Thermaltake LANMOTO - IntroductionIntroduction
For the past couple years, Thermaltake has been putting out their Xaser case line. They have always tended to be feature rich and have many innovative additions to make life easier for you or to make it look better. But lets be honest, those things are huge and even the thought of installing a system in one and take it to a local LAN leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Unless you happen to be a professional body builder, the workout from lugging the behemoth alone could put you in the hospital.Yes, a bit of an exaggeration but if you've experienced one of the Xaser cases, you realize the chatter above isn't too far off the mark. They really are that big and bulky.So what to do? How about creating a new line of enclosures with the avid gamer in mind? It would have to be lightweight and portable but still include some of those sweet features that have made the Xaser a success.Enter the LANMOTO. We'll dig into the case and see if Thermaltake has managed to come up with another winner, but this time aiming their sights at the gaming community.
Thermaltake LANMOTO - ExteriorThe Exterior
Beginning with the front, we see a design scheme that nearly mirrors the larger Xaser enclosures. Though not nearly as large (the LANMOTO comes in at 495mm x 210mm x 478mm), the overall look is very similar. The primary material used is aluminum instead of steel so you can really feel the difference when it comes time to lug your system out the door. Without power supply, this case weighs in at only 5 kilograms (11 pounds).The front door uses the same double-duty feature as the big brother. A key is included that allows you to lock the entire front door portion of the case, allow opening of the outer door or allow opening of the entire front bezel giving access to the drive bay mounts and front fan filter.
Looking inside we see a pretty standard setup as far as drive bay availability is concerned. There are a total of four optical drive bays, but one is already taken by the Cano unit that is so well known by Thermaltake customers. This leaves openings for three additional optical drives and a pair of 3.5" devices. Whether you're using a floppy drive or just have a couple of 3.5" rheostats, you'll likely find room for all essential components of your gaming rig.
Speaking of the Cano unit, the included variety in this case includes two fan controllers, a single Firewire port, two USB 2.0 ports and the usual LCD display for monitoring temperature with the included thermal probe. It also has an audible alarm and red backlighting in the event the monitored temperature goes too high. Given the action that usually occurs at a LAN party, this can be a nice feature for protecting your rig.
Moving down the front we see the reason for the naming of this enclosure. The three motorcycles are an EL effect that individually lights up each individual motorcycle in order, then lights them all for a moment before beginning the cycle again. I would prefer this to be an option and not mandatory, but at least there is a switch on the inverter inside the enclosure that allows you to turn it off.
Finishing off with the front side we can see that the folks at Thermaltake have been listening to enthusiasts over the years. The front fan used is a monster 120mm type and the included washable filter is an excellent addition. It covers the entire fan area and is easily removed for those necessary cleanings.
Thermaltake LANMOTO - Exterior Continued
Moving along to the side panel of the enclosure shows us a windowed view of the interior. The fan used in the window is a 90mm variety that also includes a filtering device. Though not easily removed, it was at least included into the design and can be either brushed off or taken out by removing the entire fan assembly.You'll also notice the window is very large. For gamers, who are usually hardcore enthusiasts anyway, this can be an easy way to show of the internals of your pride and joy. It would be hard to hide anything
inside this case, except for the lighting effect of the Thermaltake Butterfly power supply. Yep, that top latch on the panel covers a good deal of the fancy lighting of that particular PSU. This was a bit surprising considering they were made by the same company.
The back of the enclosure shows nothing out of the ordinary. The rear back plate can be replaced by removing the two screws securing it into place. The hole is industry standard size and you can use any special back plate that came with your motherboard.Cooling for the rear of the unit consists of a single 120mm fan instead of the usual pair of 80mm types. This will allow for about the same amount of airflow without the high noise levels. This fan is also a lighted type that gives a subtle blue lighting to the interior of the system. You can replace it with another color of your choice, of course, but getting away from the harsh lighting that has been becoming popular lately is a nice change of pace.
Oh, you noticed that cable coming through the back? That is where you connect the Firewire port from the front Cano unit. The cable has an included PCI slot cover that can be moved to any of the ports on the rear of the case. The cable is long enough to handle the task and will simply hook into a Firewire port on the back of the motherboard. If you don't happen to have a motherboard that allows the use of Firewire devices, you can take out the PCI cover plate and roll the wiring up into the inset of the Cano unit. Simple enough.
Thermaltake LANMOTO - InteriorThe Interior
In our tour of the internals, we'll start off with the optical drive bays since they're at the top. Though nothing unusual here, the fact that there are guide tabs along the bottom of each drive bay is an interesting touch. Though not as important since this case uses a rail system for optical devices, it is good to see someone cares about ease of installation.The front cover plates are also a nice touch. They can be taken off by removing a couple of screws and then replaced when not in use. This is handy since it helps keep excess dirt out of the system when properly covered.
As above, the floppy bays are set up in much the same manner, but without the rail system in place. Both of these bays are externally accessible so you'll be set if you like to run fan controllers in the 3.5" slots.
Moving to the hard drive tower shows us space for five drives! This is perfect for those who like to run a single drive for the system and a RAID for storage of those *cough* downloadable tidbits of data *cough*
that sometimes happens at your LAN party. To keep things nice and cool in the hard drive tower, you'll see the large 120mm fan sitting squarely in front of the bays. This will provide active cooling to the drives without having to resort to separate cooling methods.
And here we go with tool-free PCI installation...Round 2.For those who have seen previous reviews of the Xaser series case, you'll probably recall that the tool-free attempt at PCI card installations were a lost cause. While the system worked fine for short cards, this pretty much left out their use for most video boards and sound cards, which both tend to stand a bit higher than normal due to the extra chips and memory required.Today's offering looks to be a bit better as it doesn't require the PCI clip to move sideways across the card being installed. We'll take a peek at its effectiveness in a bit, but it is nice that the comments made were heeded.
Thermaltake LANMOTO - Installation NotesInstallation Notes
While not a completely tool-free process, Thermaltake has done a fair amount of work to make the use of tools minimal. One example of this is the removable drive bays. Both the FDD and HDD bays can be easily removed from the enclosure to allow easy installation of drives and components.The FDD bay is removed by simply pulling back the top handle. The HDD tower comes out as a complete unit by unscrewing a thumbscrew at the base and pulling down on the lower handle pictured above. This makes it unnecessary to remove the far side cover to get at the back screws holding in your drives.
Installation of hard drives has never been a real pain, but the LANMOTO wants to make it even easier. After removing the HDD tower from the box, you simply secure the drive in place with thumbscrews. Not only that, each hard drive bay has rubber grommets mounted to take care of the extra noise caused by the vibration of the drive when it spins up.Thumbscrews are certainly a nice touch, but we're not finished with them yet...
Those very same thumbscrews used to install hard drives are also used to mount the motherboard! They fit the standoffs perfectly and kept the motherboard firmly in place.
We talked a bit ago about the new PCI retention system. It is a simple method where the plastic clip is moved upward to allow access to a slot and then moved down again once the peripheral is in place. So how did it work?
Perfectly! Even with tall boards, the clip handled the job well. This very board was used to test out the Xaser series enclosures and I broke one clip to try to make it work and ended up using a screw to fasten it in a more conventional manner. With the new clip design used in the LANMOTO, I was able to install the board simply and effectively.
Thermaltake LANMOTO - ConclusionConclusion
Since the Thermaltake Xaser series case hit the market, there have been a lot of folks looking into them. Good looks, many features and plenty of room have been the main reasons I've heard from those interested. But while these are all good things to have in an enclosure, it just wasn't suitable for the avid gamer.The LANMOTO was the next logical step and it was made with both style and features in mind. Overall we seem to have a very workable solution for the LAN goers that doesn't give up the on the features we've come to expect in modern cases.Street prices are not available yet for this model, but the Thermaltake line generally tends to be a bit higher than other similar products. Of course, with all the extra features included, I have yet to find them to be too high priced for what you get.Bottom line... If you've been looking at the Xaser line of case design but just didn't like the thought of lugging that monster around, then allow me to introduce you to the LANMOTO series. It offers the same stylish look, has a lot of useful features, and comes in at a weight that won't put you in the hospital when you lift it.- Pros
Aluminum constructionLarge fans for reduced noiseSimple to use Cano unitNear tool-free installationPCI retention finally worksFive HDD bays- Cons
Side fan filter hard to accessUpper side latch hides PSU lightingMoto EL on front panel comes standardRating - 8 out of 10