Introducing the Lian Li PC-TU200

More and more lately, mini-ITX boards are becoming very feature rich and users are needing fewer expansion cards in their desktop systems. Where once upon a time we'd need a wireless card, a video card, maybe an eSATA card and/or a sound card, now modern mini-ITX boards can cover just about all of these bases short of the GPU. TV tuner cards aren't even what they used to be with vendor lock-in by cable companies. All of that means that in many cases (no pun intended), all the end user is really going to need is the single PCI Express x16 the board provides.

Addressing this segment of users, Lian Li sent us their PC-TU200 enclosure, a mini-ITX case that offers two expansion slots just for those double-wide video cards that have become de rigeur. The TU200 includes a carrying handle at the top that makes its purpose abundantly clear: producing a case perfect for LAN warriors.

When we were first contacted by Lian Li's PR team, we were posed a question: what do we want to see? Our coverage of full- and mid-towers so far has been pretty good, but smaller enclosures have oftentimes gone by the wayside. So while we do have a couple of larger cases from Lian Li on the bench waiting for review, the TU200 is both one of their newer releases and also one of their most compelling. Cursory examination of the enclosure suggests that for both thermals and performance, it should be a big winner similar to (one of my personal favorites) SilverStone's Temjin TJ-08E, using a similar single-fan wind tunnel design.

Lian Li PC-TU200 Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor Mini-ITX, Mini-DTX
Drive Bays External 1x 5.25"
Internal 4x 3.5" (3x 3.5" if the top 2.5" is occupied) and 2x 2.5"
Cooling Front 1x 140mm intake fan
Rear -
Top -
Side -
Bottom -
Expansion Slots 4
Front I/O Port eSATA, 2x USB 3.0, mic and headphone jacks
Top I/O Port -
Power Supply Size ATX
Clearance 11.5" (Expansion Cards), 80mm (CPU HSF), 140-160mm (PSU)
Weight 6.9 lbs. (3.15 kg)
Dimensions 13.35" x 8.7" x 11.42" (360mm x 210mm x 320mm)
Price $179

There's really no getting around it: the TU200 is tiny. At just a touch under seven pounds, this enclosure is substantially lighter than my cat (who isn't stunningly overweight for an indoor cat if you can believe it), and frankly smaller to boot. Between the diminutive dimensions and the surprisingly rich internal design, one has to wonder if there isn't some kind of strange witchcraft at work to get all of these parts to fit into this tiny enclosure. As it turns out, a little bit may be involved.

In and Around the Lian Li PC-TU200
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  • Dustin Sklavos - Monday, October 31, 2011 - link

    I actually tried to mount the PSU upside down; the problems there are two fold.

    First, you run the risk of reducing air pressure around the CPU (the CPU's cooler is typically going to be an intake, especially since you can't install a tower cooler in this case.)

    Second, the cabling on my power supplies actually PREVENTED them from being installed upside down because the connectors themselves would jam up against the drive cage.

    Seriously, that drive cage is a major issue.
    Reply
  • londiste - Monday, October 31, 2011 - link

    by the way, they have already done the exact same case layout in a simpler and in my opinion better in couple of ways - venting holes for psu on the side panel and simpler drive bay (or, two of them - fitting 4+2 drives if you don't use a graphics card)

    the same case i brought up in the last lian li case review comments pc-q08. :)
    Reply
  • Soulkeeper - Monday, October 31, 2011 - link

    I almost got this for my llano build
    Ended up going with the PC-Q11B because it was smaller and didn't have an annoying top fan
    and it was half the price ...
    No point in putting a full-sized vid card in a mini-itx setup for me
    I also looked at the PC-Q07, but it lacked hd space and front panel 3.0 usb headers (it would have been an inch or so smaller on height and depth I believe), plus No fans at all.
    Reply
  • Robert Kooijman - Monday, October 31, 2011 - link

    Interesting case!

    If underclocked a bit, the front fan could be replaced by a speaker. Add some dampening material, and you've got a nice portable HTPC/radio.
    Reply
  • cjs150 - Monday, October 31, 2011 - link

    There was me thinking the case bore a remarkable likeness to a high end metal camera case - but yes it could be a speaker.

    It is a great concept but flawed execution.

    1. Unlike some I like having an optical drive but slimline is fine
    2. Unless using the case for file server there is no need for storage to be more than an SSD + HD
    3. Cable routing needs more thought, short cables are needed and maybe some for of build in power distribution (just an idea)
    4. Take all the crap out between fan and M/b and let the air flow
    Reply
  • AnnihilatorX - Monday, October 31, 2011 - link

    I think the case looks like a guitar amp really Reply
  • Locut0s - Monday, October 31, 2011 - link

    I noticed you have mentioned a few times now about LP4/Molex connectors on fans. I couldn't agree more, however perhaps the blame should be shifted more directly onto the fan manufacturers. Now, granted a lot if not most of the time they are the same company as the case manufacturers. Coolermaster, Zalman, Antec all make both cases AND fans. Still fans as a standalone accessory represent a large enough market that I DO think the blame should be placed more directly here and there are lots of smaller bit players in the market that only sell fans. I don't know of a single company that sells a fan currently with a sata power connector on it, though it would not surprise me if such a beast existed. Also fans are not the only accessory still using molex as a standard. A heck of a lot of accessories and the modding market still is. Fans, fan controllers, cold cathode tubes, LED case lighting, water pumps, all still use molex routinely. You still see it on high end motherboards as a way of delivering extra power above and beyond specs for stability and overclocking. All of this is indeed annoying, Especially in an era of modular power supplies being so common. What's the point of a modular power supply when I can't chose NOT to plug in the molex cables. Still I think the blame should still be focused more squarely on the accessories and fan markets specifically. Reply
  • 7Enigma - Monday, October 31, 2011 - link

    I'll keep the Molex/IDE setup. If I could eliminate SATA power and data cables from my system I would be a happy person. The SATA design is probably the worst connector I've ever seen due to fragility. You connect a Molex and you can literally hit it with a hammer and it won't quit. You accidentally bend the SATA cable a bit during installation and you break off the connector and have a real mess on your hands.

    About the only cable worse is USB because they STILL haven't figured out a way to make it obvious which side is which and due to bad luck I have about an 80% chance of having it the wrong direction. But at least that connection is more secure than the L-shaped piece of junk that is SATA.
    Reply
  • Taft12 - Monday, October 31, 2011 - link

    Hallelujah! Next time add HDMI to your poor connector design rant, too.

    I've got an early-gen WD Raptor (non-veloci-) and it had BOTH molex and SATA connectors so you could go either/or. I wish they had kept that trend going....
    Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Monday, October 31, 2011 - link

    I hear you on the USB-in-backwards issue. I would have that problem all the time until reading a USB spec article. Any USB cable that is made to spec should have a USB icon on one side of the plug, the side with the icon goes up! Of course some cables aren't market with the icon, and sometimes the ports are twisted around a bit, but it gives you a chance better then 50/50. Reply

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