Well, I have a P180 and can answer some questions...
1. The drive covers are pretty sturdy, they take a good pull to remove
2. The door hinge is not so tough...But by that I mean the '2nd' hinge. The door pulls open, but then the little side flap also opens. Only a plastic nub holds that. I can see where over time it might wear out.
3. The whole door will come off if you bend the small side flap to pull the nubs out of their holes. But I don't think it was really designed for it...
4. I use the bottom fan to ensure a good pull of air over my 4 hard drives. You can really feel it sucking in the front screen.
5. The bottom 'thick' fan will fit on the top 2 mounts if your heatsink will clear. It will also fit the front middle position if you remove the HD mounting box and its hardware. I bought some extra thick fans and use them in place of the 2 thin ones.
6. The plastic tabs are a little flexible, but be careful with them.
7. I couldn't mount the VGA duct with the Zalman cooler on my 6600GT.
8. All the cables from my Antec 480W PS fit, but there is not a lot of slack.
9. I had the bottom fan and 4 PATA hard drives...and I got all the cables to fit.
To me, this is a set it and forget it case. If you like to constantly change out parts then look elsewhere. I wanted a cool, quiet case to keep my nerves from frying. And that is what I got. It has a lot of plastic because plastic is quiet. It is not meant to haul around to your friends house.
The thick fan will move more air for a given RPM. I just keep mine on low, but mounted the control leads on the outside so I can crank them up if needed. All my internal fans are Vantec models set on low. My Prescott can build up some heat when I push it....
As for the cable lengths...it's not like they are too tight, but it won't be a stealth install ;-) But there isn't a window to look through, so nobody will see it anyway. And I was able to soft tie everything into a nice bundle. Airflow is NOT a problem in this case.
And I agree, the door hinge thingy is crap. But the door stays shut 99% of the time anyway. I just learned to live with it.
I will say 1 funny thing about that door...the door and sides are metal layered on plastic. In the winter, when the door gets really cold, it bows outward! But after turning on my heater and running the computer for a while it heats back up and flattens out. Really interesting...
1. How sturdy are the optical drive covers? Do they pop out too easily?
They are not loose or too ease to pop out. Recognize that the sliding rails for mounting devices (optical drives, etc.) slide into the case from the front, meaning you will have the silver ends of the mounts sitting flush at the front of the drive, in the two side recesses in each bay. Some like the look (I do), some won't.
2. How sturdy is the door hinge? It's plastic and it seemed wobbly at Fry's. Could have just been because it was an old display model.
It's not wobbly, but I doesn't take much accidently-applied force to knock the door off (DAMHIK). Seems "robust enough" to me.
3. Does the whole front panel come off, door and all?
yes, but I suspect that most folks that want unrestricted front panel access will simply open the door the full 270 degrees to the flush-to-the-side-panel position.
5. Will that bottom chamber fan fit in the top chamber fan mount?
Not sure, but I replaced my two top fans with units that will plug into my Asus MB, to permit MB-control of fan speed. All three of the Antec Tri-Cool fans in my case have Molex connectors, incompatible with the MB's mini 3-pin connections.
6. How are the plastic tabs that hold on the side panels. I've heard they break easily.
I wouldn't call them fragile, but then I don't stree them -- the key appears to be making sure all are lined up before appliying pressure, and in particular making sure the tabs at the middle of the tops and bottom of the side panel are engaged (the middle of the panel tends to bow out a bit, so you have to manually push the panel edge in, flush against the chassis before pushing the panel home).
7. How well does the VGA duct cooler work? Is it worth using?
I haevn't put a fan in mine yet, as I'm waiting to see how hot my card runs. The duct had no clearance problems over an eVGA 7900 GT KO card.
8. Did your PSU cables reach all the connectors with slack in between? Or was it all a stretch?
Antec Neo 550; no problems at all with reaching anything.
9. How much room is there in the bottom chamber to run power cables to the hard drives if the bottom fan is installed
Plenty of room, although you may find it more convenient to route the cable up to the top chamber, over the bottom fans, then back down into the front portion of the bottom chamber.
Well over all I think it's a well designed case. Celltech.. just curious, do you have the old or newer version? I've heard the new version takes care of the door buckling issue.
Also, looking for other professional, clean cases in this price range led me to the Lian Li PC-60BPLUSII Now it doesn't have the nice separated chambers of the Antec, but it has some pretty nice cooling options (120mm in front, 120mm over the VGA slot, 80mm top fan, and 80mm rear fan blows in using a duct to blow onto the CPU area). It's also well made and has plenty of room for expansion. How do they compare and which would you go with?
Hmmm...I don't know what version I have. It is the silver one, I wish they had the black one out when I got mine. The door issue looks easy to fix...just a few ribs of plastic on the inside would stop it...