Testing Methodology

For testing Micro-ATX and full ATX cases, we use the following standardized testbed in stock and overclocked configurations to get a feel for how well the case handles heat and noise.

ATX Test Configuration
CPU Intel Core i7-2700K
(95W TDP, tested at stock speed and overclocked to 4.3GHz @ 1.38V)
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z68MX-UD2H-B3
Graphics Card ASUS GeForce GTX 560 Ti DCII TOP
(tested at stock speed and overclocked to 1GHz/overvolted to 1.13V)
Memory 2x2GB Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer DDR3-1600
Drives Kingston SSDNow V+ 100 64GB SSD
Samsung 5.25" BD-ROM/DVDRW Drive
Accessories Corsair Link
CPU Cooler Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo with Cooler Master ThermalFusion 400
Power Supply SilverStone Strider Plus 750W 80 Plus Silver

Each case is tested in a stock configuration and an overclocked configuration that generates substantially more heat (and thus may produce more noise). The system is powered on and left idle for fifteen minutes, the thermal and acoustic results recorded, and then stressed by running seven threads in Prime95 (in-place large FFTs) on the CPU and OC Scanner (maximum load) on the GPU. At the end of fiteen minutes, thermal and acoustic results are recorded. This is done for the stock settings and for the overclock, and if the enclosure has a fan controller, these tests are repeated for each setting. Ambient temperature is also measured after the fifteen idle minutes but before the stress test and used to calculate the final reported results.

Thank You!

Before moving on, we'd like to thank the following vendors for providing us with the hardware used in our testbed.

Assembling the Lian Li PC-A76X Noise and Thermal Testing, Stock
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  • Iketh - Sunday, September 30, 2012 - link

    Thanks for sharing my thoughts, not just on this case but Lian Li in general. I want and have always wanted an all-aluminum case for years, but each time I look through Lian Li's stock, I'm left with that feeling of running your nails across a chalk board and I end up with a cheaper case. And that's coming from someone who bought the original Cosmos years ago...

    And, please, case engineers, stop including side vents... they're not needed anymore when you have slotted PCI covers... just give us robust intake solutions and that's it. I have never found a side intake fan that didn't rattle the door or make the case humm and I can only imagine how the case in this review would sound with the thin panels...
    Reply
  • michaelheath - Sunday, September 30, 2012 - link

    I've had a number of aluminum cases over the years, and, to be perfectly honest, the only ones that didn't feel chintzy were the cases that had other materials padding the panels and the frame. There really aren't many realistic benefits to using aluminum aside from weight - which doesn't mean much if you don't move your PC all that often. Aluminum certainly doesn't do much for heat dissipation or noise dampening, and Lian Li isn't alone in winding up with cases with middling performance that rattle and hum (though this particular case seems to avoid that).

    According to the rather thorough testing from Bit-Tech several months ago in their article, "The Big Air Cooling Investigation," where a Fractal Design Define R3 was tested with practically every reasonable (and a few unreasonable) configurations, it seems one of the most critical fan locations was in the side panel. Then again, as I mentioned before, the side panel is made of layered steel and plastic, not aluminum.

    Perforated PCI covers don't really help much when they aren't in the direct path of convection, especially if they aren't in the direct path of moving air. Typically, they sit below most of the sources of heat in a computer case and don't provide any tangible benefit except for allowing another location for sound to escape.
    Reply
  • cashkennedy - Sunday, September 30, 2012 - link

    You obviously have never had a cooler master wave master , or a cooler master atcs, both are made of aluminum so thick, you cant even bend / dent it if you tried with all your strength. I believe the first year or two lian li was around they made cases out of similarly thick aluminum, and those were the years that aluminum cases got a good reputation, later they all started being made out of sheets thinner then a coke can, and add to that the fact that aluminum helping cool the components was all hype by retards who somehow didnt come to grasp the fact that none of your components are in direct contact with the aluminum (except for possibly the hard drives), so cant be cooled by the case... Reply
  • Iketh - Sunday, September 30, 2012 - link

    actually there is obvious truth to aluminum keeping the AIR inside the case cooler... steel will act more as an insulator keeping the heat inside while aluminum will transfer that heat through the panels better, but it's negligible to the point of gimmicky Reply
  • rarson - Monday, October 01, 2012 - link

    You've got that backwards. Aluminum is a poor conductor of heat, hence the outside of an aluminum case will likely stay cooler than a steel case. Steel is a good conductor of heat; a steel case gets hotter because it's transferring heat from inside the case to outside through the metal itself. Reply
  • sor - Monday, October 01, 2012 - link

    My BS meter just went off. Nearly all metals are good conductors of heat, but aluminum, copper, and silver are among the best. Aluminum simply has less mass and doesn't RETAIN heat well, but it conducts heat just fine. Reply
  • Iketh - Monday, October 01, 2012 - link

    sorry, but you're the one that's backwards, and generally lacking knowledge on the subject as illustrated with this statement:

    "Steel is a good conductor of heat; a steel case gets hotter because it's transferring heat from inside the case to outside through the metal itself."
    Reply
  • BiggieShady - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    If steel is a good conductor of heat, aluminum is better. For purely hot air contact it's negligible, however for direct contact it matters - that's why you have aluminum or copper heatsinks instead of steel. Reply
  • johnsmith9875 - Sunday, October 07, 2012 - link

    Steel is a terrible conductor of heat. They're used in cases mainly because its inexpensive and easy to fabricate compared to aluminum. Reply
  • xc68000 - Monday, October 01, 2012 - link

    Seriously. I can't get rid of my Wavemaster because literally every new aluminum case I look is crap in comparison. It was designed more for the P4 era and as such doesn't have any 120mm fans (except for the one I cut in the side panel). There is a market, but seems like no one is making cases for it. I've never seen a silverstone, but they look like a premium case I wonder about the panel thickness though.

    And seriously...you can see the LianLi badge is on crooked in one of those photos. They have definitely strayed from where they started from.
    Reply

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