In addition to the craziness going on over at the SilverStone suite, Lian Li had a mountain of new case designs on display. Most of them are smaller units (including one designed for Intel's new vertical form factor), focusing on Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX builds and not too dissimilar from the enclosures we've already tested.

Lian Li's Lancool series in 2012 will be using a steel frame with an all aluminum outer finish, and the enclosures themselves seemed remarkably staid for Lian Li designs. They continue to use the locking drive cage mechanism, but they also have toolless expansion slot fixtures that are remarkably sturdy.

Their old seashell-style enclosure also got an upgrade, and the interior is surprisingly logical given the very unusual size of the enclosure. It supports a Micro-ATX board, with the power supply mounted at the bottom and 5.25" drive bays at the top; 3.5" and 2.5" drives are mounted next to the motherboard on the partition that separates the board from the power supply bay.

Finally, an especially unusual design involved flipping the motherboard 180 degrees laterally, placing the I/O cluster in the front of the enclosure. There's an opening in the front to allow the end user to access the I/O cluster, while video card and other expansion cables are actually routed through the case and out the back. It's an interesting choice, made more compelling by the pair of 120mm intake fans in the front that produce a directed wind tunnel out of the back of the case. We're hoping to get one in when it becomes available.

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  • etamin - Tuesday, January 10, 2012 - link

    Lian Li is by far the most prolific case maker with radically unconventional designs and appear to be the only ones cranking them out on a regular basis. I'm not trying to be a fanboy but Silverstone's designs are somewhat stale now with the exception of the FT03. Personally, the all-aluminum chassis is what seals the deal for me with Lian Li, I just wish Silverstone offered more of them in mini and medium size towers. It's a shame that Silverstone has not released anything remotely similar to their legendary HP Voodoo Omen design (the Maingear Shift tower is also something that should go mainstream). With the current state of their product log, I think minimalism can go one step further.
  • etamin - Tuesday, January 10, 2012 - link

    Just to add, I have not seen anything come close to the Lian Li PC-9F for a price efficient, quality mid-sized tower ($120 shipped on Newegg). There are Silverstone AND Lian Li offerings more expensive than it that make less sense to me in terms of design. All high end manufacturers should really use it as a price/performance benchmark, including Lian Li.
  • etamin - Tuesday, January 10, 2012 - link

    ^maybe if AT can get their hands on a PC-9F, we can get some publicity on pushing case makers to be even more competitive.
  • Tetracycloide - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - link

    I wouldn't call aluminum 'price efficient.' Once you're spending 10-20% of the price of the product on something that's just for aesthetics 'efficiency' is clearly out the window. There's a lot of praise that I could heap on the PC-9F, for instance that it puts many more expensive all-steel cases to shame on design, features, and performance proving that said cases are absurdly overpriced for what they are. Price/performance isn't its attractive feature though, is it literally twice as good as some of the solid $50-60 cases that are around? No.
  • mbf - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - link

    Truer word were never spoken. Wholeheartedly agree with everything you say. I also would love to see a mainstream version of Maingear's Shift enclosure. Still beats me, how Silverstone can design this and bring out the hideous Raven 1 (on which it is based) instead.

    Also love Lian Li cases. Have had one since 2001 (PC61) and have a hard time finding somehing suitable to replace it. Although the PC-90(!) comes close. Have a look at it on Lian Li's site.
  • n13L5 - Thursday, September 10, 2015 - link

    Silverstone's cases may be lower quality than Lian Li and they certainly are all heavier with their use of mostly iron, but when it comes to small cases, SG08, FTZ01 etc, Silverstone has the more efficient layout and the better cooling strategy.

    Lian Li is just bumbling with their offbeat cases, as they are nothing but an exercise in being ...offbeat.

    I want them to make just ONE 14-20 liter mini-ITX case that can actually hold a 12" GPU and keep itself cool.

    Please, you alert me when they do make one. The TU models have way too much space wasted on HDD cages, to the point where in the fairly big TU200, you can't even fit a normal ATX PSU and even the shorter 140mm PSU installation is a pain with the cables. Nobody in their right mind would take a computer with a raid-array to a lan-party anymore.

    They are sleeping and refusing to wake up.
  • cyberkost - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - link

    I wonder if Lian Li showed any follow up to PC-TU200 (which, sadly, had some quirks)

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