In this Antec Lanboy Air PC case review, I’ll cover what my perception of the case was (before I ordered it) and what my actual experience is. It is fair to say that the first thing that catches the eye is its very particular design, and the modularity claim. The Open Air design and its skeleton structure makes it look like the ideal PC case for the enthusiast who likes to build powerful computers that are adequately cooled. But beyond the aesthetics, how did the Antec Lanboy Air perform in the real world? I’ll tell you what worked for me, and what didn’t. Are you ready to take on the Antec Lanboy? Let’s build a PC!
The idea behind the Antec Lanboy Air was to build a PC case that has the benefits of “open air”, without the messy look of having the guts of the PC visibly exposed. As its name indicates, air can flow freely from in and out of the case, which is built with a main skeleton (red-colored tubes) and then covered with a mesh (black parts).
The case is relatively big, and it can fit 3-Way GPU configuration if you want to, so it should be able to accommodate a very good gaming configuration with oversized graphics power and one powerful CPU along with plenty of memory (8 DIMMs here).
At the top, there are two plastic handles that let you lift the computer if you want to move it around (hence the “Lanboy” name). I used them to move this 7500g (or 16.5lbs) computer around. The 4 connecting points should be able to endure that weight without much trouble. But still, I felt a bit queasy when I was walking up and down stairs wearing flip-flops with 17lbs of metal not far from my toes. I would have preferred metal – it may not be “necessary”, but I would feel better about the handles.
Motherboard and Power Supply (PSU)
Inside, there is ample room for the motherboard, although I cheated a bit by using a liquid cooling solution which is much less bulky than the typical big heat sink (there are small ones too). I wanted to see what the Intel liquid cooling would look like in a case, so I stayed clear of having a gigantic heat sink on the CPU. Let me tell you that as long as I can afford it, I’m not going back to the big heat sink.
Why? Put simply: less space, less noise. It’s true that a liquid cooling setup like this costs $100, but on the other hand, a good heat sink costs $50. However, the advantages of the liquid cooling system are appreciable: the CPU is cooler, and the fan rotates only at 800rpm, which is very slow, and very quiet.
In terms of space, I felt very comfortable, except when dealing with the motherboard SATA connectors: that is the only part of the motherboard that can still fee cramped once everything is in.
At the bottom, the power supply unit can be installed with the fan up or down as the bottom of the case is a mesh, so there’s a very good air intake. You *may* also be able to configure the case to install the PSU at the top, but I have not tried it, so I can’t guarantee that it works.
Cooling and noise level
Overall, the cooling works well, and although this case can accommodate up to 15 fans, I have chosen to use only two in the whole system, and none on the case itself. I have one for the liquid cooling heat-sink, and one in the power supply. There’s another one on the graphics card, but it us OFF most of the time. I found these fans to be largely sufficient, and even if the CPU is under heavy load for an extended period of time (100% utilization for 60mn), the temperature never goes above 68 degrees Celsius, which is well below the maximum specifications of the chip (a 2nd Gen Core i7 Extreme with 6 cores at 3.8GHz).
Although I removed all the original fans from the case, I loved the fact that they all came with an RPM regulator that was well integrated in the case design. Removing the switches required a screwdriver, but it was easy. With only two 120mm fans (800rpm and 1000rpm), this computer is incredibly quiet. I couldn’t be happier with the compute-power/decibel ratio.
If you have a much “hotter” system, you may require more fans, and If that’s the case, I’m not sure that an open-air design actually helps because it is very hard to direct and control the airflow in this system, and this photo of the cardboard box (above) ironically conveys the idea… it’s a mess.
For that reason I suspect that this may not be the most efficient design if you truly need heavy active air cooling. If anything, I would suggest opting for a solution in which you tightly control the airflow to the various sources of heat: 1/hard drives 1/GPU 3/Power Supply 4/CPU. The last thing that you want to do is to blow hot air from one component onto the other.
At the front, there are a theoretical 11 drive bays, if you include a space at the bottom for 2 SSDs that you screw directly to the bottom mesh. I couldn’t really do that because the plastic SSD grommets were missing from the case (!), but even if I had them, I question the practicality of that setup because the cables tend to bump a nearby section of the case’s skeleton.
However, this particular PC uses “only” 4 drives (2x SSD, 1x HDD, 1x Optical), so there were no real problems in terms of internal space. In theory, it is possible to orient the drives so that the SATA and power connectors face in any direction, but in practice the SATA and power cables may become an issue when trying to have the drives placed perpendicularly to the case. Here, it was not a real problem as the 2.5” drives are all fairly short, but 3.5” drives may prove to be more difficult to use on that 90 degree angle. A possible workaround is to tilt them by 45 degrees upwards…
Once everything has been put in place, you’ll realize that cable management was not so easy (or not so clean). I did not go out of my way to hide cables, but even if I wanted to, the lack of room in the back of the motherboard makes it impossible to sneak cables behind because there is not much space between the motherboard plate and the mesh enclosure. Antec should change the design slightly to accommodate hiding cables on the side.
I bought this case for two reasons: the inside space and the look. From the start, I figured that I wanted to have a case design that would let me use natural heat convection and a minimalistic active cooling system. I think that I could even use a fan-less PSU, but I don’t think that the extra quietness is worth the high price for those.
Although not perfect, the case performs admirably well and I liked the comfort that the open air design provided during the assembly of the various components. This configuration is not wimpy, but the case can support up to 3-way GPUs, for fortunate gamers.
I hope that this review helped you understand what the Antec Lanboy Air is about and how it performs in the real world. If there is something that I have not covered, drop a comment, and I’ll try to address it as soon as I can. Thanks for checking this out!