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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  • Dustin Sklavos - Sunday, June 17, 2012 - link

    Considering the mountain of cheap laughs I got working on this review, I'm happy to disappoint you. Reply
  • eBob - Saturday, June 16, 2012 - link

    My current case is full ATX and is smaller than that! I was actually considering going micro-ATX for my next build, but couldn't find a motherboard that I liked. Reply
  • crackedwiseman - Saturday, June 16, 2012 - link

    A couple of years ago I did a build for a customer in an A05, which, similarly to the A55, tries to fit an ATX board in an mATX sized enclosure. It was a bit cramped, but not that bad, and thermal performance was solid given that I had an overclocked i7-920 and a GTX 260 in there. The A05 had a totally different internal layout; I can't image why they decided to change it - this is anything but an improvement Reply
  • rickcain2320 - Thursday, June 21, 2012 - link

    The A05 doesn't work well unless you cut a hole in the top or add a slot fan. I never kept the front panel on because of heating concerns, which turned out to be true as my motherboard chipset fried from the heat, taking out the video card in the process. Reply
  • PortsOrBust - Sunday, June 17, 2012 - link

    "Unfortunately, a case I can't find any argument for."

    This thought may be anathema on a "latest and greatest" enthusiast site, but if one simply wanted a small ATX case, and used only on-board ports with no additional cards, it seems to me that most of the other issues are not deal-killers.

    Granted the PSU mount isn't ideal, but without add-in cards the airflow would likely overcome that problem, and finding a way to raise the box off the floor a half an inch or so isn't a big deal either.

    Some people will pay $110 for the size and looks of a case, but aren't looking to spend $400 on the latest and greatest video card.

    So, its by no means a perfect case, or even the best example of a compact case, but that doesn't mean there's no argument for it . . .
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Sunday, June 17, 2012 - link

    Except if you're not going to use any expansion cards, what's the point of going with a full ATX board instead of Micro-ATX or even Mini-ITX? Reply
  • erwendigo - Monday, June 18, 2012 - link

    The better quality of a good ATX motherboard, a very "little" point.

    This review is a shame. You lost the point of a minimal case ATX, you had overestimate the importance of temperatures in a system that it isn´t in the enthusiast niche.

    This case have a very specific niche, but you missundertood this and its rol.

    And the worse, you made a lot of badass jokes. :-/
    Reply
  • plamengv - Sunday, June 17, 2012 - link

    Lian Li PC-A55 compared to Antec NSK-4000 is a monster. Lian Li never had such a good case as Antec is! Reply
  • Alchemy69 - Sunday, June 17, 2012 - link

    This will do until NZXT release their M0-U7H case and then I'll go from A55 to M0-U7H. Reply
  • dave1_nyc - Sunday, June 17, 2012 - link

    I'll probably wind up feeling like a dumbass for saying this, but I can' t believe that the dimensions are correct, esp the height, which is shown as 17.6". One of my machines systems uses a Fractal R3, which feels far more spacious, (and which has room for the PSU under the ATX slots), and it's about the same height.

    It measures a little bit higher from the floor, but then it has taller feet, and hence more space under the case for air intake.

    So what am I missing? How can this case be almost 18" high and yet have so little vertical space?
    Reply

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