Assembling the Lian Li PC-A76X

If you've kept up at all with my reviews of previous Lian Li cases, there should be very little in the PC-A76X that will surprise you. Most of the design choices I've come to expect from Lian Li, for better or for worse, are present in the PC-A76X. Thankfully the sheer size of the enclosure goes a long way towards making it easy to assemble, provided you have the strength necessary to manipulate it.

Starting with the motherboard tray, Lian Li has the standoffs for the motherboard built into the tray along with holes for additional standoffs depending on the form factor of the motherboard you're using. Unfortunately, either as a result of paint or just inadequate machining, some of the holes actually proved to be too tight to fit additional standoffs into. I appreciate the convenience of the ones built in already, but the expansion holes really should've been handled with more care.

Thankfully once the board was in, the rest of the build was pretty much a breeze. You'll actually spend most of your time sifting through the mountain of grommets and screws included, though Lian Li does you a solid by also including a small plastic screw bin. 3.5" drives are handled by installing grommets and thumbscrews into the sides like wheels, and then the drive cage is opened with two thumbscrews. You raise the side, which opens the rails for the drives to slide into, then lower it again and tighten the thumbscrews to lock all the drives in place. For some reason I found this approach less troublesome than usual, though I still vastly prefer the rail systems used by Antec.

2.5" drives are handled similarly; grommets and screws go into the bottom of the drive, then the drive itself essentially slides and locks into place in the drive cage's dividers. It's a surprisingly secure mounting system, but the back of the 2.5" drive winds up being further inside the cage than I'd like. Finally, 5.25" drives enjoy a toolless locking system that's mostly adequate.

Expansion slots include ventilated covers and are held into place with thumbscrews, par for the course, but the power supply gets a removable frame. I'm not sure how necessary this frame was; there's a boatload of space around the power supply inside the case, even if you absolutely filled it to the brim with hardware. It's a nice touch, but a wasted convenience when there were other things in the case design that needed attention.

Finally, cabling the PC-A76X can be troublesome. You'll need long cables; that's not Lian Li's fault so much as it comes with the territory when you're supporting extended specs like E-ATX and HPTX. Yet the routing holes I mentioned on the previous page are both inadequate for any kind of major build, they're barely adequate for even a spare build like our testbed. They needed to be bigger, and the rubber linings themselves pop out way too easily. That said, there's at least a healthy amount of space behind the motherboard tray for routing cables.

I can't help but feel like while the underlying thermal design of the PC-A76X is sound, there are too many minor grievances with the execution. There are conveniences and features that really should've been included with a case at this price, aluminum be damned. I feel like half the time Lian Li's engineers don't actually build computers in their cases to understand why certain features have become standard in cases from other vendors; ease of use is a step up, but it's still way behind the curve.

In and Around the Lian Li PC-A76X Testing Methodology


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  • SleepyItes - Monday, October 01, 2012 - link

    I have owned several mid-tower Lian-Li cases over the years (PC-60, PC-6070, and my favorite the PC-7B plus). These all had a a very solid build quality and incredible ease of access features (removable hard drive cages, removable motherboard trays, etc.). The aluminum was thick, and there were panels and rails inside the case that provided excellent reinforcements. These things were rock solid.

    I just purchased the PC-Q18A for a Mini-ITX HTPC/Server. I have noticed the thinness of the aluminum and lack of reinforcement makes the case seem flimsy. Luckily this is a small case and doesn't need a lot of stability, but I can see how this would make a huge difference in a mid or full tower case. Maybe it's just the "Q" and "A" series cases, but it seems that Lian-Li is damaging its reputation by going with thin aluminum and not focusing on the physical stability of their cases. I have always recommended Lian-Li in the past (also Antec for budget steel), but if this is the way they are heading, I will probably look elsewhere for my future case purchases.
  • BlueReason - Monday, October 01, 2012 - link

    I really enjoy your attention to detail in reviews, Dustin, though noise and thermal testing with a build configured without consideration for the case or utilization of its unfilled cooling options doesn't really reflect how someone would actually build their rig. A case is part of a kit that requires completion on part of the builder in a way that effectively suits the particular build. Often that requires the addition or relocation of fans, and the supplied options are a part of that case's potential. Merely putting a preconfigured build in a case unaltered out of the box and letting it ride really doesn't demonstrate much, because no thoughtful builder would do that.

    I would enjoy seeing case reviews being done where the build was completed, within reason (no modding, or anything rather elaborate), in a fair approximation of how you would build it if it were going to be your daily use rig. That could mean relocating fans, or even adding them. I realize you want to stick as close as possible to what the case provides, but by definition it is an unfinished part of a whole that requires additional parts that can differ per the build. This case is an extreme example due to the size/components disparity, but I'm also referring to case reviews in general.

    Despite that, very nice review, as usual. =)
  • SleepyItes - Monday, October 01, 2012 - link

    I agree. Part of the enjoyment of getting a nice case is tweaking it with new fans and/or fan controllers, heat sinks, noise dampening materials, etc. to meet your specific goals, whether that is overclocking, noise level, power usage, or just a good overall balance of these things.

    Because those goals are subjective, it would be hard to review from this perspective, but it would be nice to at least see an acknowledgement that, with a small amount of tweaking, much better cooling and noise reduction can be attained, and what would those minor tweaks be for this case?
  • superflex - Monday, October 01, 2012 - link

    I still own my Li Li PCV1000 and love the case. While Lian Li does have crap English instructions, I find their quality to be 1st class. My 1000 has a giant scratch in the top where my 30 pound Hafler amplifier fell on it, but not a dent to be seen. Try that with your BitFenix case. Reply
  • pandemonium - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    I've been considering replacing my case for a while now, since I've started overclocking and my PC6070 can't accomodate the required air flow without needing very loud fans; this has me thinking. The notes of the build quality being lack-luster is key here. Thanks! Reply
  • FrozenAsset - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    I've built several computers using Lian Li cases. I'm disappointed to hear that the quality may have dropped. I can say that any build I've had with the cases pre-2010 have been top notch, stylish and convenient.

    As far as thermal conductivity, steel sucks. Unless you want to pay for a case made of Silver, Copper or Gold..., aluminum is your best bet. I seem to remember something about copper transferring heat better than aluminum, but aluminum dissipating it quicker than copper, which I think is why some heat sinks have a copper core.
  • deeppow - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    I have several LL cases and have just bought another.

    The only problem I've found is LL has a total absences of support and never replies to their "support" email. Last case I ordered from Newegg had a broken fan blade. Newegg couldn't provide a new fan, they could only replace the whole case (they would cover all shipping costs both-ways). To save my time I just replaced the fan myself.

    You get a new LL case, check it out completely for damage before starting a build. To be buying another LL case, I must think they are a quality case.
  • jginnane - Sunday, March 31, 2013 - link

    I'm in a room surrounded by Lian Li cases -- half active, half in the process of new builds or refurbishment. One of the nicest things about LLs is that they're essentially immortal -- visit the Taiwanese website to get a new USB 3.0 set of headers for your external case ports. Presto -- good for another 10 years! My oldest Lian Li is awaiting its 4th m/b and CPU. I've built one B10 and 2 B12s this year, and was lucky to find a red PC8-FIR unopened (which I'm saving for my granddaughter's first system).

    I'm not having issues with heat like many posters here, probably because aside from using Seasonic and Corsair 850 watt Gold PSUs, I'm careful in component selection. Who needs more than 2 SSDs and 2 internal 2.5" 3-4TB HDs these days? The killer, the multiple-GPU system, is most times just a sad case of OCD. Instead of multiple monitors on each system -- been there, tried that -- I'm replacing the 27"Samsung 1920x1200 monitors with 27" and 30" 2560x1600 single monitors.

    I can appreciate that some modest overclocking is fun, perhaps slightly profitable ... but who's paying the electric bill in your household? (I've dropped my electric bill 50% by using CREE LED downlights throughout the most heavily trafficked rooms.) Note that almost any serious overclocking can start adding 20-40% (and up) monthly to your system energy costs. (Use a Kill-a-Watt to test.) When you have a half dozen systems in 24/7 use, that's a serious no-no.
  • naisanza - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    My Antec 1200 currently has three hard drives in it right now and an SSD. 5TB total storage. My 240 radiator currently takes up the rest of the bays. Reply
  • naisanza - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    I was hoping the build quality would be denser. I was really set on getting this, because it's the best looking case with a full front panel, but the flimsy build and the irremovable hard drive cages is a pretty big deal breaker. Reply

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