Usually in this section of a case review I’d ramble on about nifty features like hard drive mount trays, extra slots for 120mm fans and in built fan controllers, but the truth is that the PC-XB01 can’t really be directly compared to an equivalent PC case. A PC case has to cater to the needs of literally millions of different hardware configurations, whilst the PC-XB01 has only to accommodate one, and so is understandably feature light.
All the exterior panels of the case are made of the same brushed black aluminium we’ve seen for a while from Lian Li, and while undeniably gorgeous and sturdy, it’s still a terrible magnet for finger prints.
Throughout the course of this review we’ve had to wipe clean the case numerous times to remove the thick covering of tech-journo finger prints, and have even been forced to use cleaning solvents to dislodge the more stubborn marks – this is certainly not a product you’ll want to handle a lot.
The aluminium also scratched surprisingly easily, and just by moving the case around a desk while fitting our Xbox 360 into it resulted in dozens of fine scratches. This is surprising and not something we're really used to, but then again on a normal Lian Li case you sit it on its feet and rarely angle it differently, whereas a 360 can be put on its side, or base and if you're like us, is more often moved about depending where we game.
Other than the large removable side panels, which are secured by six small screws each, the rest of the case exterior is composed of two curved pieces of aluminium; one for the front and top panel and another for the rear and bottom panels. The front panel is mostly composed of a pre-drilled grill allowing significantly improved airflow to the 360’s mainboard and cooling array, as well as a well sprung DVD drive cover, and magnetically secured hatches for the memory card and additional USB slots.
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The USB and memory socket hatches feel pretty crappy to be honest: they aren’t sprung and have no opening or closing resistance whatsoever. The magnets that are used to hold them closed aren’t really strong enough either, so hatches are easily knocked open during general use. Bizarrely, the additional USB hatch runs the full width of the case despite the USB ports themselves only rising to half the case’s height, presumably a result of Lian Li aiming for a symmetrical design or saving money by using the same size slot, twice.
The rear of the case is dominated by the 120mm cooling fan Lian Li has brought in to replace the dual 70mm cooling fans of the Xbox 360, and is also joined by pre-cut holes for water cooling and the required holes for the power, CAT5, rear USB and VGA/HDMI plugs. To their credit, Lian Li has made the PC-XB01 compatible with all versions of the Xbox 360, with included plastic blanking plates to tidy up the rear holes if you’re running a non-HDMI version.
The aesthetics of the PC-XB01, as always, will be down to personal preference, but we can’t help but feel it’s just a little plain and bland, although we’re sure the minimalist brigade will approve. While this will only complicate the argument of which console looks better, the PC-XB01 is certainly a massive departure from the concave curves of the stock 360, whilst avoiding the George Forman grill look of the PS3.
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In fact, with all the curved black aluminium and chunky top to bottom side panels though, we can’t help but notice the design similarities between the PC-XB01 and the recently reviewed Lian Li Tyr X2000 case, to the point that the X2000 should probably be paying child support to the PC-XB01’s mum.
Inside, the PC-XB01 is predictably spartan, with a large hood to focus airflow over the 360’s heatsinks, static non-removable motherboard tray and mounting brackets for the 2.5” hard drive and DVD drive. As we’ve already said, the PC-XB01 only needs to be able to accommodate one hardware setup, so this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
However, there doesn't seem to have been mush to push to offer anything more than enough to get the job done. The DVD and hard disk drives don't have any sort of anti-vibration rubber grommets, there's no option to mount any more fans for additional improved cooling, and no dust filter for the front mesh section, so expect the internals of your Xbox 360 to get gunked up in no time with dust and fluff. It seems to us that Lian Li could have done so much more to improve the PC-XB01 with the minor additions and attention to detail that makes their PC cases so legendary, but have held back.
While a sturdy build material marred by susceptibility to finger prints and scratches and dodgy hatches might count a little against the PC-XB01, the real clincher for this product is the ease of transferring your Xbox 360 into it, which is what we’ll look at next.