Antec Lanboy Air Reviewairman - January 11, 2011
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The Antec Lanboy Air is a work of manufacturing and design art. It offers complete customizability and flexibility due to its highly modular design, and Antec's extensive thought process that went into its development. It allows 100% freedom of choice in just about every important aspect of case design, from hard drive placement, to power supply, fans, and even 5.25" device placement. Never before has a manufacturer gone this far in modularity, which makes the Lanboy Air the first of its kind. Retailing at up to and about $200, the Lanboy Air is not for the financially unsound. It offers what I will say is satisfactory cooling performance, but that's not the only goal behind the design of this case. Antec also wanted to have a case that could be considered a "sandbox", and design it so that nearly every feasible choice of component placement could be achieved.
At first, I didn't particularly like the look of the Lanboy Air. It looks rather complicated and has a lot of plastic pieces on it, making it seem kind of cheap. However, after exploring it and seeing what all it can do, a lot of the look is function as well. The aluminum frame is very rigid and really strengthens the case very well. The mesh construction is very neat and gives it a high-tech look, while nearing the cooling performance of an open air computer station. Though it kind of reminds me of something like an Erector set, it has about as many possibilities as one. Meaning, if you can ask yourself, "will a fan fit there?" or "can I put a hard drive there?", chances are that it will and that it can.
As I said, the cooling performance of the Lanboy Air is only satisfactory, and not superb. However, with a few extra strategically placed fans, we can expect the performance and cooling power of an open air tech station with the mobility and protection of an enclosed case. The Lanboy Air does not have fan filters, which may cause gripes for some, but for almost 100% mesh construction, there wouldn't be an easy way to keep all of the dust out. Fortunately, there isn't much difficulty in removing all important pieces quickly for when thorough cleanings are necessary.
Most of the Lanboy Air is toolless. That goes for the side panels, hard drives, and PSU cage, but other things such as the motherboard and optical drives will need a screwdriver to secure into place. One thing that I did not mention about the 5.25" bays is that they can also be oriented in different ways like that of the HDD suspenders. They can be oriented to the front as well as to the left, but not the right. Accessing these would require flipping the door on the left panel open. Antec does not supply an easy way to mount any external 3.5" devices like a fan controller or LCD panel, as no adapter is included to go from the 5.25" bay to a 3.5" device. Not a terrible deal for most, but could affect decisions for others.
Changing the configuration of the case, while there are many possibilities, takes time. There are many screws that need to be taken out and replaced to change a small thing. I also felt that there are too many screws on the side panel. Six (6) thumbscrews must be removed in order to even remove one side panel. These can easily be lost, and I don't believe any more than four are needed to keep the side panel secure. Even two might suffice. Having a hinge the back side of the large panels like that of the small doors at the front could cut down on the amount of screws required.
Having the handles on the top of the case is a nice addition as the case can easily top 35lbs with the right hardware. However, I did notice that the handles aren't failure free. I noticed that the only thing holding them in is a screw on each side, which can back itself out over time and movings (since the handles rotate every time you pick it up). Under the right circumstances, 10 or 15 cycles can significantly loosen one screw on each handle. This could have been avoided by some sort of bearing system, or maybe some sort of spacer/tube that is completely tightened down inside of the handle, letting the flexibility remain but securing the handles for good. I did also find that the access hole for the heatsink mounting holes is too low for the MSI board I'm using! It seems that at most, only 30% or 40% of cases I test got it right. I must be one of the few people who use this MSI board and run into this as often as I do!
The Antec Lanboy Air is certainly one of the most flexible and unique cases I have ever had the pleasure of working with. It is exactly my type of product because I love tinkering and having full control over my products, and having the ability to be different than someone else with the exact same case. Though it isn't silent, it wasn't meant to be. The fans can be turned down easily and significantly reduce the noise. The free-hanging hard drive mounting system is a great idea and I hope to see it in future Antec cases. The cable management possibilities are thin, but can be handled with a little bit of work. However, filling it up with six hard drives and 15 fans along with three graphics cards may make wire management in the case a tremendous amount of work! Even though I've found some improvements that Antec could maybe implement for, who knows, Lanboy Air V2, the possibilities with the Lanboy Air are endless and is a great recommendation for those in need of ultimate customizability.
- Complete modular design
- Room for 15 fans
- All mesh paneling
- Room for up to 16" graphics cards
- Wire management can be tough
- No easy way to mount 3.5" external devices