Lian Li Industrial Co., LTD, founded in 1983 with an ensuing transition to the PC/server case market in 1993, made a scene on the hardware web by introducing extremely high quality all aluminum cases for the hardcore PC enthusiast. That quality did come at a significant price when compared to other case manufacturers. Recently, there has been a renaissance in the case market with an influx of high quality cases from a variety of manufacturers. Forced by increased demands by components for power, and more importantly the heat that is produced by those components, case design is becoming increasingly significant. Even casual PC builders are familiar with technologies that force additional consideration when it comes to case selection. Features like RAID and SLI keep potential buyers up at night trying to decide which case will ensure reliability, security and longevity of their PC's components. The ease of installation of multiple hard drives and the airflow around your SLI video cards should weigh heavily into your considerations when spending $150 or more to contain your PC’s components.
The Lian Li V1000 made its debut almost exactly one year ago with mixed reviews. While the revolutionary layout drew rave reviews, there were some tedious elements preventing perfect scores such as limited power supply cable space and random screws that popped through at inopportune locations. Through several minor revisions, most grievances were eliminated, the most significant change coming from enlarging the cable access for the power supply’s output leads.
With the stylish mesh aluminum front and segmented heat management, I knew I would be thrilled to have a V1000. 3DCool.com was able to procure the V1000 Plus for my latest project which triggered a separate review. With a few extra cooling tricks up its sleeves, we'll see how the Plus tries to differentiate itself from the standard V1000. We'll also spend some time highlighting the hardware installation process and discuss the highs and lows of being a Lian Li owner...
SHIPPING AND HANDLING
When a case is shipped, you hope and pray that the case shows up with out the usual abuse packages sorted and shipped by one the couriers. If there was an option for two-day limousine delivery, I'd opt for it. The V1000 plus box showed a little distress when it arrived. Immediate concern was replaced with delayed relief as I pulled the case from the box to find no damage. In fact, the case box is very stout. First bullet dodged.
After removing the bluish clear bag, I noticed my first potential problem. The hardware, a generous amount at that, rattled around inside the case and knocked a few of the front panels loose. The scary sound of aluminum edges scraping against aluminum panels created panic and several hairs standing on end. I hate self-inflicted wounds on my hardware more than anything. Luckily, I did use some patience here and slowly took care of the suspect drive panels with out damaging the exterior of the case. Upon opening the case by using the trick closure rails with spring-loaded thumbscrews, I found the real culprit for the shipping distress was the bundle of extra hardware that adds the Plus to the V1000 Plus. Several boxes taped together contain the revised PSU heat baffle, 120mm case fan CPU baffle and the card cooling scroll fan.
Let's get the new features that make this a "Plus" version out of the way...
The PSU baffle replaces the downward exhausting baffle for the rear 120mm case fan. The goal of the PSU heat baffle is the make sure that the heat from the PSU has no chance of finding its way into the case, either through the PSU input underneath or through the negative pressure from the case fan above. The output is quite warm with a 600W PSU, so the good intentions and design time is warranted.
The CPU case fan baffle is designed to influence the airflow by the CPU. You can easily adjust the angle of the baffle to get as close as you need to the CPU heatsink fan. Wwith the right heatsink and CPU, you may not need a fan for your processor, ala Zalman's CNPS system, though I would advise against it. I tried setting the CPU fan to pull air away from or push air into the Thermalright XP90. Both yielded similar results, temperature-wise.
The large low-speed scroll fan which is mounted by the PCI slots is designed to create another exhaust point for cards, particularly the GPUs. The design of standard GPU coolers from ATI and NVIDIA force a generous amount of air across the GPU/memory heatsinks, but these coolers also usually circulate stagnant air. Not with the PCI slot cooler in place. The use of the scroll fan dropped the temperature at load of the 6600GT standard heatsink by five degrees under load with a minimal increase in fan noise. I did remove the scroll fan after installing the AC6 to my 6600GTs as they rely on the ability to push air across the GPU heatsink. The negative pressure would interfere with the AC6's design. You also have the option of running the 120mm case as an intake and the Scroll Fan as an exhaust. Again, temperatures remained the same.
TAKING A LOOK AROUND
First thing you notice when you look at the Lian Li V1000 series cases is the wrap-around style mesh front. Thousands of 1/8" holes are drilled out of the front panel which is curved top and bottom. The top of the case is one continuous piece of aluminum from the back plane down around front, so there is not unsightly seam in the metal in the most obvious place, directly above the 5 1/4" bays. The mesh theme is carried over to the rear of the case to the left of the PCI slots (remember the upside down layout). The side panels are finished with a serrated-styled edge to neatly differentiate the side panels from the front and top and give the surround and bit of flair.
Fit and Finish
Visually, the front of the case is very clean. The polished aluminum power button is the solo as Lian Li left off a reset button. Below the power button are two very bright LEDs that indicate power in blue and drive activity in red. The power LED is bright enough to light the floor in a blue glow in low light conditions with the glow turning purple while the hard drive is active.
Comment: Yes, still no reset button, and the strange thing is that I do not miss it at all. It was only after the review was posted and I received a comment about the lack of the reset button, that it did not occur to me that a reset button was "missing".
Below the LEDs is a location for a case base followed by front audio ports, microphone and headphone, with two USB ports and a firewire port. The only visible screw heads flank the front IO ports.
Around the World
The bottom of the case is home to the lockable solid axle aluminum wheels, the exhaust mesh for the drive bays and the intake location for the PSU cell. Continuing the orbit around, you run into the PSU heat baffle and the 120mm case fan grill guard and ultimately the aforementioned PCI slots and mesh opening.