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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  • poloa - Tuesday, March 12, 2013 - link

    They seem to have quoted the package dimensions in this review, not the case dimensions :-/ The outside dimensions are really the best feature of this case! (W) 188mm x (H) 375mm x (D) 455mm Reply
  • Mugur - Sunday, June 17, 2012 - link

    I can't see any picture at all in the article. What's wrong? Reply
  • cjb110 - Monday, June 18, 2012 - link

    me too:( Reply
  • 996GT2 - Sunday, June 17, 2012 - link

    Anandtech has now reviewed both the A05FN and A55. However, I believe that both of these cases have inferior designs compared to the original PC-A05N. The A05N retains the inverted layout first seen in the A05A, and the back to front airflow design is arguably much better for CPU cooling. It would be nice to see a review of the older A05N to see whether Lian Li has been going downhill in their more recent designs. Reply
  • Leyawiin - Monday, June 18, 2012 - link

    I think they are going downhill. I have an PC-A05NB with the optional 140mm top lid and its very cool running and a very clever design. These last two are pretty disappointing. Reply
  • Zink - Sunday, June 17, 2012 - link

    When the site came back this was supposed to be Anand's review of the new Macbook. I can understand him needing a bit of sleep but save the battery rundown tests for next week and let someone remote in to your LAN to run benches. Reply
  • cjs150 - Monday, June 18, 2012 - link

    This is based on the A05N which was a great little case if you are into watercooling, the inverted designed dealt with the airflow problem by having the GPU at the top of the case.

    A55 might still be a good watercooling case if you stick to micro ATX cards because the bottom of the case looks perfect for a thick 240 radiator but instead of being a simple case to use, a fair bit of modding seems to be needed.

    Go back to the inverted design. Actually scrub the design and start again
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Monday, June 18, 2012 - link

    Cut a side blowhole and the core issue is solved. Why isn't there one? what the hell.. Reply
  • superccs - Monday, June 18, 2012 - link

    I have the A05 which has the PSU up front and it the rocks rear intake and front exhaust format well. CPU gets fresh air straight from a 120mm in the rear, the GPU gets frech air from a 1200mm in the side panel and everything is blown out the front by a 120mm and the PSU.

    That format works great, but WTH is with this mutant case? Do case designers know that the primary goal is to have a slick looking enclosure that keeps everything cool?

    Lian Li, please loose whoever designed this case in next years floods.
    Reply
  • grave00 - Monday, June 18, 2012 - link

    "In case you're not interested in a black PC-A55"

    Really, who wouldn't be interested in that? I think we could all use a black PC-A55.

    It's like shooting the broad side of a barn isn't it?
    Reply

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