If people left things alone and didn’t continue to innovate we would all still be driving around in Model T’s rather than the car options we have now. Lian Li has impressed me every time I have had a chance to check out their cases, but they haven’t been sitting on their hands. I recently had their new PC-10N come in. With their new rail design for motherboard installation and with its corners cut off the PC-10N does have a few new features while sticking with the all-aluminum design that Lian Li is known for. Of course I can’t leave it at that, I had to dig into the case and see what it is all about.

Product Name: Lian Li PC-10N

Review Sample Provided by: Lian Li

Written by: Wes

Pictures by: Wes

 

Specifications

Form Factor

Mid tower

Dimension

(W) 210mm

(H) 473mm

(D) 498mm

MB Support

ATX

Micro-ATX

Expansion Slots

8

Material

Aluminum

Color

Black or Silver

Drive Bays

3 – 5.25” drive bays
6 – 3.5” HDD bays
2- 2.5” SSD/HDD bays

Cooling

Three 120mm fans (two front one rear)

VGA Length

300mm

CPU Heatsink Support

155mm

Front I/O

Dual USB 3.0 ports, HD Audio

Power Supply

ATX (up to 300mm)

Warranty

One Year

 

 


Packaging

The PC-10N’s packaging isn’t any different than any of the other lower priced Lian Li cases that I have taken a look at in the past. The packaging is mostly brown with an outlined drawing of the case on the front along with a touch of color in the form of a green strip under the product name. Normally packaging that is fairly plain like this doesn’t bother with any extra color. On the side of the box you also have a specification listing along with a checkbox that lets you know if there is a black or silver case inside.

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Like any other case, the PC-10N was wrapped up in plastic inside of the box with foam on each side to keep it protected during shipping. As usual the box took a beating in its shipping to us and the case had no issues at all, so obviously it all works. Alongside of the case you also get the picture instruction manual that helps with a few details on putting everything all together.

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Outside

There were a couple things I noticed right away when I pulled the PC-10N out. First, this is the first Lian Li case that I have had in to review with angled corners on both front corners. Along with that, the second I pulled the plastic off the PC-10N I had already put oily fingerprints on the case. You will see the here and there in my photos, the spots stand out even more under lighting but it is the downside to the PC-10N’s all aluminum design. Having said that the benefits were obvious as soon as I picked the case up to move it around, it is very lite weight.

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The overall look of the case is very Lian Li and very clean. Every detail including the front panel and bay covers are all aluminum, this gives it their signature Lian Li styling. The fit and finish is tight as expected as well. Starting at the front of the case you will find three drive bays  as well as a tall vented area from just under the power button to the bottom of the case. At the bottom of the vented area you have the Lian Li logo as well. Speaking of the power button, this is the one part of the case that isn’t aluminum and I feel that the button feels a little out of place for some reason. I think it’s the large round plastic that doesn’t go with the boxy aluminum design.

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Each side has an angled corner, giving it a unique look as well as a great location for the front I/O panel. You get two USB 3.0 ports as well as your HD audio connections. Up higher up there are also two tiny dots that when powered up are your power and HDD activity’s LEDs.

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The front panel can be pulled off quickly if needed as well. This gives you access to the drive bay covers as well as the removable filters on both of the cases two 120mm front intake fans.

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Over on the left side of the PC-10N things are fairly basic. There isn’t a side panel window but you do have a nice vented area up in the top left area near the CPU of your motherboard. This is a little different; normally I see something like this over the GPUs for cooling air for tight multi GPU setups.

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On the flip side of the PC-10N, the side panel is completely basic. This isn’t anything unexpected, there isn’t much to see behind a motherboard.

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The top of the PC-10N is fairly basic as well but there is a filler plate that you can remove to additional ventilation if you need it. I love that this filler plate fits perfectly flush and at a quick glance you most likely wouldn’t even see it.

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The back of the PC-10N does look a little aged with the silver color where a lot of companies are now making sure to continue to black theme all the way around the case. The same goes for the steel wire fan grill, a perforation cut into the case here would look a lot more current. Just under the fan grill you have two water cooling tube holes for external water cooling. The 8 expansion slots mean you will be able to run up to four video cards as long as your motherboard and pocketbook supports it. Your power supply is mounted down at the bottom and Lian Li even slipped in a small vent next to the power supply for a little more airflow, similar to the vented expansion slots as well.

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I love the spun aluminum feet that Lian Li uses on their cases and the PC-10N is no different. They are high quality and fit perfectly with the all-aluminum design. Along with those feet, on the bottom of the PC-10N you also have a removable fan filter for the Power Supply intake fan. I like that they included a filter here, but you have to turn your pc on its side in order to be able to remove and clean this filter, they should look at a design that avoids that in the future if possible.

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Inside

The outside of the PC-10N is fairly unexciting, but as soon as I opened it up I could tell right away there is more to the case. First, just like the outside of the case, everything inside is all aluminum. The first thing that catches your eye is the swinging fan door that lines up with the ventilation on the left side panel. It is held in place with thumbscrews but you can swing it open and install your two fans from its back side or lift up on it to remove it to give you access to install your motherboard. What really stands out as well is that other than that swinging door, everything else is pure aluminum in color, I would love to see Lian Li anodize the inside of the case to match the outside (or even another eye catching color), even if it doesn’t have a side panel window.

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Starting up in the top right corner, the top two 5.25” bays are tool-less with a latching bar. I love the look of this design but I will admit that using it is a little harder than some of the easier tool-less designs. I also appreciate that you can remove these and use screws if you are more comfortable as well.

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Down lower the PC-10N has two hard drive cages; each holds three 3.5” drives and one 2.5” drive. Lian Li stuck with a design that has worked very well for them in the past. You screw rubber mounts onto your drives and then you can slide them in the provided rails in each cage. There is a thumbscrew that you loosen up and lift on to open up the lock to make those rails available. This keeps all of your drives very secure, I doubt that any of the plastic designs would be anywhere near as solid. For 2.5” drives you mount them on the top of the drive cages with a simple design with the same rubber mounts, you attach them and then slide them into the holes, locking it in place. This isn’t as secure or creative as the 3.5” mounts, but it gets the job done. With SSD’s weighing a lot less than hard drives I doubt it will be an issue when traveling to a LAN for example.

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The bottom mounted power supply uses the same rails that I have seen on other Lian Li cases in the past. All they do is hold it in place to keep it sliding side to side and the foam padding keeps any vibration from going through the whole case. Between this lifting the PSU up a little higher off the bottom of the case, and the weird angled vents under the power supply I have a feeling your PSU isn’t going to pull in very much for fresh air in from the bottom of your case.

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I mentioned earlier that the PC-10N uses the rail design. This is a design that I saw Lian Li introduce this year at CES. The photo below shows what it is all about. Basically they drop the motherboard tray all together and just use bars going across for any areas that your motherboard might have a mounting screw. This means there isn’t a worry anymore for how large the access hole is on the back for example and it keeps weight and costs down as well.

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With the new rail design I was very curious to see how Lian Li would handle things on the back side of the case. Obviously there isn’t a motherboard tray to hide things behind, but you can still put things behind the motherboard itself. The rail design does have a bit of a downside when it comes to wire management over a motherboard tray, in order for each to be strong they are thicker than a motherboard tray, even with the notches they provided in areas you will end up with less than a half inch of space to run your wires through with the side panel back on. We will see how this makes the installation more difficult in the next section.

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Installation and Performance

When it came to installing our AMD test bench into the PC-10N I wasn’t worried at all that the main components would fit or not. With that in mind the ATX motherboard and long GTX 780 went in without a hiccup and with room left. That is without having to even worry about the hard drive cages; obviously there won’t be any cards out to cause any fitment issues. Where I did run into a bit of an issue was with the height of my 140mm Noctua cooler. Although it fits in the case fine, there is no way to fit this with the fan door as well.

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When it comes to securing everything in the PC-10N all of your screws are in standard chrome finish and go well with the aluminum finish on the interior.

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Remember I mentioned before that I was worried about the wire management with the PC-10N. When I installed my modular power supply and started getting everything wired up I found out quickly that I was right to be worried. First and unrelated, some of the cables from my power supply were too short causing me to have to run things directly over the top of the video card to reach. But along with that I also confirmed that the space you are given between the rails and the side panel isn’t enough to fit thicker cables like your 24 pin, even the 8 pin and PCI cables are a tight fit with no room for error. Another issue that I noticed when getting everything hooked up is the lack for any area to hide your cables. The Rail design means there isn’t a motherboard that runs all the way down behind your power supply. Without the ability to run all of your cables back behind the motherboard tray you end up with a very unclean installation, even if you put a lot of time into it, at best you will have clean exposed wiring.

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Once I had everything installed and put back together. All that was left to do was get a feel for its performance. With the two 120mm fans on the front the PC-10N did a good job keeping things cool. As usual with an all-aluminum design like this, noise wasn’t out of control but it was more noticeable than in a steal case, similar to a more open air design. I couldn’t measure it, but I do think the limited air issue I mentioned before with the power supply due to the angled vents and the distance between the power supply and the bottom of the case did cause the PSU to be warmer. The light weight of the PC-10N does mean it will be easy to pick up and move around or pack up to take to a friends for a LAN. The only issue I noticed that would cause me any grief in the future was the easy finger prints. I would recommend in packing a microfiber cloth along with the PC-10N when you take it to events.

 


Overall and Final Verdict

When the Lian Li PC-10N came in I was confident that it would live up to the high expectations that I have developed for all Lian Li cases over the years. In a lot of ways, it does just that. First you are getting an all-aluminum design with top notch fit and finish; these are both things you will find on all Lian Li cases and what sets them apart from a lot of the competition. Where I was disappointed was with some of the details. First it is completely out of Lian Li’s control, but the black aluminum finish attracts finger prints amazingly quick. I also felt the overall wire management in the PC-10N was basically nonexistent due to their new rail design. It really is a shame because I do love the idea of the rail design and I suspect this helps them keep their costs down as well, meaning more people can have access to Lian Li designs, but in the end the lack of wire management killed it for me. 

Inside the case as well I noticed that the dual fan mount that swings over top of the CPU caused the PC-10N to have a limited height for CPU coolers. If you are water cooling you would be fine (and that is what this case is designed for) but you will have to be selective when picking a tower cooler. I think that same fan mount would be much better used directly over the video cards as a way to feed them cool air, and height issues wouldn’t be there as well. Also inside was my complaint about the color of the interior as a whole. With most companies moving to painted or finished interiors the pure aluminum finish inside the PC-10N does stand out more, although this is partly due to the cases price range.

The main saving grace for the PC-10N is its clean styling and lite weight. If you have no choice but to go with a full ATX build but you want to still be able to take your PC to LANs easily then this design is going to work very well for you. At the end of the day I wanted so badly to love the PC-10N but I ran into a few issues that would prevent me from wanting to use this for any of my builds. With that in mind, all of the issues I had with the case were all on the inside, if someone were to be less picky that I, considering there isn’t a side panel window most of the issues could be ignored while you enjoy the clean styling of the PC-10N.

fv3

Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: http://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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garfi3ld's Avatar
garfi3ld replied the topic: #33087 07 Oct 2013 16:49
I hope everyone had a good weekend, to start off a busy week I have a review of a new mid tower case from Lian Li
Arxon's Avatar
Arxon replied the topic: #33096 08 Oct 2013 04:49
Seems like the quality has gone down in the design aspect.

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