Lian Li PC-90 HPTX Chassis

Jan 26 2012
Whether you are building a gaming rig, a general purpose desktop, a home server, or even a home theater PC (HTPC), the case you choose will vary greatly depending on your personal needs and taste. Recently, I was given the opportunity to review the Lian Li PC-90 full tower desktop case. While this may not be the HTPC case for many, it has some unique qualities about it that make it a compelling choice for housing a full size HTPC or Windows Home Server.
Over the years, Lian Li has produced some of the most sleek, modern, high-quality computer cases I have seen to date, and the Lian Li lives up to all the previous builds and then some. One of the great things about the Lian Li PC-90 is its compact form factor that still allows for a full MTX, or even larger HPTX motherboards, while not sacrificing a large, over-sized case.
The Lian Li PC-90, built nearly 100% out of aluminum, weighs in at just under 14lbs. In comparison to other cases that support HTPX motherboards, the Lian Li averages about 20lbs lighter. The efficient size allows even the most hard core enthusiast to build a high quality, very powerful system without compromising floor space in their home.  

Specifications

With the unique layout and dimensions of this case, there is an unlimited combination of hardware that can be stuffed into this case. While I did not have a HTPX motherboard or a 400mm video card, I was able to capture how well-thought-out this case really was.
 
Model: PC-90
Case Type:Full Tower Chassis / HPTX
Dimensions:230mm x 512mm x 489mm
Front Bezel:Aluminum
Color:Black / Silver
Side Panel:Aluminum
Body Material:

Aluminum

Net Weight:

6.7KG

5.25" Drive Bay (External):

2

3.5" Drive Bay (External):

None

HDD Bay:

3.5" HDD x 6
2.5" HDD x 6

Expansion Slots:

10

Motherboard:

HPTX
EATX
XL-ATX
ATX
Micro-ATX
Mini-ITX

System Fan (Front):

140mm fan x 2

System Fan (Top):None
System Fan (Rear):120mm fan x 1
I/O Ports:USB 3.0 x 2
e-SATA x 1
HD Audio
Maximum Video Card Size:400mm

Unboxing

One thing I have noticed is that while Lian Li cases do not come in sleek, exciting packaging they definitely know how to box it up to prevent damage during shipping. The box is nothing extraordinary but it gives enough information about the product.
The case was well secured within the Styrofoam inserts to prevent it from moving around during transit. Also included was a four page manual detailing the build process. The manual, while not being clear and concise, it does give all the information need to assemble the case with all of the typical components.

The Case

The Lian li PC-90, as previously mentioned, is completely built out of aluminum throughout the entire case. The black-brushed aluminum really shines here, and makes this case a real looker. While still very simple and clean looking, it is one stunning case. One thing most will notice is that the front bezel of the case is all aluminum, which makes this enclosure stand out further from the pack.

The case comes with two front USB 3.0 ports as well as an eSATA port on the front. The rest of the front bezel of the case includes venting for two very large 140mm fans to cool the system. Behind the front bezel are two fan filters for the large 140mm fans to prevent the PC-90 from getting loaded up with dust.
On the back side of the case includes a single 120mm exhaust fan to keep the air flowing through the case. On the rear of the PC-90, Lian Li has included pre-punched holes for those interested in a liquid cooling system.

The Interior of the case is does not disappoint and lives up to the Lian Li standards. The PC-90 has support for twelve, yes twelve hard drives (6 x 3.5” and 6 x 2.5” drives).  In order to support twelve hard drives, Lian Li uses a unique beam system that attaches to the case vertically, which allows you to cram in the hard drives. The Lian Li PC-90 also includes an interesting cable management system that hides all of the cables behind a nice aluminum shield. Another interesting feature of the enclosure, is support for a full length 400mm video card. Which is great for those gamers out there looking for that ultra high-end video card.

The Build

Below is the system hardware we used for this review
 

Motherboard:

Gigabyte GA-MA790FX-DS5 

CPU:

AMD Atholon 64 X2 5200+

CPU Cooler:Stock AMD HSF
Memory:4GB DDR2
GPU:

ATI Radeon HD 3850

Hard Drive:

1 TB WD Black 7200rmp SATA 

Optical Drive:

Generic DVD/CD

Power Supply:Antec 500watt
Operating System:Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit

As with most full-tower system builds, this build was pretty straight-forward and presented almost zero challenge. The only difficult part of the build was fully understanding of the manual, however for those builders out there that have built a system or two, they should find no trouble at all getting this system together. This case was just that easy to work with, so as long as you take your time and follow the instructions, you will have the build completed in no time at all.
During the build process, one of the more interesting features is the modular power supply mounting bracket used on the case. While not a ground breaking feature, its a nice touch as it gives access to slide in the power supply from the rear without having to finagle it into place from within the case itself. It was the small details like this that I saw throughout the build process that made working with the PC-90 an enjoyable experience.

Utilizing the cable management bracket that resides between the two hard drive breams, I was able to stream-line the power cables as well as SATA cables for the hard drives and video card. I really enjoyed having that power management bracket to route the cables. Along with the power management bracket, Lian Li included a face plate that hides all of the cables behind it. While I still couldn’t fully hide and route the cables to get a 100% “rats nest”-free installation, I was able to, for the most part, route the cables away from the primary airflow path within the case.

While I did not have a modern full-sized, three-slot SLI video card, the Lian Li PC-90 has 10 rear expansion ports that can accommodate those who have multi-card SLI video card setups. The system I borrowed for the build came from my home office/gaming PC. Borrowing the components from my gaming PC allowed me to see the sheer expansiveness of the Lian Li PC-90 when compared to the Antec Sonata II, a case I use on a daily basis. The Lian Li was in every way cleaner, more expansive and definitely easier to work with than my Antec Sonata cases.

Conclusion

With an average street price of $225 (going for $199 at Amazon at the time of review), the Lian Li PC-90 is a deal and a half. With the clean looks, high build quality, and the Lian Li name behind it, there should be nothing holding back most enthusiasts from considering this as their next case.

While this may not exactly be a HTPC case for all enthusiasts, it is still very well-suited for a Home Server with the large hard drive count. It may be too good looking, to throw in a closet where most will never see it, but at least you will know you have a good-looking case serving up all that content to your entertainment system.

Lian Li definitely has a winner here.  While I was not able to fully test out the motherboard hard drive sizes and video card lengths, you can still get an idea of how expansive the inside of the case is without sacrificing the entire size of the case itself. The system build was simple and straight-forward, and should even allow the novice of system builders a chance at building their first system without pulling all their hair out.

Pros:
  • Build quality
  • Expansive space
  • Cost
  • Silent Fans
  • Unique cable management
  • Light weight


Cons:
  • Manual can be a bit hard to read


Thanks goes out to Lian Li for providing the PC-90 review unit.
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