Lian Li PC37 Aluminum Mini Tower Case 14th September 2003
Aluminum cases are all the rage these days with their light weight and superior heat dissipation making them favorites among overclockers. Aluminum is also a lot easier to cut than steel when it comes to modding. Lian LI have been manufacturing an affordable range of such cases for many years. Today we will be looking at the entry level PC37.
Being a mini tower we can expect space to be a bit tight but straight away we see 5 useable external 5.25" bays (the top one that looks like a CD drive can have such a device placed behind it and still access it with the button and flap.). We'll look at where hard drives can go later.
Switching to the back we see the now familiar absent power supply. This allows the user to install a PSU of their own choosing (high power, ultra quiet - whatever the priorities are). It is readily apparent though that the motherboard extends under the PSU and this may restrict the use of large and/or tall CPU coolers as the CPU will typically be under the PSU. The best solution seem to be using the CPU fan to blow air upwards rather than suck downwards in conjunction with the PSU fan directly above the CPU expelling the hot air so this is not really a problem for the creative user. The two 60mm fan mounts down the side are ideally positioned to cool AGP/PCI cards.
Nothing special about the side except to note that thumbscrews are used throughout which minimizes the need for a screwdriver. Readers should just be able to make out three smudges that are finger shaped. We left these on to show just how easily the brushed aluminum picks up grease etc. so if the case is to be shown off it may need to be cleaned once a month or so. Normally we advocate the use of an air intake on the side but in a case this small the CPU tends to be obscured by the PSU.
Looking inside we find many connectors. As well as the usual LED ones we have connectors for USB, Firewire and audio. Of particular note is the drive cage (not removable) that extends the entire length of the front allowing so many 5.25" bays to be available. This leaves room for two hard drives and a floppy. The front air intakes don't have space for fans but are positioned in such a way as to provide effective cooling for hard drives by air being sucked in through them.
The top of the case has an air intake and comes with a fan installed. The position is good as it is right next to where a CPU would be on most motherboards.
A nice touch is the front connectors clearly labeled in the above picture which are tucked away behind a discrete flap.
Removing the front shows where the hard drive would go as well as the overall good construction of the case.
So how does it perform? We had no problem fitting any motherboard and no problems with any coolers as long as we used the air extraction trick described above. The CD bezel worked fine with our Pioneer DVD Writer and the LEDs were not too bright (take note Cooler Master). Readings showed that the CPU temperature was a staggering 12 degrees Celsius below the same setup in our ATC-710 steel case. The main reason for this is the aluminum in the case acting as a giant heat sink. Also of great benefit is the placement of the intake on the top of the case which blows cool air directly onto the CPU which the CPU then blows straight out through the PSU.
This case has a performance that truly belies its size. Usually we wouldn't use a mini tower case ourselves for space reasons but we found we could fit just as many devices into the PC37 as a typical midi tower case. Cooling was superb and will please overclockers as will the light weight making it easy to carry to LAN parties etc. This is a high quality Aluminum case at a good price that has lots of features and would make an ideal first case for anyone thinking of "going Aluminum" for whatever reason.
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