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The case will accomodate any size expansion cards with the included support. I did not utilize it, but some of you may have bigger needs.
None of the drive bays are tool free. Because the chassis is aluminum, pretty much everything has to be screwed in with rubber washers to prevent excess vibration noise. The systems works, but could really do with a more refined approach to mounting.
Installing and Testing:
This is where the chasis really starts to dull. Securing the board is pretty standard, but drives all required a screw driver and/or installation of rubber feet to mount things. The expansion slots are thumb screwed and ventilated, but there is ZERO cable management on the inside. There are supplied zip ties to get the job done, but you will need some of your own if you want a truly clean installation. Since there is no window, I left mine largely messy.
I needed the install guide briefly to figure out the HDD mounting, and while it looks odd, once over the learning curve it does secure the drives quite well. Optical drives mount like they did in the 90′s, remember when nobody installed the front screws?
Aside from the previously mentioned case for screws, there are none. This case is somewhat lacking in special features for a case in this price point.
Testing the chasis consisted of benchmarking it against open bench and comparing CPU/Northbridge temp. I anecodotally referenced some other temp measurements, but they were just observations.
After a somewhat lengthy installation, and no real optimization on cable management, there was still decent air flow. The following system was used during the testing:
- Acer H57h-AM2
- Intel i7 860
- WD Black 1TB
- ATI Radeon HD 5700
- Thermaltake 630W PSU
- 8GB DDR3
- Stock CPU Cooler
For the performance test, we ran the CPU under idle condition for 30 minutes to gather a baseline temp reading. All motherboard controlled fan speeds.
Then for max thermal, we tested after 15 minutes of Prime95, running 8 workers, keeping all 8 cores maxed at 100%.
We measured utilizing the onboard motherboard temp reading at the CPU area, and observed northbridge infrared. For basis of comparison only onboard is utilized.
The zero point score was the reference Gateway FX gaming chasis these components were removed from.
This is by no means as exhaustive as it could have been, but the major takeaway is the chasis does actually provide great cooling. Under idle conditions it lowered the motherboard temperature reading by more than 20 degrees. Under load, the reduction was similar, it kept the internals at a bearable 109 degrees. It’s nothing to write home about from a thermal perspective, it is however VERY quiet.
There was a tradeoff, this thing did make more noise than the basically silent hardware in comparison at idle. This box does not utilize a fan controller so it’s always roughly the same, with exception of the CPU fan revving up. Under load the machine still remained extremly quiet. For a quiet office or home installation, the noise level is excellent.
When selecting your next case, you have a ton of options. In certain situations, say a setting atop your desk this reverse design could be quite useful. In practical application, having all of your cables routed from front to back creates headaches with cable length. I had to re-orient my desk to make my stock monitor cables work. This is not a deal breaker, it’s just something that has to be considered. Lian Li is attempting to solve a problem that exists for someone; I’m just not certain who.
The finish, and the weight of the machine are it’s stand out features. Lovers of aluminum are sure to be pleased, and if it had a handle, it would be a great lan-party machine. In fact, the front cable orientation would be great for a lan party machine in terms of fast hook-ups. You would likely want the front panel removed for this use though, and lose the aesthetic.
The quality of build here is OK. It’s the first machine I cut myself on in a while though, which is an inherent risk with aluminum. The machine work, and fit and finish were however GREAT by aluminum standards.
It all adds up to an OK, but not perfect case. Better drive mounting, integrated cable management, and an easier way to route cables out of the back would all be welcome improvements. Overall I’d give this a buy rating, if you can fill the niche it’s targeted at. Pick this case up at either Newegg or Amazon.
+ Beautiful case and material
+ Decent job of cooling, even with limited fans and no controller
+ Great for industrial purposes
+ Plug things in without getting behind your pc is pretty awesome if you change monitors a lot.
- No front USB ports
- Lack of goodies in this price range
- May need longer VGA cables
- Drive Installation is a pain