Lian Li PC-TU100 Mini-ITX Case Reviewby Dustin Sklavos on May 29, 2013 12:01 AM EST
- Posted in
- Mini ITX
- Lian Li
In and Around the Lian Li PC-TU100
If you read our review of the Lian Li PC-TU200, what you're going to see with the PC-TU100 should be fairly familiar. What's different is the scale, and in scaling the design down, Lian Li removed most of the elements I found problematic in that larger chassis. When you're dealing with a small form factor enclosure, elbow room is at a premium, and I wasn't as happy with the compromises made in the PC-TU200 as I am here.
First, the PC-TU100 continues to enjoy that all-aluminum construction that's a trademark of Lian Li enclosures. I'm not a tremendous fan of aluminum; like any building material, it needs to be appropriate to both the design and usage of the product, and so in some of Lian Li's larger enclosures I've often felt that it was the wrong choice. In the PC-TU100 it makes sense, though; the large handle on the top of the case is a pretty big clue as to what Lian Li intends it for. The case itself is very light and easy to lift with the handle, even after it's been outfitted with hardware.
Our review case is entirely black, with two USB 3.0 ports and a pair of audio jacks in the front beneath the intake vent. Between the vent and the slimline optical drive bay is the power button; the reset button is next to the I/O. I can't help but feel like the 120mm fan, the only active or passive cooling in the case, is a missed opportunity, though. There's definitely space for at least a 140mm fan, which would offer both superior airflow and potentially lower noise levels, but alas, the mount is designed only for a 120mm fan.
As I mentioned before, a handle is built into the top of the PC-TU100, and it's plenty sturdy enough for carrying around the case with a full computer built inside. On the bottom are four metal feet, while the back of the case is well ventilated. There's a single vent in the left side panel, above where the power supply would mount, to allow fresh air to enter the PSU separately from the rest of the system. Note the two levers on the back of the case; the side panels aren't held in by thumbscrews but are instead "popped out" using these levers.
When you do open up the PC-TU100, you reveal what is in my opinion the simplest interior Lian Li has ever designed. Lian Li interiors are typically busy and sometimes slightly daffy affairs, but there's just no room for any kind of craziness inside the PC-TU100. You get a removable drive tray at the top for the slimline bay, and two 2.5" drive mounts in the bottom of the case. Smartly, Lian Li includes a grill for the fan inside to prevent cables from getting caught in the blades.
This is definitely one of the better designed Lian Li cases I've tested, but there's still room for improvement. I sometimes feel like nobody at Lian Li actually builds their computers with these things; if there were, the front wouldn't be so scattered. It's not an aesthetic issue, but a practical internal one. The I/O, including the power switch, should all be in one place, preferably beneath the slimline bay, or vertically arranged to the side of the intake fan. There's also virtually no reason why the intake fan should be just 120mm instead of 140mm, and it could be better placed to help feed both the expansion slots and the CPU instead of just the CPU. These are minor complaints, but they would go a long way towards both cleaning up the interior a little bit and potentially improving performance.
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EnzoFX - Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - linkMore of the same. Wish they'd actually innovate. How about something like: http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1750863&...
mcbowler - Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - linkor this http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1717132
barry spock - Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - linkWow!
DanNeely - Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - linkThat's intriguing. What's the 3rd expansion slot for though? One of the handful of 3 slot cooler GPUs that have shown up or something else?
WhiteAdam - Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - linkLove my job, since I've been bringing in $82h… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I'm making it online. (Home more information)
chang3d - Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - linkI've been following that NCase for a while now. I love its design and compactness.
Assuming that Dustin will review it, I will guess that he will not like it too. The designer Necere himself did several temperature & noice benchmarks. And they are high. In fact, he doesn't even recommend watercooling the GPU with the H220 due to the fans have a lack of airflow. It is recommended to use a video card with a blower style cooler.
If you are watercooling, only use the 120mm radiator kits. The case needs the other fan slot. So you'd be better off with a nice air cooler from Noctua, etc.
Based on that, Dustin will have the same complaint here. And most likely another complaint because it's so small and tight.
P.S. I will get an NCase. I'm not hating on it. I'm just saying Dustin likely will.
meacupla - Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - linkSo, basically, too big for a compact mITX case, but too small for anything you'd want to put in a larger mITX case.
Or, more succinctly, mediocre. Especially with the likes of APU and Haswell and their improved graphics that don't require the extra space.
If only antec would give an updated version of their ISK310...
epoon2 - Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - linkAntec is probably scared off from post PC era and abandoned their case position.
thesavvymage - Thursday, May 30, 2013 - linkhonest question: what else does Antec even make? Seems to me they only make power supplies and cases... if they dont continue to innovate in cases because they are scared of a post pc era, what else would they even do to survive?
epoon2 - Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - linkThis case looks like targeting to address small, low power usage customers. The heat/thermo tradeoff does not concern me...