in the bottom. Down the right side of the chassis you will find another section of mesh just behind the motherboard trays CPU cooler access hole. You can also install a 120mm fan here to directly cool the back of the socket if you wish to install one here. Further down the right side, very near to the bottom, there is an embossed Antec name on the panel.
As that journey continues into the chassis there are changes to be found here as well. The three 5.25" bays are now tool-less on the left side of the bays and use screws for more secure mounting on the right side. The hard drive rack below it holds up to six 3.5" drives using slides that you insert on the sides of the drives to lock them into the rack. The rack has also been turned to get the drive running from left to right across the front in this version. For 2.5" drives, there is room for one on the floor of the chassis and one behind the motherboard tray. Speaking of the motherboard tray, this time there is a 30mm offset, five wire management holes, six tie points and a really big CPU cooler back plate access hole.
At the end of the introduction I mentioned that Antec wasn't going to rake you over the coals here and I mean that. Even with native USB 3.0, tool-less features, a retrofit of the interior space to make more for us users. I mean it seems Antec is offering everything you can want in a mid-tower chassis and it is only going to cost $10 more than the original is currently selling for. Doing a bit of internet shopping, I easily found a few places holding stock of this chassis. On the better end of the pricing was the listing at Newegg.com for $69.99.
If you are in the market for this case now, there is currently free shipping with this deal, so if you want to you can spend that shipping money on more fans for the chassis if you wish. Again, I really think this chassis is worth the wait to sit through the images of the packaging so we can get to the meat of this sandwich, the Three Hundred Two.
Antec displays the front of the Three Hundred Two, looking up from the bottom, to show off the mesh front and the front I/O. Around this image there is the Antec name, the "G" for Gamer series before the Three Hundred Two naming and the fact that this chassis was designed in California, US of A!
Spinning the box to the right we see that the yellow on black theme we are used to is still prevalent. Here you get a good look at the interior of the chassis prior to purchase.
The back features nine images covering features in the Three Hundred Two. Above each of the images there are seven languages explaining what it is you are looking at in said images.
The left side of the packaging offers the same text as the right side had, but this time you now see the Three Hundred Two from the front and left to show you what this chassis will look like sitting on your desk at home.
The usual plastic liner is used to keep minor abrasions and dirt from getting to the chassis. I do like that Antec stepped it up a bit and supported this chassis with high density foam end caps. This offers a much better delivery than what Styrofoam offers if the packaging does take a solid hit in transit.
Antec Three Hundred Two Mid-Tower Chassis
On the front of the chassis you can see the Antec name across the bottom, then two-thirds of the front is a solid mesh panel between the thick plastic sides. At the top are three removable 5.25" bay covers and the front I/O just above those.
The front I/O panel consists of simply a pair of USB 3.0 ports, the headphones and microphone jacks and the rest and larger power buttons. Just to the left of the button assembly there is a pair of holes backed with LED for power and HDD activity LED lighting, blue ones to be more specific.
The top of the chassis is mostly flat except for where the mesh rises up a bit so the fans dome make noise blowing through them. Behind the 140mm fan placed in the top of the chassis, Antec chose this as the location for water cooling holes and grommets.
There is a texture to the black paint on the side of the Three Hundred Two and breaking up all of that plain steel is the 120mm fan mounting position behind the embossed mesh area. I also pulled the dust filter out a bit at the bottom to show where to gain access for removal and cleaning of it.
The back has a basic layout for a bottom mounted PSU design. The rear I/O area is next to the 120mm exhaust fan, above eight expansion slots with a new location and mounting setup. Oh I almost forgot, there is a pair of switches at the top as well.
The left switch is wired to the top fan and the right switch is mounted to the rear fan. This allows you to switch between the two speeds of the included TwoCool fans inside.
The expansion slot mounting has been taken to the outside of the chassis in this design to give more room inside for cards. While it seems there is easy access to your cards at a LAN, there is a padlock loop just showing at the bottom of this image, so even if they got the screws out, they can't get inside to remove them.
The right side of the chassis offers a mesh area behind the CPU socket and you can fit a 25mm thick 120mm fan in here. At the bottom, embossed in the steel panel is Antec Design, so even from the back side of the chassis it still looks good.
Under the chassis you find it is supported with large, round, rubber feet that will keep the Three Hundred Two from vibrating on the desktop or sliding around easily. There is a large hole, honeycomb mesh, used under the PSU. Just in front of that are four holes in the floor to allow a 2.5" drive to be mounted inside the chassis here.
Inside the Antec Three Hundred Two
Behind the bezel you need to locate three clips on the left side, pressing these will allow the front to swing open to the right and allow the bezel to be removed while the I/O and wiring stay put. Along the front side of the HDD rack you can also add a pair of 120mm fans behind the bezel.
The first look inside the chassis I found the wiring taped to the floor to keep it from flailing about in transit. Most of the fan wiring is tied up at the top and on the right side, in the HDD rack, the hardware bag is zip tied to the rail of the drive rack.
On the side of the three 5.25" bays we get treated to these tool free mechanisms. Where it says pull, you pull the clip and it allows the drive to slide in pas the pins, once the holes line up, the clip "springs" back into place to lock in the drive.
The six 3.5" bays won't do much of anything right now, but there are slides to put on the sides of the drives in the hardware bag, so we need those to be able to slide a drive into these bays.
The motherboard tray offers plenty of access for the CPU coolers back plate, with a 2.5" drive mounting position next to it. Around that you have four holes on the right side and a slot at the top to manage wires, plus six places to tie them to.
On the floor of the chassis you can see how the filter slides in under the PSU so you can easily keep that clean. In front of that area, where the quality control stamp is, is actually another 2.5" drive installation location.
Here are the included fans in the Three Hundred Two. The 120mm exhaust fan on the left is powered with a 3-pin connector on about 8" of wire, so you may need an adapter if a motherboard header isn't close at hand. The top 140mm fan is powered via 4-pin Molex connection, but both are also wired to the switches in the rear of the chassis.
With the newer idea of pushing the expansion slot mounting outside, they gained another half an inch here and twisting the HDD rack makes room for even an AMD Radeon HD 6990 video card. There is also a bit of passive ventilation added to this one that the original lacked.
Behind the tray you can see there has to be room for the 25mm thick fan behind the socket and there is actually 30mm of room on the right. As the tray goes to the hard drive assembly it does bend back to the rear of the chassis, but the design needs minimal wiring to that area, so the room left is adequate.
The wiring included in the Three Hundred Two is a ribbon cable of black and grey used for all of the power, reset, HDD activity and power LED connections. That leaves the HD Audio connection and the native USB 3.0 connection at the bottom. Hanging down from the top of the image is the Molex connector to power the 140mm fan.
Accessories and Documentation
With six spots to fill with 3.5" hard drives, Antec sent along twelve slides to stick onto the sides of the drives so that they can lock into place in the drive rack.
Along with the slides for the hard drives you get all the hardware you need to get the build underway. They send along five white tie straps for the wiring, eight screws for ODD or 2.5" drive installations, nine risers plus the four already in the case, sixteen Hex-head screws for the motherboard and PSU and eight long screws for fan installation in the front of the chassis.
There really isn't much in the way of instructional information. With this paperwork, Antec covers thirteen things and with text to explain what the locations on the images are pointing out.
You also get information on the AQ3 warranty with the Three Hundred Two and an insert showing that if I go to Antec and take a survey I can be eligible to win some free goodies from them.
The Build and Finished Product
All assembled and ready for this round of images I am starting with the front of the Three Hundred Two. I like the all mesh design of the front and almost didn't install an optical drive for this review. Sticking it in the top slot is the best choice as not to break up the mesh that is left running down the front.
I know most of you are going to say "where are the drives?", but I assure you I have what I need in this build to get things fired up and functional. As for the room in the main area, I had plenty of room for a bunch of wiring along with the ATX motherboard and large air cooler.
I do wish the inside and back were painted, but even in the SECC primer coating, it isn't all that bad to look at when the parts are all installed. Let's be dead honest, though. Without a window most people never see the back of the chassis, it really isn't a big deal that it isn't painted anyways.
See, I told you I had all the right stuff in this build. Leaving the drive bays open will allow optional fans to cool the interior better, plus since I am using an SSD for the build, why not show off the cooler of the two 2.5" drive installation locations. I also bundled three leads from the PSU, the SATA cables and the entire front I/O wiring, all in one large group to see if I could impede on the doors closing. Let's just say I failed at that, the door went on with ease.
I just wanted to give you a look through the 120mm fan mounting position behind the motherboard tray. You can see if is in a great location to definitely add some cooling to the back of the socket for those avid overclockers out there.
All back together for one last image before we add the power cord to it for testing. Besides the DVD drive poking out the front and a view of hardware through the mesh holes in the side panels, nothing really has changed from the original product we saw in this review.
With power running through the system, the only glow of LED lighting is the pair of blue LEDs at the top. At the time I snapped the image the HDD was flickering the light, but I was able to catch the ODD lighting as well. With the limited output of LED lighting, it makes this chassis' presence mostly unnoticed with its simpler, much more subdued design than most others we see.
In the realm of low dollar cases and by this I would say the sub-$75 category is where this applies, it is really tough to find more than three or four choices for more than the same concept of cases from a bygone era with a new shirt on and a haircut. I mean most of these cases are honestly a box without much thought at all to wiring, or really any thought of real cooling options, if there are options at all.
We have been through a few of the lower end chassis designs and right off the top of my head, maybe NZXT, BitFenix and Cooler Master have come up with really viable solutions for builders of today. Well, now you can add Antec to that list because I think they finally sorted out the Three Hundred's basic design flaws with the new Three Hundred Two.
The feature set is pretty well appointed. While it only ships with a pair of fans, there is room for four additional 120mm fans to cater the air flow to your needs. The case aesthetics are subdued and will make this chassis a solution that can be hidden if needed and the lack of LED lighting besides the I/O makes this even more possible. The fans also help with this as they have the ability to be put on low speed and from three feet away, the case is inaudible. For gamers with serious hardware inside clocked to the bleeding edge, you may want to plan ahead and get some fans and maybe think about LED ones to attract attention to your tricked out build, fitting with plenty of room inside of the Three hundred Two.
For some reason or another, I didn't get to review the original Three Hundred. With a bit of searching it wasn't hard to find images and threads discussing what could have made this design a full on win for anyone who would use it. Antec took the words of the masses to heart and thought it worthy of their time to give it another go.
From what I have seen, if you were pondering the Three Hundred, don't ponder it any longer. For the $10 difference between the two of them, I don't see Antec selling many more of the original. As for where it stands against the others I mentioned a moment ago, it stands tall, maybe not as well appointed as some, nor is the interior painted here, but none the less Antec still delivers a well laid out restructure of the idea in the Three Hundred Two.
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