In and Around the Lian Li PC-A55

My initial investigation of Lian Li's PC-A55 wasn't terribly exciting, but I also hadn't given how the case would perform too much thought until assembly began. That said, I was pleased to see an enclosure that wasn't particularly busy internally or externally.

Some may take issue with the aesthetic of the PC-A55; it's extremely staid and conservative and we may be getting to the point where we feel a little saturated by basic boxes. In case you're not interested in a black PC-A55, you can get it in silver as well for the same price. The design remains the same, though: flat brushed aluminum front with only indicator LEDs, the Lian Li logo, and a single 5.25" drive bay. The sides of the enclosure share the same style, with no ventilation, only flat surfaces. The slightly perforated sides of the front bezel give the illusion of ventilation, but trust me when I tell you it's minimal at best.

The back and bottom of the PC-A55 are unpainted aluminum, while the top is the same flat black brushed aluminum with a single 140mm exhaust fan. The intake fan in the bottom of the enclosure is also covered by a removable fan filter, but the case itself needs to be lifted to snap the filter out, making it substantially less usable than designs by other vendors which allow fan filters to be slid out from the side or back. The bottom of the PC-A55 is also where the major problems with the design rear their ugly heads, but more on that in a bit.

The side panels themselves are secured with black thumbscrews and snap on and off very easily. As is typical of Lian Li's unique designs, there is no space behind the motherboard tray for routing cables; every effort seems to have been made to get the size of the enclosure down as small as possible. Inside the case is a fixed cage for the 5.25" bay and two 3.5" bays, along with sockets to mount a 2.5" drive to the underside of the cage. Note that by doing so you risk impeding power supply cabling, and power supply clearance is already at a premium. The other 2.5" mount is on the bottom of the case.

It's very clear that interior space is at an absolute premium inside the PC-A55. The bottom intake fan only adds to the height of the enclosure because it has to, otherwise clearance on the sides of the motherboard tray is at a minimum. What I do appreciate is that the design is comparatively simple; Lian Li just doesn't have room for their usual rail-mounted drives, so we make do with old-school screw mounts in the PC-A55. Motherboard standoffs come pre-installed, and the front bezel of the case easily snaps on and off. Expansion slots use thumbscrews, as does the mounting bracket for the power supply, and the power cable actually routes from the back of the case to the internal mount.

Introducing the Lian Li PC-A55 Assembling 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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