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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  • i077 - Saturday, June 16, 2012 - link

    What about just simply turn the top exhaust fan around and make it an intake? In that way the CPU area will get some fresh air that it desperately need. The CPU fan can be position to the other side of the heat sink and double as an exhaust fan, or just add an 140mm to the back.

    The power supply positioning is a massive failure though. It has no dedicated intake or out take, and ends up being a pure heat generator tuck away at the bottom corner. If they just poke some hole in the front panel and at the bottom and separate the PSU into its own thermal zone this case could have been something.

    Hopefully they do a revision soon, the case does look sharp and uses space wisely.
    Reply
  • Pazz - Saturday, June 16, 2012 - link

    Shame about the poor thermals but I suppose to be expected when they adopt a vertical system without rotating the mainboard.

    I do like the small form factor full-ATX idea though since a lot of standard ATX cases are approaching gigantic. The average enthusiast doesn't require 7x 5.25" or 6x 3.5" bays. Particularly now that SSD's are mainstream and optical drives superflous.

    PC-A05NB FTW (note I did not type A05FNB)
    Reply
  • mbf - Saturday, June 16, 2012 - link

    ...might just possibly help with cooling in this case. Reply
  • SimKill - Saturday, June 16, 2012 - link

    I'm a regular lurker here, but I think in this specific review you've made an unnaturally high number of mentions of the complete model number instead of using words like "it", "it's" etc. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Sunday, June 17, 2012 - link

    I think you're just seeing things. Why would I do something like that? Reply
  • erwendigo - Monday, June 18, 2012 - link

    Because you have a very bad sense of humor (cheapest). And "we" (more than one) can see it. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Monday, June 18, 2012 - link

    Hey, I don't go to your place of business and insult you. Reply
  • AssBall - Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - link

    Lian Li might disagree with that statement, relative to how the article was titled.

    But you can't stay mad at what was essentially a completely honest and well done review. If your product is ass, its ass.
    Reply
  • mcbowler - Saturday, June 16, 2012 - link

    LIAN LI,

    Please hire me to design a case.
    Reply
  • etrigan420 - Saturday, June 16, 2012 - link

    Really?

    I expected a little more from Anandtech.
    Reply

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