Lian Li PC-A55 Case Review: Unfortunate Name Befits the Designby Dustin Sklavos on June 16, 2012 12:30 PM EST
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.