Introducing the Lian Li PC-A55

Marking our fifth venture into Lian Li territory in recent years, the PC-A55 enclosure we have on hand is another unique, slightly-off-the-wall design from a company we've come to expect this kind of thinking from. After all, at Computex they were showing off a case with 26 3.5" bays and another one that looks like a small train. It's not unreasonable to expect some unique cases from Lian Li, and the PC-A55 is definitely one.

What Lian Li has attempted to achieve with the PC-A55 is essentially to make a full ATX enclosure as small as humanly possible while still being easy to build and service. In some ways they've definitely achieved this, but a lot of sacrifices had to be made to get the PC-A55 to where it is and unfortunately, we're not sure they were worth it.

Before we get deeper into the review, yes, the Lian Li PC-A55 has a very unfortunate name for anyone familiar with leetspeak. Those of you with a juvenile sense of humor (like me, for example), are probably going to enjoy this review tremendously. I'm not sure how to address this otherwise; I need to refer to the model name to write the review, so hopefully we can get through this with a minimum of tittering and focus on the enclosure at hand.

Lian Li's design borrows a bit from Silverstone in that it's intended to be vertically cooled; air is drawn in from the bottom of the enclosure and out of the top. With Silverstone's cases, this is often very effective, but in my experience it has less to do with natural convection and much more to do with the clear path air has to move through the heat-generating components. Part of the reason why the FT02 is one of the best air cooling enclosures around (if not the best) is because air has a straight shot from the bottom intake up through the (preferably tower) CPU cooler and out of the top of the case, with virtually no obstructions. As you'll see, the PC-A55 doesn't share this crucial design point.

Lian Li PC-A55 Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor Mini-ITX, Micro ATX, ATX
Drive Bays External 1x 5.25”
Internal 2x 3.5", 2x 2.5"
Cooling Front -
Rear -
Top 1x 140mm exhaust fan
Side -
Bottom 1x 140mm intake fan
Expansion Slots 7
I/O Port 2x USB 3.0, 1x Headphone, 1x Mic
Power Supply Size Standard ATX
Clearances HSF 150 mm
PSU 160 mm
GPU 12.2" / 310mm
Weight 4.1kg / 9 lbs.
Dimensions 9.64" x 17.6" x 20.39"
245mm x 447mm x 518mm
Special Features USB 3.0 connectivity via internal header
All-aluminum build
Price $109

Lian Li advertises the PC-A55 as having a single USB 3.0 port and a single USB 2.0 port hidden under a door on the top of the case, but this is incorrect; the two ports share a single USB 3.0 internal motherboard header, and despite being black, the so-called USB 2.0 port does function at USB 3.0 speeds. Why they took the time to do this and advertise them as being different is beyond me.

As a whole, the PC-A55 is small and light, but because it supports ATX motherboards it's not quite small enough to notice the difference between a slightly larger, more standardized ATX case. Just the same, when we pop it open and assemble it we'll see that Lian Li made every single interior inch count; this really is about as small as they can get it while still accommodating ATX.

In and Around the Lian Li PC-A55
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  • KingKongDonkeyBong - Saturday, June 16, 2012 - link

    I'm a Mac junkie now, but rewind 4 years back and I used to build my own tower PCs like no tomorrow. I loved to pick out the best of the best components and put them together only to sell what I had done and start over again. To me, Lian Li has always stood for excellent looking aluminum cases, but they were bloody expensive then and are still today. I dreamed of a Lian Li case bak then, but I never got to build a PC with one of those beauties. :( It's great to see them still making top-notch stuff, though. Some of the better companies faded into oblivion, like SuperFlower. CoolerMaster used to make some good stuff back then, but no longer. :/ I'd put my money on Lian Li if I still had the passion to build tower PCs. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Saturday, June 16, 2012 - link

    ...did you actually read the review? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, June 16, 2012 - link

    I'd guess not. He looked at the picture and said, "That's a nice looking case!" Too bad it doesn't have the performance to back it up, unless maybe you just want to run a Core i3 CPU with now discrete GPU? Buying a $110 case for such a PC seems a bit much, though, and it still performs like A55. Reply
  • Brutalizer - Monday, June 18, 2012 - link

    There is a smaller ATX case, the Lian Li PC-V700. It is 21 x 40 x 50 cm. And it holds six 3.5" disks.
    http://www.tomshardware.com/news/lian-li-mid-case-...
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - link

    Yeah. I have a PC-G50. It is smaller than this ( 14.5" tall or so ), and has 3 3.5" drive slots. With the Add-on 4in3 bay adapter, I've had 7 HDD in it at one time. Plus it added a 120mm intake fan into the mix.

    It is not the perfect case for a couple of reasons. but I am very happy with it. However, it is by far in my mind a better design compared to this.

    Move the PSU horizontal, sideways, and reverse ( with perhaps an adapter cable going out to the back ). After removing the drive bay from the bottom of course.. Then add ventilation for the PSU intake, front, or side ( both ? ). Just thinking out loud here . . . Still lots of things could be done to improve this design. Obviously.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - link

    My guess is that this person did not read / understand the article title. Never mind the article its self.

    One thing you do have to keep in mind however. Individuals have a mind of their own. Just because you or one of your cohorts gives equipment a bad review. Does not mean that someone else has to agree.

    And there is a lot to disagree with sometimes, from the articles / reviews presented here. Everyone's priorities are different.
    Reply
  • wonderpookie - Saturday, June 16, 2012 - link

    Hehe, yea, I was just about to ask the exact same thing! Thank you for the in-depth and informative review, appreciated! Reply
  • Flunk - Saturday, June 16, 2012 - link

    Lian Li makes some great cases, this may not be one of them but there are a lot of other models so if you like the look of this there probably is a case for you in there somewhere. I have a PC-9F that is quite similar but a bit bigger than this that's just great. Reply
  • p05esto - Saturday, June 16, 2012 - link

    If you use Macs then what in the world are you doing on this site poser? This site is for computer enthusiasts and those into the latest and greatest, open standards and system, fastest machines around that can be upgraded and overclocked. Apple products don't fit under any of those headings. Maybe if we created an "overpriced preschool computing" Apple would fit nicely. No one wants Apple crap around here buddy. Reply
  • tim851 - Saturday, June 16, 2012 - link

    Who made you boss, kid?

    It sure was that guy Anand, who probably owns every Mac ever made.
    Reply

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