Product Qualification: Lancool PC-K9B

Written on August 30, 2011 by Matt Bach
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Introduction

Lancool PC- K9B Angle Front

The PC-K9B is a mid tower chassis from Lancool's "First Knight" series. It is available in black, silver and a black version with a painted black interior. For this qualification, we will be reviewing the basic black version.

This chassis is fairly standard for a mid tower chassis, although Lancool has decided not to offer an external 3.5" bay in this version. This may force some users to use a 5.25" to 3.5" bay adapter in order to use 3.5" devices such as card readers. The chassis features tool-less design for the mounting of PCI cards, 3.5" drives and 5.25" drives. If you are the kind of user that likes to constantly tinker with their system, this might be a very attractive feature. The included fans are fairly average, although they are a bit louder than we would like for the amount of airflow they provide.

Full manufacturer specifications for this chassis are below:

[+] View Manufacturer Specifications

Lancool has released a short Youtube video for this chassis, which shows off some of the main features of this chassis.

 

External Features

Lancool PC- K9B Front Lancool PC- K9B Front without bezel Lancool PC- K9B Front ports

The exterior of this chassis is about as simple as you can get. On the front of the chassis, there are three 5.25" bays, the power and hard drive LEDs, and the grill for the front intake fans. The front panel is removed by simply grabbing the bottom of the panel and pulling it off. Once it is removed, you have access to the front fan filters as well as the 140mm front fan screws.

On the top of the chassis are the front ports (2x USB 3.0 and audio in/out) and the power/reset switches.The top panel can be removed by unscrewing four screws (two in the front and two on the rear), giving easy access to the front ports and switches if they ever need to be replaced. 

From the top panel, we can also see that there is no top fan mount, meaning that this case will not work well for closed-loop liquid cooling solutions which require an additional exhaust fan for optimal cooling.

Lancool PC- K9B back Lancool PC- K9B bottom

The rear of the chassis is very standard, with the rear fan screws, PCI slots and IO panel all being in the normal location as well as a pair of grommets for liquid-cooling pass through. The screws holding the tool-less PCI retention device are also accessible here if you ever want to remove the PCI retention.

On the bottom of the case, you have access to the PSU fan filter. You can also see the very thick rubber feet that should help cut down on vibration noise between the case and the ground/desk.

Internal Features

Lancool PC- K9B inside angle Lancool PC- K9B hard drive cage Lancool PC- K9B 5.25in bay Lancool PC- K9B PSU mount

At the front of the chassis are the two 3.5" drive cages which has slides for three 3.5" drives and one 2.5" drive each. Both cages are removable, giving access to the front 140mm fans. To install a hard drive, you install a large thumbscrew with a rubber grommet into each of the four mounting holes on the hard drive. After that, you simply slide it in, and secure the latch on the left side of the cage which is held in place with another thumbscrew.

While this type of mounting will work fine for the majority of users, we have serious doubts about it being 100% secure during shipping. Only one side of the drive rail is secured, and even then has about a 1/8" of play to it. This means that the drive can twist quite a bit, giving it enough momentum to potentially warp the cage slightly out of shape. The drive should not ever come completely out of the cage even if the cage becomes warped, but judging from some of the incredible shipping damage we've seen over the years, it is a possibility.

The 5.25" bays in comparison are very simple. The top two bays have a hinged tool-less mount that simply snaps into place to hold one side of the drive. The opposite side does not have this tool-less mount, so if you use the tool-less mounting, the CD/DVD drive will have a bit of play to it especially on the right side. These tool-less mounts are easily removed however, allowing you to securely mount the CD/DVD drive using screws if you prefer.

The power supply is mounted on top of a short stand that is covered with rubber. The case has vents in the bottom to allow the PSU to draw fresh air directly from outside the case, although the vents are pretty restrictive. We would much rather see the same type of honecomb used on the rear fan since the more restrictve the vent, the harder the power supply fan has to work.

The chassis comes with a large retention bracket to help hold the power supply down. Really though, this bracket is really only useful to help hold the PSU during transport, but the clip holding it in place would likely come undone during shipping, rendering the clip ineffectual.

Lancool PC- K9B inside Lancool PC- K9B PCI retention Lancool PC- K9B inside back Lancool PC- K9B cable management

The motherboard tray is not removable, and includes just enough standoff locations for standard mini-itx, micro-ATX and ATX motherboards. There are cutouts for the CPU heatsink as well as a few at the top and bottom of the tray to assist with cable routing.

PCI cards are secured using a series of levered latches, which while very convenient in some instances, would in no way survive shipping. They are easily removable, but since they add to the cost of the chassis, it would be a bit unfortunate to pay for something that is not used. This type of latch will also have problems with some video cards that have large heatsinks which may get in the way of these latches.

On the rear of the motherboard tray, we can see the less than average number of cable management tabs. While it should be enough for most systems, we always like to see more rather than less cable management tabs.

Next to the motherboard tray, there is a very nice piece of hardware for cable management that uses a series of plastic clips to hold cables in place. This easily makes up for the lack of management tabs on the motherboard tray and should allow even the most inexperienced builder to keep all of their cables neat and tidy.

The front port cables are simple, with just an internal USB 3.0 and HD audio header. Lancool also includes an intenal USB 3.0 to USB 2.0 adapter for motherboards that do not have a internal USB 3.0 header.

Conclusion

Overall, this chassis would not be a bad choice for someone who wants a chassis that is not super flashy and has decent cooling. The included fans are decent, although we would recommend upgrading the fans if you are planning on installing high-end hardware.

Like so many chassis on the market today, the biggest factor holding us back from offering this case in our product line at Puget Systems is all of the tool-less mounting features. For an end-user, they can be great features for those who are either constantly tinkering with their system or those who just want an easier time assembling their system. We need to ship our systems over long distances however, and tool-less mounting simply does not often survive shipping unscathed. For these reasons, we will not be adding this chassis to our main product line.

Pros

  • Anti-vibration for 3.5" hard drives and PSU mounts
  • Internal USB 3.0 header for front ports
  • Thick rubber case feet
  • No dual-audio header cable (HD only, no AC'97)
  • Nice extra bracket to assist in cable management
  • Easily accessible fan filters

Cons

  • Tool-less drive mounting for 3.5" and 5.25" drives
  • Motherboard tray not removable
  • No external 3.5" bay
  • PSU intake vents relatively restictive
  • No top/side fan mounting
  • Lack of cable management tabs on the back of the motherboard tray

Thanks to Hampton Technologies of Bellevue, WA for providing this chassis for review!