Antec Three Hundred Two Case Review

BluePanda - 2012-08-31 19:22:09 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: BluePanda   
Reviewed on: November 7, 2012
Price: $69.99

Introduction:

Antec has provided us, gamers and enthusiasts alike, with quite a variety of chassis options over the years: the strangely open LanBoy Air, the desktop Skeleton, and quite a few members of the ongoing Gaming Series. OCC has reviewed a few of such cases, with the Eleven Hundred being the most recent. Today we'll be looking at, do some math here…798 less than that – the Antec Three Hundred Two chassis. Surprisingly, or not so surprisingly, the lower number comes with a lower price as Antec plays the market for affordability. This mid-tower case has been built for gaming from the inside out with an aggressive front bezel to advance its cooling. Tool-less bays, cable management, and USB 3.0 front ports all combine to join the Gaming Series legacy – or so Antec claims.

Sometimes the budget for a build isn't quite that high, and when it comes to cutting costs I sure don't want it to be in my hardware. Yes, a case needs to be able to safely enclose my hardware, but if I can spend $50 more towards my GPU, you bet I'll buy a cheaper case. Antec brings the Three Hundred Two to the market with this thought in mind. Why skimp on the meaningful innards of a build and have a terrible case? It looks like Antec wants you to spend that extra dollar on your hardware as well. However, they don't want you to walk away with a cardboard box for a case either. I think this chassis will be quite the bargain; that is if it can stand up to my scrutinizing.

Closer Look:

I will start with the standard box shots: front, back, side, and the other side. As with most Antec boxes, they don't cut costs by using a simple brown box; instead we get a black and grey gradient that covers the background of the box with a fading image of the front of the case. A yellow stripe adds accent to the box while a yellow Antec logo pops at the top left of the box. Although a graphics communication major may tell you otherwise, it's just a box. You'll never find me a fan of the fancy box a case comes shipped in because I still see it as money that could have gone towards the product. Apart from my babbling, you can get a pretty good idea of what is inside because the back of the box shows off nine of the case's main features. The two sides will go on to show off some more secrets of the case as well as a neat little packing list to show you where I live…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening it up takes all but the simple slide of a knife along the taped groove. It is no more complicated to open than most boxes that are shipped to you, though I admit I do have difficulty with many. Inside you'll first find white foam (the nice open cell-type foam that doesn't allow your cats to make a mess too easily). The case is sandwiched between the two foam pieces, wrapped in a plastic bag for freshness, and shipped face up protecting the most important part of any case.

 

Closer Look:

Now to present what you came to this review for: pictures of the case itself. The front profile of the case is simple and pleasing at the same time. There are no flashy colors, no crazy geometries, and my personal favorite, not too many glossy surfaces to show off fingerprints. There are a couple of glossy surfaces, but you can't quite see them. The back of the case reveals a little inner color, which, if you hadn't figured out from the box pictures, is the unfinished/unpainted innards of the case. For a long time now, it's become standard to have a case come painted inside and out with the unpainted business left to older cases. I thought the act of providing unfinished cases was almost obsolete. I am proven wrong, however this issue isn't what this picture is about; rather, a good look at the back of this case will show you it's not quite so normal.

The PCIe slot covers actually screw on from the outside here. The panel to the right of the PCIe slots has two removable case screws. These release the panel and allow access to the screws to hold in your PCI slot items. Screw them in, and then screw the plate back onto the chassis. It works as both a space saver inside the case as well as a bit of an anti-theft device. It'd take quite the effort to steal a video card without much dedication.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sides of the case don't have much to explain. They are also both fairly simple, as each one has its own fan hole. At this point I'm assuming there's ample room behind the motherboard tray; otherwise I'm going to have to order a slim fan to fit in there (let's hope not). Other than that nuance, there isn't much to say about the sides. There is a raised "Antec Designs" logo on the panel behind the motherboard, however no combination of lighting or camera angle let me display that for you. Trust me, it is there.

 

 

From left to right, the I/O panel provides two USB 3.0 ports, a microphone and headphone jack, a reset switch, and the power button. The reset button is a bit on the small side. If you have fat fingers I wouldn't count on pressing it very easily without the aid of a smaller object; I have small figures and still find it a bit tricky. Overall, it is relatively clean looking for a front bezel, a feature I do like. It also doesn't look or feel overly cheap, which is a major highlight considering the cost of the case. The bottom of the case continues the clean look with a very simple "Antec" logo embedded in the bottom edge. If you weren't really looking, you probably wouldn't see it.

 

 

While we are still focusing on the outside of the case, let's take a look at the top again. You might have seen it in a few of the earlier shots, but there's a raised fan region and two water ports up here. The water holes are grommeted for tubes to fit through, and with it being at the back of the case here it's optimal for an external reservoir. However, if you were thinking a pre-built WC system like the H100, you'll have to make some modifications to get the tubes through the holes; you have to be able to disconnect one end of the loop. It is a good location, but considering the cost of the case and the overall size it probably wouldn't be a good idea to buy for water cooling in the first place. It might be seen as a bonus feature on the market, but on the practical side it's just a waste. The raised fan area also makes it impossible to mount fans externally – so if you were going to try to do a 120mm external, top-mounted radiator you'll have to add a spacer in there as well. It was a nice idea but with poor execution.

 

 

A closer look at the back of the case, for those of you who might have missed it on the general back shot of the case, shows two quick High/Low fan controllers. One controls the fan mounted in the top while the other controls the rear fan speed. You can choose from high or low, only two settings, but perhaps this will make the difference between a noisy case and a tolerable case.

 

Overall, looking from the outside, this case doesn't look all that bad. It has a very plain, yet aesthetically pleasing appeal to it. It is not too flimsily built for the cost and is starting to have a very appealing look to it with the price tag. Let's hope the innards and the ease of building a system inside follows the same appeal. Jump to the next page to get a good look inside the case.

Closer Look:

Taking off the slightly spring-loaded side panels gives us a nice look inside the case. There's a fan in the rear, a fan up top (you can see the cable hanging down), and a pretty basic build everywhere else. A sealed bag of screws, zip ties, and HDD mounts are zip tied tightly to the drive bay area. It's safe to say you won't hear anything rattling around when it gets in unless something is completely broken. Turning it around to the back side reveals a pretty clean look with not too much to talk about. There are a few places to run a zip tie through to hold up cables and a few small openings for cable routing. Otherwise it looks like a pretty standard "behind the motherboard" area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting in a little closer shows us that the upper three mounts to the 5.25" external drives have quick lock mounts. You simply press on the right edge of the mount to open and let go to close. A spring keeps it closed so there's no need for screws. If you recall from the other side, these mounts are not over there. There are also no screw holes, so let's hope one latch is enough. Down below there is room for six HDD's to be mounted. There are also six sets of HDD rails included to mount your drives old school style. They do fit in quite nicely though, as I snuck an old drive of mine in for a test fit.

 

 

While I have the case open I thought I'd show you the two fans mounted in the case. You might notice the top fan has a cable drawn taught across the fan itself. Unfortunately, that's the way it was shipped. It plugs the fan into the controller on the back, however, it's tight enough that it might just wreak havoc with the fan blades after they start spinning. In the end, I un-mounted the fan to rotate it around giving it a little slack to clear the path of the blades.  In all it wasn't too much trouble, but it was not a pleasing task to have to perform on a new case. The fan header cables are also rather short; be sure you plan for either a unique motherboard location or some extensions in your build. The cables for the front I/O panel are all nicely taped down to the bottom inside of the case to keep them all neatly bundled (the tape didn't leave sticky gunk either!).

 

 

Moving those cables aside you can see the grid below the PSU mount. There's plenty cutout for airflow and a neat little fan filter as well. You might not have noticed it from the external case pictures but the filter is actually external (you can see it there at the bottom edge of the case). Even when the case is closed up, you can pull the filter out to get rid of all the dust. I find it funny how fan filters are becoming the "standard" thing in cases these days.

 

 

I previously mentioned the "springs" for the side panels, and here's a closeup of one on the back edge of the case. You simply slide the front of the panel in behind the front bezel and push it closed. You can then easily fit the thumb screws in on the back of the case and you're done. It makes it easy to cram all those cables in the back side of the case if you don't have a modular power supply. However, if you look at the next picture there's a heck of a lot of room back behind the motherboard tray for just that – cable cramming. There's a whole 2cm back there from the motherboard tray to the edge. The panel does close flat, but 2cm is more than you'll find in most cases in this size/price range. That worry about fitting a normal-thickness fan back here isn't a concern anymore. I mounted a fan I had laying around, and it fits with room to spare. This feature is a little bit of gold for this case, and it's the little details that make it stand out amongst the crowd.

 

 

That little bag from inside the case turned out to have a neat little assortment of random screws for your use and 12 drive rails (6 sets) for mounting drives. A little guide/instruction book was included to help you figure out exactly where to put things and what to do with all the accessories. The guide helps in the process of figuring out what to do with your SSD as there doesn't seem to be mounting methods.  In reality there are two locations…

 

Putting it all together wasn't too difficult. Like I said, there's an exceptional amount of room behind the motherboard tray that made hiding cables relatively easy (even with the massive opening by the HDD bays). Everything packed in behind the motherboard tray nicely. The SSD could have been mounted in two different locations (you don't have to let it sit like I did). Sadly the proposed SSD locations will be a bit difficult to deal with for most people. The first location (provided by the manual) is the back of the motherboard tray, the other location is to the left of where it actually is in the bottom of the case near the PSU. Call me lazy, call me crazy, but the SSD liked the cable bed better.

It was a little bit of a snug fit with the CPU cooler, but it all fit and the case closed just fine (to be fair I've had closer calls). The gray tone from the unfinished inner panels isn't a favorite and makes the cables look rather messy.  However, once you throw a panel on, no one will know. All in all, the Antec Three Hundred Two provided a decent build. Powered up and running, it has two nice little blue LEDs to show you that it's on and that the HDD is in operation. It's a pretty solid build.

 

Specifications:

Model:
Three Hundred Two
Case Type:
Mid-Tower
Color(s):
Black
Cooling System:
1 x 120mm rear TwoCool Fan
1 x 140mm top TwoCool Fan
2 x 120mm front intake fans (optional)
1 x 120mm side fan (optional)
1 x 120mm side exhaust fan behind motherboard (optional)
Perforated front bezel for maximum air intake
Top water cooling grommets
Enlarged CPU Cutout
Drive Bays:
3 x 5.25" tool-less drive bays
2 x 2.5" drive bays (dedicated)
6 x 3.5" tool-less drive bays
Front Ports:
2 x USB 3.0 with internal motherboard connector
Audio In/Out
Expansion Slots:
8 x Expandable slots
12.5" (318mm) maximum video card size
PSU:
No PSU included
Motherboard Support:
Standard ATX, microATX, Mini-ITX
CPU Cutout:
Enlarged CPU Cutout
Cable Management:
N/A
Side Panel Features:
N/A
Dimensions:
513 x 229 x 471 (mm)
Weight:
Net: 6.9kg

 

Features:

 

 

All information is courtesy of: http://www.antec.com/productPSU.php?id=704793&fid=4

 

 

 

 

Testing:

Testing the Antec Three Hundred Two required pushing my hardware to heat things up as much as possible. Testing involved recording temperatures for the CPU, GPU, chipset, hard drives, and overall system during idle and load phases. Recently, OCC upgraded to the ForceGT 240GB SSD from Corsair and has removed the HDD temps from case reviews. Thus, HDTune is no longer a part of the case benchmarking process.

Load was simulated by running Prime95’s small FFTs along with 3Dmark Vantage looping for one hour. The maximum temperatures were recorded using HW Monitor. It is important to note that each case is tested from its factory setup, including location of fans, unless otherwise noted.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Cases:

 

Results:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Temperatures seen in this case were all over the place. It wasn't a sure winner, nor a real loser in the all-around category. In terms of CPU temperatures, it was a bit high at idle but seemed to be one of the lower ones under load. The video card seemed to stay nice and cool under load and at idle. I'm not sure if it's the top fan helping out, but it does well and that is what counts. The chipset on the other hand is what turns the smile upside-down. Both idle and load are top of the charts; not impressive at all. Overall it rounds out, but I'm thinking if you add in an extra fan or two you might be able to bring down the chipset closer to ambient temperature.

Conclusion:

In the end, it is nice to see companies pursuing the affordable market rather than just the enthusiast group. It's nice to see there are cost-effective options available for those new to the PC building community or those who just want a nice build for a family member that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. After Waco did the GameTiger roundup with three levels of cost, it's a bit easier to see what a few bucks here and there can do for a case. I'll be bold and say I believe Antec is going to produce a better case than GameTiger any day now, but that doesn't say much if you are in the US and can't purchase a GameTiger case. Antec cases in general have a high standard of basic quality similar to that of Cooler Master. In general, I think of both as companies from whom I can buy just about anything without needing to check with an owner of the case beforehand for quality. With that said, this case continues to uphold that standard for Antec. The overall build is well done even considering the price. I'm a bit disappointed about the lack of paint on the inside, but with no windows on the case it isn't much of a loss.

The Antec Three Hundred Two is a case for many different uses. The build quality is decent and should hold up well with whatever you may throw at it. It's a great case for getting into building, for a home theater, a grandpa build, or even just as a for-fun rig. The cost lets you do what you want with it; if you don't like something about it swapping it for a different case won't be like changing out a Lian Li case, where the cost makes you cringe to even have a slight scratch on it. For this case, it comes down to whether you like its features and functionality or not. What I can tell you is that it produces an acceptable build, has average cooling, and can hold a decent set of hardware with good cable management. Now you have to decide if the looks are what you are looking for or not.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: