Models and packages
The P182 is cosmetically and architecturally similar to the P180B, except it has two star-cut rubber passthrough holes in the back, meant for passing hoses through for an external water cooling unit.
There is also a limited production Special Edition (P182SE) that is identical in function to the standard P182, except it has a mirrored stainless steel finish instead of matte black. If you can find one, expect to pay around $30 more for the P182SE.
Electrical and physical design
The P182 is made of a tightly integrated combination of PVC plastic, sheet metal, and aluminum. Each material's strengths are used to maximum value, so the P182 ends up being durable, sturdy, and relatively lightweight. It weighs in at about 31 pounds, which is significantly weighty but not so heavy that it's impossible to move or transport.
Like other recent Antec chassis designs, the P182 has a bottom-mounted power supply bracket, which puts the largest portion of the computer's weight at the bottom of the case instead of the top. This leads to greater physical stability and allows more sensible internal chassis partitioning into cooling zones. The P182 does not come with a power supply, but it is configured to accept any standard ATX power supply unit. The PSU can optionally be clamped down with a silicone-padded bracket, which eliminates potential vibration and fan noise. A 120mm cooling fan blows air through the rear vent of the PSU and out through the back of the chassis. Cables are fed up through a hole in the lower partition, and can optionally be clamped in place with a plastic bracket.
There are two removable drive cages for 3.5" drives -- one holding two drives in internally removable sleds, and the other holding up to four drives -- one mid-mounted 3.5" slot for a floppy drive or other similar faceplate device, and one 5.25" non-removable bracket that holds up to four drives. The 5.25" drives have to have rails, which are included with the case, and the 3.5" drives in the lower removable cage has silicone grommets in the screw holes to cut down on vibration noise.
Unlike many other designs, both sides are removable panels, but only the main panel uses tool-less thumb screws. It's necessary to remove both panels in order to install a power supply in the lower bracket.
|The Antec P182: water cooling makes it even quieter|
As far as integrated cooling is concerned, the P182 has a top 120mm "blow hole" fan with a mildly effective grate over the top to prevent large objects from falling into it. An optional hood with finer grating is included with the P182 and is easily installed over the built-in grate. There are two more 120mm fans -- one in the back, approximately where the PSU would go if it weren't in the bottom of the machine, and one directly in front of the power supply. There is a bracket to install yet another 120mm fan in the front of the machine where the upper hard drive cage is.
The front panel opens from the right and covers the drive faceplates. The door is held shut by magnets strong enough to keep it shut under its own weight, but not so strong that it's tough to open. The door does not cover the various frontpanel connectors, but does cover the power and reset buttons. It is not easily removable.
Putting it to the test
Because the P182 is separated into sound and heat buffer zones, installation is extremely difficult compared to most other Antec enclosures. Installing the power supply took me 45 minutes, about half of which was spent trying to feed the power cables up through the appropriate hole without interfering with the PSU fan. This is an interesting way to orient the power supply, but to be maximally effective, power supplies would have to be redesigned to feed cables out through the top of the unit instead of the back. There is no way to pass the Molex power cables through the side compartment where the fan is, so if you need to power hard drives in the lower cage, you have to come up through the top wall of the PSU compartment into the motherboard compartment, then back down through it on the other side of the fan. Expect to spend a lot of time on system assembly with the P182.
While it may take a long time to properly install all of your PC components, the P182 does run less noisily than most of its competitors and predecessors. The fans are so well placed and and tuned that they don't need to run at high RPMs to keep the internals cool, and thus produce virtually no noticeable noise. Likewise, the thickness of the side panels and the compartmentalization of the interior cut down the noise from CPU, video card, and motherboard fans.
The two 1" holes in the back of the machine seem to be large enough to accommodate any kind of external water cooling unit, though I wasn't able to test with every possible water cooling configuration. The passthrough holes are covered by a thin slab of rubber that is cut in a starburst pattern. This allows cables or hoses to push easily through, but provides a degree of resistance when trying to pull them out. The passthroughs are positioned just slightly lower than the middle of the back of the chassis, near the side panel. This puts the hose inlets as close to the video card and CPU as possible.
Conclusions and manufacturer recommendations
The P182 has a lot of interesting new features, but in order to take full advantage of them, you have to give up some convenience. The power supply installation issue is a significant negative point in an otherwise excellently engineered computer enclosure. This problem could reasonably be solved by including a good power supply with the P182, but that does not make it any easier to replace the PSU if it dies someday. In all, I'd say that the P182 is a good effort -- it's attractively styled, has lower noise output than most other cases, and is suitably durable. I don't think it's as wonderful as the Nine Hundred, but virtually nothing is.
If you're looking for a low-noise system, building it with the P182 and a high-quality external water cooling apparatus is definitely a good path to take. This is by no means a beginner-friendly configuration, though, because of the degree of difficulty in installing a power supply and setting up a water cooling system. If you're really in love with the physical design and aesthetics of the P182 but don't intend to do water cooling and don't want to mess with a power supply, the P190 might be a better choice.
|Device support||Up to four 5.25" drives; seven 3.5" drives (only one with a faceplate); ATX, microATX, Mini-ITX, and FlexATX motherboards; ATX power supply (not included); three 120mm fans; one bracket for an optional 120mm hard drive cage fan; up to seven peripheral card slots|
|Market||Desktop PC enthusiasts, especially experienced system builders who want an especially low-noise system|
|Price (retail)||U.S. ~$157 Buy it now from Amazon.com|
|Product Web site||Click here|