Well, here’s a case that’s caused quite a stir in the Atomic labs. We’re as prone to strong feelings as anyone – there are brands we like, aesthetic beliefs we cleave to, and we’ve a general bent to passionate about all things tech. But Antec’s Lanboy Air has truly inspired some strong opinions.
In a very real sense, this is a case you’re either going to love without reservation, or hate. And I mean really hate.
A case for James May
The best way to describe the Lanboy is as some sort of cross between Antec’s Skeleton case and a Meccano set. The frame the chassis and panels rests upon is part of the external structure, and being coloured bright construction site yellow (there’s a blue option as well) makes this quite the standout. Every surface is either perforated, slashed or – in some cases – open the air.
To call the design striking is an understatement. It’s bold, hewing as far from conventional tower design as is possible within the framework of an upright form factor. But there’s also method to the seeming mad design.
Look closely, and you’ll see that not a one of those meshed panels – top, sides, bottom front or rear – has a dust filter. Rather, the Lanboy relies upon every one of its pre-installed fans, of which there are five, taking air into the case to create positive external pressure. In theory, this creates a constant outflow of air on every case surface, which is designed to let dust out as freely as it lets dust in.
It’s a great idea, but in practice it’s only as good as the build you house in the case. If you’re cabling is lazy, or you’ve not taken note of the main paths of airflow, you’d end up with an inevitable dust and gunk build-up on loose cables and components. But with care, this dust-in/dust-out design should work a treat.
The other pillar of the Lanboy’s design is true modularity, and this is another area that’s split Atomic opinion. Pretty much every panel, support or case component is secured by easy to access screws – there are almost no riveted components. It’s quite possible to take the case apart entirely – great news if you have a really outré mod you want to experiment with, or if you want to colour the case panels and parts to your own specs.
Similarly, case parts, like the side-panels, which would normally be a single part, are multipart designs. There are two side-panels aside, for instance – one covering the mobo and psu, the other a swinging door design over the drive bays. Sure, this makes things a bit fiddly during the initial system build (especially considering the six screws securing main sidepanel), but post-build upgrade and modifications then become much easier. In particular, managing the HDD bays can be done without the need to take off the side-panel and disconnect the case fans in that panel.
Very clever stuff.
The case interior of the Lanboy is just as exciting. As you can probably tell, we come down firmly on the side of really liking the design ethic behind the case. For instance, the HDD bays use a truly unique method to keep your drives secure, silent and vibration dampened. Antec calls it the AirMount system – it combines a traditional set of screw-on brackets with a length of rubber cord hooked onto the case, literally suspending your HDDs in the air.
It seems counter-intuitive, but given you’re not going to be slinging the case around while in use, it’s ingenious. The rubber cords are quite rigid when properly mounted, too. Solid state drives, however, screw right onto the bottom plate of the case, while optical and larger drives rely on traditional screws, as do the expansion slots.
What we like about this, is that Antec’s not gone over the top on tool-less designs when a simple screw does a much better job. It’s an elegant amount of engineering.
The PSU mount is a removable caddy, and the motherboard plate can also slide out. There’s a mess of room behind the plate to stow cables, too, so getting that perfect airflow should be easy. And, if you need it, there are two more fan mounts on the top of the case, and all of the pre-installed fans are adjustable – the front in fans in particular feature external dial controls.
On the move
With two very sturdy handles on top, this is a case that truly lives up to its name. It’s a striking looking case that, even if you don’t like it, guarantees that you can’t ignore it. Plus, the modding options are wide open, and we think it would look particularly good with a mess of case lights installed. All that mesh would deliver a hyper-industrial look.
And all while keep your rig running cool and as quiet as possible. Good job, Antec. Truly outside the box thinking.