When I first got into overclocking my computers, my decisions were based on looks with effectiveness in mind, but noise was a distant concern with my purchases. Years of coolers maxed at 100% for cooling effectiveness took their toll on me and members of my various VOIP servers. I had a rig that was jokingly referred to as a GE 120. For those who don't know, that is a jet engine developed by General Electric. So now you get a feel for what I was dealing with.
Time progressed and I pushed a lot of my hardware close to death, but I have lost the urge to run my PC at breakneck speeds. With this decision, I noticed how much quieter my computer could run and got really accustomed to it. I have had some of the quietest coolers for CPU's and GPU's but I always overlooked the benefits of what a chassis could do to aid in this search for silence. Lian Li is offering us just that, a chassis based on the quest to make your PC as quiet as physically possible.
Today, Lian Li offers TweakTown a look at the PC-B70 full tower chassis. The PC-B70 has additions to aid in the pursuit mentioned above and on initial impressions, does it with a bit of style and grace. Time now to get the images and show in more detail what Lian Li offers with the PC-B70 and just how silent things are once it is all built and running.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
Lian Li offers the PC-B70 in a black anodized, brushed finish, as I am accustomed to seeing Lian Lis built with. The front bezel, both doors and the interior of the PC-B70 are aluminum and relatively light for its 200 X 595 X 590mm size.
From the front you will see five external 5.25" bays, one of which can convert to a 3.5" external drive, positioned above two intake fans. At the very top of the front, the PC-B70 offers four USB, an IEEE 1394, an e-SATA and 3.5mm jacks for both audio and microphone connection. On the inside, Lian Li offers room to house up to ten internal 3.5" drives; seven at the bottom front and three up at the top left.
The rear of the PC-B70 offers seven expansion slots to be used with an E-ATX, ATX or m-ATX motherboard, as well as a couple server boards. For cooling, Lian Li places the two 140mm, blue LED fans for the intake and two 120mm fans in the rear of the chassis. These lower RPM fans are just the first step to lowering noise inside the PC-B70.
There are a few features that stand out in this Lain Li, like a roomy chassis and screw-less expansion mounting. With this version we see a new optical drive screw-less mounting assembly, a graphics card support system and the addition of sound dampening material. Lian Li uses rubber isolated HDD racks and the features I mentioned above to access the goal of a silent computing experience.
The Lian Li isn't exactly limited on the shelves, but there are only seven e-tailers at this time showing that they carry the PC-B70. Everyone shows that they are holding stock of this chassis, even though selection of retail outlets is limited and obtaining your own should not be any issue. I was able to locate the PC-B70 at Newegg for 279.99 U.S. Dollars plus shipping, which seems to be the average price across the board. While this is a premium asking price, I am about to find out and tell you if I feel it is all of what the price demands of it.
Lian Li ships the PC-B70 in an attractive black box that displays the chassis nicely. They pull no punches with stating and highlight that this is a silent case that is of the finest quality. Lian Li uses the right side to display eleven key features of the PC-B70.
Two displayed views of the interior start off the top of the right side. Below this is where Lian Li, in multi-lingual text, spells out the specifications.
Lian Li mirrors the front with the same imaging done to the rear of the box. As you can see, shipping wasn't very gentle with this package, so once we open it I will have to give it a good once over.
Again, as with the front and rear images, the sides of the package are mirror images as well.
After removing the box, you can see what I saw. The shipping was rough enough to actually crack and break off a chunk of the top supporting Styrofoam. This concerns me a bit, but I have faith in Lian Li's packaging to be sure your investment arrives safely.
The Lian Li PC-B70 Full Tower Case
The Lian Li PCB-70 Full Tower Case
After a thorough once over the exterior and a peek at the internals, I am pleased to say the PC-B70 arrived in great condition despite the couriers attempts otherwise. I'll leave you to soak in the black brushed aluminum sleekness.
Taking a good look at the front, Lian Li offers a chassis with five external 5.25" bay drive covers. The top cover is to allow you to stealth the optical drive and the bottom bay is adaptable to 3.5". Under the drives is where the PC-B70 gets its source of fresh air. Lian Li chose to use 140mm, blue LED intake fans placed behind this cover. Last but not least, the bold, yet simple "Lian Li" name plate.
Turning the chassis to the left of the face panel, you can see the PC-B70 has no window in the door. This is due to what is on the reverse side, which I will show you soon and the fact that windowed cases allow for more noise to travel through the windows themselves. You may notice little "dimples" in the door; these are the after effects of the way the inner support structure is mounted.
Continuing to rotate the chassis, we arrive at the rear of the PC-B70. At the top there is a removable panel that allows you gain access to the 120mm fan and 3.5" drive rack. Below to the left is the hole for the rear I/O shield, while to the right there are water cooling pass-through holes atop another 120mm exhaust fan. The seven expansion slots are vented, as well as the section of aluminium to its right. At the very bottom is a removable plate to mount the PSU to for a simpler installation when mounting the PSU inside the chassis.
The right side of the PC-B70 is identical to the left in appearance, just more sleek and sexy brushed aluminum.
Even the top of the PC-B70 is sleek in design. A brushed aluminum door hides the front I/O panel next to the large power and smaller reset buttons.
Lifting the tab on the cover reveals the front I/O panel. It contains from the left, one E-SATA, one IEEE 1394 and four USB 2.0 connections. To the right are the two 3.5mm jacks for the HD and AC97 audio.
The underside of the PC-B70 is also aluminum and you can see they use a combination of screws and rivets to secure the various sub-frames. In each corner Lian Li places a rubber bottomed set of aluminum sided feet as a bold accent to all the black.
Inside the Lian Li PC-B70 Full Tower Case
Lian Li uses a bit different way of keeping the side panels in place. Loosening the thumbscrew allows the release mechanism to slide back, allowing the removal of the side panels. Both the right and left side panels release in this fashion and once the mechanism releases the doors almost "pop" apart at the top for easier access.
Removing the door panel and reversing it allows me to point out a couple things. Remember the "dimples" on the outside images? As you can see, they are due to the inner supports and mounting hardware for the panel. These supports surround an open celled foam mat that has been applied to the panels.
My first look into the PC-B70 gives a large impression of overall space inside, accentuated by the reflectivity of all the aluminum exposed. Lian Li securely tapes the hardware box to the graphics card support bar, in order to keep the hardware in place during shipping. Considering the abuse my sample took in traveling, this is yet another testament to Lian Li's attempts to provide a perfect chassis upon delivery.
Starting off with the top, right corner of the interior, we get our first look at the new optical drive mounts for these five 5.25" bays. Releasing the tab on the right allows the "bar" to open out and to the rear. At this point you slide in a drive and align the holes, then lock them back into this position.
The bottom right corner of the PC-B70 houses the two 140mm intake fans that also blow across the seven tray 3.5" drive rack. These trays are isolated with rubber "washers" that rest in the rack itself, keeping vibrations created by the hard drives at bay.
The top left corner of this chassis houses yet another rack for 3.5" drives. This rack is backed with a 120mm fan to draw air across these drives while removing interior heat at the same time. Just below is another 120mm with a fan guard screwed into the chassis for a more standard rear exhaust. Both of these fans can be powered by 3-pin or 4-pin Molex connectors.
The lower left corner shows a few things worth mentioning. Not only are the expansion slot covers vented, they are held in with a very strong screw less mounting mechanism. The mechanism is easy to operate, but does require a bit of force to lock into place. Below these is the opening for the PSU installation. Lian Li also vents the floor of the chassis to allow the power supply to be able to be mounted fan down on top of the shelf-like supports.
Removing two Phillips head screws, the graphics card support can be removed for easier installation of the major components. Removal of this support also allows a better view of the motherboard tray. This tray has cut-outs for both wire management and a rather large opening for CPU cooler back plate mounting. As an additional bonus, this tray is in fact completely removable, as I will show a bit later.
Inside the Lian Li PC-B70 Full Tower Case - Continued
As I mentioned, there is a fan at the rear of the top mounted drive bays. Removing the four thumb screws, the finger guard can be released to allow access to clean the fans. With a bit more work on the inside, the cage can be fully removed and the PSU can be mounted here if that is the desired position for your build.
An interior view of the 5.25" bays shows Lian Li added a support between drives two and three. Looking closely at the bottom of these bays, you can see the 3.5" adapter that is pre-installed in the last bay. The wiring in the PC-B70 is tidy, so adding an optical drive in the top bay is no issue, as the wiring is well out of the way.
Once the rear panel is out of the way, we can get a look at where to hide and run the wiring, as well as getting a look on how the tray is held into place with the three screws at the top. The chassis wiring is pre-installed and ran cleanly down the front of the case. The I/O wiring runs down and into the wire managing organizer. There are various sized grooves to accommodate any size need.
To allow for the motherboard tray removal, first you have to unscrew these two thumb screws. Once that has been done, you just need to slide the tray left to allow the top screws to slip through the keyways. It's as simple as lifting it out of the chassis at that point, to allow for the motherboards installation outside the chassis so you can look for fit issues, or even testing new components prior to it all being in the case.
Back to another look at the fully accessible interior of the PC-B70 with the tray removed. There is plenty of room to move around and get your drives and PSU in place ready for the motherboard to be set in later.
Wiring from the front I/O panel is of average length, but are enough to reach where they need to plug in. These consist of an E-SATA, HD and AC'97 audio, two USB 2.0 connectors, and one IEEE 1394 connection.
The PC-B70 also has the standard chassis connections as well. These consist of the system power, system reset, HDD activity LED, and the system power LED connections. Just behind these are the 3-pin connections for the front two, 140mm fans.
Accessories and Documentation
A quick look at the included hardware shows Lian Li leaves no stone unturned. I'm just going to cover the middle three with this image. The top piece of aluminium is the mounting bracket for use with SSI CEB/EEB motherboards. The long angled bit is a HDD holder bracket, and below this is an additional PSU tray for mounting.
On the left, starting at the top, Lian Li ships a parts bin to hold all the extra bits until you find a use for them as you assemble the chassis. In the bag is a motherboard speaker, and additional wire management clamp, with parts for both the graphics retention, and the isolation washers. The long and short pieces of plastic are the short and long PCI card holders that work with the support bar I removed for a better look inside the chassis. (Note: The PCI holders do not work for graphics cards with a top plate)
This side if the hardware bundle is all the various screws used. There are motherboard spacers, case thumb screws, motherboard thumb screws, various drive screws, and a stack of foam padding to isolate vibrations as you see fit.
Lian Li's PC-B70 comes with more of a guide than a manual. Although this double sided paper is small, they cover all the fine points of the chassis, and answered all my build questions. This side also contains the parts checklist and a wiring diagram.
Flipping the guide over, you can gather that Lian Li has covered just about everything you would need to know.
I figured even though it isn't "hardware", this was as good a time as any to take a look at the motherboard tray by itself, outside the case.
Again, not exactly hardware, but a standalone feature in itself. This is the PCI support bar, which uses long screws and the black plastic bits from a few images ago, to hold the outside corner of the PCB. This little fact makes the bar not functional with say a GTX 280 that comes with a top plate that covers said corner.
As I mentioned, the motherboard is removable, so the first step is to add the risers and thumb screws to install the motherboard. Once my DFI was in place, you can see the wire management hole at the bottom of the board has very good placement, while the other hole is designed to use with larger server style motherboards, or to tie up loose SATA cables.
Before I set the CPU cooler, I thought I would show just how large the hole is in the tray. This allows you to just pull the rear panel and grab the back plate.
Once the CPU cooler was installed, I went ahead and did most of the chassis wiring so it is clean and out of the way for me to install the power supply. You can also tell now just how tidy the wire management hole beneath the motherboard is once connected.
As I mentioned earlier, the included wiring is plenty long enough to get the job done. Gently pulling the wires back through the hole, then running them through the wire management clamp doesn't exactly hide them, but does a good job of cleaning up what has to show.
There are a couple of key points to discuss here. First, the way the front panel is held into place. It uses four of the snap in clips, two of which you can see here in the top corners. Gentle pulling on the panel releases the grip in the clips. Second is the three speed fan controller switch that controls the dual 140mm intake fans. Last but not least is the stealth drive cover for an optical drive. This leaves the front clean and smooth in appearance when the build is completed. The doors top panel is spring loaded to allow the drawer to open, and the button aligns nicely with my DVD drive.
To install an optical drive you must first remove two screws so you can get the cover out of the way. Release the appropriate screw-less drive lock, and slide in your favorite drive. Locking it into position is as simple as clicking the side bar back into the locked position. If the drive is aligned correctly, very little effort is needed to lock it in. I wanted to also point out something I don't remember seeing up to this point, and that is the HDD activity and system power LED's. Ingeniously, Lian Li installs then to the front of the chassis and the front panel of the PC-B70 is wireless for reasons I'm about to address.
Aside from the wireless nature of the front panel come in handy to just set to the side for access to your drives being nice, I found a second reason to have this panel this way. I usually have to prop up a front panel for maintenance cleanings. Not here, you pull it off and set it somewhere safe while you pull the fan dust covers and clean them. I found a quick rinse and toweling it dry works nicely.
The Build - Continued
Installing the hard drives couldn't be any easier. The black plastic top opens up and you just slide the drive into the tray, then lay the top over and snap it locked. It securely holds the drive, and if there is a bit of play, the anti-vibration washers on the screws isolate any small vibrations.
Spinning the tray to the side, you can see the slight bend in the side part of the plastic. This allows the top to lock into the slide in tray. Notice they are designed to only allow the drives to be installed one way, and that is with the wiring pointing to the opposing side panel.
T PC-B70 is all ready to go at this point aside, from the obvious missing PSU.
A quick look at the wire management of the PC-B70 from behind the scenes shows there is ample room to pass the wiring from the front to where they need to be connected. With all the openness of the chassis, you are left hiding excess behind the drive bays, as there aren't many other choices for where to stash them.
Once the PSU was installed, it takes some "creative" routing to keep things hidden. Even trying to keep things clean, I was left with a "nest-like" wiring bundle behind the drives.
Going back to the view that really matters, to see if the time and effort of tidying things was worth it! I am pleased with the overall look that I ended up with, considering the power supply I chose isn't modular, or even friendly toward wire management.
Fit and Finish
With everything closed back up awaiting the maiden powering of the system, you can see the face is as sleek as it is straight out of the box.
As a reminder, the PC-B70 comes with no window, although there is one available from Lian Li's site if it is a must have. I personally don't mind the lack of a window, as the quietness achieved without it is worth more to me.
The rear of the chassis once fully assembled is as clean as the rest, it just isn't black.
Powering up the PC-B70 this is what it looks like. The dual, blue, LED lit. 140mm fans glow through the mesh front. At the top you can see just how well the LED for system power shows even though it isn't actually in the front panel. The HDD activity light is just as bright, and is also blue.
I have been using the PC-B70 for a week or so up to now and I can honestly say this chassis does exactly what it was built to do. That is, to give you a more silent experience while computing. I did a bit of audio testing just to grab some comparable numbers. With the door off and the same sound meter I use for cooler reviews, I held it in the center of the opening, about two inches outside the chassis. Fans were all set to their highest settings besides the GPU fan which I manually set at 50%.
The sound level of the no door testing was 76dB, which is a bit on the loud side. With the door reinstalled and the meter returned to the same position, the meter bounced on the 52 -53dB mark; that's almost a 25dB drop. I for one am impressed, as the same test on the HAF 922 left me with a difference of only 13dB with and without the door. Not only is this chassis designed to keep quiet, Lian Li packages the PC-B70 in a sexy, smooth, black exterior and a bright and roomy interior.
With my limited time with the PC-B70, I really can only complain about one thing. The reset button is way too small for the amount of travel in the switch. It could be that I just have fatter than average fingers, but the button cannot be used by even my pinky. The travel of the switch is too deep for me to activate it without a pencil or another skinny implement. I honestly think a slightly larger reset switch is needed and wouldn't be a detriment to the overall looks.
Since I can easily overlook a small switch, as I run my rig 24/7, I have little need to reset anyways. The PC-B70 commands a premium price tag, but I think it is worth every penny of the 279.99 U.S. Dollar price at Newegg. I have seen several cases that demand similar prices, but they don't seem to offer the "entire premium package". Well, Lian Li does. This chassis is sexy, sleek, black and virtually completely tool-less to assemble. This isn't even factoring in the silence, room, or simple added touches such as the plastic parts container for extras, or the optional and removable bits like the top mounted 3.5" bays that can convert to a top mount for the PSU.
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