In and Around the Lian Li PC-90

While Lian Li does have the odd stylized enclosure design, their brushed aluminum cases tend to really epitomize simplicity of style. End users looking for something with a little more flash are sure to be disappointed, and nowhere is that more apparent than with the PC-90.

Externally, the PC-90 is almost entirely black brushed aluminum, with the rear and bottom of the case still sporting the typical silver sheen. The front features two external 5.25" drive bays, one of which has an included bezel cover. Connectivity is handled by two USB 3.0 ports that use an internal motherboard header, the standard HD audio connectors, and an eSATA port. The eSATA port is a nice touch, but I feel like USB 3.0 largely supplants it and Lian Li can probably dispense with it in a future revision. The power button is a sliver of rubber with a blue LED behind it, while the reset button has the red IDE activity LED behind it.

On the top of the case, Lian Li has a plate that can be removed to install a 140mm fan inside the enclosure, but this seems like another useful feature that may not be as useful in practice; you'll see from the test results later on that cooling is not one of the PC-90's weaknesses. This fan mount also winds up being planted squarely between where the power supply and optical drive are expected to go, potentially causing clearance problems later on. As a result it's probably better left occupied by the plate, which means you just get a cut-out shape marring the top of your case rather than something you're likely to use.

When we get to the back, we see Lian Li employs a mounting bracket for the PSU to allow for easy installation; this tends to be more common in designs with top-mounted power supplies. Everything else is bog standard, with a 120mm exhaust fan and ten expansion slots with ventilated covers.

Of course, once you remove the side panels (each secured with two thumbscrews and the main side panel additionally able to be secured with a padlock), you'll see where Lian Li's engineers took some liberties with the classic ATX enclosure layout. There's a top rail for supporting the power supply, and then a large motherboard tray with a cutout for cooler backplates.

Yet you can also see how Lian Li was able to cram so much in the enclosure: there's no space behind the motherboard tray for routing cables, and drives are instead mounted to a pair of plates and either pressed up against the side panel of the case or stretched internally on the undersides of the plates; you'll see on the next page how it all comes together. There's also a third pair of plates in the center that's theoretically intended for routing cables, but in practice winds up being largely superfluous. Thankfully you can choose to dispense with any or all of these plates, using only what you need, as they're completely removable.

The internal fans also all use 3-pin fan headers and all come connected with 3-pin to molex adaptors, allowing you to choose how you want to power them. Likewise, Lian Li also includes a USB 2.0 adaptor for the internal USB 3.0 connector.

My experiences with the previous Lian Li enclosures I've tested left me a little bit wary and skeptical of the design, but thankfully the PC-90 proves to be a lot more logical (and easy to put together) in assembly than would first appear.

Introducing Lian Li's PC-90 Assembling the Lian Li PC-90
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  • ckryan - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    Lian Li either makes the most frustrating cases, with serious flaws in design, looks, and execution. Other times, they're a simple, effective, and aesthetically pleasing enclosure. The weird part is, I can't always tell which category a Lian Li is supposed to go in.

    I think this is perhaps why I like them so much. If they were clearly excellent or clearly abysmal, I don't think they'd interest me as much. There is usually as much to love as to hate, and not very much to be indifferent about.
    Reply
  • cknobman - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    I own an old PC-7B I bought way back in 2002 and I still use it to this day.

    It is the highest quality case I have ever owned.

    Lian Li may come up with some weird designs but their quality is unmatched.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    Yeah I own a PC G-50 ( which is about 4 inches shorter than this one i think at 15.5 inches if I recall correctly ). As far as other Lian Li cases go it may not be the best, but I love this case, and I also use it to this day. Also the best case I have owned. Reply
  • superccs - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    What CPU cooler are you using, I had a hell of a time getting good airflow with that case and eventually stopped using it.

    I still have the case just don't know what to do with it.
    Reply
  • p05esto - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    Yep, I bought 3 of the classic PC-60 cases and still use them and LOVE them. I made a few modifications like stainless grab handles on the top and top/side blowholes with stainless grill covers. In other words the cases are very high quality and stand the test of time in classic look.

    I have to say that I don't like the front grill design. I actually didn't like most of the Lian-Li front designs, they only made a few like the PC-60 that I considered elegant and timeless. The version above has too many holes and looks like swiss cheese, ugly IMO.
    Reply
  • just4U - Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - link

    I also have several PC60s and I'd like to see a return to an updated design with similiar features as the review on this case doesn't impress me at all..

    It would be so simple to do to.. move to 120mm fan enclosures, (keep the removable motherboard tray) all they have to do is fatten the case up a bit and perhaps change the drive arangement.. but noooo.. they give these odd designs that just don't work for me.
    Reply
  • Samus - Friday, May 11, 2012 - link

    Silverstone has some doozies too. Not everyone gets it all perfect, that's the risk of innovation. Reply
  • Stas - Thursday, February 23, 2012 - link

    meh, I disagree. I love their classy, simple designs - look sexy, serious, formidable. but the only 2 times I was blown away with quality of a case were: CM Cosmos (OG), and SilverStone FT01. Not a sharp edge, not a single useless cutout for the sake of saving material. Lian Li cases are high end, no doubt, but they never exceeded my expectations with 10 or 15 cases I got from them. Reply
  • JohnMD1022 - Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - link

    How could they have both "serious flaws in...looks" and be an "aesthetically pleasing enclosure"?

    This seems to be contradictory
    Reply
  • pc_void - Saturday, March 03, 2012 - link

    Just the same as when two people say something completely different about the same thing and both are true? Reply

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