Antec’s latest low-cost chassis carries the company's gaming hardware-oriented “Performance” moniker, but can it really perform? We find out.
More Features, Lower Price?
Antec's replacement takes the identically-priced Three Hundred's minimalist appeal to a new level by hiding air inlets on the side of the face panel. Those side vents eliminate the direct noise path found on mesh-front cases. They also prevent “blinging out” the front with lighted fans.
The P70 still appears to have three 5.25” bays. But unlike the Three Hundred, the P70’s lower external bay is permanently adapted to 3.5” drives.
This case also adds a pair of grommet-covered holes to ease external liquid cooler installation, but is still limited by only exposing seven expansion slots. The lack of an eighth prevents you from installing a graphics card with a double-width bracket in your ATX motherboard's bottom slot. All seven slot covers are non-replaceable break-outs, and the installation kit doesn’t include any replacements.
The rear panel also features a row of vents next to the graphics cards, a 120mm exhaust fan and a latch for removing the slide-in top-fan cover. The fan grill back there is drilled to accept 80 and 92mm fans.
Different from Antec’s published specs, two USB 3.0 ports and two audio jacks comprise the entire set of top-panel connectors. All of these feature rubber covers to prevent dust intrusion, though we know most enthusiasts will probably remove and lose them. Behind the ports and power/reset buttons, a trio of three-position switches control top, front and rear fans at two different speeds.
The P70 front panel supports two fans, but both must be installed between the snap-away plastic and steel portions. A removable dust filter is also accessible only with the entire face plate removed.
The power supply air inlet has a filter that must be bowed away from a barb on the metal chassis to remove. A screw and spacer act as a forward stop, preventin the filter from sliding in too far.
Top fans are properly spaced for a radiator, but the P70 doesn’t have room between the panel and motherboard to install an internal liquid cooling radiator. Enthusiasts who opt for closed-loop coolers may instead use a 1x 120mm unit on the rear fan.
Building Inside The Antec P70
The P70 doesn’t have internal grommets. But cable passage holes are rolled over for a burr-free edge. Antec adds a couple of extra holes to clean up the installation of microATX boards. It also adds a lip at the front edge of the motherboard tray 9.75” from the back, though. Even slightly oversized boards won’t fit.
Long graphics cards (up to 15.1”) fit into the P70’s top four slots; medium-length cards (up to 10.8”) drop into the bottom two. The stepped-in 2.5” SSD bay atop the 3.5” cage gives builders an extra inch of space (up to 11.8”) in front of the fifth slot.
That gives you one 2.5” and four 3.5” internal bays, though the external 3.5" bay's integrated mounting bracket is also designed to attach hard drives. Screws for installing optical drives are mounted to sliding pegs that rattle around as the case is moved.
The P70 only has a pair of USB 3.0 ports, so there's just one corresponding USB cable. The front-panel LED cable is split so that it supports both Asus (three-pin spacing) motherboards and everyone else (two-pin spacing).
Surprisingly, the P70 has a cover plate for top-panel fan mounts, in case you want to move those fans to the front and keep dust from settling in through the top. It also comes with four sets of 3.5” hard drive rails, a set of twist ties for organizing cables, 16 foam washers for dampening screws and a screw pack with a bundled motherboard speaker.
Side panel bulges are required since the P70 has very little space for cables. Builders must lay cables out carefully to minimize crossing. Otherwise, those thin side panels can easily be warped.
The SSD bay requires straight cable connectors as well, which could be a problem on motherboards that only include right-angle cables. We reduced the number of power cables in our installation by using a four-pin drive cable and a four-pin-to-SATA power adapter.
The lack of space for slightly oversized motherboards like our X99S XPower AC forced us to use the smaller X99S Gaming 7. This is starting to look like bothersome trend with mainstream cases.
The P70’s power LED was bright enough to “blow out” the images we captured of it. We spliced two of them together rather than track down a bunch of extra foreground lights to minimize the effect. To the left of the main light row, two more lights indicate drive activity.
How We Test Cases
Test System Components
|CPU||4.2GHz (42x 100MHz) @ 1.2V Core|
|Motherboard||Firmware 17.8 (02/10/2015)|
|RAM||XMP CAS 16 Defaults (1.2V)|
|Graphics||Maximum Fan for Thermal Tests|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce 347.52|
|Chipset||Intel INF 126.96.36.1999|
To facilitate identical cooling on differently-sized motherboards, we're downsizing from Noctua’s huge NH-D15 to its NH-U12S. Though the smaller dimensions could solve fitment issues with some hardware combinations, cooling our overclocked Core i7-5930K is more challenging for its single-tower sink and one fan.
We’ve also transitioned from a noisy blower-style graphics cooler to an axial fan model from Gigabyte. The GV-N970G1 Gaming-4GD keeps its GPU exceptionally cool at reduced noise, while dumping its heat directly into the case.
Power comes from the 80 PLUS Platinum-rated Dark Power Pro 10 850W by be quiet!
Designed by committee, our new test platform runs hot and quiet, negating the dramatic performance differences its predecessor was designed to produce.
|Prime95 v27.9||64-bit executable, Small FFTs, 11 threads|
|3DMark 11||Version: 188.8.131.52, Extreme Preset: Graphics Test 1, Looped|
|Real Temp 3.40||Average of maximum core readings at full CPU load|
|Galaxy CM-140 SPL Meter||Tested at 1/2 m, corrected to 1 m (-6 dB), dBA weighting|
Noise is measured .5m from the case’s front corner, on the side that opens. The numbers are corrected to the 1m industry standard used by many loudspeaker and fan manufacturers by subtracting six decibels.
Test Results And Analysis
Today’s test uses the same hardware and settings as the previous be quiet! and Supermicro case reviews, allowing us to produce comparable results without retesting previous samples.
Do those temperatures seem a little high? Generating test results on the P70 test results without encountering host processor thermal throttling was accomplished only after raising the CPU’s threshold (in UEFI) to 115 °C and lowering the room temperature to a chilly 15°. Though we might have been able to get the CPU temperature down by 10° by using a huge cooler, the P70 appears to be designed for lesser hardware. Perhaps a Core i5 at a similar clock rate and voltage?
Super-thin side panels do little to isolate internal component noises from the outside of the case. Even the Supermicro Gaming S5 with its vented side-panels is slightly quieter.
Hot and noisy are not good adjectives in a cooling-to-noise comparison, though the P70 has a lower price to help excuse its performance deficit. Cheap system builders don’t want canned heat, but cheaper processors usually have less heat to manage.
The point is seen in our charts, where even the combination of poor cooling and noise control isn’t enough to prevent a value win. We should probably recommend the P70 to someone as a result. But we still aren't quite sure who this case is built to attract. Even as the P70 occasionally dips below $60, we wonder whether we should do an exhaustive search for a higher-quality product at a similar price or drop an extra $20 on a true budget-oriented enthusiast chassis. Antec sells those too. Even its venerable Nine Hundred is available for less than $100. Given what we’ve seen here, we’d probably spend more on something better.