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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  • Iketh - Saturday, June 16, 2012 - link

    I already have 3 HDDs installed, why do I need the cage? Reply
  • Iketh - Saturday, June 16, 2012 - link

    BTW, that's a passively cooled 2600k @ 4.3GHz at 79C with prime load WITH THE DOORS OFF

    however, evo + 2600k is lapped
    Reply
  • Olaf van der Spek - Saturday, June 16, 2012 - link

    Passive? As in no fans at all?

    Without the cage the case looks good.
    Reply
  • wifiwolf - Sunday, June 17, 2012 - link

    Doesn't seem right to passively cool the cpu and have fan in the front and back.
    The noise will still be there, having a low noise cpu fan there wouldn't add any noticeable noise
    Reply
  • Iketh - Sunday, June 17, 2012 - link

    then i guess when i tested the noise levels with and without and found a very noticeable improvement, i must be absolutely incompetent to make the judgement... thank you for showing me the path wifiwolf Reply
  • doctormonroe - Saturday, June 16, 2012 - link

    PC-X500/PC-X500FX in the mATX formfactor would be brilliant, hopefully it would be cheaper as well... Reply
  • etamin - Saturday, June 16, 2012 - link

    I've been wondering why Lian Li (or any other company) hasn't employed the 90 degree rotated design that Silverstone uses. Is it under patent protection? Reply
  • InterClaw - Saturday, June 16, 2012 - link

    It seems like a major mistake to not let the PSU get its own air from the front, especially since it dumps its hot air at the bottom of the case. The way it is now it just recycles its own hot air. Genius... This is beside all the other cooling problems what with the GFX blocking the flow.

    Dustin, I'm curious though why you mounted the CPU cooler horizontally and not vertically to help the airflow along. Was it not possible or is that deviating from the testing methodology since the heat sink might perform differently after being reseated?
    Reply
  • RanDum72 - Saturday, June 16, 2012 - link

    I cannot believe that the case designers never thought about where the PSU exhaust is going to come out. The heat generated by the PSU is dumped inside the case. They could have drilled some holes that aligns with the PSU exhaust but even that will also be picked up by the bottom fan and thrown back into the case. All form, no function. Reply
  • kesbar - Saturday, June 16, 2012 - link

    after looking at the thermal results, the PC-A55 has carpet burn. Reply

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