The Antec Three Hundred, now that was a good budget chassis, wasn't it? The original dates back all the way to April 2008, but after a slight revision here and a little tweak there, it continues to serve a purpose almost four years later. If you're working with a budget of around £40, it's well built, spacious and performs pretty well.
But in the PC marketplace four years is a long time and, though your Three Hundred will still serve you well, it may start to look a little dated and it does miss some niceties that are now becoming common place elsewhere. If you're looking for advanced cable-routing capabilities and USB 3.0 connectivity, the old Three Hundred won't fit the bill, so Antec's out to remedy that problem with a new-and-improved successor; the Three Hundred Two.
As the name suggests, this new addition to Antec's Gaming Series range is very much an evolution of the existing Three Hundred design. Anyone familiar with the 2008 trendsetter will see the resemblance, but it's on closer inspection that you begin to take stock of the improvements.
To begin with, Antec has given the The Hundred Two a minor face lift by applying a gentle curve to the plastic front panel. The curve's subtle enough to go almost unnoticed, but Antec reckons it gives the 2012 model a "more sophisticated look." Other than that, the only other obvious external alterations include the option to place a fan behind the CPU, a couple of unsightly liquid-cooling holes in the top panel, and an upgrade of the front I/O panel - it still looks the same, but the two USB ports have been upgraded to the SuperSpeed 3.0 standard.
In keeping with the old Three Hundred, this new successor is neither eye-catching nor displeasing. You wouldn't buy it based on looks alone, but it's a good size for a mid-tower solution - 513mm x 229mm x 471mm - and it fits the bill for users in need of a chassis that isn't gaudy or bizarre in appearance.
But what makes the chassis more interesting is a spruced-up interior. The Three Hundred Two has eight expansion slots (one more than the old Three Hundred), can accommodate graphics cards measuring up to 318mm in length (a 39mm improvement), offers a total of 11 tool-free drive bays (with side-loading hard-disk bays) and is kitted out with a couple of cable-routing holes.
All useful upgrades, but they do have a knock-on effect on price. Whereas the original Three Hundred proved to be a bargain at roughly £40, the new Three Hundred Two is currently available at around the £55 mark - a figure that puts it up against the likes of Fractal Design's Core 3000 and Corsair's Carbide Series 300R. Are the tweaks enough to make the Three Hundred Two a real contender? Let's find out.