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Review: Lian-Li PC-V300
June 11, 2006
Author: Geno Manufacturer: Lian-Li
Department: HTPC-SFF Model: PC-V300
Article Type: Review Time Spent: 1 Week
 
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Introduction




The small form factor crowd makes the statement "hard to please" the understatement of the year. They want every single feature of a full sized tower--like room for monster heat sinks, full sized components, and ice cold system temps--in a package one-fourth the size. Oh yeah, did I mention whisper quiet and drop dead sexy?

When the opportunity to review this case came up, both my HTPC editors had a look at the press pictures and questioned, "Is that even an HTPC case?". Next, I asked our resident case expert, Mr Slacker, but he thought the "side firing optical drive" was weird, and if you can't water cool it...no thanks. Fine. I will review it myself, though I had spent 10 seconds looking at the press release images and was not that impressed either--but hey, it IS a Lian-Li, so how bad can it be.

All four of us were dead wrong about this wonderful little case--due to ship June 20th from SilverPCS, who also happens to be offering a $10.00 discount for pre orders while supplies last.


First Impressions


Do you suddenly want a ©Pepsi? I'm going to start by saying that the first thing you notice when you take the PC-V300 out of the box is the same thing you notice about all Lian-Li cases. The build quality, materials, and fit and finish are simply the best in the business, model after model--if anything, they have gotten better over the years.

Yes, it is a SFF (Small Form Factor) case. Not the smallest, not the biggest, but just about right--a theme repeated for most of this case's design. The front features the perforated look first introduced on"V" series models, like the V1100 we reviewed here. This not only allows for some airflow, but is very nice aesthetically. Behind the perforated front, you can just make out a pair of 80mm fans. Located on the central black stripe are the power and reset buttons and the power and HDD activity LED's, much like those on the PC-S80 reviewed here. Below those, are the now standard front ports for sound, USB, and firewire--note there is no goofy little cover to get in the way or break off--less is more, and I like it like that.

OK, about those side firing optical drive bays. My first concern when I saw images of the case was that if you like your case on the right of your display in a traditional desktop setup, or have it against a bookcase, etc. in your HTPC setup, you are SOL. Turns out, you can choose either side for your drives--but not both. Having the drive/s open to the side may seem a little different at first blush, but from a design perspective, it certainly works--as it does in use as well. Weird, but after having used it for a week, I don't dislike it at all.

The right side of the case features another 80mm fan with a black mesh grill. You will also notice that there are countersunk screws showing that hold the side panels on, as well as the fan. These add a nice "mechanical" flavor that I personally like. Overall, the case is very attractive and has a nice retro 50's feel that is hard to explain, even with images. I took it home to see how it looked in our living room and my extremely contemporary wife (who is also an interior designer) immediately said "Ohh...I want that".








Features And Specs




Before we dig into the innards of the PC-V300, here are the included items: plenty of high quality polished screws, stand offs, some cable management items, and a very handy nut driver. Features /Specs from Lian-Li:

Specifications:

  • Color Options: Silver or Black
  • Dimension: 280 x 250 x 353mm (wxhxd)
  • Drive bays: 5.25” x 2; 3.5” external disk drive x 1 (can be positioned on left or right); internal hard disk bay x 2
  • Fan: 80mm ball bearing fan x 3 (holes for optional 40mm fan x 2)
  • Expansion Slots: PCI Slot x 4
  • Slideable Motherboard Tray
  • Motherboard Type: Micro ATX M/B (max size: 9.6 ” x 9.6”)
  • Front Ports: USB 2.0 x 2; IEEE 1394 x 1; Mic x 1; Audio Out x 1
  • Material: Aluminum
OK--let's have a look under the hood.


 
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For me, an HTPC case should be:
A stylish mid tower is fine.
It has to look like other home electronics equipment.
Looks? Big deal, it is all about performance.
Small, unobtrusive.
 
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