Lian Li PC-A76X Case Review: The Limits of Aluminumby Dustin Sklavos on September 30, 2012 12:01 AM EST
- Posted in
- Lian Li
Introducing the Lian Li PC-A76X
As a case designer and manufacturer, Lian Li has built their entire business around aluminum. It's one of those materials that seems to have a real marketing draw, that seems to perk up consumers, and it's understandable. Aluminum conducts heat well, and an attractive brushed aluminum finish can trump the heck out of any garden variety plastic and/or steel enclosure. It's something Lian Li have essentially created a premium brand around, and today we're taking a look at one of their most premium offerings of all, the PC-A76X.
The PC-A76X isn't just a premium enclosure, it's a concerted effort by Lian Li to produce an E-ATX/HPTX case in relatively small dimensions. Our testbed is admittedly going to seem a little mundane, dwarfed by this monstrous piece of aluminum designed and destined for only the most powerful of workstations (or enthusiast builds), but that may not matter as much as it first appears. Has Lian Li produced a knockout case, or have they missed the mark?
That's a pretty sticky question. This case is designed to house frankly as much computer as you can cram into it, and I'll admit I was pretty optimistic when I first read the press materials. A trio of 140mm fans in the front attempt to produce the kind of wind tunnel effect that makes cases like SilverStone's FT02 and Temjin TJ08-E such formidable performers, and I've been looking for some time for a good replacement for my own FT02.
|Lian Li PC-A76X Specifications|
|Motherboard Form Factor||Mini-ITX, Micro ATX, ATX, E-ATX, HPTX|
|Drive Bays||External||2x 5.25”|
|Internal||9x 3.5", 3x 2.5"/3.5"|
|Cooling||Front||3x 140mm intake fan|
|Rear||1x 120mm exhaust fan|
|Top||2x 120mm fan mounts|
|Side||2x 140mm fan mount|
|I/O Port||2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, 1x Headphone, 1x Mic|
|Power Supply Size||Standard ATX|
|GPU||14.1" / 360mm|
11.22" x 27.95" x 26.89"
285mm x 710mm x 683mm
|Weight||20.9 lbs. / 9.5 kg|
USB 3.0 connectivity via internal headers
Toolless motherboard installation
Support for 240mm radiator in top of enclosure
All aluminum build and finish
The fact that the case is actually 21 lbs. of aluminum should give you some indication of just how big this beast really is, yet interestingly Lian Li opted to keep the design fairly narrow. I don't get the sense that they could've shrunk down the PC-A76X too much more without making some sacrifices. They probably could've made it a bit shorter by moving the PSU to the front of the case and ditching three of the drive bays and an intake fan, but that's about it.
At $210, the PC-A76X is squarely in enthusiast class territory; once you go over about $160, cases are generally supposed to offer both excellent acoustics and thermal performance. That's part of the reason why the lack of any kind of noise dampening material is worrisome, though the cooling design looks like it may just be efficient enough to pick up the slack.
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picobico2006 - Sunday, August 23, 2015 - linkE' viceversa
xc68000 - Monday, October 1, 2012 - linkSeriously. I can't get rid of my Wavemaster because literally every new aluminum case I look is crap in comparison. It was designed more for the P4 era and as such doesn't have any 120mm fans (except for the one I cut in the side panel). There is a market, but seems like no one is making cases for it. I've never seen a silverstone, but they look like a premium case I wonder about the panel thickness though.
And seriously...you can see the LianLi badge is on crooked in one of those photos. They have definitely strayed from where they started from.
Captmcnet - Saturday, January 4, 2014 - linkNewEgg has this case listed for $190.
The Lian-Li web site specs show 12 internal 3.5in HDD bays.
Your Sept 2012 review specifies only 9 such bays.
Which is correct please.
aguilpa1 - Monday, October 1, 2012 - linkMy last two cases have been Lian Li, my first a V1000 about 6 or 7 years ago and that thing was built like an aluminum tank. The panels were thick and strong, I still have it as a media server. Based on that experience my second case a full tower is a PC-P80. While very large and roomy, the aluminum on this case was not as high of quality as the original and the has a lot less features. Somewhere along the way, Lian Li began cutting corners on both their features and quality of their aluminum. I hate to see when companies have a good rep going and they start taking advantage after awhile. My next case probably won't be a Lian Li.
hyrule4927 - Sunday, September 30, 2012 - linkNot really why you're complaining about side vents. I have an Antec 1100 and my GPU temperatures are about 5C lower with a side fan installed. I observed similar benefits from a side intake fan on my old Cooler Master case.
Iketh - Sunday, September 30, 2012 - linkif you design the intakes efficiently and their flow through the bottom of the case, there is no need for the side intake
side intake = more noise escaping from said GPU and very rarely come with a filter pre-installed, and of course vibration on the side panel
Steveymoo - Monday, October 1, 2012 - linkActually, the extra noise part is not necessarily true. When I added a second GPU to my NZXT Hush PC, the GPUs would get so hot, the fans would max out. Instead of paying god knows how much for a new case with more adequate cooling, I drilled a hole into the side of the case, right above the GPUs, and fitted a 140mm Noctua fan, including a grill on the outside, and the rubber mount pins. The panel does not vibrate, and the temperature of my GPUs dropped by around 15C.
As a result, my system runs way quieter under heavy load, and quietens down to a whisper during idle.
A side panel fan is definitely the best solution, it just has to be done right.
JPForums - Monday, October 1, 2012 - linkA side panel fan isn't necessarily the best solution. Though, it is the correct answer for many cases, there are cases designed to flow large volumes of air through the case with minimal obstructions. In these cases, a side fan doesn't necessarily help. Silverstone's Raven RV02/ Fortress FT02 have no side panel fan, but produce some of the lowest GPU temperatures on the market. I had a buddy cut a hole in the side panel of an FT02 to mount a fan for the GPUs, thinking he could get the temperatures even lower (very nicely done by the way). Unfortunately, it caused more noise, more turbulence in the airflow, and ultimately, higher temperatures across the board. He even re-cut it for a larger fan, but to no avail. He ended up ditching his modded side panel for an original with no fan.
That said, there are plenty of cases, like the Cooler Master HAF series, where side panel intake is absolutely critical as front intake is clearly obstructed. This type of case isn't necessarily inferior, just different. Done properly, this cooling style isn't really any noisier than the more free flowing style. Given a high end video card or two in this type of case (such as your case), the side fan does in fact reduce overall system noise (as you described).
Sabresiberian - Monday, October 1, 2012 - linkI think you are really stretching here to try to make your point. Side vents aren't necessarily more noisy, and if you are getting any kind of increased vibration from a fan - you need to stop using dirt-cheap fans! Seriously!
Personally, I want a side fan. I realize my opinion is influenced from the days when graphics solutions started overpowering case cooling designs to the point where pulling off the side cover and setting up a fan to blow across the video card was a necessity, but I've found that a side fan can still significantly drop the temperature of a card.
You can say proper design makes for a better solution, and certainly that has a lot of truth, but in the end moving air is going to be important enough to some builds that the side fan will be of great benefit. If you don't need or want that, buy a different case.
rarson - Monday, October 1, 2012 - link"if you are getting any kind of increased vibration from a fan - you need to stop using dirt-cheap fans!"
My thought exactly.