Ever have one of those experiences where you walk past something, then three or four steps later your brain kicks in. As you slowly turn your head to figure out why your brain told you to stop in the first place, you again see what it was that caught your eye, surrounded in an almost angelic glow. Once you lock eyes with it, you just can't seem to look away, and you have to get closer to verify what exactly it is you are looking at. Antec is delivering exactly that today!
With more and more cases being placed in the market, it makes buying choices much tougher than they were, say even three years ago. Then there were a select few that everyone stood by as the top three or four cases you would really enjoy working in and looking at. More companies are offering Aluminum based chassis', and almost everyone has a case designed with high air flow in mind; some with and some without lighting. So what does it take these days to set yourself apart from the crowd and make heads snap back to double take on what your brain just processed?
To answer this, Antec went way back into the designing process and redesigned this chassis piece by piece from the ground up. Let me set the general tone of this design. Think of a chassis in its most basic form, almost as an Erector Set. On this basic frame, panels are made with the idea of offering the best air flow and cooling potential possible in a mid tower, and they don't stop there. Based off the name alone, this chassis needs to be able to take a few bumps and bruises along the way, and soon you will see that Antec has come up with some ingenious solutions for us to play with. Keep in mind the three key features of this new chassis. Modularity, customizability, and flexibility is what Antec took to heart as they designed the LanBoy Air.
Today we are going to be looking at the blue version of this chassis; enjoy what you are about to see!
Specifications, Availability and PricingSpecifications, Availability and Pricing
The LanBoy is built from steel mostly. The roof, floor, motherboard tray and rear of the chassis are made of steel and painted a matte black. Where the LanBoy derives the Blue part of the naming is in the vertical and horizontal supports. In with all that matte black is a highly contrasting, metallic, "electric" blue. If blue isn't your color of choice, Antec does offer the choice of red or yellow as options. Without the outer panels the interior looks very Spartan and industrial inside. Antec also stepped outside the box a bit on how the optical drives mount, how the hard drives utilize "Air Mounts", and the modular design that will allow you to orient all the drives in three directions, as well as offering the ability to swap out the power supply from the bottom to the top with just a screw driver, some time and patience. Around the back you will find holes for water cooling along with eight expansion slots. One of these slots allows for a USB 3.0 wire to be passed outside the chassis into the rear I/O so you can access USB 3.0 in the front I/O panel.
The cooling solution included along with the LanBoy Air gives a solid foundation to that naming. In the front you will find two 120mm fans that have blue LEDs and offer a step-less fan control dial on the outside for easy control. In the rear, the LanBoy is exhausted via a 120mm, TwoCool, blue LED fan with a switch in the rear of the chassis. In the door panel Antec places the last two fans; a matching pair of 120mm, TwoCool, blue LED fans with wired switches. On top of these five fans, Antec leaves some of the air cooling for the buyer to customize. There is room in the roof for two 120mm fans, up to six 120mm fans on the sides of the drive bays, and two more can be added to the door to cool the CPU area and memory if you want to.
Just on the chance I could find a few early listings for the LanBoy, I was surprised to see the range of prices on the internet. I saw that they were listing from roughly $150 to the $250 dollar range, so I asked directly as to clear up the confusion. I was told that the MSRP of the LanBoy Air is set at $219.95. While that doesn't make it the most budget friendly chassis on the market, it is one of the coolest looking, easy breathing, customizable setups I have seen in case design. There are three angles to look at this. If you want to have the most attention grabbing chassis on the table at the next LAN event, want to impress your buddies who stop over to your house, or just want to enjoy it all to yourself, I feel the MSRP is right on the money, and the LanBoy Air Blue is a case that will stay in my mind for quite a long time.
The packaging is kept simple with the white background and the bold yellow accent stripe on the right side. This is a great backdrop for the expanded view of the LanBoy Air Blue inside the box. Inside is a blue and black core surrounded by removable parts made of plastic and steel mesh.
Here is the LanBoy Air with the handles up top moved up so that the chassis is very easy to transport.
On the back, Antec goes deeper into their philosophy behind the LanBoy Air. Modularity in the multi-positional drive bays, the incorporated SSD mounts, and the fact that you can swap the positioning of the power supply and the motherboard tray and rear panel. Flexibility, based on the Air mounts, room for 16" of graphics card, and the cool little tool box. Then there is Customizability. Things like USB 3.0, built in handles, and infinite cooling options cover the basics.
The last panel shows the LanBoy Air with arrows denoting that any air flow you can imagine is possible in or out of the chassis.
Sliding the LanBoy Air out of the box, I found it securely packed in high density foam surrounding the chassis with a plastic liner between the two. The LanBoy Air arrived in perfect condition and is proof to the packaging's ability to deliver a superb sample.
The Antec LanBoy Air Blue Mid Tower CaseThe Antec LanBoy Air Blue Mid Tower Case
Getting our first look at the LanBoy, you can see how that "electric" blue "pops" against the front I/O panel, bay covers, and dual front fans. Under the two controllable fans you see a chunky section of plastic at the bottom. Don't forget about this later, as it is the toolbox, and is where you will find the bulk of your mounting hardware.
The front I/O consists of a reset button, power LED, and hard drive LED on the left side. In the middle you will find two USB 2.0 ports, 3.5mm jacks for a microphones and headphones, and a USB 3.0 port. Finishing off the panel is the larger power button on the right side.
The top of the chassis is made from blue structure with black Lexan panels used as the roof. At the bottom of this image is the front of the case with the Antec logo on the top of the front I/O panel. Behind this panel is a large area to offer good access to the front, flip-up handle. After a crossing support bar, there is the second panel that will accept two 120mm fans. At the back of the chassis you will find the second handle.
From the side you can see it is fully covered in black plastic panels with steel mesh inserts to allow all sorts of air flow and ventilation. Both sides are a two part system. The right side has one screw to remove, and you can either swing it out of the way or remove it all together. The larger panel on the left uses thumb screws and the panel simply lifts off the chassis.
The rear of the chassis offers not only the modularity to move the PSU to the top, but it also has some nice features. At the top there is a hole to pass wires through to feed the top fans with power along with the holes for the tubing to keep a water loop looking clean on the outside as well. They do send an I/O shield in the chassis next to the 120mm exhaust fan. Under the fan is where you will find the switch for the fan and the eight expansion slots below that. The bottom slot cover is designed to allow the passage of the USB 3.0 cable outside so it can be plugged into the motherboard.
The back side of the chassis looks exactly like the other side except for the Antec Design logo found in the lower right hand corner.
Under the chassis the floor is ventilated, and I mean Ventilated. On the left there is a thick band of steel for structural support and then an area of venting that supports mounting for two 2.5mm drives. There is another structural section and then a really large area of ventilation that also acts as a way for the power supply to easily draw air through itself. Keeping the LanBoy Air On the table are six rubber feet that offer a sturdy solution to keeping this chassis stable.
Inside The Antec LanBoy Air Blue Mid Tower CaseInside The Antec LanBoy Air Blue Mid Tower Case
The door panel has two 120mm TwoCool Fans already applied to cool the GPU area inside of the LanBoy. In the large section above, you can add another two fans to aid cooling in the CPU and memory area if you would like. The bulk of the panel is made of plastic and has blue bars screwed in to accent the rest of the framing. Covering all three sections is a steel mesh with round holes.
The top of the drive bay section uses these black steel rails to mount the optical drives with a pair of screws on either side. There are no slots or adjustments to be made; the optical drive face sits right against the blue rails on the front. With a bit of work, these rails can be re-oriented to allow the optical drives to face either side panel.
The hard drive area consists of spaced brackets on the four surrounding rails. Near the bottom there is a pair of the "Air Mounts" in place. They can also be stretched in the opposing direction; the choice is up to you.
The motherboard tray has a really large CPU access hole in the top. This tray will support m-ITX, m-ATX, and ATX motherboards. Six of the risers are shipped in place, and a few more can be found in the toolbox. There are also wiring tie points punched into the steel to allow wires to be tied neatly behind it.
Above the motherboard tray in the top of the case is room for either a pair of fans on the outside, or fans and a radiator for water cooling. With the large elongated holes in this, air flow should have no real restrictions in here. There are special screws to use here as well.
Looking inside the rear of the chassis, you can see the ventilated expansion slots are all held in place with screws. Above these is the 120mm exhaust fan with two speeds and blue LEDs.
At the bottom, as the LanBoy comes shipped, the power supply gets placed inside this frame. Removing a thumbscrew from the back of the chassis allows this rack to slide out the back to allow easy installation around the power supply.
The wiring from the front I/O is sufficient to get anywhere you need them to go, but the USB 3.0 wiring is a bit short to route cleanly. The only real option is to route it hanging in the middle of the cassis, or across the top and out the little hole above the exhaust fan. You will also find a USB 2.0 connection and a HD Audio / AC'97 connection. The thinner wires consist of a grounding wire, HDD Activity, Power LED, Power, and Reset wiring.
Behind the motherboard tray you will find 16mm of space to tie up whatever wiring you want to route back here. With the lack of an 8-pin hole at the top mostly the I/O wiring and possibly the 24-pin wiring will be routed here. Antec provides wire management ties applied already along with the punched out loops to keep everything tidy back here.
Accessories and DocumentationAccessories and Documentation
Antec was very good to me and offered a power supply suited better for this open environment. This 750 watt unit has attached lines for all the necessary power lines like the 8-pin, 24-pin, and the Molex and SATA power lines. The rest of the cabling comes in modular form where you are offered more PCI-e power as well as Molex and SATA connections, if you need more of them to finish powering your build.
Removing the thumbscrew in the rear of the chassis, the rack that surrounds and supports the power supply slides right out easily. If you plan to reconfigure the arrangement of the tray and power supply, now would be a good time to grab the directions and a screwdriver.
Along with the two Air Mounts shipped attached to the hard drive racks, the white box you find inside the power supply rack, it contains another ten. So a total of six hard drives can be installed and supported with bungee cord like cabling. This makes it somewhat shock resistant for traveling as well as isolating any vibrations.
The instructions are sent in two sections along with an Antec information paper. The larger section covers everything from how to get inside or find the toolbox, to the optional layout. The smaller section of the instructions covers the USB 3.0 wiring and how it is locked into the expansion slot, as well as showing the fan controls and optional placements. In the bag Antec also includes another set of four wire ties to use wherever you need them.
As I mentioned, Antec sort of hides the mounting hardware in the toolbox, and if you don't notice it at first glance, it can be found on the outside of the front of the chassis at the bottom. Removing two screws and gently pulling on the box allowed it to slide out of the chassis. Inside there are two bags. The one on the left has risers, all sorts of fan screws, and of course drive mounting hardware. The bag on the right contains rubber grommets and screws to mount 2.5" drives into the floor of the LanBoy Air.
The Build and Finished ProductThe Build and Finished Product
Getting everything ready to go, I simply slid the power supply into the rack so we can get it back into the case and get underway.
To install the hard drives you first need to screw the Air Mounts to either side. With the hooks on both ends of the mounts, you simply lock them into the provided brackets in the drive rack assembly.
Readying the front of the LanBoy Air, I had to remove one of the drive bay covers and the lower fan assembly to gain better access to mount the hard drive.
With only one set of holes to mount the optical drive, it leaves it positioned so that the black plastic face of the drive bottoms out against the rail. Once the drive is installed this is what it looks like, as the cover doesn't go back on. If you don't like this look, you can always face the drive to the left or right of this position and leave the drive cover in place.
Not only can the drive be placed with the wiring facing the fans to hide the wiring, but they can be turned 90° left or right as well as 180° from the way it is now. At this point I also slid the toolbox back into place so I don't lose any of the hardware I may need down the line.
I really didn't think the red Foxconn was going to look so hot in here, so I opted to go with my black m-ATX board instead. All of the wiring got where it needed to be with relative ease. With a simple configuration like I use, I was even able to get the radiator of the Vantage inside the drive bays. With all the wire management and the modularity of the PSU, I only had to tuck a couple of wires under the hard drive. The nice thing is that you can pull the side panel and still not see the wiring mess as the front third of the panel can stay closed. If you have a longer GPU with a bit of careful positioning, it will allow for a card up to 16" in length to be squeezed in between the hard drive rails.
Behind the scenes I was able to tie up the loose ends and easily replace the panels. Wiring is a bit tough inside here because of all the mesh. This makes most of it very visible. With a bit of time and quite a few zip ties, I was able to achieve satisfactory results.
All ready to go, except I don't have the power wire connected. With the industrial styling of the LanBoy Air, the exposed optical drive actually fits with the theme.
Once power is applied the LanBoy comes to life with a brilliant blue glow. The front two fans are speed controllable, but as I turned the dial, I noticed little drop in intensity until I got very close to the slowest speed.
With all five fans emanating blue light, the entire inside is flooded in it. In the light the color matches the blue of the framework very well. At night you have a nice source for a blue glow in your room.
Final ThoughtsFinal Thoughts
I don't even know where to really start here. I am really overwhelmed at the thought and engineering involved with delivering the LanBoy Air to the market. Offering it in three color choices of red, yellow, and the blue version we just looked at, Antec covers their basis and makes sure you can get one more suited to your personal taste if this sexy "electric" blue isn't the color for you. Moving past the basic structure, there is the modularity and customizability to look at. If the case is to your side on a desk and you don't want to reach around to the front to drop in your favorite game DVD, you don't have to; just turn the drive to the side you want, and use the smaller door for access on the sides. Same goes for the hard drives. Whichever way looks best or offers the cleanest wiring is easy to do. With the Air Mounts, they are securely mounted with a lot of "wiggle" to them. So if this is your next LAN case, traveling vibrations will be minimized as well as isolating the drives from the chassis during operation.
The provided cooling is more than adequate. The five 120mm blue LED fans they supply deliver plenty of flow inside the case. Surprisingly, with all of the fans running with the highest settings, it wasn't as loud as say the DK-85 or the 900 series cases. Going beyond the included equipment, there is room for a total of fifteen 120mm fans inside the LanBoy Air, and that to me is not only a huge benefit to cooling, but already is inspiring water cooling ideas with the radiator inside the chassis, versus outside on the top. The combination of some well placed fans and the fact that there is no real "panels" to trap in heat due to the use of mesh as a replacement, the LanBoy Air Blue is aptly named on both fronts.
I'm not counting on some of the lowball pricing that I am seeing as I write this for most of the e-tailers showing a listing. With word coming directly from my Media Coordinator, I have to believe that those priced at or above the $219.95 MSRP that Antec has placed to be more the reality. As you are reading this, LanBoy Airs will be uncrated and sitting on shelves awaiting purchases of quite a few people I expect. From the moment I opened the box I was drawn to the LanBoy Air, and looking through the images I like it even more; and I'm pretty sure I will see it again in my dreams tonight as I ponder over all the possibilities Antec offers in the LanBoy Air Blue mid tower chassis. Even with a price over $200 US dollars this is the most uniquely designed, throughout, as well as offering you something in an exterior design that you just don't see every day. Whether red, yellow, or my favorite, the blue, you can't lose. If I didn't already have one, I would pick one of these up for myself to toy with all the possibilities.
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