Antec P70 ATX Mid-Tower Case Review

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?

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Exterior

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

Settings

CPU4.2GHz (42x 100MHz) @ 1.2V Core
MotherboardFirmware 17.8 (02/10/2015)
RAMXMP CAS 16 Defaults (1.2V)
GraphicsMaximum Fan for Thermal Tests

Drivers

GraphicsNvidia GeForce 347.52
ChipsetIntel INF 9.4.2.1019

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!

Benchmark Suite

Designed by committee, our new test platform runs hot and quiet, negating the dramatic performance differences its predecessor was designed to produce.

Prime95 v27.964-bit executable, Small FFTs, 11 threads
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.3.0, Extreme Preset: Graphics Test 1, Looped
Real Temp 3.40Average of maximum core readings at full CPU load
Galaxy CM-140 SPL MeterTested 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.

Comparison Cases

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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.


Conclusion

MORE: How To Build A PC: From Component Selection To Installation
MORE: Cases in the News
MORE: Cases in the Forums

Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware, covering Cases, Cooling, Memory and Motherboards. Follow him on Twitter.

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29 comments
    Your comment
  • SinxarKnights
    Hmm I just got rid of my 300 about a month ago. Is this really the 300's replacement? The 300 lacked any 2.5" bays but had great cooling with only the 2 included three speed fans. It seems they made the same mistake twice by sitting the motherboard too close to the top so it is practically impossible to mount a rad on the inside there.

    Considering it is a $70 case, surely there must be much better options than this for budget builders.
  • JeanLuc
    Argh, what's wrong with the site?? All the alignment is out. I was reading through the price list and the case came up at $46.99 now it says $70.
  • SinxarKnights
    3515 said:
    ^^ It's not a $70 case you can pick it up for $47.


    It is 47 because it is on sale. It is a $70 case.
  • Plyro109
    I'm rather sad Antec still doesn't seem to want to make fan filters easy to access. That's why I replaced my 902, and why I've been steering people away from their cases for a while.

    To clean the filters on the 902, it required removing 20(!) screws, and this case requires the removal of the front panel, and thus, both the side panels also. At the least, it looks like the top and rear filters are a bit easier to access, which is a step forward.

    Probably not a case I'll be recommending for others to use, even if it is inexpensive.
  • InvalidError
    115832 said:
    Hmm I just got rid of my 300 about a month ago. Is this really the 300's replacement? The 300 lacked any 2.5" bays

    The 300-2 had one 2.5" spot at the bottom and another behind the motherboard tray.

    I own both a 300 and 300-2. My biggest pet peeve about them is having to unplug everything I may have plugged into front jacks and open the side panel to un-clip the front panel so I can remove it every time I want to clean the filters. Another problem with the 300s is that the filter sits so close to the front mesh that dust accumulates directly behind the front mesh' holes - there is not enough space for airflow to spread out evenly across the filter. I would probably need to clean the filter half as often if there was even only 1mm of extra clearance here.

    Yet another filter-related pet peeve is the PSU filter: half the dust gets scraped off the filter and sucked right back in when the filter is removed for cleaning. IMO, the 300-2 would have been better off without it, letting the PSU draw from case air like it did in the original 300.
  • jimmysmitty
    I think that Antec has been left behind in terms of case design. I do remember when I wanted a 900 but most of their cases are just now coming with features that others have had.

    I find it strange that this is lacking side fan mounts. Even the Corsair 200R has those and that is a $60 dollar case right now.
  • InvalidError
    149725 said:
    I find it strange that this is lacking side fan mounts. Even the Corsair 200R has those and that is a $60 dollar case right now.

    The 300-2 had side fan mounts on both panels. On my case though, both of them are taped shut to limit dust ingress. In an ocean of cases with goady side panels. There is no point in having windows or side vents when the case is wedged between a desk and a wall. The top fan is unplugged and the vent taped shut to prevent screws and whatever else I might have on my desk dropping into my PC through the top fan.

    Sometimes, less is more. I would pay $10 more than I paid for my 300-2 for an otherwise identical case that had no side vents, no dedicated PSU filter/intake and no top vent for me to worry about but had direct access to intake filters.
  • jjb8675309
    Why would someone bother to review such a mediocre product?
  • ykki
    ^Tech reviewers duh!
  • aldenf
    I'll assume, since it is not mentioned in the article, that the two top fans are configured for exhaust. Three exhaust and no intake fans seems completely inappropriate for hot hardware. Since the option is provided "out of the box", I'd like to see the top fans moved to the front as intakes and the plug/panel installed on top. This should show very different numbers in testing. I'm rather surprised it wasn't attempted initially by the builder/reviewer as it seems rather obvious.

    I'm not sure how many users would be trying to squeeze an extended MB into an inexpensive case. I don't see it as a con at all. Many enthusiasts look for more compact cases for ATX/m-ATX builds. If the P70 will often be on sale for <$50 and moving the two top fans to the front as intakes shows better all around performance as I expect, methinks the P70 could be a killer option for moderately priced gaming rigs/workstations.

    I'll wait for a more thorough review of the product before making any final judgements...
  • aldenf
    Quote:
    Why would someone bother to review such a mediocre product?


    I'm leaning more toward a mediocre review than product.
  • InvalidError
    343909 said:
    Why would someone bother to review such a mediocre product?

    Why wouldn't a reviewer review "bad" products? If there are no reviews of something out there, how are people supposed to find out the product might not be for them? As a consumer, I certainly appreciate finding reviews of things I consider buying, even if it is only to find out that I should probably consider looking elsewhere.

    Reviewers need to cover a fair mix of good and not-so-good products if readers are to make their own informed opinion of what they consider good and not-as-good.
  • Onus
    Quote:
    Why would someone bother to review such a mediocre product?

    Reviewers wanting to save their readers from buying such a case by mistake.
  • Plyro109
    I'm rather sad Antec still doesn't seem to want to make fan filters easy to access. That's why I replaced my 902, and why I've been steering people away from their cases for a while.

    To clean the filters on the 902, it required removing 20(!) screws, and this case requires the removal of the front panel, and thus, both the side panels also. At the least, it looks like the top and rear filters are a bit easier to access, which is a step forward.

    Probably not a case I'll be recommending for others to use, even if it is inexpensive.
  • shrapnel_indie
    Dunno if this case has mediocre fans in the mix or not. It might have some salvation in the cooling department if it did have a cooling fan transplant for some better fans. But, alas we know nothing about the fans other than size and that they seems to be inadequate (in number or efficiency) to do a good job.

    What i do know is that this case will not be one I'd recommend for more than an office computer, someone who surfs the net or just does facebook. (All low intensity tasks.)
  • jimmysmitty
    125865 said:
    149725 said:
    I find it strange that this is lacking side fan mounts. Even the Corsair 200R has those and that is a $60 dollar case right now.
    The 300-2 had side fan mounts on both panels. On my case though, both of them are taped shut to limit dust ingress. In an ocean of cases with goady side panels. There is no point in having windows or side vents when the case is wedged between a desk and a wall. The top fan is unplugged and the vent taped shut to prevent screws and whatever else I might have on my desk dropping into my PC through the top fan. Sometimes, less is more. I would pay $10 more than I paid for my 300-2 for an otherwise identical case that had no side vents, no dedicated PSU filter/intake and no top vent for me to worry about but had direct access to intake filters.


    But yours is a single case scenario. Side fans help in other scenarios, for example I have my case up high on my desk so the extra air flow provided by my 220MM fan on my Corsair 500R helps with cooler air flow for my GPU.

    Why would you not want a dedicated PSU vent? If you place the PSU upside down it will pull air away from other components and limit air flow.
  • InvalidError
    149725 said:
    Why would you not want a dedicated PSU vent?

    Because I cannot see it get dirty. When I remove the filter to clean it, large chunks of dust get scraped off of the filter by the case when I pull it out and I cannot see where it ends up to remove it short of pulling the whole case out from under my desk and flipping it over. If I forget to clean that filter for too long, the PSU ends up practically sealed off and eventually trips over-temperature protection, which is not good for the PSU nor my system. Since I do not turn off my system while I clean filters, the PSU may end up ingesting clumps of dust when I remove the bottom filter. I much prefer having only one easily visible filter that I can remove as one unit without disturbing the dust trapped in it, take the contraption (whole front panel in the 300s' cases) to wherever I want to clean it, clean it without worrying about dust getting released inside the PSU/case and put it back in.

    In other words, dedicated power supply intakes are far more trouble than they are worth IMO.

    Where side vents are concerned, those are not really required until you get into high-power SLI/CF setups and people who spend $700+ on GPUs rarely choose $50-75 cases.
  • Kridian
    Quote:
    I'm rather sad Antec still doesn't seem to want to make fan filters easy to access.
    Dat's when you use your air compressor to just blast the dust outta der! No removal necessary. blast-blast-blast!
  • InvalidError
    37878 said:
    Quote:
    I'm rather sad Antec still doesn't seem to want to make fan filters easy to access.
    Dat's when you use your air compressor to just blast the dust outta der! No removal necessary. blast-blast-blast!

    If you blast filters without removing them for cleaning first, a fair chunk of the dust is just going to end up inside the case, exactly where the filters are supposed to prevent it from going.
  • meribela
    Quote:
    Argh, what's wrong with the site?? All the alignment is out. I was reading through the price list and the case came up at $46.99 now it says $70.


    You need Ad and Script blockers. Toms is littered with billions of them.
  • ginnai
    I am glad to still have my 300... while USB 3 would be nice, I can always aftermarket that in. My, outdated, processor runs about 5 - 7 F above ambient; since I live in Arizona that is pretty great in the summer (although I do turn the fans up to high, which requires me to pop off the side panel... small price). My 5 HDDs/SSDs are all comfortably nestled in their slots, with their SATA & IDE cables (I said outdated) tucked into the cable area. While I could live without my front LED fans, I have no desire to. I like Antec, but until they design another homerun, I will hold onto my 300 with both hands!
  • ginnai
    @ Meribela's - You need Ad and Script blockers. Toms is littered with billions of them.

    I use Ghostery & UBlock... I am only at about 14/15 blocks, what are you using to track?
  • atheus
    What is with all these negative pressure case designs lately? Am I mistaken that this case comes with all fans in exhaust position? Is 100% exhaust fans not the worst way to cool a case? I'm puzzled. I wonder how this case would perform with a proper fan configuration.
  • InvalidError
    395779 said:
    Am I mistaken that this case comes with all fans in exhaust position? Is 100% exhaust fans not the worst way to cool a case?

    At the very least, it is certainly the worst way of mitigating dust intake - there is not much point in having front intake filters when the all-exhaust configuration will pull dust in from every crack. The first thing I would do if I got a P70 would be move both top fans to the front and put the top lid on.