Thermaltake LANBOX - VF1000BWS
Once assembly is complete, the unit is ready to power up. While difficult to catch with a digital camera, the LANBOX emits a cool blue glow that is visible under the CD-ROM tray as well as from the side panels of the system. Once powered on, it was immediately noticeable how quiet this unit truly is. Yes, the fans could be heard, but overall, this case was very quiet and would be right at home in a LAN party or in the middle of a home entertainment set up as a media center system.
One final point that needs to be stressed is just how delicate the aluminum finish is on the front of the case. When looking at the larger view of the left-most image, scratches can be seen on the vertical drive blank on the front left of the case. This occurred when removing the drive cage for assembly, even though we were being very careful. Considering that this unit is designed to be portable, one has to question whether a brushed aluminum finish was the right choice.
The Thermaltake LANBOX VF1000BWS gaming cube is an impressive small form factor PC enclosure. Yes, it does suffer from a few seemingly obvious issues, such as the awkward placement of the fan filter, numerous screws and the delicate aluminum finish, but its positives far outweigh the negatives. The case is very well constructed and has a solid feel. The overall component layout and Thermaltake's approach to the disassembly and reassembly of the unit was efficient and generally well thought out. Such features as the vertical hard drive bay for maximum visibility and room for no less than three hard drives is key. Often times micro ATX cases lack room for added storage or a second drive for RAID purposes, but that is not the case with the LANBOX VF1000BWS. Now you can have RAID and even have room left over for an additional drive for extra storage.
We were also impressed with how quiet the unit's fans were along with the overall design that encouraged maximum airflow. We've tested other systems whose fans sounded like a hair drier on high and this is far from the case with the Thermaltake VF1000BWS. We should note that for those who are looking to overclock their CPU, careful planning will be required when selecting an after market CPU cooler as headroom is limited in a case of this size. Once a proper CPU fan is selected, the overall case cooling should be quite adequate at keeping temperatures in check, however.
Pricing of the LANBOX isn't too bad either. The unit we looked at weighs in at around $120, but models with no handle and solid metal side panels can be had for around $100. All in all, not a bad price to pay for a quiet SFF case, that can support a wide variety of standard hardware, and accommodate multiple hard drives. And let's not forget, if you can add a cool $325 to your budget, the VF1000BWS can be outfitted with a 7" LCD touch screen too.