One of the interesting things to do if you’re allowed is to take a look at the weird and wonderful variety of chassis and peripherals at the NAG LAN. Sometimes the sheer size of the cases will shock you, or occasionally you’ll see a rig so small you’ll wonder if it actually works. I didn’t see any of the latter today but I did snap some photos of the best or most weird cases and peripherals I’ve seen at the LAN thus far, and I’d like for you to join me in checking them out. Some surprises are in store.

Like this one, for example. I had no idea anyone owned these still – all my friends had theirs broken after a year or two. This chassis was a hit back in 2006 – today some say it looks a little gaudy. With the right equipment though, they can look really, really good.

Walking through the LAN area I noticed a few patterns and trends here and there. Firstly, the most popular brand is Cooler Master – I saw Cosmos, Gladiator, Elite and HAF-series chassis all over the dome and its a testament to how these cases perform that cement their popularity with gamers. A few other brands were a little more noticeable as well – many NZXT Phantom owners were at the LAN, in black, silver and white finishes. Aerocool is also gaining ground again, and I saw at least ten Predator full-size towers. Few mods were seen at this year’s LAN – no custom side panels, no mad watercooling setups and definitely an under-utilisation of LED lamps and light strips to add in some colour where needed.

Other commonalities were in monitor sizes: here 24-27″ models were predominant, with 22″ examples numbering in the hundreds and 19″ 4:3 aspect ratio monitors filling in the blanks at the low-end. Some smaller widescreen monitors were seen, but only a handful. Number of RAM banks occupied: on average out of three hundred PCs I looked at up close, most owners were happy with just filling in two banks with at least 8GB of RAM. Windows 7 was, however, ubiquitous, being installed on every single PC I looked at or passed. That alone is a shocking revelation – not one gamer at the LAN this year that I saw was using XP or Vista and to an extent you can thank one game for that: Battlefield 3. Having no support for XP and with 64-bit Vista or 7 being the recommended OS, most gamers seem to have opted for that with an eye to games that wouldn’t support XP in future. rAge is just as old as Microsoft’s age-defying OS and its good to see that Windows 7 64-bit is the weapon of choice. With that said, here’s a few of the rigs that I thought deserved special mention:

This rig stands out thanks to its brilliant blue accent on every plastic bit attached to the chassis. All the plastic parts were stripped off and sent to a bike paint shop to be specially coated to gain a nice gleam and that brilliant blue. The owner of this rig plans to add in extra accenting to the other side of the chassis and a full watercooling loop filled with – you guessed it – blue-tinted coolant.

While there may have been a lot of Phantoms on the scene, this one was customised by adding on some plastic covering that has the same texture as Carbon Kelvan and is primarily used in cars on foot sills. Not too over the top, but definitely a labour of love for a proud owner.

When I was exploring the dome before opening time, I saw two guys carrying a box with the MozartTX label on the side. I though that anyone who had it would have to be mad to bring one in – they’re as rare as hen’s teeth in this country and could previously only be imported. The TX is a full-sized Mini Server tower and have been a long-time favourite for modders and aspiring water cooling owners who need as much space as possible in a workable footprint. Kept in mint condition with the original feet, this is definitely one of my favourites.

Exactly one person (that I could find at the time) had a Lian Li chassis on their desk. This is a sad, sad day, even though Lian Li’s are horribly impractical in some cases.

This was by far the closest thing to a Christmas tree at the LAN. This Antec LanBoy Air was customised with UV-reactive cables and some red LED accents.

Another interesting chassis, this is a full-tower setup that does things a bit differently. The front hard drive racks are hot-swappable, there are fans galore and a rotated motherboard tray and, get this, customisable lights. Using the included remote, you can change to any preset colour or flash through all of them in a shuffle list. This was definitely a huge cool factor that set this chassis apart from the rest. I found a few others which you can see in the gallery below, with a few surprises here and there – one original Antec Lanboy was spotted as well as a Fractal Arc chassis, an Enermax full-tower from years back, a single Cooler Master Stacker, the granddaddy of the current full-tower trend and holy how!… one single, well-cared for CRT monitor.

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