In and Around the Antec Three Hundred Two

As is typical of sub-$100 cases, the Antec Three Hundred Two isn't particularly flashy. We can be thankful it's not gaudy, but the basic plastic finish and extensive ventilation in the front doesn't do a lot for making the Three Hundred Two much of an eye-catcher either.

The outer shell of the Three Hundred Two really is pretty basic and bog standard. Antec employs a black plastic front bezel with ventilated 5.25" drive bay shields and then a massive amount of ventilation in front of the internal drive bays (note that a pair of 120mm fans can also be mounted here). In place of USB 2.0, however, Antec has included a pair of USB 3.0 ports at the top front of the case next to the audio jacks and power and reset buttons. The USB 3.0 ports are controlled off of an internal header, as has become standard with new enclosures over the past few months.

When we get to the side panels, the left side is business as usual, with a single ventilated fan mount for a 120mm intake fan to blow across the expansion cards. The right side, on the other hand, tries something a little different: there's a 120mm fan mount placed directly below the processor socket, behind the cutout in the motherboard tray. I've seen Antec and SilverStone experiment with this, but I'm still waiting for one of them to actually decide it's important enough to mount a fan there in the stock configuration.

The rest of the exterior is more of the same routine. There's a 140mm exhaust fan in the top of the case, and two rubber-grommeted holes for routing liquid cooling tubes. The back features a 120mm exhaust fan as well, but everything's where you'd expect it to be. Can someone explain to me who still uses these liquid cooling holes, especially when even the highest end rigs I've seen from boutiques don't have any use for them? They're included in nearly every case I review as a matter of course, but in a $79 case I'm just not sure what purpose they serve.

When you do remove the thumbscrews from the side panels and pop the Three Hundred Two open, though, you see a more refined build that's in line with modern case design. In an effort to both maximize case width as well as ensure clean cabling, Antec uses a lateral drive cage and then shifts the motherboard tray away from the side a bit to allow for cables to be routed behind it. The side panels are also hinged instead of sliding into notches, making the enclosure easier to open and close.

Antec also supplies a surprisingly effective toolless 5.25" drive locking mechanism as well as decent routing holes in the motherboard tray and a large opening in the tray for mounting cooler backplates, a development prevalent in the industry as a result of Intel's staunch refusal to actually fix their heatsink mounting system. [Ed: Die, push pins, die!]

Ultimately the Three Hundred Two's build and design are fairly straightforward, but it's nice to see more and more advances in case design trickling down like this. This enclosure was clearly designed by people with some sense of what enthusiasts want and require, and they did it all without pushing the price too high.

Introducing the Antec Three Hundred Two Assembling the Antec Three Hundred Two
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  • Stuka87 - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    I own an original 300, and the filters up front do a VERY good job of keeping dust down inside the case. I get almost no dust build up after 2 years of running. I just clean the filters every 2-3 months.
  • Ratman6161 - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    I've had my original 300 from (I think) about 2 years ago that I got for $39 at Microcenter. This case just can't be beat for the price.

    My experience with the filters is also very good. We have 4 cats in our house and once a week or so I just run my hand over the front of the case and wipe the accumulated hair off of it. None gets in the case through the front. Some cat hair and dust does get in via the side fan though.
  • Montrey - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Odd, my experience with my 300 is just the opposite. I have it on a stand about 18" off of the floor, and it is the only machine in the house that gets dust on the inside, despite the filters and a not particularly dusty house. I have the 120mm mounted on the front behind the filter, and the 140mm on the top exhausting, both set on low. I have to blow out the fins on my Arctic Freezer 7 at least every month or they get completely clogged. I suppose I could try upping the speed on the front intake fan, but I trade the convenience for quiet.
  • MilwaukeeMike - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    I experience this with my Antec P180. It uses negative pressure and I get dust build up on all the little cracks around my unused 5.25 drive covers. The filters do their job and get most of it, but i do have to spend a little extra time cleaning because of the setup.

    I should just move my fans and be done with it.
  • rodrigu3 - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    As I understand it, negative pressure systems work if you have a large filter that allows for low resistance airflow. The majority of air will flow through the path of least resistance and so will probably enter through the relatively large opening in the front of the case through the filter, rather than all the tiny little openings. So, the majority of air entering the case will be filtered, although some dusty air will still get through. You can minimize that on this chassis by putting high resistance filters on the side panels without any fans and just using the two fans that come with the case.
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    The original is a fantastic budget case that really is impossible to beat for the $30-40 on sale with free shipping you can regularly find on Newegg. Guess that will be coming to an end as its replacement is finally here but it was great while it lasted. Just starting to read the review but wanted to mention this before I forgot.
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    Wow I'm shocked you didn't give at least a silver award for this case!?!?! Similar to the original this case's performance is far beyond its pricetag.
  • Stuka87 - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    I have an original 300, and i love it.

    However, I am looking at this case, and it looks like it only came with 2 fans, rather than the previous generations four fans? The first 300 had two intake fans on the front behind the filters. This case doesn't have those fans, or the filters?

    I am thinking it would have been a bit cooler if it had them, although possibly a bit louder. Although mine set to low is barely audible.

    I am also glad they made the opening behind the CPU larger, as I had to cut this area on mine to get the rear bracket for my CPU heatsink on there.
  • ZekkPacus - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    The original stock 300 only came with 2 fans (top and rear), it was the Illusion that came with 4.

    Anyway, though I do think AnandTech does some of the best reviews on the net when it comes to cases, I'd love to see them start using the fanbays in these cases. For example I just swapped cases (from a 300 actually to an 1100), and instantly added two more fans to the stock two. That turns the case from a negative pressure design to a neutral or slightly positive pressure design, which improves dust and also lowers temperatures somewhat. Negative pressure is easiest to achieve when you're talking only stock fans, which is why these designs are so common, and when a manufacturer's making a sub$100 case, they need to cut corners to make a profit out of it. Getting positive or neutral pressure out of a stock design of only two fans would involve a high-RPM screamer in the front bays and the 140mm top fan. That config would likely please no one.

    But it's very very unlikely that anyone buying these cases will be using them with stock fan configuration, a little bit of sense from AT concerning where your fans would be best placed out of the many options (I agree with the earlier poster about the uselessness of behind-the-CPU fan bays) and what you can expect out of them would be great.
  • SBTech86 - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    looks okay but for $79, i would go for corsair 400R (64 ish when sale)

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