Antec Lanboy Air Reviewairman - January 11, 2011
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As a forewarning, there are hundreds of ways to configure the Antec Lanboy Air. I am only showing a few of them, and the rest is up to the user! Many possibilities are attainable with this case, and all it takes is a little imagination. Removing the six (yes, six) thumbscrews on each stationary panel and the one for the hinged door on each side, the Lanboy Air opens up and looks like it could take flight. Even though it is a mid-tower case by definition, there is a lot of real estate inside. When stripped to just the blue frame, it truly shows how open the Lanboy Air is. I have no problem saying this is the closest thing to being open that one could achieve without a tech station (a completely open case) or by straight up leaving the components on the desk. As it is packaged, the Lanboy Air is configured to have a bottom mounted power supply. Yes, that can be reconfigured, too!
The bottom rear of the inside of the case shows the PSU housing, a view of the perforated, breathable bottom panel, eight(yes, eight) expansion slots, and the two water cooling grommets. A careful eye will see the holes for where the hard drives will hang at the front of the case, which I will demonstrate shortly. Turning to the top of the rear of the case will show that the high gloss plastic top is actually translucent, and is smoked acrylic. I say smoked because it is a dark, see-though color. This is probably the first case I've seen that has a panel that is fully acrylic, let alone having the illusion of being opaque from the outside under normal conditions while actually having some transparency under inspection. The motherboard plate does have a cutout to access the heatsink mounting holes, and we'll see if it works for this motherboard once I get the computer fully assembled at the end of this section.
Panning over to the front of the inside of the case, we can see the three rails for optical drives and other 5.25" devices, along with the I/O cables twist tied to the middle rail to keep them out of the way during shipping. A close look will show screw holes for these rails all of the way down this part of the frame. Which means, you guessed it, these can be repositioned individually in any way desired. Another close look will show that the holes for the hooks of the hard drive suspenders can be oriented side-to-side or front-to-back. This adds yet another dimension of flexibility to the Lanboy Air!
With everything being removable, it makes it easy to take pictures of each component and offering explanations to each of them. I'll start off with the motherboard tray, which clips into the back panel of the case, and when a motherboard and expansion cards are already installed, it stays as one piece upon removal. It slides along the rails on the right side of the case, which, surprise, are also moveable! By now I am already blown away with what can be changed on this case. It can literally be stripped down 100%, and rearranged in any way, which is very cool. The motherboard tray already has in place six of the standard nine stand-offs required for most motherboards, and the remaining ones can be found in the tool box, or rather, the screw box.
Another important, individual component is the power supply housing and the support bracket. The support bracket is pictured on the left in the picture of them separated, and the housing is to the right. They are equipped with rails that allow them to slide together and be secured, no matter what way they are oriented. The support bracket attaches to the outside panel of the rear of the case as well as to the top or the bottom of the frame, where the housing will slide into and be secured. This is obviously important for top and bottom mounted power supply configurations.
I'll now demonstrate one of the most important customizations that the Lanboy Air is capable of. Since the power supplies can be mounted at the bottom or the top, the entire motherboard and back panel assembly must be shifted up or down, respectively. This is achieved by removing the motherboard tray, back panel, and PSU housing/mounting bracket and repositioning the two rails on which the motherboard tray slides. Two screws on each rail must be removed. One thing that I haven't mentioned yet, and I will in my conclusion, is the heavy amount of screw-driving needed for simple position changes. There is an advantage to this, however, and is that it is much more reliable than pieces that snap together, but just more of a hassle since it takes some more time to find and remove all of the necessary screws, and then replace them. However, I prefer reliability over ease of use for something that may only be changed once and left there. Anyways, check this out.
Though I show everything in one step, it is quite clear what happened. The motherboard tray, back panel, and power supply mounting assembly are all removed. The rails are fastened to the other set of pre-tapped holes, and everything slides back together in the appropriate slot. Moving on, as I said earlier, the hard drives are suspended with the included, well, suspenders, and can be oriented front-to-back or side-to-side. This is important for users who want to orient their hard drives in a certain way to perhaps clear other components, to improve wire management, or simply as personal preference desires. The suspenders themselves have plastic pieces that mount to each side of the hard drive, and rubber tubing running through this plastic piece with hooks on each end. Two are required per hard drive.
The configuration of the front panel is also fully customizable. Since the hooks for the hard drive suspenders are available through the entire height of the case, hard drives can be installed at the top, middle or bottom, and above, below, or between the optical drives. The fans can be placed wherever they both fit, and the 5.25" bays can fill in the spaces between them. I pictured two different configurations where the 5.25" covers are kept together, but it is certainly possible to split them up in any way desired.
My first impression of the side panels is that each of the three sections were removable, though they are not. However, each side panel can accommodate up to four 120mm fans. I asked where the maximum number of fans this case can hold comes from, which is 15. I discovered that there are holes on the inside of the hinged doors, allowing up to three more fans on each side. So, two in the front, two on top, one in the rear, three on each of the hinged doors, and four on the left side panel. That adds up to fifteen! My guess is with that many fans, this case might actually have liftoff. The fans included with the Antec Lanboy Air are two blue LED 120mm intake fans with stepless speed adjustment, two blue LED 120mm side fans with two step controlling, and one more rear blue LED 120mm fan with two step controlling as well. I couldn't find any information about the amperage and noise/RPM of these fans, but I can say that at full speed they are audible not not terribly distracting. At low speed, they are hardly audible - considerably silent.
Not only can the power supply be mounted at the top or the bottom of the case, but it can also be oriented upwards or downwards inside of the PSU housing bracket. Pictured is the Antec Truepower 750W power supply for demonstration purposes, currently priced at about $120 at many vendors. The ability to orient the power supply two ways is another powerful way to control the cooling of the case depending on the fan placement inside of the power supply. Typically, the fan pulls in air from a large fan on the under side of the power supply, and exhausts it through another fan facing outwards in the rear of the power supply. Changing the orientation of the power supply changes where it pulls air from. For example, from underneath or through the top of the case, or from the inside of the case. Pulling from outside essentially closes off the cooling for the power supply, and doesn't affect the airflow of the rest of the case in any way. Pulling air from the inside of the case, however, can help pull out hot air from around the motherboard and exhaust it through the power supply. Negatively, however, this can increase the internal temperature of the power supply. So, trial and error here is the best way to handle this choice if there isn't a pre-existing personal preference.
The mounting of a hard drive is no daunting task. One of the suspenders is secured to each side with the included screws, and hooked into the appropriate holes in the front. Suspending the drives in this manner almost completely eliminates any vibrations from being transferred into the case, and protects them from any harmful influences to a hard drive in operation such as drops and sudden bumps. As I said earlier, these suspenders can be oriented either way, as I've pictured several paragraphs above.
To show how the motherboard tray, rear panel, and power supply bracket are removed, I've taken pictures of them as they are sliding out. Specifically, having this ability for the motherboard is nice to be able to remove it from the case without having to completely disassemble the case if close access is needed to the motherboard. The tray doesn't have to be removed from the case to install the motherboard, though the power supply should be installed in the housing bracket first before it is installed, as it can make it much easier - especially for larger power supplies. For larger power supplies, it may not even be possible to install the power supply from the inside of the case.
While getting everything installed, the typical measures I take for wire management were almost foiled by its design. I like to route wires behind the motherboard tray over to the hard drive area to clean up the look, but there is zero clearance between the side panel and the hard drive door on the back side of the motherboard. Only small wires, such as fan cables could be routed back here. Also, since the case is completely mesh, there aren't really any hiding spots to make bundles of cables completely disappear. Cleaning up the wires in this case could be a difficult task without thinking outside of the box, and even what I have pictured below could be improved. I didn't notice until this point, but there is an "Antec Design" badge on the very back rear corner of this side panel. I think this would be better placed on the other side of the case, but it adds a subtle accent to the look of the case. With everything installed and lit up, the blue LEDs on the five fans bring it to life. The green lights are from the motherboard and power supply. As you can see, I've switched from the Antec Truepower 750W to my standard Mushkin Joule 1000W power supply for testing purposes.
If it isn't obvious yet, the Antec Lanboy Air is the MOST customizable, modular case on the market. There is nothing else like it. I could spend days playing with configurations of this thing if I wanted to, but I only need to cover the basic possibilities that the Lanboy Air offers in this review. Moving on, the next page will feature the manufacturer list of specifications and features that the Antec Lanboy Air offers, followed by an in-depth performance analysis and temperature results compared to other cases currently on the market.