Assembling the Lian Li PC-A76X

If you've kept up at all with my reviews of previous Lian Li cases, there should be very little in the PC-A76X that will surprise you. Most of the design choices I've come to expect from Lian Li, for better or for worse, are present in the PC-A76X. Thankfully the sheer size of the enclosure goes a long way towards making it easy to assemble, provided you have the strength necessary to manipulate it.

Starting with the motherboard tray, Lian Li has the standoffs for the motherboard built into the tray along with holes for additional standoffs depending on the form factor of the motherboard you're using. Unfortunately, either as a result of paint or just inadequate machining, some of the holes actually proved to be too tight to fit additional standoffs into. I appreciate the convenience of the ones built in already, but the expansion holes really should've been handled with more care.

Thankfully once the board was in, the rest of the build was pretty much a breeze. You'll actually spend most of your time sifting through the mountain of grommets and screws included, though Lian Li does you a solid by also including a small plastic screw bin. 3.5" drives are handled by installing grommets and thumbscrews into the sides like wheels, and then the drive cage is opened with two thumbscrews. You raise the side, which opens the rails for the drives to slide into, then lower it again and tighten the thumbscrews to lock all the drives in place. For some reason I found this approach less troublesome than usual, though I still vastly prefer the rail systems used by Antec.

2.5" drives are handled similarly; grommets and screws go into the bottom of the drive, then the drive itself essentially slides and locks into place in the drive cage's dividers. It's a surprisingly secure mounting system, but the back of the 2.5" drive winds up being further inside the cage than I'd like. Finally, 5.25" drives enjoy a toolless locking system that's mostly adequate.

Expansion slots include ventilated covers and are held into place with thumbscrews, par for the course, but the power supply gets a removable frame. I'm not sure how necessary this frame was; there's a boatload of space around the power supply inside the case, even if you absolutely filled it to the brim with hardware. It's a nice touch, but a wasted convenience when there were other things in the case design that needed attention.

Finally, cabling the PC-A76X can be troublesome. You'll need long cables; that's not Lian Li's fault so much as it comes with the territory when you're supporting extended specs like E-ATX and HPTX. Yet the routing holes I mentioned on the previous page are both inadequate for any kind of major build, they're barely adequate for even a spare build like our testbed. They needed to be bigger, and the rubber linings themselves pop out way too easily. That said, there's at least a healthy amount of space behind the motherboard tray for routing cables.

I can't help but feel like while the underlying thermal design of the PC-A76X is sound, there are too many minor grievances with the execution. There are conveniences and features that really should've been included with a case at this price, aluminum be damned. I feel like half the time Lian Li's engineers don't actually build computers in their cases to understand why certain features have become standard in cases from other vendors; ease of use is a step up, but it's still way behind the curve.

In and Around the Lian Li PC-A76X Testing Methodology
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  • Captmcnet - Saturday, January 04, 2014 - link

    NewEgg has this case listed for $190.
    The Lian-Li web site specs show 12 internal 3.5in HDD bays.
    Your Sept 2012 review specifies only 9 such bays.
    Which is correct please.
    Wm McMullen
    bill@mcmullen-fla.net
    Reply
  • aguilpa1 - Monday, October 01, 2012 - link

    My last two cases have been Lian Li, my first a V1000 about 6 or 7 years ago and that thing was built like an aluminum tank. The panels were thick and strong, I still have it as a media server. Based on that experience my second case a full tower is a PC-P80. While very large and roomy, the aluminum on this case was not as high of quality as the original and the has a lot less features. Somewhere along the way, Lian Li began cutting corners on both their features and quality of their aluminum. I hate to see when companies have a good rep going and they start taking advantage after awhile. My next case probably won't be a Lian Li. Reply
  • hyrule4927 - Sunday, September 30, 2012 - link

    Not really why you're complaining about side vents. I have an Antec 1100 and my GPU temperatures are about 5C lower with a side fan installed. I observed similar benefits from a side intake fan on my old Cooler Master case. Reply
  • Iketh - Sunday, September 30, 2012 - link

    if you design the intakes efficiently and their flow through the bottom of the case, there is no need for the side intake

    side intake = more noise escaping from said GPU and very rarely come with a filter pre-installed, and of course vibration on the side panel
    Reply
  • Steveymoo - Monday, October 01, 2012 - link

    Actually, the extra noise part is not necessarily true. When I added a second GPU to my NZXT Hush PC, the GPUs would get so hot, the fans would max out. Instead of paying god knows how much for a new case with more adequate cooling, I drilled a hole into the side of the case, right above the GPUs, and fitted a 140mm Noctua fan, including a grill on the outside, and the rubber mount pins. The panel does not vibrate, and the temperature of my GPUs dropped by around 15C.

    As a result, my system runs way quieter under heavy load, and quietens down to a whisper during idle.

    A side panel fan is definitely the best solution, it just has to be done right.
    Reply
  • JPForums - Monday, October 01, 2012 - link

    A side panel fan isn't necessarily the best solution. Though, it is the correct answer for many cases, there are cases designed to flow large volumes of air through the case with minimal obstructions. In these cases, a side fan doesn't necessarily help. Silverstone's Raven RV02/ Fortress FT02 have no side panel fan, but produce some of the lowest GPU temperatures on the market. I had a buddy cut a hole in the side panel of an FT02 to mount a fan for the GPUs, thinking he could get the temperatures even lower (very nicely done by the way). Unfortunately, it caused more noise, more turbulence in the airflow, and ultimately, higher temperatures across the board. He even re-cut it for a larger fan, but to no avail. He ended up ditching his modded side panel for an original with no fan.

    That said, there are plenty of cases, like the Cooler Master HAF series, where side panel intake is absolutely critical as front intake is clearly obstructed. This type of case isn't necessarily inferior, just different. Done properly, this cooling style isn't really any noisier than the more free flowing style. Given a high end video card or two in this type of case (such as your case), the side fan does in fact reduce overall system noise (as you described).
    Reply
  • Sabresiberian - Monday, October 01, 2012 - link

    I think you are really stretching here to try to make your point. Side vents aren't necessarily more noisy, and if you are getting any kind of increased vibration from a fan - you need to stop using dirt-cheap fans! Seriously!

    Personally, I want a side fan. I realize my opinion is influenced from the days when graphics solutions started overpowering case cooling designs to the point where pulling off the side cover and setting up a fan to blow across the video card was a necessity, but I've found that a side fan can still significantly drop the temperature of a card.

    You can say proper design makes for a better solution, and certainly that has a lot of truth, but in the end moving air is going to be important enough to some builds that the side fan will be of great benefit. If you don't need or want that, buy a different case.

    ;)
    Reply
  • rarson - Monday, October 01, 2012 - link

    "if you are getting any kind of increased vibration from a fan - you need to stop using dirt-cheap fans!"

    My thought exactly.
    Reply
  • Iketh - Monday, October 01, 2012 - link

    "Side vents aren't necessarily more noisy"

    Oh ok, I'm just making things up. Sorry...

    "if you are getting any kind of increased vibration from a fan - you need to stop using dirt-cheap fans! Seriously!"

    You consider Zalman fans cheap?

    "Personally, I want a side fan. I realize my opinion is influenced from the days when graphics solutions started overpowering case cooling designs to the point where pulling off the side cover and setting up a fan to blow across the video card was a necessity, but I've found that a side fan can still significantly drop the temperature of a card."

    Well of course! If a side fan is needed, the case was either designed poorly or you bought the wrong case for your needs. This is my whole point. Of course there are some designs that require side vents (ones that obstruct the entire front panel), but in my opinion, 80% of builders don't require these designs, yet it seems 80% of cases have side intakes... Antec three-hundred is a good example of a case that doesn't need a side intake unless you populate the lower half of the 3.5" bays.

    "You can say proper design makes for a better solution, and certainly that has a lot of truth, but in the end moving air is going to be important enough to some builds that the side fan will be of great benefit. If you don't need or want that, buy a different case."

    Again, you're exactly right.... Your post is scary because you're trying to argue yet you're agreeing, like you're not understanding my point at all. (and you're calling me a liar in others...)

    JPForums said it better than I ever can. Refer to his post above.
    Reply
  • redmist77 - Sunday, September 30, 2012 - link

    Looks suspiciously like an Antec P18X Reply

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