Table of Contents
Antec has released a brand new Mid-Tower case in the P120 Crystal. This new chassis may be one of the cleanest and most elegant cases Antec has produced. The P120 Crystal hails from the Antec Performance series of cases and includes full tempered glass front and side panels as well as the ability to mount a pair of 360mm radiators internally which is but one of many features. Read on to see the details and see how this case performed below!
Features and Specifications
The P120 Crystal is constructed with an all-steel frame and a pair of lightly tinted tempered glass panels enabling the user to ogle over their prized internal components. Its all-black theme maintains a distinct, clean appearance that many users love.
Located on the top at the right side is the front panel interface. It utilizes a pair of USB 3.0 ports, HD audio connections, a power button, and a reset button. The options are standard (A USB Type-C port would be a nice addition), but its location is set back almost towards the middle of the case.
The P120 Crystal is able to house up to two 360 mm or two 280 mm radiators, one located at the bottom and one on the right side. There is also the ability to mount a 120 mm or 140 mm fan or radiator at the rear of the case.
Storage capabilities are taken care of by way of a pair of hard drive caddies and SSD trays. The three HDD caddies are compatible with 3.5″ and 2.5″ drives while the two SSD trays work with all 2.5″ drives.
Vertical GPU mounting is unlimited in the P120 Crystal with its triple-slot vertical expansion slots. Even a triple slot GPU will fit.
Here’s a list of the specifications per the Antec website.
|Antec P120 Crystal Specifications|
|Product Name||P120 Crystal|
Side panels: Tempered Glass, Steel
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||476 x 234 x 485mm / 18.7 x 9.2 x 19.1 inch|
|Gross Weight||12.4 Kgs / 27.3 lbs|
|Motherboard Support||Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX, E-ATX|
|Expansion Slots||7 + 3 (Support extra thick vertical graphics card installation)|
|I/O Port||USB 3.0 x 2 (Illuminated-White)|
Audio In & Out (supports HD Audio)
|Liquid Cooling Support|
|Power Supply Support||Top mount, ATX PS2|
Antec takes a lot of care when shipping their cases and with the P120 Crystal, they really outdid themselves. The outer shipping box is pretty standard for Antec and has all the features, specs, and images.
The internal packaging, however, is where they begin to outclass themselves. The foam endcaps feature a cardboard surround which provides another level of protection while in transit, not to mention getting the contents in and out of the outer box is much easier this way. This review sample was also shipped with stiff cardboard corner supports and was heavily wrapped in shrink wrap. It is uncertain if all cases will be shipped to this extreme, but this much attention to protection should leave users confident that their package will arrive un-spoiled.
Finally, there is a large black fabric cover that is included with this chassis. This made for an effective dust cover in between photo sessions for this review and would work well if your rig is powered down for any length of time.
Exterior At A Glance
Let’s take a quick tour of the outside of the case before digging into the minutia. The chassis is almost entirely steel and tempered glass. The supporting feet are the only plastic parts visible from the outside of the case.
Gone are the days of needing to place your case sideways on your desk to see its internal components. The P120 Crystal features a tempered glass front panel with a solid black bezel surrounding its outer edges. Notice, there are no intake vents or fan mounts to obstruct your view. Looking to the bottom of the front is a pull handle for the bottom intake filter.
To the left is the main viewing window. Like the tempered glass front panel, the left side panel is surrounded by the same black bezel which frames the internals inside. There is a lever for releasing it at the front of the panel and it swings open via a pair of hinges at the rear. There is a yellow caution sticker attached to the protective film that covers both the front and left side panel reminding us it is tempered glass and to be careful.
The right side panel is made of steel and features a large, slotted vent towards the front. This will be used to intake or exhaust instead of the front panel so that the front panel can remain unobstructed. The right panel is fastened by a pair of captive thumbscrews at the rear of the case.
Rotating to the rear we see the P120 features a top-mounted power supply. This gives a bit of a nostalgic feeling as this is how most cases were designed just over a decade ago. The reason is likely to allow for the bottom 360 mm intake. We’ll get into more detail on that later on. Below the removable power supply mount is the motherboard I/O opening and the rear exhaust fan mounting location. One can use either a 120 mm or 140 mm fan or radiator here. Further down are the seven horizontal expansion slots and three vertical expansion slots.
Laying the case on its side gives us a good view of the top panel. This is a solid steel panel without venting. The Antec team proudly marks the top of the panel with a “Performance Series” graphic. This is located to the front, pushing the case I/O controls near the middle of the case. From left to right in this view the controls are as follows, power button, reset button, high definition microphone, and headset jacks. Finally, a pair of white LED illuminated USB 3.0 ports. Each of the four plugs are neatly fitted with rubber dust protectors.
Spinning 180° from the top we look at the bottom of this case. From this view, we can clearly see the full-length micro fabric filter that cleans incoming air. The feet for this case are a pair of pedestals located at the front and rear and each uses a pair of rectangular rubber pads to prevent slipping.
A Closer Look
With the exterior glance out of the way let’s take a closer look at the internals the P120 Crystal has to offer.
Everything at the front is located on the outside of the case and was discussed in the exterior glance so there nothing more to see here. Let’s move on.
We start with the left side latch. Pressing this down allows the left panel to swing open on a pair of hinges. In order to remove the panel, it simply lifts off the hinge posts. There is no need to pull the case away from the wall and is quite easy to do.
Looking at the motherboard tray we see that this case is designed for motherboards up to an E-ATX form factor. The stand-offs are preinstalled for an ATX board as this is the most common size. In the middle of the tray is the large, gaping hole that will easily accommodate adding and removing CPU coolers to any installed motherboard. To the front and below the motherboard tray are four sizable cable pass-through cut-outs. These are not the largest on the market but are adequate for all the routing needs. There are no rubber grommets, but the openings do have rolled edges to prevent slicing the cables. Looking even further to the front is the mounting for up to a 360 mm radiator or three 120 mm fans. If 140 mm is your fancy, up to a 280 mm radiator or two 140 mm fans can also be installed. These can be either intake or exhaust as a closer inspection does reveal a filter mounted to the right-side panel.
To the top of the left side we see, like the author, there is a touch of grey for a little added class. The upper PSU cover features a grey and black plastic shroud, again, with the Performance Series graphic. The PSU must be mounted with the intake facing down as there are no intake vents located to the top of the case. To the front of the PSU shroud are the two HDD caddies.
Moving to the bottom of the left side we see the magnitude of intake space available. A full 360 mm of filtered, unobstructed cool air. It’s a beautiful sight to be sure. Mounting either a 360 mm or 280 mm radiator is no problem if water cooling. Naturally, if air cooling three 120 mm fans or two 240 mm fans will inject air directly to the GPU keeping it as happy as can be. The mounting slots are offset to the left of the case keeping the fans away from the motherboard and allowing for maximum clearance. This is intelligent positioning by the design team.
As mentioned earlier, to remove the right-side panel there are two captive screws. Slide the panel rearward and it’s off. With the panel out of the way, we have access to the two 3.5″/2.5″ HDD caddies located at the top front and secured by a pair of thumbscrews. You’ll notice the accessories box still residing in the top caddy. In order to use the full potential of the right side radiator mount, both of these caddies must be removed. However, if you are mounting three fans in lieu of a radiator, only one needs to be eliminated. Additionally, they feature a tab and slot method for attaching to each other as well as the roof of the case.
Just next to the caddies are the I/O cables. They consist of a USB 3.0, HD Audio cable, reset switch, power switch, and the SATA plug is for powering the LED’s that illuminate the USB ports. The unusual location of the top I/O control panel can now be justified. If they were located forward they would potentially interfere with a mounted radiator or fan.
Further back, at the top, is the power supply bay. It was odd to discover that this particular sample lacked rubber pads to minimize vibrations from the power supply. Every other case that I’ve reviewed from Antec included them. With only two screws securing the PSU mounting bracket, there is potential for audible noise being produced here.
Looking below the PSU bay there are a lot cable tie points – we count a total of eight and are positioned in very logical locations. At the back of the motherboard tray, there are also two SSD trays. Each utilizes a single captive screw along with a tab and slot to be secured to the motherboard tray.
Going back to the side panel, the filter attaches using magnetic strips and is not the fine, fabric mesh type, rather it’s the plastic, medium style filter. These are not the best at reducing dust but it is better than nothing. If you were to use the right side as an exhaust, it would be wise to remove this filter first.
Much like the front, there is little to go into detail here. Just a clean, beautiful panel.
The two main features that make up the bottom of the P120 are the feet and the intake filter. As mentioned earlier the filter is removable from the front which is very convenient. It is made up of a fine fabric glued to a plastic frame and is the best means to eliminate dust from entering the chassis. The feet are made of plastic and are secured with four screws each. It is necessary to remove the feet in order to attach fans or large radiators to the floor which strikes us as a bit odd.
Each of the HDD caddies can mount either a 3.5″ hard drive, or a 2.5″ SSD. There are four rubber isolation dampers to minimize vibration noise with 3.5″ drives and when two 3.5″ drives are installed it’s possible to mount a 2.5″ drive under the assembly. These caddies also feature tabs on the side designed with system integrators in mind and improves build stability. There are two SSD trays and they can each house a 2.5″ drive. These trays feature a captive retaining screw and have an Antec logo stamped into the center of them.
The accessories box is neatly hidden in the upper HDD caddy and is the standard white box with bold black lettering that Antec is known for. Inside is the warranty sheet, user manual, extra rubber HDD vibration dampers, a small bag of screws, four cable straps with Antec graphics, and a handy aluminum GPU support bracket.
Now that we’ve analyzed each section of this case, let’s see the build potential of the P120 Crystal.
Water Cooled Build
Antec is very proud of the P120’s water cooling capabilities and for good reason. With a single GPU configuration, there was room for a 60 mm thick 360 mm long radiator mounted to the floor of the case with plenty of room to spare. This left 65 mm of clearance to mount another 360 mm radiator to the right side of the case. If 140 mm wide fans are your thing, then mounting radiator to the floor would leave 45mm of clearance to the right side, so only enough for a thin radiator, but still capable. The P120 Crystal does not include any factory mounting locations or brackets for water pumps, so acquiring your own will be necessary.
Air Cooled Build
Preparing for the thermal testing, the water cooling components are removed and the air cooler is installed. The P120 Crystal ships without fans, so three fans are added to test thermal efficiency and airflow. Two 120 mm intake fans are installed at the bottom and a single 120 mm exhaust fan is located at the rear. With a full speed of 1200 RPMs and rated to produce 60 CFM these fans are in the average to good range.
With the air-cooled build built and ready to test let’s take a second to talk about the included GPU bracket. It’s made from billet aluminum and is installed via a slot on the motherboard tray and a pair of thumbscrews. In this application, the GPU is long enough that it needs to rest on top of the bracket, but there is a separate swiveling tab under the bracket to support shorter cards. This swiveling tab has a rubber pad located on top of it to aid in reducing noise.
Cable management in the P120 was a little trickier than expected. With 22 mm of cable clearance, there is enough room to route everything, but with the PSU located at the top, I wasn’t able to tuck and hide as much in the open space in front of the unit as most of the cables sit low in this case. However, with the abundance of cable tie points and some strategic routing, it is possible to make everything tidy and presentable.
Thermal Testing Procedure
With the test build assembled, it’s time to determine if P120 gets adequate airflow. Please keep in mind, the results of this testing should be taken with a grain of salt as stock fans are not included with this case and we had to add our own. Using better or worse fans will alter the results drastically but this should still provide a good baseline for anyone looking to see the thermal capabilities.
The test will be run with all the fans at full speed and an overclock will be applied to the CPU and GPU. The overclock will be as high as possible, maintaining stability and staying within the thermal limits of the components. To apply a load to the CPU and GPU, Aida64 Extreme and 3D Mark Firestrike will be run together for about a half-hour. This will provide the maximum internal case temperature. Then I’ll open the side panel and continue for another full run of Firestrike measuring the temperature drop. If the case is getting proper airflow then the case temperatures will remain within a few degrees of the original result. If there is a significant temperature drop with the side panel open, then the case is starving for fresh, cool air.
|Antec P120 Crystal Testing System|
|Case||Antec P120 Crystal|
|Motherboard||ASRock 990FX Extreme9|
|CPU||AMD FX8350 8 core (4.5 GHz @ 1.35 V)|
|CPU Cooler||Cooler Master Hyper 212X|
|Memory||G.Skill Sniper 2133 MHz CL9 2x4GB|
|GPU||Sapphire HD7950 Vapor-X|
|Storage||OCZ Agility 3 SSD|
|Power Supply||EVGA 850W GQ|
|Operating System||Windows 10 64 bit|
|Stock fans||None Included|
|Added fans||3x Cougar 120mm 1000RPM|
|Temperature Probe||Amprobe TMD-52|
The Antec P120 Crystal maintains a temperature of only 3°C above ambient. This is a very good result and better than any others tested in this same manner. Keep in mind the added fans play a big role in these results. Still, this test provides for a good baseline for comparing with other cases. With the side panel open, there is a 1°C degree temperature rise. This is identical to the Antec DA601 results back in May. What’s happening is with the side panel open, there is a disruption in airflow that causes a slight hot spot at the location of the temperature probe. This 1°C increase is irrelevant in the big picture though. Notice, the temperatures are still as good or better than the other three cases with the side panel still on. In hindsight, had one of the bottom intake fans been installed on the right side, this could have been eliminated. To top it all off, there is still four additional fan mounting locations to further improve airflow if we needed to.
As with every Antec case we have reviewed, the build quality of the P120 Crystal is fantastic. The tempered glass front and side panels and all-black theme make for a beautiful case. With its versatile water cooling capabilities and four hard drive locations, this case can be used for a wide range of builds. The airflow is excellent and yields the lowest Delta T measurements from ambient I have reviewed to date.
No case is perfect though, and sometimes as one area gets improved, another suffers. Providing a 360 mm radiator location at the right panel and utilizing a front glass panel places the top I/O controls in an unnatural position and could be an issue if the case is located inside of a cabinet. This is highly situational though and is unlikely to affect too many users. The lack of included fans could be viewed as a negative to some, however, this keeps costs at a reasonable level and allows the end-user to customize the case. Some will want full RGB, while others will like to keep the lights off.
The Antec P120 Crystal is not yet available through Newegg or Amazon, but with an MSRP of $99.99 it fits firmly in with other affordable premium cases. This one is a no brainer and gets a solid Overclockers Approved.