Lian Li has been gracious enough to allow me to look at a lot of their products. From the smaller cases like the PC-V352 SFF chassis we've looked at, and cases that are just enormous like the PC-X1000 Super Tower. Both cases have similar features even though they are worlds apart in size and usage. Things like an all aluminum construction, quality fans included, and the sexiness that looking at a Lian Li chassis always has. With the chassis we are about to look at, all of those things are present, plus some upgrades and some add-ons that weren't available when I looked at the two I just mentioned.
One thing that tends to keep buyers from the Lian Li lineup is the pricing. With every chassis I have seen from them, they do charge a fair bit more than the rest of the marketed segment that each chassis is released in. In this example we are going to be looking at a Mid Tower chassis, and that market is filled over capacity with tons of offerings already, and many of them under the $100 USD mark. So why does Lian Li charge such a premium for their chassis'? I plan to explain exactly that and show you why buying a chassis like the one we are about to see is well worth the asking price over say the Cooler Master line of budget cases.
Today, the mid tower we are going to be looking at is the PC-V1020B, the black variant of this chassis. Lian Li has brought forth a chassis that offers a lot of what we are used to seeing in Lian Li chassis', like aluminum construction throughout, one serious hardware kit with everything you will need and more, along with some modular implementations, and this time plenty of room for water cooling as well.
Enough jabbering about what Lian Li brings to the table! I say we get right down to it and get up close and personal with the PC-V1020B.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The main components of the chassis, panels, front bezel, outside structure and interior are aluminum. Since we received the "B" version of this chassis, the Exterior aluminum is finished with a brushed finish and a black anodized coating. The front of the PC-V1020B has stealth covers over the two 5.25" bays and a removable section for the 3.5" bay. Under these you will run into a perforated panel that houses two 140mm blue LED fans acting as the intake. Both panels are plain and flat from edge to edge, while the rear of the chassis is made from exposed natural aluminum.
Moving to the inside of the chassis, we run into some very nice features. First and foremost, the motherboard tray is removable. Not only is it removable, it is designed to allow even the tallest coolers to be installed before it gets slid back into the body of the chassis. Speaking of removable, the assembly that holds the seven hard drives in the chassis is also fully removable. The rest of the interior offers stellar looks with all the natural aluminum exposed and offers wire management in both the frame inside the chassis as well as in the removable motherboard tray.
To cool the chassis, Lian Li installed four fans. There are the two 140mm blue LED fans that work as the intake to the chassis. These fans come with dust covers and are mounted to an easily removable plate that with a simple upward lift, allows the whole assembly to be removed. Lian li offers something I'm not used to from them this time, and that is that they also used a 140mm fan in the roof of this chassis. This fan does not have LEDs, but is mounted to a similar plate that allows the fan to be easily removed. Lastly, there is a non-LED, 120mm fan strapped into the rear of the chassis. These fans should do a great job in keeping the components cool inside the PC-V1020.
If you don't know by now, the name Lian Li usually comes with a large price tag, and this time is no exception. Searching around, I found that most e-tailers are very close in the pricing, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't look for the best deal out there. Right in the averages for pricing was our old favorite, Newegg.com at $249.99, and there is an additional $23 to ship the chassis. That leaves the PC-V1020B right around $275 to get one to your door. So let's see what the new design has to offer and see if I can sway you from sticker shock into ownership.
The PC-V1020 comes in this attractive black packaging with a large image of the chassis at center stage. At the top, under the naming, there is a check box to denote which of the three colors is inside. On the right side of the panel, Lian Li shows ten features found in this chassis.
This side is white which highlights the colors of the three choices of the PC-V1020. Under the case images you will find a full specifications chart for the chassis.
The other large panel on the package mirrors the opposing side, but this side took less damage than did the other side.
This side panel also mirrors the opposing side. This time I see a couple of stock and shipping labels, and I noticed the red version comes with a black interior!
Using Styrofoam on the ends to support and center the chassis during shipping, that and the plastic liner kept this Lian Li chassis pristine despite the damage done to the outside.
The Lian Li PC-V1020B Mid Tower Chassis
Out of that entire shipping garb, the Lian Li PC-V1020B stands tall with a sleek, black, brushed aluminum finish. The front of the chassis has perforated holes that add a design element and act as ventilation for the pair of 140mm intake fans at the bottom. Both sides of the chassis are covered with these non-descript panels that keep the look clean and simple.
Above the optical drive in the roof of the chassis you will locate the front I/O and switches. The I/O has an aluminum cover that must be opened to gain access to the e-SATA, one of the four USB 3.0 ports, or the front panel audio. To the right you will find the large power button just in front of the much smaller reset button.
In the rear of the chassis is where things start to get a bit interesting. There are all the typical things to see like the I/O area, the 120mm exhaust fan, the eight expansion slots, and a bottom mounted power supply. Look a bit closer. Removing the eight thumbscrews around the edge of the bare aluminum allows for the entirety of this panel and the motherboard tray to slide out.
Under the chassis Lian Li put a set of wheels in the front and the rear of the chassis. The rear set stays mobile at all times, but with the use of the large lever on the front wheels, they can be locked in place to keep the chassis in place. The aluminum wheels even have rubber rings surrounding them, so as not to damage your floor as you slide this chassis out for maintenance. Toward the rear set of wheels Lian Li offers a place for the PSU to draw air from and it's protected with a removable dust cover.
Inside the Lian Li PC-V1020B Mid Tower Chassis
Inside of the chassis screams Lian Li. Simple concepts and fine materials make for an attractive layout. Now let's have a closer look, shall we.
The two 5.25" drives can be secured with these two tool-less latches, or if that isn't secure enough for you, this can be backed up with screws. The third optical drive has an adapter in it to install a floppy drive. Removing the thumbscrews will allow you to convert this bay to any needs up to 5.25" devices.
The seven 3.5" racks are held in place with four thumbscrews and can easily be removed. Just in front of this rack is where you will find the plate that holds the pair of 140mm blue LED fans.
Now when I say removable, I mean they can all be pulled out on one unit. Now, this rack can be left out if not needed to utilize the space for water cooling, possibly hanging a dual 140mm radiator right here in the front. The fact that these fans and dust filters are on a plate that is easily removable lends to an easy installation for water as well.
At the top of the chassis, Lian Li has hidden the 140mm fan between this plate with the fan grill in it, and the outer shell of the chassis. Again, this is easily slid to the right, and the fan, plate, and guard will all drop out for cleaning later on.
With the motherboard tray still in the chassis you can see that it leaves a gap to the drive bays to pass any wiring just about anywhere you need to. If you want a truly clean looking installation, Lian Li offers wire management holes, as well as a wiring clip to go in the ten spall holes on the right side. The floor of the chassis offers room for an SSD to be secured to the floor next to a hole with a plastic ring protecting any wiring you want to pass through here.
Under the sub-floor is where the power supply is to be installed. Not only does Lain Li offer a plastic wire management clip in front of the PSU, but they utilize a position able power supply support to keep your PSU on the level.
Wiring on the Lian Li PC-V1020 is quite complete. There are the power switch, reset switch, power LED and HDD activity leads in the background, to the left. In the front you have the HD audio, e-SATA, and four separate USB 3.0 connections marked CN1 through CN4.
Accessories and Documentation
Prepping for the build, I removed the motherboard tray so you can get a better feel for the layout. The tray will accept both m-ATX and ATX motherboards. The left side sports the 120mm exhaust fan under either water tubing pass through holes, or they can be used to pass the USB 3.0 cables out the back so they can plug into the rear I/O. At the bottom you will find the eight ventilated expansion slots and covers. I do miss the easier latch system to lock the cards in place, but the thumbscrews are a tried and true method for securing the cards as well.
I pulled both of the removable fan plates so you can get a closer look at how they work. On the edges of both plates there are screws with rubber washers that will go into key ways, and then slide into a locked position. The front pair of fans has removable dust filters to keep the interior clean longer, while the top exhaust fan doesn't need one, so one is not applied. All of the fans can be powered with either a 3-pin hearer or they can be used with the included Molex adapters.
Opening the hardware box I found the adapter for taking two 2.5" drives and being able to install them into a 3.5" bay. In the middle is a USB 3.0 adapter to take two of the front USB connections and use them with the USB 2.0 port on your motherboard.
Here we see that Lian Li ships an optional expansion slot cover to allow you to easily pass wiring out one of the slots if needed. We then run into all the sealed bags of goodies. There are optical drive and PSU screws, motherboard thumbscrews, miscellaneous extra screws, rubber washers packed in with a motherboard speaker and some wire management help, and the bag of screws for mounting hard drives in the rack.
Lian Li also sends along this handy, compartmentalized caddy to keep all of the extra screws and goodies in one easy to find place.
The instruction sheet on the left is a fold out of everything you will need as far as information and images to help guide you through any questions. On the right is an accessories sheet. In case you forgot something, or have a need for other additions to the chassis, Lian Li provides the full line up for easy reference.
The Build and Finished Product
Getting everything ready to install on the motherboard tray was a breeze. With the wide back panel you can install most of the larger coolers without any hassle, and still be able to slide this in as one unit.
I noticed that to be able to install the power supply, you must first remove the support. Just remove the dust cover, unscrew the two screws, and remove it. When the PSU is back in place, reset this support according to how long your power supply is, hence the four slots on each side for custom length support.
There was a bit of prep work involved with the rest of the chassis. Installing the drives was pretty straight forward, but the wiring can be tricky. To keep things clean looking, it will take a bit of thought and creative wiring. Here is what I was left with before I was sure I was ready to slide in the tray.
Sliding in the tray, I did run into a light issue. You may notice that the top fan has been removed to allow this Noctua cooler to be used. I blame that on the high CPU placement on the motherboard and not the case. All of the wiring had plenty of length to get everything connected and still leave the build relatively clean and free from visible wiring.
The rear of the chassis doesn't take on much of a change when all of the components are installed. I did use one of the holes with grommets to pass a pair of the USB 3.0 cables so that they could be plugged in via the rear I/O USB ports.
Behind the scenes there is an addition that was sorely missed in my PC-X1000, and that is room behind the tray and shelf for wiring. There is roughly 20mm of an offset that allows just enough room for the 24-pin cable without bowing the rear panel when it is placed back on. Thanks go to Lian Li for listening and adding this little feature, from me.
When everything is place back on the PC-V1020B and I powered up the unit, the black and silver versions will glow from the front LED fans in blue. The red version uses red fans. Aside from that lighting of the fans, there is the blue power LED in the top right corner with a red HDD activity Led just below it.
So what are we left with? To me we are left with a mid tower chassis that offers plenty of modularity to run Crossfire or SLI, and since the hard drive racks are removable, that 305mm maximum length of the VGA is dependent on your final configuration. If you are going to remove the rack to allow for longer cards, why not use some of that new found room for an internal water cooling loop with a dual 140mm radiator while you are at it. Externally, you are left with a sleek black brushed aluminum finish with a front bezel reminiscent of older designs. The bright glow of the blue LEDs intake fans just takes this mid tower to the next level; sleek and attractive, with a touch of personal flair.
Assembly inside of the PC-V1020 is the easiest install in a Lian Li chassis to date. I have always loved the looks of these cases, and usually fought wiring and compulsive issues to tend to messy wiring. The PC-V1020 offers plenty of optional paths to keep things tidy like wire management clips for the power supply and the motherboard tray, on top of holes appointed for wiring like the 8-pin CPU lead, the 24-pin, and the VGA's can all be powered while still running behind the tray. The additional space left behind the tray in this chassis is much appreciated.
The airflow inside the chassis is top notch, and doesn't deliver too much of a hum to the environment. Giving you the option to power the fans with 3-pin connectors will allow for motherboard or fan controller style control of these fans, and the air flow and noise levels can then be easily controlled to personal comfort levels. I know a few of the Lian Li chassis' have already been around with built in caster setups, this being my first experience with them from Lian Li; I am really impressed with the level of detail to the wheels and protecting my surfaces, but also the locking feature to keep the chassis in place is really appreciated, especially if the floor in your house is slightly unlevel.
The Lian Li PC-V1020B and the other two variants are in stores now, and while I really liked the looks and style of the black version, the slightly more expensive red version with red LED fans and a black anodized interior would be my ultimate choice. Given the high price tag, you are at this point in one of two camps. One being that this is just too much money for a case and no amount of convincing is going to change that. The other camp is full of people who don't mid spending a bit more for a chassis that is designed with timeless elegance and a home for many rigs to come. In comparison to other high end cases, this price tag isn't out of line for what it has to offer. Keep in mind the Newegg.com listing at $249.99 is in the averages, and the careful shopper can find them for just a bit less, from some lesser known shops.
PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.
United States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com
United Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk
Australia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au
Canada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca
Deutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de