Antec Three Hundred: The Ultimate Budget Case?

Overall Score

Antec Three Hundred Review

Introduction:

While I was shopping around for a mid-tower or smaller case for my father to use, I noticed Micro Center had a small sale on a case I had eyed when it came out recently, the Antec Three Hundred. It was $5 off so for $45 + tax I figured it would be worth checking out. I was about to resort to my usual standby “budget” case, the Cooler Master Centurion (any version) which I’ve built a dozen or more PCs in for friends and family members, but I decided to go for something a bit different. My first ever case was an Antec SuperLanboy and parts of it are used in my current custom wood case, so I thought I’d give another Antec case a try. I had always liked building in the Three Hundred’s bigger brother the Antec Nine Hundred, so I was intrigued. I didn’t expect anything groundbreaking from the case, but I was soon to be amazed.

Specifications as listed at Antec.com – Gamer Case :

•    No Power Supply included:
To optimize performance of your Three Hundred, your choice of power supply is crucial. Antec strongly recommends choosing from our NeoPower or TruePower series.
•    9 Drive Bays:
• External 3 x 5.25"
• Internal 6 x 3.5" for HDD
•    Cooling System:
• 1 rear 120 x 25 mm TriCool™ Fan with 3-speed switch control.
• 1 top special 140 x 25 mm TriCool™ Fan with 3-speed switch control
• 2 front (optional) 120 mm fans to cool the hard drives
• 1 side (Optional) 120 x 25 mm Fan to cool graphic cards
•    Washable air filters reduces dust build up in your system, which helps keep your system cooler
•    Perforated front bezel for maximum air intake
•    7 expansion slots
•    Top mounted I/O ports for easy access
• 2 x USB 2.0
• HDA & AC’97 Audio In and Out
•    Unit dimensions:
• 18" (H) x 18.3" (D) x 8.1" (W)
• 45.8 (H) x 46.5 (D) x 20.5 cm (W)
•    Weight:
• Net: 15.9lbs / 7.2kg
• Gross: 18.7lbs / 8.5kg

Here is what Antec has to say about the case:

 

"The Essentially Cool and Quiet Case
Impressively spacious and unbeatably reliable, the Antec Three Hundred is an unbeatable enclosure. Despite its eminently portable frame, the Three Hundred has enough room for an NVIDIA 8800 series graphics card, as well as six hard drives and a standardATX motherboard. A cable management compartment keeps your system organized and the airflow unobstructed. A 120mm rear fan and 140mm top fan ensure that the case runs cool even when playing the most demanding games, while the sleek black finish gives it an extra stylish edge."

Packaging and Initial Impressions:

Well, let’s get to it. I apologize for the terrible picture quality in advance. The box is a simple one that gets the point across.

Some features are listed on the back, but there are many that are unmentioned which we will discover later.

What is inside is what counts. My first enjoyable “feature” is the packaging. Simple and standard, yes, but what stood out was the foam! It isn’t the static creating, crumble-shedding, mess-making foam that is usually encompassing cases, it is a much nicer plastic-like foam. (I know, I’m easily excited by mundane details)

Just the case and a user’s manual, which I promptly threw back in the box as any normal guy would.

Inside the box:

Front/side view. Fingerprints show very well on the camera, not as well in person though the finish does receive prints pretty easily.

Top view. You can clearly see the top 140mm exhaust fan, which is an Antec with a molex connector and a three speed switch.

Front shot. You can see three external 5 ¼” bays, space for two 120mm front fans (not included) and the top mounted power and reset switch. Much resemblance is seen between the Three Hundred and its bigger brother.

Backside. Here we can see the bottom mounted PSU (whether you like it that way or not.) You may also notice the unrestrictive honeycomb fan grill which is a sure plus for maximized cooling and airflow at low fan speeds. The rear fan is an Antec 120mm with a molex connector and a three speed switch identical to the top exhaust fan. You may also notice the protruding “handles” on the sides which are great, and you will see why shortly. I also like the thumbscrews, they are “low profile” and easy to use.

Here is another feature that I absolutely love. The sides remove so easily and secure so well, I hope this attachment method takes hold in the budget case market. I personally get annoyed trying to resecure a case side with the standard lay-it-flat and slide forward approach, some work fine but others are infuriating.

This case has a hinge type side, you just unscrew the thumbscrews and lift the “handle” on the back and the front hinges and the side comes off easily and goes back on even easier. Front side and back side are identical in this regard.

Clean interior with room for three 5 ¼” drives and six 3 ½” drives. It would have been nice to have some sound dampening of some kind for the hard drive cage, but the case is so well built that a secure hard drive doesn’t seem to make any noise when seeking or writing.

Rear side panel removed. Nothing much to see here that needs mentioning. There is a bit of space behind the motherboard tray for future modding and cable management if you so choose, but for my needs this was such a minimal build that none was required.

Opening the small brown box which was securely taped to interior bottom of the case yields two baggies of screws and standoffs. Another small thing that gets me excited is the bag of thumbscrews included. These are used to secure hard drives and optical drives and make for a clean, easy and quick process of installing and removing existing hardware. Basically a tool-less design without those annoying and non-functional (and unsightly) plastic slides and clips.

A couple interior shots.

Here you can see included cable ties behind the hard drive cage and raised cutouts for attaching zip ties or Velcro cable ties for improved wire management. These seemed to be located at logical places and I thank Antec for that.

Bottom. Here we see a nice sturdy bottom and soft rubber feet. They seem to be glued on (as opposed to screws) but are attached very well and I do not foresee an issue with them coming off at any point.

The two fan speed adjustment switches featuring “L/M/H” settings.

Front switches and ports. Here we have a pair of USB 2.0 ports and a front microphone and headphone jack. The power switch feels sturdy and gives a satisfying click when depressed. One bothersome feature is the small reset switch. Its shape doesn’t allow me to depress it far enough with my finger to engage it, so I am forced to use a pencil or something else.

Front panel removal. This is another awesome feature of this budget case. The front panel removes unbelievably easy and quickly. Simple concept, three clips on one side, hinges on the other, just like the side panels. I love the fact that there are no switch cables connected to the front panel so it can be easily removed and set aside to get at what is underneath.

We have two reasons to take the front panel off. The first reason is to access the included fan filter for the dual 120mm intake fans. It is basically a nylon screen filter but feels plastic like and doesn’t appear to be too restrictive and I presume it will be very easily rinsed with water or a shot of compressed air. The filter (again) has a few clips and comes out very easily to clean. I experimented and it took me less than 60 seconds to remove the side panel, pop off the front panel and remove the filter.

With the front panel removed, we have access to the front 120mm fans. Again we have an amazingly easy setup to install/remove/clean the intake fans of any dust that may sneak past the filter.

A few seconds and a pair of included thumbscrews later we have:

The hinged fan “holder” easily lifts off the hinges and makes it remarkably easy to install a fan or two of your choice. For this build (E1200 + m-ATX motherboard and on board graphics) I chose to only use one low RPM Silverstone fan I had sitting around.

Simply thumbscrew the fan holder back on, snap on the front panel and you are set! Here is a shot of the m-ATX Gigabyte GA-G945GCM-S2C and the E1200 I chose to build with.

And the batch code for the CPU.

Even as far as m-ATX boards go, this one is small.

The build:

I chose this position for the Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro in hopes that it would draw air over the north bridge and exhaust out the top and the top exhaust fan would provide enough to cool the memory a bit. It seems to be working great.

Antec did a great job on the details of this case, good enough quality mesh-looking drive bay covers that you can toss them in a box and reinstall them for later use. No more “once you remove it, it’s useless” drive bay covers. Notice the wrap-around mesh. (Remember, I love the little things that make an average case a great case.)

Completed build. I was borrowing a camera and it ran out of battery and I don’t own the charger for it, so I can’t get any final shots of the easy wire management and running shots of the rig. Take my word for it that it was an easy build due to a modular PSU, minimal components, and an easy to work with case.

Conclusion:

In case it wasn’t obvious, I love this case. I think Antec outdid themselves on this one, bringing a high quality case to the budget crowd. Remember, this thing only cost me $45 + tax and regular price is only $49.99. This case has earned a rightful spot as my primary go-to case for budget builds. Due to the great amount of cooling capability and clean, unobstructed interior, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to build a mid to high end gaming system in this beauty. If you are one, like myself, to appreciate the “little things” that put a product on your mental map as getting what you paid for and more, look no further than the Antec Three Hundred. I know it sounds like they (Antec) paid me to write this, but I chose to do this on my own time and I bought the case with my own money, Antec has never heard of me or is no way affiliated with this fanboy-esque review! I am astounded by the quality and features of this case that are leaps and bounds above my previous “budget” build case choices.

Pros:
–    The “little things” (Crimped cable holes, universal thumbscrew design, side panel and front panel removal, fan installation, included fan filter, etc)
–    Build quality (sturdy and well put together)
–    Price!!!
–    Included fans (120mm tri-speed, 140mm tri-speed)
–    Size (Mini Tower but can readily accommodate a full ATX setup)
–    Cooling capability (Room for 4 x 120mm fans and 1 x 140mm fan)
–    Overall ease of use
–    Looks (No side window or LED fans to displace it from being a quiet HTPC or being at home in an office)
– No included PSU

Cons:
–    Small reset switch is a pain to use
–    Accepts finger prints relatively easily
–    No noise dampening for drives (although it isn’t a problem with the drives I used; Western Digital 80GB SATA and LG 16x DVD-RW)

Overall:

Quality: 9/10
Value: 11/10 (Yes, I can do that)
Appearance: 10/10 (My opinion)
Ease of use: 10/10
Cooling: 9/10
Overall: 49/50

If I had a “seal of approval” this case would get a pair of them. Feel free to ask any questions and I will answer them gladly.

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