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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  • Eridanus - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    The curves on the front edges simply don't fit the rest of the design.
  • GuyIncognito_ - Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - link

    They are hideous.
  • Azsen - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    The 2.5" slot at the bottom of the case does not work at all. I got the Antec 200 v2 recently and an Asus motherboard with SATA 6G cables that bend 90 degrees and look like this:

    So you can't fit your 2.5" SSD in the bottom and use the 90 degree connector because there's no room because the bottom of the case gets in the way. Then you can't just swap the connector ends around and use the straight connector on the drive because on the Asus motherboard the system panel pins (PWR, HDD, LEDs etc) get in the way so you can't use the 90 degree connector there either.

    So my choices were
    a) Abandon the 2.5" slot down the bottom, or
    b) Buy a SATA 6G cable with two straight ends.

    In the end I ended up screwing it into a 3.5" slot from one side and it's suspended there. Probably going to snap off with the weight soon so I'll be forced to shell out for the 3.5 -> 2.5" converter.
  • Burticus - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    At first I thought this was taking the original Three Hundred and changing what I consider to be the achilles heel.... the hard drive mounts. They re-oriented them to face outwards instead of inline which is awesome. USB 3 is nice.

    Front these pics and the ones on Newegg, it looks like they got rid of the front 2 120mm fans and the removable filter. The front filter is still there, and they added a power supply intake filter. But they did away with the front 2 120mm fans and made them "optional". So be prepared to pick up a couple extra fans. Honestly on my original Three Hundred I replaced the 120mm fans anyway because they were a little noisy.

    FYI this is $69 at Newegg right now, so I think we might see some sub $50 sales in the future.
  • bnolsen - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Side mounted hard drives are vastly inferior for cooling. The brackets block half the air flow even if no hard drives are installed. Additionally it looks as if they got rid of the spacing between the drives.

    From the drive cooling and general airflow this case is a big thumbs down compared with the 300 which is an excellent case for small raid arrays.
  • zero2dash - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    I'm a fan of Antec and have been for years. Loved the P182 (even though it was too big), love my 300, loved building in a 100 a few months ago for a customer.

    That being said - why would anyone buy this over a 300 let alone a BitFenix Outlaw for $49?
    If I'm case shopping, the Outlaw is the case to buy in the sub-$100 market.

    Antec seems to have become fans of redundancy. Forgetting about the Outlaw for a minute - the 100 has a good feature set and a decent price point; the 300, slightly better in both regards. Is Antec's new objective to over-saturate the computer case market with Antec enclosures that are $10-$20 different in price than all their other enclosures, with a minor upgrade here or there? Has Antec really done anything sub-$100 other than take the same case frame, churn out a modified outside, and sell re-hash after re-hash?

    I guess in Antec's world, there is no BitFenix Outlaw (or any other lower end, cheap, high feature-set case....Nzxt Gamma also comes to mind). I guess in their minds, Antec only competes with Antec.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    I'm pretty sure the Three Hundred will be discontinued now and Antec will only make the Three Hundred Two going forward.
  • bnolsen - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    i bought all my antec 300's for $49. I haven't seen this case before, the door is bad, blocking proper air intake. It seems microcenter carries these, i'll probably go take a look since the 302 looks to be a major downgrade.
  • rodrigu3 - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    Buying this case was cheaper than it would have been for me to replace my 6 case fans that have started to die after many years. Seems like a good build.
  • Arbie - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    "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. "

    I agree with this. And it would be great to see more discussion of motherboard fan controls, which are the other part of the equation. Mobo reviewers almost always use an open test bed, and either ignore or only briefly mention the hardware and (BIOS) firmware supporting thermal sensors and fan speeds. Some companies (eg Asus) do a far better job of this than others (eg Gigabyte) but get no credit for it on the review sites.

    Personally, I'd much rather have a thorough set of sensors and controls (which I will absolutely use) than a second graphics slot which will just sit empty. And I think that in reality most DIY folks would be better served that way. But fans and cooling are a lot less glamorous than graphics boards, so any mobo built like that would get killed in the press.

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