Manafacturer:Lian-Li UK price (as reviewed): TBC US price (as reviewed): TBC
Lian-Li is a Taiwanese manufacturer with a rock-solid reputation for producing high quality aluminium cases. If it was a computer game developer then it’d be Ion Storm (before everything went wrong); the Taiwanese equivalent of John Romero running around shouting that “Design is law!” as minions churn out incredibly gorgeous PC cases of all shapes and sizes.
Because that’s the word to describe the cases on offer from Lian-Li; gorgeous. There’s no denying or avoiding it; the sleek and simple lines of cases like the PC- B25 are instantly and overwhelmingly appealing.
So, when the V350 arrived in the office it’s understandable that the unboxing was quite the occasion. Staff members from both bit-tech and our sister publication TrustedReviews clustered around my desk when I got out my penknife and cut the seal on the V350's cardboard shell. The only thing audible over the sliding sound of metal and cardboard was the collective hum of approval from all around.
And if you think that that’s sad then you should know that even worse is that I’m not exaggerating.
Still, even with a Lian-Li there’s always the chance that the case could be a disaster, so after the initial awe had worn off I came back to the V350 to review it with fresh eyes and steadier hands. Would the V350 be to Lian-Li as Daikatana was to Ion Storm, or could it be the next Deus Ex of PC case design? Let’s find out.
I’m not small, I’m just streamlined!
OK, so before we go anywhere we may as well get size out of the way and tell you that the V350 is a MicroATX case measuring 279x262x373mm (W,H,D). Therefore, if you’re looking for a case to hold your new uber-ninja gaming PC then you’ll probably want to look somewhere else because you’ll be limited by the motherboard.
Even if you did find a suitable MicroATX motherboard for gaming then you’d still be limited by the size of the case and, as we said, this case is a little lacking in the dimensions department.
But that’s not to put it down – oh no. The case is feisty and gorgeous, with an incredibly high build quality and well finished aluminium panels. It’s the type of sturdy and tough build which might indicate real strength if it were ultimately any more than a metal box. The type of thing which might, if it were personified, shout that it isn’t short, it’s just streamlined.
The front of the case is uncluttered and simple to an extreme. There’s two buttons and an off-centre vertical grey stripe and that’s it. No door, no drives, no nothing else. The buttons aren’t even recessed, they’re flush with the surface of the front panel and only require the merest touch to set off, passing the Martin Test with style and grace.
Click to enlarge
So, where are all the drives I hear you ask. Well, they are on the side panels, each of which gives access to two 5.25” drives. This means that if you want to put a disc of any sort into the V350 then you’re going to have to do it through the side of the case. I’m a little torn on how I should react to this. Part of me thinks that it’s a masterstroke of design which ensures an uncluttered front panel and gives you a more sensibly placed CD drive.
On the other hand, if you’re confined to a small space (which, one might argue, is the reason to use a case like this and a MicroATX mobo) then the drive placement will be a pain. You’d need to guarantee a half dozen inches of space in at least direction in order to use the CD drives – twice that if you wanted a drive on the other side.