Introducing the Lian Li PC-A05FN

If you're willing to shell out the money for them, there are a lot of interesting alternative enclosure designs on the market. Companies like SilverStone, Thermaltake, and Lian Li are happy to sell you more experimental and exotic cases once you get past $150 or so, but what if you want something a little spicier without breaking the bank? At $99 Lian Li has you covered with the new PC-A05FN. There are a lot of good (or at least interesting) ideas at work in the PC-A05FN, but how well do they pan out?

From the outside the PC-A05FN looks like a fairly typical midtower enclosure, albeit one made entirely out of aluminum, but the dimensions are a little unusual. This is a surprisingly short, surprisingly deep enclosure, and one you wouldn't expect to be able to fit a full ATX motherboard. But appearances can be deceiving, and when you pop it open you'll see it's anything but typical.

Lian Li PC-A05FN Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX
Drive Bays External 2x 5.25", 1x 3.5"
Internal 3x 3.5", 2x 2.5"
Cooling Front 1x 120mm exhaust fan
Rear 1x 120mm intake fan
Top 1x 140mm fan mount
Side -
Bottom -
Expansion Slots 8
Front I/O Port Power and reset buttons, mic and headphone jacks, USB 2.0, USB 3.0
Top I/O Port -
Power Supply Size ATX
Clearance 10.5" (Expansion Cards), 165mm (CPU HSF), 160mm (PSU)
Weight 9.7 lbs (4.4kg)
Dimensions 8.27" x 15.16" x 19.69" (210mm x 385mm x 500mm)
Price $99

As you can see from the specifications, there isn't that much that seems noteworthy for a basic midtower. The PC-A05FN seems a little shy for hard drive mounting space, but not that many users need more than three 3.5" drive bays, especially with how frequently people are using SSDs now; we have space for two of those as well. Something unusual should catch your eye, though: the PC-A05FN has flipped the traditional airflow design. Instead of taking in cool air from the front and exhausting hot air out of the back, Lian Li has opted to bring cool air directly into the CPU heatsink fan and then blow it over the hard drives out of the front. It's definitely a shift in priorities.

In and Around the Lian Li PC-A05FN
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  • ArteTetra - Thursday, December 08, 2011 - link

    I think this case was designed to be put in a piece of furniture. Hot air is expelled from the front because furniture is usually closed on the back. The compact size also fits this role.
    I guess there are people who could be very interested in this.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Thursday, December 08, 2011 - link

    If the back is closed, where would the case get the cool air it needed? You need 2 sides to be relatively unobstructed in order to ensure good temperatures and noise. It really doesn't matter if it's front to back or vice versa if the rest is similar. :-) Reply
  • geniekid - Thursday, December 08, 2011 - link

    "the overarching theme is that people want an enclosure that reminds them of the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey."

    Lol! So true. Myself included.
    Reply
  • NINaudio - Thursday, December 08, 2011 - link

    we could get a review of the lancool PC-K9? That looks like a very interesting case and I'd love to see how it stacks up. Reply
  • bji - Thursday, December 08, 2011 - link

    This case is not for everyone. It is smaller and has weaker cooling characteristics than other cases. It works perfectly for my setup, which is a Phenom II 1075T, SSD drives, a high-end aftermarket heatsink and 120mm fan CPU cooler, a singe low-speed quiet 120 mm case fan at the back, motherboard, and nothing else (no dedicated GPU, I just use the crappy one on the motherboard, I don't do any gaming whatsoever). My whole system stays as cool as I could want.

    So if your cooling needs are moderate, this case is fine.

    I personally appreciate the fact that it doesn't look like a big plastic piece of crap with weird angles, holes, and plastic extrusions everywhere. It looks classy and understated. The aluminum is thin like someone said but I find it to be strong and durable enough.

    The *only* quibble I have is that the lid for the top USB ports/audio ports is kind of cheaply made. It has sharp edges and the hinge protrudes out of the top surface. It would be nicer if it was flush somehow, it would fit the smooth surfaces of the case better.
    Reply
  • 8steve8 - Thursday, December 08, 2011 - link

    who needs a full size atx motherboard anymore???

    ... and by that, almost no one needs a full size atx case.

    this case might be worth looking at if it was microatx
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Thursday, December 08, 2011 - link

    Pretty much my thoughts these days. Only reason to go full ATX these days is insane enthusiast builds or shaving off a few bucks. Reply
  • zhadlp - Thursday, December 08, 2011 - link

    for that size, its more suited for an matx build... and I'd still prefer my A04 compared to this one, they both have belong to the same price point I think.

    easy to mod too... :)
    http://www.techpowerup.com/gallery/2983.html
    Reply
  • CZroe - Thursday, December 08, 2011 - link

    Not one single shot of the front with a PSU installed with the faceplate removed? I was curious about how far the thing protruded and wondered if the PSU was inset a bit to compensate for that. Reply
  • shakyone - Thursday, December 08, 2011 - link

    I purchased the original one of these, four years ago. It has been sitting in my kitchen, quietly humming away, always on.

    The beauty of this thing is that it just looks "classy" and simple. It is very tiny, yet it fits a full size ATX motherboard! Seriously people, this baby can fit a fully loaded system, and look petite doing it. If you want to put a PC out where it doesn't need to draw attention, this is the case to do it. It doesn't draw any attention to itself in the process, that was the goal.

    As reported, yes it runs hot. I scaled back from a high end graphics card for a Radeon 5770, that ran cool. I also have to be careful when picking parts, because it is small.

    I'm waiting for the price to drop on this version, and I'm pulling the trigger, as an upgrade. The Lian-Li quality, really closed the deal. I was able to get all matching Lian-Li accessories, and it keeps it diminutive appearance. I get that they are not the best of the best, but they work very well, and look like the belonged there all along. They have more matching case accessories than I think any other manufacturer, and it is worth it, for me.

    You can do a lot with this one, that is its secret!
    Reply

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