Lian Li Pitstop T1 Mini-ITX Spider Test Bench Review

ajmatson - 2010-09-26 09:22:33 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: ajmatson   
Reviewed on: October 24, 2010
Price: $129.99

Introduction:

From time to time manufacturers like to mix up the market a little bit and release something so unique, that it stirs up a buzz. When it comes to the computer chassis, there are so many talented designs that it is hard to impress someone unless the design is so bizarre that it wipes them off of their feet. Lian Li is a well known manufacturer of computer cases and they have released some of the most efficient designs, which this time is no different.

Today we are taking a look at the Lian Li Pitstop T1 Mini-ITX Spider Test Bench. Yeah, I know that is a mouthful so from this point on I am going to refer to it only as the “Spider” for sake of simplicity. The Spider takes a whole new approach to an open test bench design. In the past, most test benches are square, open and kind of dull in design. They serve their purpose but do not have the look of elegance that will amaze your friends and colleagues. The Spider takes it a whole new level by giving the test bench a theme and a functional design in which to show off your prized hardware.

The Spider goes beyond just being a usable test bench by giving the looks to the metal. The Spider is able to use just about any hardware that you could place in another test bench or chassis such as a hard drive, optical drives, and even a power supply. If you want to stand out and be unique like the Spider, then it might be a match made in hardware heaven. If you are as excited as I am to see this baby assembled, then let’s get on with it.

 

Closer Look:

The Pitstop T1 Spider came shipped to us in the product box. I was a bit worried when I saw it and hoped the items inside were not damaged in any way. With all of the shipping labels stuck on the front I could not get a good look at what was displayed. I tried to remove them slowly but it started to pull up the packaging, so I decided against it. From what I could see it looks as if there is an image of the completed product on the front. On the rear of the package there is a full view of the T1 Spider as well as some close up shots of the hard drive cage, the cable management system and the inclusion of a full size ATX power supply mounted to the test bench. There is also a list of the features in several languages. Once I opened up the packaging I was so relieved to see how well it was protected. Surprisingly, nothing inside was damaged in transit. Kudos to Lian Li for packing it so tightly and making it secure in the box.

 

 

Once I got everything out of the package, I was surprised on the amount of parts needed to put the Spider together. From just the parts you would not guess this was going to end up looking like a Spider test bench. Starting from the top left and working across and then down, there is the main brace, the motherboard tray, the large and small legs, the two PSU brackets, the slim optical tray, the instruction booklet and the various screws and standoffs needed for installation.

 

 

Now that everything is out of the box I will show you the parts more closely as we start to put this masterpiece together.

Closer Look:

The directions included with the Spider are very vague. For all of the pieces there are only a series of small pictures across two pages and it was not very helpful at all. All in all, it should take about 30 or so minutes to put it all together. To make it a bit easier on our readers and to show what goes into building this case I am going to do a run down, explaining the parts as I go along and how to put it together.

The main part of the test bench is the motherboard tray. You can find the motherboard tray by looking for the piece below with the Lian Li logo pressed on to the front. To prepare the motherboard tray there are a few items that need to be put into place. First is the Spider "eyes" which are LED's that are placed in the front of the tray and let you know the system is on when lit up. There are two small holes on the front of the tray, one on each side of the Lian Li logo. To install the LED's you need to slide the plastic LED clips into the holes and then slide one LED into each clip until it is securely into place. Next, on each side of the tray there are two circular holes about a nickel thick. Slide the two plastic wire protectors into the holes until they are secured into place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the motherboard tray prepared, we are ready to start installing the components. You may have noticed the big hole in the middle of the tray above - this is where the 3.5" hard drive is placed. To install it, just flip the motherboard tray over and line the drive up into the slot, with the bottom of the drive facing the bottom of the motherboard tray. There are four screw holes on each side of the hard drive support to secure the drive.

Next, take the optical drive tray and again secure this with the four screws. Make sure the tray is in the upward position and the optical drive is facing up as well. To mount the optical tray to the motherboard tray you have to pay close attention. The face of the optical drive needs to be facing to the rear or away from the front logo on the motherboard tray. This is important because if it is installed incorrectly, then you will not be able to access the optical drive when the test bench is fully built. Once the optical tray is installed, flip the motherboard tray back over and it should look like the fourth picture below.

 

 

 

The main support is the body of the Spider test bench. This is what everything else will be connecting to, making the design complete. On each corner of the support tray is where the legs get attached, which we will look at in a bit. The main support is also where the power and reset buttons for the system are located. The wires from the support are the power switch, the reset switch, the power LED, and the HDD LED leads. These will be plugged into your motherboard for operation.

 

 

The motherboard tray is installed onto the support tray in one section only. On the front of the support tray, there are two tabs that hang down. Line up the two tabs on the motherboard tray (near the logo) with the two tabs on the support tray. There are two screws that go in on each side. One holds the motherboard tray in place and the other is adjustable, allowing more or less slope to the motherboard tray for a better look.

On the bottom of the support tray is where the cable management bracket goes. You can choose either of the slots for the cable support and press it in. The holes in the support tray are where you will route all of your cables through, keeping a neat appearance. Flip the connected chassis back over and we are ready to place the motherboard standoffs in and get ready for the motherboard. There are four standoffs in total to be installed for supporting the mini-ITX motherboard.

 

 

Now we have the body of the spider completed with the installation of the motherboard. Notice how little room there is with the board installed. A mini-ITX motherboard measures 6 1/2" on each side, so you can see how it fits perfectly into place. The back panel of the motherboard faces forward on the chassis allowing you quick access to the cables and panel if needed.

The motherboard sits in the open, which will use the ambient air to keep the components cool with no heat buildup. On the rear of the chassis under the board, you can see where the optical drive is at. This allows you access to it without being blocked by cables or other parts. One thing of note, is that with this test bench there are no support brackets for expansion cards, so installing a heavy graphics card might cause damage if it is knocked into or uneven in the socket. Lian Li states on their site that a graphics card is not supported.

 

 

With the body complete we can move on to the final leg assembly and see how this beauty comes alive.

Closer Look:

The legs consist of four small pieces and four longer pieces. To keep the test bench from slipping or sliding when being used, there are rubber feet that are to be attached to the ends of the long legs. There are two rubber caps for each leg, which slide into place easily. To connect the legs you will use the screws and pipes that are included. Line up one small leg to one of the large legs and place the pipe between them. Using two screws secure the legs into place so that they can be secure, but movable.

Next use one of the thumb screws and place it in the small leg. This allows the legs to remain securely in place but also allows for some slight motion adjustments when needed. Finally, use the same process to secure the other end of the small leg to the support tray. Tighten down to ensure the leg is in the correct position. Do this same procedure for all four leg placements. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Spider T1 accepts a full-size power supply for powering your mini-ITX motherboard and devices. There are two power supply brackets that are attached to each side of the power supply. On each bracket you place one of the anti-vibration strips that are included with the accessories to the bottom of the bracket. This keeps any vibration noise from emanating from the power supply and keeps the PSU snug in place. Once you have the brackets installed then flip the power supply over, fan side down and place the thumb screws in the connecting the power supply, just as you did the motherboard tray.

The power supply is also movable allowing you to create the perfect look you want. One thing of note, is that if you look at the power supply bracket there are the thumb screws for the back left leg stuck up against the bracket. This is a problem, because to tighten or loosen it you will have to remove the PSU to get to the thumb screw with a tool. Since hand tightening isn’t secure enough, this causes a problem that could have been solved by designing the screw on the other side of the leg. Underneath the main support is where you route and tuck the power supply cables for a neat cable look. Install all of the power and supporting cables and you are finished building your Lian Li Pitstop T1 mini-ITX Spider Test Bench.

 

 

 

With everything finally installed and put together we can push the power button and turn the system on. The power LED lights up on the power button when the power is on to the system. There are also the two LED's that we installed on the front of the motherboard tray earlier. These LED's light up an eerie red, like the eyes of the Spider. Another thing you can see is the cables that are routed through the access holes with the cable protectors we also installed earlier.

 

 

Here we have the finished product. The Spider test bench lives up to its name with the unique design. Overall, everything fits into place and I have to say is does look pretty sexy!

 

Specifications:

Model:
T1
Case Type:
Mini-ITX TEST BENCH
Dimensions:
(W) 227mm x (H) 272mm x (D) 345mm
Front bezel Material:
None
Color:
Black / Silver / Red
Side Panel:
None
Body Material:
Aluminum
Net Weight:
1.08KG
5.25" drive bay (External):
5.25-inch Silm ODD x 1
3.5" drive bay (External):
None
3.5" drive bay (Internal):
1
Expansion Slot:
None
Motherboard:
Mini ITX
System Fan (Front):
None
System Fan (Top):
None
System Fan (Rear):
None
I/O Ports:
None

 

Features:

 

All information courtsey of Lian Li @ http://www.lian-li.com/v2/en/product/product06.php?pr_index=523&cl_index=1&sc_index=25&ss_index=134

Conclusion:

The Lian Li Pitstop T1 mini-ITX Spider Test bench is unique to say the least. The design looks sleek and sexy, and would be a good fit for anyone wanting to show off their killer mini-ITX system to friends or colleagues.

As far as functionality goes, it does the job, but does have some drawbacks. Firstly, as a test bench you cannot use a full size graphics card, which unless you are just testing CPUs and motherboards with integrated graphics, you really won’t have any use for it. Secondly, it is quite large for a mini-ITX chassis. It will be hard to find desk space to place it on especially with monitors, keyboards and other stuff on the desk. The biggest downfall I experienced is the wobbly legs that can give way if too much weight is on it. With just the components I had installed for the review, some of the legs were giving way and no matter how much I tightened the thumb screws, they would still slip. Speaking of the thumb screws remember the one for the left rear leg that was poorly placed? I think a bit more time could have gone into testing the functional design of the chassis before production. At around $130 for a mini-ITX chassis I expect better attention to detail.

On the opposite side, it was nice to see the looks I was getting from friends and family that came into my home office when testing. I never had a chassis draw that much attention, so this would definitely be great for display at a LAN party or trade show. I was amazed at how Lian Li was able to place a full-size hard drive and a slim optical drive into such a small body. The addition of the cable management clamp was also great, to keep the mess of cable and wires from being strewn all over the place. With some fixes to the stability and placement of the hardware used, this case would have been gold material. However, with the limitations on hardware and weight, this chassis was a solid silver. Do not let it fool you - there is a lot of potential to the Lian Li Spider and I would certainly not discount it.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: