Manufacturer:Lian Li UK Price (as reviewed): MSRP £150 US Price (as reviewed): MSRP $190
In the hardware enthusiast industry, it seems a given among marketing departments and PR companies that bigger is almost always better. More cores, higher clock speeds, bigger fans and more features are commonplace highlights in new product press releases, and we’ve recently seen high end cases following the trend, expanding to enormous sizes to accommodate more and more elaborate cooling setups and feature lists.
That’s not to say we don’t appreciate the results of this sort of product development when it’s done to a high standard, the Coolermaster ATCS 840 is proof of that, it’s just that we don’t all have space for, or even want, a PC case so large that it’s visible on Google Earth and Star Wars fans keep making “that’s no moon” jokes about it.
Enter Taiwanese aluminium case maestro Lian Li, which despite making one of the tallest cases on the market in the shape of the Tyr-X2000, is close to releasing the more sensibly sized Lian Li PC-9. Lacking the extensive feature list of some larger chassis, the Lian Li PC-9 is extremely compact for an ATX case while still keeping a few tricks up its sleeve to put it ahead of the competition. Can this pint sized ATX case really compete without sacrificing size, performance or that legendary Lian Li build quality? Let’s find out.
Click to enlarge
On the outside Lian Li has chosen to keep things very simple with the PC-9’s design, while still sticking to the all aluminium construction that makes Lian Li cases so unique. Decked out in black brushed aluminium we think you’ll agree it’s a gorgeous looking bit of kit with a refined simplicity in the styling that’s increasingly rare in modern case design.
The feel and finish of the aluminium panelling is excellent and the smooth and the rounded edges of the easily removable front fascia look great in combination with the mostly featureless side panels, although those looking for a more eye catching flashy design will likely want to look elsewhere.
As we’ve already said, the PC-9 is very compact as ATX cases go, measuring just 209mm (W) x 435mm (H) x 488mm (D), dimensions more in line with mATX tower cases. This makes it perfect for those with limited desktop space or who are looking for something a little more inconspicuous in their chassis choice. However, the PC-9's small size will severely limit the use of more ambitious hardware setups – needless to say you’ll struggle to fit a fully fledged watercooling loop into such a small case, although the side and roof panels are removable for easy access inside the chassis.
Click to enlarge
The PC-9’s front fascia is made of a single piece of aluminium rolled at the edges to give that curved appearance, with the five grilled 5.25” blanking plates fitted directly to the chassis rather than the fascia. The same goes for the large grilled section below them, which houses the PC-9’s standout feature, a lockable four drive SATA hot-swap hard drive bay. Lian Li includes two keys (so keep one safe!) for the door, which hinges nicely open to reveal the four bay hot swap hard disk rack, a very similar system to that used for disk storage in the ultra high end Tyr-X2000 chassis we looked at back in June.