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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  • fausto412 - Sunday, September 30, 2012 - link

    Lian Li had a case that sold for 400+ dollars a few years back. The P180 was a cheap version of it. Lian Li was the leader in their component seperation scheme. Why Lian Li still makes good cases you can get the same or better just not 100% aluminum for way better price. Reply
  • Samus - Sunday, September 30, 2012 - link

    I prefer the aluminum/steel hybrid Silverstone implemented in the FT01. The outer ring is a seamless C-member made of steel, which makes the rest of the (aluminum) chassis very rigid. This way they don't need additional aluminum support brackets and crap to keep things sturdy. The added benifit of the outer ring and edges being steel is that it wont ding and dent (like even this Lian-Li PC-A76X sample did) when it is transported to you or when you transport it anywhere. I've moved mine across the country to San Diego and back in a car, and it still looks brand new four years later.

    Obviously using steel as the exterior support adds weight, in this case, it is 8lbs more than the PC-A76X, but after water cooling, 5 HDD's and a GTX570, who's counting weight?
    Reply
  • Brendonmc - Monday, October 01, 2012 - link


    Agreed. Silverstone make some of the nicest looking cases on the market. I've thrown a whole heap of goodness into their SUGO SG04F, which is a full-width mini tower. It can accommodate a full size power supply and 2 full size double slot graphics cards. The concession is a micro ATX form-factor, but there are some good mobos available.
    Reply
  • Granseth - Sunday, September 30, 2012 - link

    It also looks very much like Fractal Designs R3 (and 4) cabinets. But I like the design very much, so I won't complain about a better selection. Reply
  • StevoLincolnite - Sunday, September 30, 2012 - link

    And yet... I think it looks ugly. Something like a brushed metal bar fridge. Reply
  • NicodemusMM - Sunday, September 30, 2012 - link

    I have a Lian Li Tyr PC-X2000 which is about the same width, though I believe significantly taller. It easily accommodates a Noctura NH-D14, which is a massive. I will tell you from my experience with the Tyr that taking the front door off helps airflow and temps. The cutouts in the front are insufficient to permit the volume of air that the 3 fans are capable of and this case has even smaller cutouts. I'm currently running an i7-2600K @ 4.9GHz with HT on with the D14, but only with the front off. It restricts airflow that much.

    I can't comment on this case specifically, but my experience with Lian Li has been superb. The construction is top notch. My only complaints so far would be with the Tyr's choked airflow from the front and it's insufficient room for cables between the motherboard tray and the side panel.

    Regarding noise; I've found their cases to be quiet, but like all cases if you have a loud GPU it can get irritating.... even with noise dampening materials. Said materials are readily available, so if you're planning a HTPC near your seating area you may wish to consider it.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Sunday, September 30, 2012 - link

    " A76X's cooling design looked to be a big winner, at least on paper. The more cases I review, the more I'm convinced the bottom-front intake to top-back exhaust standard is just not the best way to do things. "

    I've been saying this for a while now... Forcing air thru that S or L shape just isn't very efficient (before even taking internal components into account, and their fans). I just don't understand why we haven't seen much experimentation beyond a few fringe cases like the Silverstone FT02. The whole thing makes even less sense when you look at more compact mid towers...

    How many people out there are really using more than one or two external bays along with more than 1-3 drives, the vast majority of users aren't... Yet the vast majority of cases dedicate a third of the space to this huge tower of drive bays.

    I wanna see a case with a single external bay that's either oriented vertically (for media readers or slot loading opticals) or moved up and OVER all the other components, with two front fans pointing directly at the CPU area and directly at the GPU area, slap a couple of sleds for HDD/SSD on the bottom (maybe two stacks that are two drives tall each, so they occupy the space in front of the PSU), and done.

    Instant cross flow across every major component, direct path of air allows for better cooling with lower speed fans and eliminates the need for a lot of side/top fans. Why does no one make a case like this that focuses on cooling without wasting space to also house a sever inside it?
    Reply
  • Impulses - Sunday, September 30, 2012 - link

    That kinda case might be a smidge taller than average, but it'll be at least a third shallower (less wasted material) and it'd cool better than most (with just 3 fans, could even skimp and ship it with two), it can't possibly be that big a risk... Someone make it happen please! Reply
  • Grok42 - Sunday, September 30, 2012 - link

    Why even have a single external bay, just get rid of them entirely. Surely there are enough people that don't have a need for any external drives that there could be a few of these types of cases on the market? I will say I'm impressed that Lian-Li *only* put two external bays in a case this large. Despite my opinion that none were needed, this is a huge step forward from silly cases with 5-9 external bays.

    I get your point that a huge portion of the builds don't need more than a few drives, but I think that unlike the external bay issue, the internal bays could be engineered in such a way that they are flexible and have no trade offs. It seems that a rail system could be conceived that did the job of supporting the structural needs of the case while not blocking air flow at all. Of course, as you add drives, they would block the flow of air but that is a choice you could make. My other big beef with almost all internal bay systems is that spacing the drives is always a trade-off between cabling requirements and heat. With SSDs becoming more popular the 3.5" Vs 2.5" bays is also getting to be a problem. It seems the internal drive rails could be made in such a way that you could decide on the spacing and not need to be locked into set distances based on how many and what type of drives you have.
    Reply
  • Wardrop - Sunday, September 30, 2012 - link

    I agree that the need for optical drives is on the decline. Very rarely do I, or anyone else in my house for that matter, need to read or write to an optical disc.

    Where I disagree is with cases with heaps of 5.25" bays. There's a market for them; especially for cases with ONLY 5.25" drive bays. I bought a Lian Li PC-A17B about 2 years ago - I had to shop around to find one as they had been discontinued (I bought one of the last available in Australia). The idea was to buy a bunch of Lian Li 3x 5.25" to 4x 3.5" hot-swap cages, which is exactly what I did. I've now got 3 optical drives and 8 hot-swap drives in the size of a standard ATX case. I could if I needed to, scrap the optical drives and go with another hard-drive cage for 12 hot-swap hard-drives in a standard ATX case. Not only does this function really well, it also looks great as the Lian Li drive bays look like they came with the case as they have the same finish and styling. Each drive cage also has a 120mm fan, so thermal performance isn't completely ruined either.

    I just wish Lian Li didn't discontinue this line of cases, as by having this case, they could essentially save themselves from having to make about 5 additional cases to account for all the combinations that could be achieved with the PC-A17.

    Modular case design. Just my two cents.
    Reply

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