I had to look back at the last time I received something from LanCool. I knew I looked at the PC-K62 a while ago, but upon further looking I just realized it was in September, of 2009! - Things have been busy for LanCool, and as I look over their site again I see that a lot has changed. Not only were there additions to the Dragon Lord series of the K-62, but new series' of chassis designs have been introduced. I am speaking of the First Knight Series, of which we got our newest arrival to my desk.
What the basic idea is with LanCool, is to take all the good things out of the much more expensive Lian Li lineups, and with the use of steel over aluminum and plastic around the outside, LanCool has brought high dollar concepts to the masses at a really reasonable price. Things like using 140mm fans to cool the chassis, tons of dust filters, tool-free mechanisms and modularity much like Lian Li offers. This specific LanCool packs a few things into the chassis that I haven't seen done like this, but I will save those for later. I have to hold something back to keep you interested!
Currently the First Knight Series has five entries. There are windowed and non-windowed versions of both the PC-K59 and the PC-K 57. The former is a version of the chassis we are going to be looking at today, the second has a more "Transformer" looking bezel. Those four plus the PC-K63 which we are about to have a look at round out the five designs in the First Knight series. Since I have only had one other LanCool chassis to date, I really am not too versed on what is typical from them just yet, but I am fully aware of what mid towers are offering, and I have had enough Lian Li chassis' to spot the similarities and key features brought over from them. Let's have a look at what kind of blend of features LanCool has delivered this time.
Specifications, Availability and PricingSpecifications, Availability and Pricing
As with most of the LanCool lineup, the PC-K63 is made of steel. There is a fair bit of plastic on the outside giving this chassis fins down the front, similar to that of an old Chevy. The way these fins curve into the top of the chassis, it gives the chassis a "leaning forward" appearance. The bulk of the roof is taken up by the large ventilated area covered with louvers, and is backed by a pair of 140mm fans pushing hot air out of the top. Moving down the front of the chassis there is a smooth curved transition from the top and right away offers you three optical bay drives with brushed steel covers. At the bottom you will find another large area; this time it's covered in mesh and allows for the pair of blue LED, 140mm fans to glow through the front of the chassis. The left side panel of the PC-K63 has a large window which carries the same angle of the front of the chassis in the right edge of the window. The right side panel is very plain, and both panels are also made of steel.
Inside the chassis there is a lot to cover. I already mentioned the optical bays, but I didn't mention that two of the three use a tool-free mechanism to secure devices here. The bottom of the front is taken up by a pair of hard drive racks that can hold three 3.5" drives, and depending on the configuration, you can hold two SSDs without any adapters. Like a few of the cases we have seen before, this LanCool also allows for the complete removal of both drive cages. With these racks in place you will have 285mm for the expansion cards, without it you have an astounding 415mm to pack cards into! The motherboard tray is a partial tray, as it doesn't go all the way across the back of the case. This usually means you need to get very creative to hide wires, not with the PC-K63, LanCool has that covered as you will soon see. The rear of the chassis allows for water cooling, houses a 140mm exhaust fan, and a tool-less mechanism for locking in cards or covers in the eight expansion slots.
I know I may have forgotten to cover a few things, but I hope the images and what I have to say in the rest of the review will cover every angle of the LanCool Pc-K63 from the First Knight Series. I already mentioned that both the Series and specifically this chassis are brand new to the market. That being said, the supply I found on Google shopping was a bit limited. Right now I can only find nine e-tailers showing current stock. You might think, this case is going to be hard to track down, and that isn't so. While pricing wavered a little bit between stores, they all came in around $125 averagely. Some shops want shipping too, while others do not. Our favorite place to link to is right on the mark with pricing set at $129.99 at Newegg.com, and that is with free shipping as I type this. A bit pricier than two of the three mid towers we just looked at, so why should you lean to LanCool? I hope when I am done you will see what I do, and that is that the PC-K63 packs in a full set of features and is delivering it at a really good price!
The PC-K63 comes in this bright red packaging with an image of the chassis alongside a medieval looking banner displaying the First Knight Series, a new generation PC case.
The side panel shows an open shot into the chassis and shows the measurements for expansion cards with and without the hard drive racks in place. Under this you will find a full list of the specifications.
The back has all of the same information as the front did. Here I will cover the nine feature windows at the bottom. They cover the drives tool-less features, the I/O, water cooling capability to cover just to name a few.
If it wasn't for the large "Hampton USA" sticker you would be looking at an exact copy of the other side panel.
LanCool used thick Styrofoam to cap the top and bottom of the chassis for shipping. You are looking at the rear of the chassis and you can see LanCool has slid the paperwork inside the plastic liner here.
The LanCool First Knight PC-K63 Mid Tower CaseThe LanCool First Knight PC-K63 Mid Tower Case
From the front the PC-K63 has an unusual shape around the optical drive bays and the vented area at the bottom; the shape reminds me of a bowling pin cut off at the painted crown. Even so, from this angle I like what's going on so far.
The top of the chassis houses the I/O and a large area for the pair of 140mm fans under this to blow through the eight louvers.
Going from left to right, you have an e-SATA, USB 3.0, USB 2.0 connections, audio jacks, and the reset and power buttons to finish it off.
Looking at the left of the PC-K63, you first notice the window; at least I did. The shape of the right edge makes your eyes move to the profile of the chassis which has the appearance of the top leaning forward. This is an illusion that allowed enough room for the fans under the top and to house the I/O while keeping just what is needed in materials near the bottom.
The rear of the chassis has a pretty standard bottom mounting PSU layout. The 140mm LED fan that can slide out is placed over a pair of water tubing holes. Moving down, you run into the eight expansion slots with ventilated covers and next to it the chassis is not ventilated. They do, however, add a bit of venting to the right of the power supply.
The right side panel is plain black steel and has a pair of thumbscrews just like the other panel for removal.
Under the chassis you can see it gets supported with large rubber feet. In the rear of the chassis there are more louvers to allow the PSU to breathe, and there is even this clip-in duct filter. If you look hard enough, you can see the pair of black 140mm fans in the top.
Inside the LanCool First Knight PC-K63 Mid Tower CaseInside the LanCool First Knight PC-K63 Mid tower Case
Once both panels are removed we get a really good look inside the PC-K63. You will find the large white box zip tied to the hard drive bays that are full of extra hardware. It also appears there is wiring near the floor coming out of nowhere, but more on that in a bit.
In the front you can see that only two of the three optical bays come with a tool-less mechanism for mounting devices. The rest of the area behind the fans is taken up with two hard drive racks that can hold three drives each.
Did I mention these are removable? You can install both, the top one, the bottom one, or none at all; it's up to you to decide.
The motherboard tray is separated from both the drive bay area and the floor of the chassis. While it does tend to offer more wiring freedom, a tidy appearance usually isn't all that possible. LanCool has a trick for that! The tray itself has risers already installed for an ATX motherboard, has a large access hole, and four places to tie up loose wiring.
In the back there is the clear 140mm fan and the eight expansion slots. I like that the tool-less mechanism from most Lian Li chassis' has made it over to this case.
Behind the tray we can finally see LanCool's wiring trick. While I have seen similar locks that this system uses, they were typically tabbed where they were needed. Here all the wires get routed into the channel, and via notches on both sides you can adjust where the wiring comes out.
Wiring here covers connections for power and all that, USB 2.0 and HD audio that connect to the motherboard. There is also a really short USB 3.0 cable and all of the case fans are 3-pins with Molex adapters installed for power.
Accessories and DocumentationAccessories and Documentation
Breaking up the hardware a bit so I can cover it better, I grouped all of the hard drive isolating rubber washers. You may notice there are two different sizes; the larger ones are for 2.5" drives while the smaller ones are for 3.5" drives. Above the washers you get an assortment of zip ties and the motherboard speaker in the bottom of the image.
The bulk of the screws come shipped in separated, sealed bags. The 3.5" hard drives get installed with the screws in the top right package. Moving clockwise, the 2.5" drives use these screws, and there are a few smaller screws found in here as well. Moving on, we have the bag with the power supply and optical drive screws. The last bag contains two lengths of thumbscrews to mount the motherboard to the risers in the tray.
Also included is this power supply lockdown device. I remember the PC-K62 I did had this, and it does a great job of being sure the power supply isn't going to go anywhere anytime soon when it gets locked into the chassis.
The installation guide is full of information in the form of both pictures and text. It's a good thing I didn't have to refer to this much at all during the build, or I would have had to get out my magnifying glass, as the included information is small and hard to read.
Along with the typical stuff, LanCool also sends a product sheet that shows all the optional equipment for all chassis designs and offers cables, locks and all sorts of goodies you might want to buy.
The Build and Finished ProductThe Build and Finished Product
Getting ready to install the drives as I usually do this first, I removed the front bezel to gain access to the bay covers. I found that the bay covers are shipped held in by pressure really. You can add screws to secure the covers if you wish. I also found that both of the 140mm blue LED fans have their own dust covers that clip into place behind the bezel.
Since there are no wires attached to the bezel, once I removed the bay cover and installed the drive, the cover snapped right back in place and leaves you with this to look at from the front.
With everything in place, the features of the PC-K63 make themselves known. The open design with the wire management channel makes for a very clean wiring of the interior. I removed the middle hard drive rack to allow for better airflow, and it gave me the ability to mount a 2.5" drive to the top of the cage that is left. If you plan to go mobile with this chassis, the lock for the power supply will keep it securely in place. Since the USB 3.0 cable is so short I had no option but to cut across the middle of the board and use a water cooling hole to get to the rear I/O.
The window is placed really well and offers a view of all the hardware. The angle of the window I get follows the design of the front, but the angled side offers more view of the drives and rack components, something I'd rather not see.
I was able to connect the USB 3.0 cable, but just! - I really think that LanCool needs to look into this. Aside from that the rear of the case fills out nicely and both the lock on the PSU and the expansion card is very secure once locked down.
With a couple of wire ties to power the fans, and simply running the 24-pin straight from the PSU to the motherboard, the channel in this chassis took all the wiring I had and gobbled it up. Once the wiring was in the right places you just need to lock all the clips to keep it secure.
Turning the lights down as I powered up the PC-K63, the front glows with the flood of blue LED lighting. The slit at the top is always on as is the pair of 140mm fan LEDs. While the lighting is bright, I like the way this looks in action.
Moving around to the side, the window not only gives a great view into the chassis, the glow of the rear fans LEDs floods over the hardware and again floods the table with light through the window. This chassis aside from its material choices really reminds me of a full on Lian Li.
Final ThoughtsFinal Thoughts
At first I wasn't really sure of the PC-K63 just by looking at the exterior under the bright lights of my photo booth. The plastic of the exterior looks aggressive with the "lean" it appears to have, yet how they did it leaves the chassis with a simple, sleek and overall sharp looking design once I added some power and saw the chassis' full potential in appearance. Once I got past my own issues aesthetically I took all of what the interior has to offer into context and it completely sold me on the chassis.
There is a whole checklist of things that most chassis' offer these days. Dust covers, a complete inside and out paint job, great air flow, modular hard drive bays, even USB 3.0. What sets this chassis apart in my mind is that it kept the Lian Li, beefy, expansion card locks, the power supply lock, and the really ingenious yet simple way LanCool took on wire management. After the assembly I was really left with a slick looking build both inside and out, and still am very pleased with the results.
The real bonus I see here is that you are getting as close to a Lian Li with steel mid towers as you can with this PC-K63. Most of the features are here that I see in the high end Lian Li lineup. If a full aluminum tower isn't your cup of tea, but you still like what the designs offer, this LanCool is the perfect compromise. What just adds a bright red cherry to this sundae; the amazing price for what you get. While we did just look at a couple of cases under the $100 mark, the LanCool beats them hands down. With the pricing I found at Newegg.com of $129.99 and no additional shipping charges, the First Knight PCK-63 from LanCool has sold me, and I hope you can see that this should be a serious contender for your mid tower build.
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