Manufacturer:Lancool PC UK Price (as reviewed): TBA US Price (as reviewed): TBA
I’ve been known to take the mick out of case designers before, often edging towards what some might consider "unprofessionalism" with my teasing over what I think are stupidly named cases like the Apevia X-Telstar Junior.
Now though, with this case, I get the feeling that the case designers are teasing me. Why else would you call your carefully designed hardware house a Metal Boned K7?
A little investigation though reveals that the folks at Lancool might not actually be trying to tease me with stupidly named cases – they may have just got something a little lost in translation. That would certainly explain some of the Engrish which pops up on the case packaging and in the instruction leaflet.
Handel with care. Craft in high standard workmanship. Slide the back panel back word. This kind of hilarious wording litters the case, hardly inspiring confidence in the design and construction, and yet…at the same time the Metal Boned K7 seems remarkably well designed and excellently put together, which is hardly surprising when you realise that Lancool is a sub-brand of the highly regarded Lian-Li.
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With this combination of confusion and reputation behind it then, we’re hoping that the Metal Boned K7 may turn out to be something just a little bit special – functional, beautiful and useful, even if it is poorly explained…
From the outside, the Metal Boned K7 doesn’t look all that remarkable at first. However, if you think about it then that’s actually quite remarkable in and of itself and in a world where cases have ugly, built-in LCD panels and live among us as peers, it’s actually the plain cases which stand out as being all the more unusual. Thankfully Lian-Li has stuck to its guns and kept the traditional styling that has made it so popular, even under the new "Gaming" brand name of Lancool.
Perhaps best described as ‘functional’, the Metal Boned K7 has an outer shell of brushed aluminium (something Lian-Li is famous for) and is coloured in shiny, though not glossy anodised black. Because the case is designed for portability and for use at LAN parties, Lancool has gone the route of the blank canvas, offering a lightweight construction with plenty of surfaces for modders to take their dremels to.
The bezel of the case is the main exception to this and a large section of it is perforated for ventilation purposes – though from the outside you won’t be able to see the fans (unless lit) thanks to a swanky filtering system, but more on that in a bit.
Framing these ventilation holes is a large ‘U’ shaped cut that allows let more airflow while also lending the case a little bit of its own style, if you find you don’t want to cover the entire box in loud stickers and neon lights.
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To some, the plain black exterior may be a downside, but that’s not how we see it. The simple fact of the matter is that if you did want a case that was designed to look massive and in-yer-face then you’d probably go for a different brand altogether – ThermalTake has carved itself a bit of a niche in that market. We know from experience though that many in our community will like the look of the Lancool for its simplicity.
Besides, just because something is simple doesn’t mean it can’t also be strong! Despite the large ‘U’ cut in the front of the case, the bezel remains strong and sturdy. The top of the case too has some hidden strengths with a large, wobble-free power button and smaller, recessed reset switch. There’s a hidden hatch here as well, which covers two USB ports, a 6-pin Firewire connector and a headphone and microphone connector - however missing from the fray is eSATA, although as a small "LAN case" it's not something we'd largely expect.
The fact that the ports are under a hatch may dismay some of you who think it a little tacky, but the benefit is that if you spill something here then there is nowhere for the water to drain in - handy for a LAN case, though handles may have been a touch more useful.
So, already we’re off to a great start with the bizarrely named Metal Boned K7 – we’ve got a case which is small (210x450x490, WxHxD), but sturdy and svelte at the same time. It has an understated design which is perfect for the market, but also offers a chance for the case to be improved on by including ports for watercooling on the back of the case.
Hopefully the inside of the case won’t ruin the blissful, if minimalist progress we’ve made so far...