Conceptual innovations in the area of compact system cases for the PC are rather rare. Such systems are usually shipped ready-made, with a preinstalled mainboard and a unique cooling solution. It stands to reason since non-standard components have to be used to minimize the size of the resulting system. The pros and cons of this approach can be argued but there is really only one conclusion: off-the-shelf barebone kits shipped with a mainboard of a unique form-factor are hardly suitable for further modernization. This is normal for corporate environments where the PC fleet is not upgraded but just updated wholesale after a certain time interval that often depends on the lifecycle of software the corporation uses.
What is normal for the office may not be suitable at home, though. The main limitation is the impossibility of further upgrade. As long as the system requirements of modern games are increasing to the next level once every six months or even sooner, a barebone kit designed for only one platform does not seem an appealing option. That’s where other machines step on the scene. They are not barebone kits proper, but mini PCs. The recipe of making one is simple: it must be a small system case for a mATX mainboard, with bays for at least one optical drive and a couple of hard disk drives, and with a full-size power supply. The opportunity to install a full-size graphics card is an obligatory requirement, too. It’s simple with CPUs today. Even well-overclocked models from the Core 2 Duo series do not need high-performance cooling systems, which gives more freedom to developers of compact system cases.
Well, this is just a set of basic characteristics any desktop mini-tower PC has. It is not enough to provoke an interest in a home user. An attractive exterior design is necessary at the very least, and also something that an ordinary PC case lacks.
Thermaltake’s engineers must have thought long over the target audience of the developed product and hit the mark well. Generally speaking, why do you need a compact system case that permits to use full-size hardware? Not to save space because such systems have a smaller height, but at least the same or bigger footprint on the desk as a classic desktop PC. So, such system cases will be most interesting for those people who often change their place of residence or have to carry the PC with them for some reason. Thermaltake found one such reason which is reflected in the product name. Yes, the Lanbox is advertised as suitable for LAN parties, yet it can appeal to other user categories as well. Let’s check out what are these categories by examining the product itself.
The system case comes in a pretty-looking colorful box:
There’s more than enough information on it. Besides a photo of the product, there is a kind of an assembly guide on the back side of the box along with a description of the capabilities and functions of the case: