CES 2013 CoverageBosco - January 9, 2013
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Lian Li always has some nice looking chassis with nice aluminum builds. There is quite the variety in the smaller case market than most companies have. There are lots of options for home theater, NAS boxes or whatever you desire. We started with some of the smaller chassis: the PC-Q27 is an upgrade from last year's model, the PC-Q25. It supports ITX motherboards and still has enough room for an optical drive. There are two USB 3.0 ports on the front for quick access and an overall clean look. Inside the case, Lian Li has a minimalist approach to motherboard mounting, which is a feature that is actually across the board for all the new cases. A simple two strips support the motherboard, allowing for extra airflow behind the motherboard tray and easy access to the CPU backplate for mounting low-profile CPU coolers. With both side panels off, there is quite a bit of room to work (even in such a small place).
The PC-Q28 is another upgraded model from last year, supporting ITX builds. It is slightly fatter than the PC-Q27, but still about the same height. It allows for an external drive bay on the front, as well as two audio ports and two USB 3.0 ports. Pulling off the side panel reveals room for six drives in two removable three-drive caddies. Everything is held together with thumbscrews for quick and easy building.
The PC-AO2 steps up to the more mid-tower sized chassis, which suits more of you out there for gaming and overclocking. We missed a shot of the front of the case, but you can at least take a good look inside. It has pre-mounted fans in the top and front of the case to provide cooling and a neat cutout with filter at the bottom of the case for PSU exhaust. You can again see the simple mounting rails or the motherboard allowing extra air flow across the back to the board. Opened up all the way, you can see the easy mount for the single external drive up top and the quick bay at the bottom to hold three HDDs. There's quite a bit of room in here for the actual size of the case.
The PC-X3 was an interesting case on the new product line for Lian Li. It starts to have a more enthusiast feel to it with the looks and design. It has more angles and raised parts, giving it a very subdued HAF appearance. It really caught our eyes as it looks a bit more like the cases we generally tend to follow. This case has support for full ATX motherboards and can support up to eight PCI-e slots in the rear. The inside appears massive after looking at all the smaller cases and has a lot to offer. It is all aluminum still, but actually is anodized black rather than sporting the typical raw aluminum look (however, the raw look may be an available option once released). There is room for three external drive bays and has the two three-bay drive caddies (only one here is removable). With dual fans on the front and a rear fan in place, as well as support for 120mm radiators up top, this case is definitely a step in the right direction.
The PC-A18 was next to be introduced on the ATX support side. It appeared to combine the enthusiast market with the simple Lian Li look using ribbed ventilation on the front. The innards follow much of the last case with the removable drive caddies and three external drive support. It also brings back the typical raw aluminum look many of you love from Lian Li.
The PC-V850 is the last of the new lineup from Lian Li in the larger case range. It supports E-ATX motherboards, allowing you to get an image of size in mind already. It's the largest case we saw from Lian Li today with two wheels in the rear to help move it about; just lift the front edge and it moves about like a car on a dolly. The side panels clip in with easy handles leaving the outside completely clean of thumbscrews. The front supports three 5.25 inch drive bays and has two USB 3.0 ports along with two USB 2.0 ports and HD audio. It's a pretty nice looking case from the outside.
The inside is where the PC-V850 really becomes impressive. Pull off the side panel and you are immediately greeted with a wall of fans (quite literally). Two door-like panels suspend fans across the front side of the case. Two are included over the HDD cages and two more blow across the motherboard and video card while leaving spots for yet two more fans. It's pretty neat how the fans swing out on the panels and give you easy access to the insides. There are nine 3.5 inch HDD bays ready for use and, though they aren't removable, don't take up space from the rest of the motherboard area. It looks like this case could be a lot of fun – perhaps an attempt at hanging radiators from the panel door.
That might have been the end of the big cases, but it wasn’t the end of Lian Li's new line up this year. Lian Li has stepped out of its norm to develop what it calls a more affordable case for the market. Rather than being made of all aluminum parts, as most of you know Lian Li for, it has been made with a mix of aluminum and steel parts. It makes the case a little heavier, but still provides the external Lian Li look. It wasn't the prettiest thing there and having the classic unpainted innards wasn't super awesome, but it is nice to see efforts to make a well loved brand affordable to all levels of group.
Just when we thought we were done with Lian Li, the rep brought out one more toy for us to play with; the PC-N1. Those of you who have seen some small box computers, this is a beauty of a case made of aluminum to better enhance that passive cooling. It is ready to hold the Intel NUC (Next Unit of Computing) when the spec is completely finalized. Looks like lots of potential for a nice unit you can stick anywhere . Overall it was a good run through the Lian Li booth and we're looking forward to some in-depth reviews of some of these awesome new cases.