Welcome back! Now that we’re done looking at the brilliantly understated outside that is the Lian Li PC-100. Let’s move inside the case.
As you can instantly see, this case is (as I mentioned before) designed with a reversed motherboard tray, meaning you take the right side panel off of your case to get at your innards. Moving from left to right, top to bottom, there are two 5.25″ drive bays at the top, the front 120mm intake fan, and 8 ventilated expansion slots. (with extra ventilation) That information was for those of you who did not read part one of the review. (shame on you) Moving on there are three brackets that install vertically in the case with thumbscrews, I will delve into those a bit deeper in a later paragraph. You can see that there are several large cutouts for wire management, as well getting access to your Cooler’s Retention Plate. Some numbers that may interest some of you, here are the measurements for the size of components you can fit inside the Lian Li PC-100
- VGA Card length: 400mm = 15.7480315 Inches (For those of you who are sticklers for exact measurements)
- PSU length: 220mm = 8.66 Inches
- CPU cooler height: 165mm = 6.49 Inches
Here we’ll take a quick look at some of the key points of interest inside of the Lian Li PC-100. First here is an internal look at the front (or is it back?see the) of the case. Something I had not pointed out before, Thumb Screws on the Expansion Slots. Thank you Lian Li, seriously. Also there are mounting holes on the bottom for an additional two SDD drives. No you cannot install 3.5″ drives on the bottom. Up here is where your PSU will be spending most of its’ time. (when it’s not out partying) There are rubber strips that are a bit hard to see at the top, that the PSU will lay upon to cut down on vibration, plus there’s a support bar installed to keep the PSU’s weight balanced. And last, but certainly not least, here are the two 140mm exhaust fans, with grills installed so that you don’t stick a finger in them by accident. All three fans are 3-pin power with a 4-pin adapter installed on them, this is a great feature so that you can either run them directly into your motherboard or run them off of the Power Supply.
Now, these three brackets are all rather unassuming, but they all play a pivotal role in making your PC functional within the Lian Li PC-100. From left to right we have the; Hard Drive mounting bracket, Hard Drive Resting Bracket, and the Video Card Support Bracket. With the Hard Drive mounting bracket, what we do it quite simple. Take the included thumbscrews, slide on the appropriate rubber washers on them and then screw them into the holes on the bottom of the hard drive, not the sides. Once installed you simply slide the hard drive into place on the included HDD Bracket. The whole point of the second bracket is the rubber strips you see on it. When the hard drive is installed it will rest gently against that rubber to not only decrease vibration noise, but also keep the hard drive from vibrating itself loose. Bracket Three works like this. Take some plastic fingers, lock them into place by sliding them through the correct slot and getting the little teeth to lock into place. Once that is done, simply install the bracket in the tower and it will allow your video card to rest on it, relieving tension on the main-board for the video card. They also include some boots that slide over two of the little plastic fingers, which are made for supporting double slot video cards.
All of these ideas on paper seem good enough. The problem is the execution. I own an HIS HD 6870 IceQ video card… With this card installed on my motherboard, I cannot use the Video Card support bracket, or install the HDD mounting bracket. Instead I had to turn the Hard Drive mounting bracket backwards, and install it on the outside of the case which eliminates the ability to put the side of the case back on. The design choice for the HDD system is great, but they did not take into account video cards with aftermarket coolers such as mine.
This is the bracket installed backwards, you can clearly see that the back hard drive is resting against my video card.
These design choices have left me with a case that is not put together correctly due to an inability to install the necessary parts. Now I don’t anticipate that Lian Li is going to rectify this problem. (why should they, most people don’t own aftermarket video cards, right?) But at the very least they’ve got to include a notice or warning on the box, website description, or somewhere that video cards with coolers such as the IceQ will NOT fit inside this case correctly. With my frustration aired out, let’s move onto cooling performance.
I went into the cooling performance expecting the PC-100 to cool decently, but not well. I also anticipated that the fans would be more effective if they were reversed (140mm Intake, 120mm exhaust). I was wrong on both points. (well sort of) For testing comparisons, I tested the Lian Li PC-100 against my own case, the Thermaltake V9 Black Edition. Now this isn’t your normal factory version case, oh nay nay. I have modified it to include both a 250mm intake fan as well as a 250mm exhaust fan, couple that with the 120mm intake fan at the front, and you’ve got yourself a pretty potent cooling system for your PC. There’s no way the Lian Li PC-100 can compete with that, right? Wrong…
Testing System Spec
AMD Phenom II X3 720 B.E. Overclocked 3.2Ghz, Unlocked To 4-Core \\ Thermaltake Duo Orb Cooler \\ HIS Radeon HD 6870 1GB IceQ \\ 4Gb’s Patriot DDR2-1200Mhz Memory \\ Thermaltake BlackWidow 550W PSU \\ Seagate 320GB 7200 RPM (Windows/Games) HDDx1, Seagate 160GB 7200RPM (Storage) HDDx3 \\ Asus Micro-ATX Motherboard \\ HP DVD-RW Drive
The testing suite I chose to go with consisted of streaming 1080p video over the internet while running a four-thread Prime95 test and running the Far Cry 2 Benchmark entirely maxed out. Now I chose Far Cry 2 for one simple reason, it utilizes every part of the PC, it may not be the most graphically demanding game, but it does make good use of you HDD, CPU, GPU, and Memory.
Initially I figured the numbers posted by the Thermaltake V9 would be around 10% better than the Lian Li PC-100, but that turned out to be false. As you can clearly see, the Lian Li PC-100 not only cools better idly than the V9, but it also goes toe-to-toe down the stretch with the V9, all the way up to the max temperatures I recorded. Impressive to say the least. Especially when you consider the fact that my V9 cooling setup sounds like a jet engine, and yet the PC-100 is almost dead silent, I think we have a winner here.
Overall. For a case designed for functionality, not all of the functions work extremely well. But what does work, works nearly flawlessly. From the brushed aluminum finish, to the whisper silent fans that move a tremendous amount of air for the dB level you receive in return. Lian Li has designed a case that does everything you could ask it to, as long as you don’t own any parts that are non-compatible. With ample space for HDDs and SDDs, to the entire case being designed to utilize thumb screws, I didn’t mention that? Yeah the motherboard screws are thumb screws, how frickin’ cool is that. The Lian Li PC-100 is a winner.
I cannot recommend this case to anybody who either owns a video card with an aftermarket cooler (such as the IceQ, or any cooler that is taller or has protruding heat-pipes) or may be planning on purchasing one at any point. With that aside for those of you who may want to use this case for a HTPC, Work Tower, or a lower-end gaming rig not consisting of a video card with an aftermarket cooler. I highly, highly recommend this case. The execution isn’t perfect, but the quality is. Lian Li continues to prove why they are considered one of the best in the world.
A quick explanation of the award system. We have the main award category with three awards; Bronze (Good Overall Product), Silver (Great Overall Product), and Gold (Excellent/Near Perfect Overall Product) as the highest. Then we have two different Sub-Categories, Internal Hardware Awards for performance; Yellow (Low-End Performer), Orange (Mid-Range Performer), and Red (High-End Performer) as the highest. The third and final Sub-Category is for both Internal Hardware and External Peripherals; Black (Enthusiast/Gamer Qualities), Blue (Exceptional Build and Design), Green (Terrific Dollar To Performance Ratio), White (Innovative But Flawed)
- Beautiful Brushed Aluminum Finish
- Thumb Screws Throughout The Case
- The Entire Case Is Extremely High Quality
- Innovative Design For Hard Drive Mounting As Well As Motherboard Placement
- Cooling Performance Is Phenomenal
- Good Cable Management Options
- No Warning That Aftermarket GPU Coolers May Not Fit
- One Of The Motherboard Standoff Holes Was Stripped (That Was Fun)
- No Second Cable-Routing Option For Those With A Ferrite Choke On Their Video Cable
With the Lian Li PC-100 I had to input a new award. (which I felt was necessary anyways) The new white award is for innovative products that aren’t perfect. I had to find some way to make it clear that the Video Card Cooler and Cable issues were not acceptable, while not negating from the fact that the case as a whole is a tremendous product.
If You Would Like To Purchase The Lian Li PC-100, You Can Do So Here.