Lian Li PC-A58 Casehardnrg -
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To take the side panel off, you undo the two thumb-screws by hand, slide the panel towards the rear about an inch, then pull it out at the top slightly, and lift it up and out. A slightly different way to most cases, but works very well.
At the bottom of the case, a plain white box containing case hardware is taped to the chassis.
Let's have a quick scan around the inside of the case to see the features provided. You can see a hard drive cage supporting 3 hard drives, and a full complement of PCI blanking plates.
At the top of the case, you can see a top-mounted fan, and cables for the USB/audio/Firewire. It struck me as very strange that a top-mounted fan is oriented to draw air inwards, and downwards, contrary to the normal rules of thermodynamics and air-cooling. The fan itself is held in place with two-part plastic split pins, and a metal mesh is screwed onto the exhaust side of the fan. What is going on here? There is no point to this mesh with the fan in this orientation, the mesh only serves the purpose of trapping fluff and hair inside the fan. Very strange. I wonder if this is an intentional design or a mistake. It certainly seems wrong to me.
This 80mm fan is rated at 0.1A @ 12V. Quite feeble then. I really started to have doubts about the case's thermal design at this point.
Rather than being situated at the front of the case, the USB/audio/Firewire access panel is mounted on the top of the case. The panel cover is aluminum, while the "hinges" are plastic.
The other side of the case doesn't reveal any further features, but it's nice to see that access to the hard-drive cage and optical drive cage is not hindered in any way.
The case accessory box contains the type of screws you'd expect to see: motherboard stand-offs, optical drive screws, and PCI card screws. Also you see some slightly odd screws at the lower-right of the first picture that are only partially threaded. The bag at the top left contains even less common items: a screwdriver for the motherboard stand-offs, an adjustable self adhesive cable clamp, a plug-in PC speaker, and several black rubber vibration-isolating washers.
Time to strip the case down. How does that work? Well, the PSU mounting plate is secured by four thumb-screws, so simply undo them by hand.
The front bezel can just be pulled off by hand, as it is held in place by plastic "pincers" that can spring open enough to release the panel.
The top panel is secured by four M3 threaded screws (two at the front, two at the back). So you need a Philips head screwdriver to take this off.
What else can you take apart? Well you can sort of take the hard drive cage apart. It is secured by four countersunk screws on the base of the chassis.
Removing the screws and hard drive cage lets you orientate it so that the hard drives are facing the way that is most convenient for you. Most often, having the hard drives facing the side panels is more convenient as you can install and remove them without having to remove graphics cards or other expansion cards. However, you would get slightly better airflow with the hard drives facing the rear of the case, due to the sides of the hard drive cage being moved out of the path of incoming air from the front-mounted fan.
Taking a closer look at the fan, we can see it is a fairly modest fan in terms of power (0.27A @ 12V) and being a 120mm fan, 25mm thick, it is unlikely that it will produce much noise.
The fan has a square of black mesh screwed onto the front of the chassis to prevent large pieces of fluff and hair entering the case. It looks like a good compromise between filtering and maintaining airflow.
The optical and floppy bay blanking plates are not secured by screws and just have nubs at each side that mate to holes on each side of the drive cage. You can just gently squeeze the blanking plates on each side by hand and pull them forwards to release them.
Now, back to the fact that the PSU mounts over the motherboard, well that bothered me somewhat as I was worried about the clearance between the PSU and the CPU heatsink/fan.
A quick test fit showed that there was just 88mm of clearance between the motherboard stand-off and the PSU. So with the motherboard, CPU socket, and CPU itself, that gap would be even smaller.
To illustrate the problem, here is the PSU viewed from a different angle, and also with a DFI NF4 SLI-D motherboard in place.
The PSU overhangs the CPU socket for this 939 motherboard. The situation is the same for Socket-A and 775. It really limits you on the options for CPU cooling. So much, in fact, that I could not use this motherboard for the review as I did not have a suitable 939 heatsink/fan that was low-profile enough to fit in the gap.