This Lanbox has a distinctive look with its black finish and brushed aluminum front along with the half-moon intake vent and massive carry handle. I really like the recessed button/LED panel with its matte finish. It contrasts nicely with the brushed finish of the front panel and the chrome buttons. The black perforated grille provides air intake for the 92mm intake fan as well as letting out a bit of light from the blue LEDs. The front panel connectors are the standard fare FireWire, twin USB and audio ports, but no eSATA functionality is provided. Just above these is a spot for a floppy drive, or you can use the space for one of the other cool features of the Lanbox. You'll have to be patient for a bit to see what I'm talking about, though.
Up front, Thermaltake has included two flip-down doors for optical drives. I really like these things, when they work well, as there is no need to worry about what color the drives are to have a uniform front panel appearance. You can install two optical drives or the top bay can accommodate an optional motorized retractable 7-inch LCD touch screen monitor. Sadly, I wasn't provided with one for this review, but you can take a look at it HERE . If you can find one of these for sale, it'll cost you almost $400US.
Up top, we have the cast aluminum handle. It has a gray hammered finish that looks good against the black finish on the case as well as the brushed aluminum front panel. It has a very nice hand feel and is securely attached to the top using straps and through bolts. Ventilation holes in the top are just one of the many cooling features we'll see on the Lanbox.
Around back, the most noticeable thing is an abundance of thumbscrews. Eleven of ‘em, to be exact. They essentially hold the Lanbox together and will all have to be removed, along with a few more, before we're done. The manual does a surprisingly good job of illustrating the steps necessary to get the Lanbox apart and the user should read it through carefully. This is no ordinary case and care must be taken when working with it. Ventilation holes are everywhere; even the expansion slot covers are louvered to facilitate air circulation.
Both of the clear acrylic side windows have a venting feature that appears to be cast into the window panels. The window edges are relieved to sit flush with the panel and the windows are secured with color matched plastic rivets.
PRODUCT INSTALLATION AND TESTING
Given the fact that this case and the previously reviewed Lanbox case are virtually identical on the inside (with the exception of this one being steel, of course) we won't be doing a complete install in this black Lanbox. What you'll see in this section will be the hardware going into the aluminum version, but rest assured, the cases are identical inside.
By its very nature, a case like the Lanbox requires design elements that are very different from other, more conventional chassis'. As I've mentioned before, the manual is quite good and one should become very familiar with it before attempting to do an install in the Lanbox.
I've chosen the following components to install for this review:
-Biostar Tforce6100-939 motherboard
-AMD Athlon 64 3700+ San Diego 2.2GHz CPU (AMD heatpipe cooler)
-GSkill F1-4400DSU2-1GBFC (512mb X 2) memory
-eVGA 7900 GS KO graphics card with OEM cooler
-Thermaltake Toughpower 750W Cable Management PSU
-Western Digital WD800 SATA hard drive
-Western Digital Raptor X WD1500AHFD
-Lite-On DVDRW optical drive
The first order of business is to get the drives installed.