Lian Li PC-A08 Case

robgs - 2007-05-07 21:40:05 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: robgs   
Reviewed on: May 10, 2007
Lian Li
Lian Li
Price: $98.00 US

Introduction:


No matter how much blood, sweat, and tears goes into creating the ultimate computer setup, almost nobody sees the amount of time and expertise that it took to build it.  They always judge the system solely on the final visual result…the case.  With so many choices in the market place, the computer case has become more than just an enclosure.  It’s similar to the car that you drive as it can tell everyone a little bit about the type of person you are. The case you decide on ultimately affects so many factors, ranging from system performance to curb appeal or aesthetics.  Things to think about when making this decision are design, air flow, noise level, upgradeability, looks, and for the budget minded, cost.  One of Lian Li’s latest cases to hit the market is the PC-A08.  With its clean design and elegance that Lian Li has become well known for, the PC-A08 fits perfectly with its existing product line up.

Lian Li is a company based in Taiwan that was founded in 1983.  As a supplier of exclusively aluminum computer cases and associated hardware, it accredits its success to a strong commitment to quality.  Lian Li has proven itself through many years in the market place and has earned a name among the best.



Closer Look:


The packaging isn’t much to look at as it is just a plain cardboard box.  There were quite a few dents and gouges around the perimeter of the box, which caused me some concern.







The case was well protected for shipping; even though the box was in pretty rough shape, the case was unharmed.







The back of the case shows a clean look with some ventilation holes and a 120mm fan.  Also, you can see the removable power supply bracket that is pretty standard with Lian Li cases.  The entire case is constructed of aluminum and has a brushed finish on the exterior.



Closer Look Continued:


This case comes with the hardware typically supplied with a new case.  One thing to point out though are the extra pieces that are included to help with the installation and to minimize the amount of tools you might have to go and hunt for.  In this bag there is a nut driver, zip ties, rubber grommets and a large cable tie.


 


There is quite a bit of room on the inside. Shiny…



 

Inside we see all the wiring for the front convenience ports.  The front mounted ports available are two USB 2.0 ports, a firewire port and a headphone and microphone port.



 

For exhausting warm air, there is a 120mm fan located at the back, and for filtered cool air intake there is another 120mm fan in the front.



 

The front bezel comes off quite easily and doesn’t require any tools to remove it.  Here’s a good shot of the front fan filter, which is nicely located to make cleaning easier.



 

The blank plates for the 5.25 inch bays are snap to remove and surprisingly, when the front bezel is on, the blank plates are very secure and cannot be pulled off.



 

So far, this case is turning out to be a simple yet effective solution for housing my computer equipment.  The all aluminum design should really cut down on the overall weight of the system.  Next, I will install all of the internal components and then we can see how this case performs.

Installation:


First I installed the stand offs that will secure the motherboard to the back pane.  Because of all the room, I had no problem installing the motherboard and heat sink.



 


To install the power supply, I just secured the bracket to the back of the PSU and used the supplied thumb screws to secure the bracket to the case.



 


Installing the DVD-ROM was kind of a pain as there are no support fins to hold the drive while I installed the screws.  Not a big deal but just makes it a little more difficult, especially if you don’t have a magnetic screwdriver.



 


Once most of the components were installed, I plugged each item into its respective connection point on the motherboard.



 


The 3.5 inch hard drive bays are located at the bottom of the case and are designed for easy installation and removal of the hard drives.  Also, it should be noted that the HDD rack is modular and can be unscrewed and turned 90 degrees if required.  Because of the size of the 8800GTX video card, the rack would have interfered with the fit, so I left it in the original orientation.  The shoulder screws supplied with the case are mated with a rubber grommet and then screwed into the sides of the hard drive.  Once all four grommets and screws have been installed, the drive can then be inserted into one of the bays.  I installed a 3 hard drive RAID array and the procedure was straightforward from beginning to end.



 


Finally, the video card could be installed and secured into place, and the associated power supply cables attached.



 


With everything installed there still seems to be a lot of room in this case compared to my old one.  Space is one thing, but how does it perform with respect to cooling compared to my old case?  We’ll put it to the test in the next section.

Specifications:


Bays 4 - 5.25"
3 - 3.5"
Cooling 2 - 12cm ball bearing fans
Front I/O 2 - USB 2.0
1 - IEEE 1394
1 - Microphone
1 - Headphone
M/B Type ATX
Pentium 4
(Max size 12"x9.6")
Dimensions 17.5"H X 19.25"L X 8.19"W


 

Features:


Testing:


Test Setup:



Cases Compared:


For testing I will look only at the ability for this case to cool the motherboard and processor.  The system is completely at stock speed to get a good gauge on the cooling of a typical setup.  The first test is the system at idle, and then the system is stressed with an hour of Prime95 to heat things up.  I’ve allowed the system an hour of run time before recording the data to let the temperatures stabilize.  I've used the Nvidia MonitorView software to track the temperatures.  All temperatures are reported in degrees celcius with an ambient temperature of 20 degrees celcius.  As well, you will notice the big difference between the motherboard temperature and the processor temperature.  The 680i chipset is notorious for high northbridge temperatures and without active cooling or a fan on the side cover, the high temperature is even more pronounced.



As you can see by the graph below, the motherboard temperatures are very close at idle.  The PC-A08 is only marginally better at cooling than the basic case.

 



Here we can see the processor temps are also very close.  Again, the Lian Li case beats out the basic case.

 



Now when we put some load on the system, the temps have increased for both, but the temperature still stays cooler in the CP-A08 case.

 



And finally, the temperature for the processor under load also shows a substantial increase, but again is kept  cooler in the Lian Li case.

 

Conclusion:


For an entry level Lian Li, the PC-A08 performs and looks good.  It’s too bad the case doesn’t have support for a floppy drive without modification.  As well, installing 5.25” components is not the easiest task to accomplish as there are no support brackets built into the bays.  The cooling that this case offers is only marginally better than that of a much cheaper steel case with a similar design.  I think the main attraction of this case is for the budget minded consumer who would like to own a Lian Li case without having to spend an arm and a leg to get it. 

The brushed finish of the Lian Li PC-A08 case, together with the color combination of black and silver, really make it stand out.  The fact that the case is constructed completely of aluminum helps to cut down the weight of the system.  The case shows well with its smart lines and efficient air flow; however, it is quite limited with respect to the features that normally come standard with Lian Li.  If you are in the market for a lower cost Lian Li case and you’re not worried about major cooling or bells and whistles, then this case is perfect.  If you want more bling for your buck or you plan on doing any major air cooled overclocking, then you’ll have to spend more to get more.




Pros:



Cons: