In and Around the Lian Li PC-90

While Lian Li does have the odd stylized enclosure design, their brushed aluminum cases tend to really epitomize simplicity of style. End users looking for something with a little more flash are sure to be disappointed, and nowhere is that more apparent than with the PC-90.

Externally, the PC-90 is almost entirely black brushed aluminum, with the rear and bottom of the case still sporting the typical silver sheen. The front features two external 5.25" drive bays, one of which has an included bezel cover. Connectivity is handled by two USB 3.0 ports that use an internal motherboard header, the standard HD audio connectors, and an eSATA port. The eSATA port is a nice touch, but I feel like USB 3.0 largely supplants it and Lian Li can probably dispense with it in a future revision. The power button is a sliver of rubber with a blue LED behind it, while the reset button has the red IDE activity LED behind it.

On the top of the case, Lian Li has a plate that can be removed to install a 140mm fan inside the enclosure, but this seems like another useful feature that may not be as useful in practice; you'll see from the test results later on that cooling is not one of the PC-90's weaknesses. This fan mount also winds up being planted squarely between where the power supply and optical drive are expected to go, potentially causing clearance problems later on. As a result it's probably better left occupied by the plate, which means you just get a cut-out shape marring the top of your case rather than something you're likely to use.

When we get to the back, we see Lian Li employs a mounting bracket for the PSU to allow for easy installation; this tends to be more common in designs with top-mounted power supplies. Everything else is bog standard, with a 120mm exhaust fan and ten expansion slots with ventilated covers.

Of course, once you remove the side panels (each secured with two thumbscrews and the main side panel additionally able to be secured with a padlock), you'll see where Lian Li's engineers took some liberties with the classic ATX enclosure layout. There's a top rail for supporting the power supply, and then a large motherboard tray with a cutout for cooler backplates.

Yet you can also see how Lian Li was able to cram so much in the enclosure: there's no space behind the motherboard tray for routing cables, and drives are instead mounted to a pair of plates and either pressed up against the side panel of the case or stretched internally on the undersides of the plates; you'll see on the next page how it all comes together. There's also a third pair of plates in the center that's theoretically intended for routing cables, but in practice winds up being largely superfluous. Thankfully you can choose to dispense with any or all of these plates, using only what you need, as they're completely removable.

The internal fans also all use 3-pin fan headers and all come connected with 3-pin to molex adaptors, allowing you to choose how you want to power them. Likewise, Lian Li also includes a USB 2.0 adaptor for the internal USB 3.0 connector.

My experiences with the previous Lian Li enclosures I've tested left me a little bit wary and skeptical of the design, but thankfully the PC-90 proves to be a lot more logical (and easy to put together) in assembly than would first appear.

Introducing Lian Li's PC-90 Assembling the Lian Li PC-90
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  • ckryan - Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - link

    Lian Li's are difficult to build in for the most part. Especially the smaller ones. The PC V351 is a total bitch.
  • just4U - Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - link

    The older cases were a joy to work with.. Still never had a better case then the Lian-Li PC60.. for it's era it was remarkable. I still have two in use today and I to work with alot of the new designs that come out so it's not like there isn't something to compare to.

    Todays' Lian-Li needs to get back to the basics and understand what we want rather then throwing weird our way and hoping we will buy..... and I hope their execs read this!!! I'd really like to pull the trigger on new lian-li's but for now i'll pass and keep buying from corsair and cooler master, with the odd nod to antec.
  • pandemonium - Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - link

    I, for one, enjoy the simplistic look of Lian-Li's cases.
  • Robalov - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    Nice results, but for that price, it looks a mess.

    I would like to see cheaper iterations based around that design in the future however.
  • cjs150 - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    I love Lian li for much the same reason I love Silverstone cases, they dare to be different. There is a real attempt to rethink case design, unlike most case manufacturers whose idea of innovation is to stick a fancy front on the case and change the fans from 120mm to 140mm.

    Sadly like Silverstone sometimes the quality of construction does not match the originality of the original concept.

    Mking the case 25mm wider and allowing for cables to be routed round the back would have been simple to achieve and immeasurably improved the case. Alternatively why not mound the drives behind the motherboard but with some channels for cable routing.

    Fundamentally a nice try by Lian Li but not really convincing
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    To make that work with the giant mobo form factors they're supporting they'd also need to make it an inch taller to have space for cable holes on the bottom. Not sure if they'd also need to mess with anything on the front end since it's hard to visualize how a massive HP-TX board actually would sit in it.
  • cjs150 - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    Maybe - although running cable holes down side of MB tray makes a lot of sense too.

    As a case I think it probably has real potential for watercooling but for a standard ATX board - radiators on front and bottom look rather obvious locations
  • Luay - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    For a single GPU build, any two or three 120mm fan equipped case from CM, Rosewill or Antec for less than $60 will do the job.
    For SLI/CF, any mid tower 140mm fan equipped case for less than $100 such as the Rosewill Blackhawk will do.
    For Tri-SLI/CF, I'll start looking for the 230mm big boys, HAFX or the $150 Rosewill Thor.
    For Quad SLI-CF, I'll need a case with two PSU mounts and a minimum of four 230mm fans such as the $200 Rosewill Blackhawk Ultra.

    as for this case, no side fan means the two 140mm front fans won't push the air all the way to the exhaust fan at the back, if more than one GPU or any obstructive device is installed on the motherboard. The roof intake fan is already feeding most of the air to the CPU and the cooler if it's there. I don't think it's safe to install more than one non-vapor chamber custom cooled (inside-case heat dissipating) video card in this case!

    I don't believe this is a gamer's rig at all and your recommendation for the PC90 as such worries me.
  • Iketh - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    Anyone who buys Rosewill is wasting money. Anything marked with Rosewill, run the other way as fast as you can.

    As for the rest of your post, you sound like a troll or a genuine retard.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    I disagree. The Rosewill Thor v2 has shaky build quality, but it's not terrible. On the flipside, the case is an incredible performer and probably the best bargain for a full tower on the market today.

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