Thinking back to all of the Lian Li and Lancool cases I have had the pleasure of looking at over the past few years, I have seen what spending a bit more in the case of Lian Li gets, and what is offered at a budget in the Lancool line. That already in my head, there are certain expectations I have come to feel are "built in" to every Lian Li design, that is, until now! I just got a new case from Lian Li's Armorsuit series of cases and from what I can see, Lian Li has been hard at work.
The things I came to expect with Lian Li are not lost with this new arrival. There is the typical brushed aluminum exterior Lian Li owners have loved for years. It also comes with the strikingly opposite, bare aluminum interior and rear panel. That is a combination that every time I see, I get a warm fuzzy feeling inside. What you don't know at first glance is that Lian Li not only offers you a huge case with the latest sample, but it seems they also took a new approach on a few things inside and out. This should offer a better user experience during the build process and in maintenance, as well as aesthetically appealing to the younger crowd as well.
The chassis we are going to be looking at over the next few pages is the Lian Li Armorsuit PC-P80N. To give you the basic rundown before you see the specs, let me try to draw a picture. A lot of brushed black aluminum, a bold front door with styling that is carried over into almost a complete raised section from the front at the bottom, around the top and ending at the rear of the chassis. Add in six fans, room for a huge amount of equipment justifying its over sized full tower stature, eleven expansion slots, room for twelve hard drives...I should really stop, as I just keep getting carried away trying to describe this chassis without giving it all away too early.
I say we get through the specifications and what various retailers are asking for the PCP-80N, so that we can dive right into the meat and potatoes and I can just show you what this is all about.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The exterior and interior of this full tower chassis are both aluminum. While the exterior of the chassis receives a black anodized coating, the inside is left exposed in its natural state. The front of the chassis is really two parts. There is the door which has a large bump out in the middle of it running the full length from top to bottom. This area is backed with mesh to allow for ventilation, but has evenly spaced strips of aluminum to break out the large area. The top of the chassis continues with this "bump", but this time it deflects exhausted air and gives a place for the front I/O and Lian Li name. Both sides of the chassis are made from aluminum panels and incorporate no venting, nor does this chassis offer a window. Sleek and simple is the Lian Li way and the outside keeps that trend alive.
Inside the chassis there are all sorts of things to talk about. There is room for three 5.25" drives that are exposed through the front, behind the reversible door. Moving down, there is a pir of hard drive cages that not only allow for drives to easily slide in with the provided hardware, they also allow access with a door on the front of the cage, again access is behind the door. Each of these cages will hold three 3.5" drives each. Under those, there is a third cage that not only holds four more 3.5" drives, it has mounting on the sides for two 2.5" drives as well. In the middle of the chassis there is the unique wiring tunnel system that I first saw in the latest Lancool submission, but I'm glad to see it here. To its left is the removable motherboard tray that will accept anything from the small end of mini-ITX, to the large end of HPTX, which means SR-2 capable! There are plenty of offerings in the back as well like the eleven expansion slots and tool-less latch system. That's not including the GPU support rail system, the raised power supply mounting position with anti-vibration strips, or any of the dust filters around the chassis.
Cooling this chassis is five fans in total. In the front there is a trio of 140mm fans that are on the inside of the front door. You get one long dust filter that runs the entire length and makes for faster removal and cleaning than previous methods. These three fans are pre-wired to the door and connected to a fan controller that will allow adjustment of just these three fans. Under the roof of the chassis there is another pair of 140mm fans installed. These are mounted to the inside and are covered with a trim piece on top of the PC-P80N that directs the exhausted air to the rear of the chassis instead of straight up. The rear of the chassis has the last of the five fans and here it's a 120mm fan to push air directly out the back of the chassis. While the chassis doesn't offer a ton of room for water cooling inside, Lian Li provides holes in the rear of the chassis for both water cooling and USB 3.0 wires, four in total.
The PC-P80N is very fresh to the market and a quick look on Google shopping proves this quickly. As I type this there are five e-tailers that currently list stock of this case. Pricing is all over the place depending on which of the sites you decide to deal with. On the low end you will find the PC-P80N listing for $379.99 at Sundial Micro, and pricing goes up to $530 is one listing! We are going to go with the $379 US dollar listing for assessing bang for the buck and value in our award purposes. While I know this case isn't going to be for everyone with its ultra large compatibility, for those with the need for this type of chassis, it's time to see what you will get against the other two or three cases on the market that allow a SR-2 to even fit in the first place.
The Armorsuit PC-P80N from Lian Li ships in a black box that really makes the case images and the long list of features easy to see and read. Between the features and the chassis image there is a tiny case showing the front door as it's installed from Lian Li.
Moving around to the side we get a look inside of the PC-P80N with a bar denoting the room for up to 390mm of expansion card length. The chart below is a specifications list in six different languages.
As you can see, Lian Li made sure no matter which way this case is stacked; you get the same information on the front and back...
...and both side panels as well.
Styrofoam caps and a sheet across the entire face of the case protect the PC-P80N, even when the box shows up as rough as this one did. There is also a plastic liner to keep the anodized finish in great shape. Inside said plastic liner you will find all of the paperwork.
The Lian Li PC-P80N Full Tower Chassis
The PC-P80N comes with a bold, protruding front door. With the door being around two foot tall, the horizontal bands of alternating mesh and aluminum, it seems to break up what could have been a lot of flat brushed aluminum.
Midway down the right side you will find the lock for the front door. At this point it will stay locked up, as the keys are shipped inside the chassis.
The top of the chassis has...umm...a Mohawk? Talking with a few of my buddies, I think James described it best as a Mohawk and I'm going with that for now. The front angled section allows Lian Li room for the name badge on the Front I/O cover and the reset and power buttons above it.
Lifting the plate with the Lian Li name on it, it exposes the front I/O panel. Here you get e-SATA connectivity on the left, four USB 3.0 ports (motherboard allowing), and the HD Audio jacks at the right. Reason I say "motherboard allowing" is that not all boards support USB 3.0 inside and out, but Lian Li has those users covered too.
On the left side of the chassis there isn't a lot to talk about with the large expanse of brushed aluminum of the actual door panel. What is notable are the louvers on the side of the Mohawk, and the large plastic case feet that keep the chassis at a good height off the floor.
The rear of the chassis has two holes for the included USB 3.0 cables to get to the rear I/O, while the other pair is for water cooling. The 120mm exhaust fan is covered with a wire grill to allow maximum flow. Below the fan are eleven, yes eleven, expansion slots just above the floor mounted power supply mounting plate.
These doors are large and use the conventional, unscrew and slide to the rear of the chassis, for removal. One more image to discuss and I will get these out of the way so we can get a look at the inside.
Under the PC-P80N you will find a large ventilated area, louvers if you will, that get stamped into the aluminum, and you can see there is an accompanying dust filter. As you can see the large feet get placed to the outermost corners to maximize the stability of this tall, heavy tower.
Inside the Lian Li PC-P80N Full Tower Chassis
At first glance it seems there is a lot going on. The large hardware box is floating free in the chassis and resting at the far left. There is the large GPU support rail running down the middle, and on the right is a full length drive bay system that holds up to fifteen various drives.
Looking into the drive rack, there is room at the top for three 5.25" drives or devices, two cages for three 3.5" drives each, and a cage at the bottom that holds four 3.5" drives inside and one 2.5" drive on either side of it. The red and black wires are to power the fans in the door, and I found it best to leave it alone, unless of course you plan to reverse the front door.
The motherboard tray holds all sorts of motherboards from HPTX at its largest, all the way down to a mini-ITX motherboard. The CPU access hole is smaller than what I am used to seeing lately, but sufficient for most, but not all setups. Around the sides and bottom are six wire management holes with rubber inserts to hold and protest the wires from the cut aluminum edges. There is also a pair of holes cut at the top for the EPS 8-pin and fan wires, but the right side of the tray has a gap for wiring to pass through if you do use a HTPX motherboard.
The inside of the rear of the chassis has a 120mm fan strapped into place as an exhaust fan. Next to the eleven, vented, expansion slots, Lian Li install their heavy-duty, tool-free latches that securely lock any card into solid position.
The floor of the chassis has two rubber covered support rails to elevate your PSU off the floor of the chassis. I do find it strange that the louvers don't face the power supply, but it still allows for plenty of air to get into the floor of the chassis and into the fan. The large bar down front with the four holes in the top is where the GPU support bar screws into. Beefier than the original design, I can see how this style would give a more structural ability of the support bar attached.
Behind the motherboard tray Lian Li put together a really nice setup. First I would like to say they addressed the issue of previously not allowing wires to pass the bottom of the motherboard tray. The offset behind the tray is the same from top to bottom with the PC-P80N. For all the rest of the chassis wiring, Lian Li uses the same channel structure we saw not too long ago in a Lancool chassis. I loved this concept when I saw it then, and here I love it even more, as many know, Lian Li cases have always been tough to wire cleanly, at least to the level of the chassis itself.
Inside the Lian Li PC-P80N Full Tower Chassis Continued
A handy feature of the PC-P80N is that the motherboard tray is removable. What I really like is that to remove the tray, you remove a pair of thumbscrews from the back of the case, the tray then slides left, but the bottom pulls away first to remove it. That means when you mount the board to this, go ahead and add the CPU cooler. With the top going to go in first to reinstall it, you won't run into any clearance issues.
Finding the keys taped to the top of the hardware box, I unlocked the front door and looked inside to see what Lian Li has going on. I found a trio of 140mm fans that are all pre-wired and mounted to the inside of the door. The door itself has a rubber trim piece to keep the door from vibrating against the face of the chassis. The grill work on the right consist of three 5.25" covers that individually remove, a pair of hard drive cages with doors, and the 3.5" and 3.5" combo-rack at the bottom.
If you plan to use the front door and access drives a lot, Lian Li uses a new to me method to keep the door closed. There seems to be a spring loaded bearing that set is a hole in the face frame when closed. Since the spring is fairly light in pressure, the door easily opens and closes with a gentle pull, but sudden shocks during transit almost demand you lock this prior to moving it.
Above the 5.25" drive bays Lian Li has installed a fan controller to work with the trio of fans in the door. The cool side of the dial will allow you to maximize the fans potential, while the Silent side of things will reduce the fans to around 50-60% of their capability. Just to the right are the power indicator and hard drive activity LEDs, both of which will light up blue, and show through plastic inserts in the front door that covers this.
Remember when I said the hard drive cages had doors, well here they are. This allows you to at any point add some rubber washers and thumbscrews that go on 3.5" hard drives, and you can simply slide them in from the front. Hidden from this angle is the sliding lock bar. This will allow you a bit of added security that if you have to tip the case forward, your drives don't slide out and try to open any doors.
Accessories and Documentation
There are a ton of things in the hardware box to cover so I will break it up as I go. Here Lian Li delivers a full on assault of screws, washers, risers, actually everything you will need to fill this chassis, and then some! You even get the handy container to keep all of your "extras" in.
There is a PSU lock down bar included with this chassis as well. Not that you want to move this around a lot, but if you do, the power supply is locked firmly in place, and I'm sure removes any extra vibrations. The aluminum plate is for extending riser positions for SSI CEB/EEB motherboards.
The plastic and rubber pieces you see are to be used with the large GPU support bar we saw when I first opened the case. The plastic tabs clip into the aluminum support, and with screws, lock into the side of the expansion cards via compression against the side of the PCB. With larger cards this can be an issue, so now there are rubber caps for pairs of the plastic tabs to support dual slot cooler cards more effectively.
I installed a few sets of the supports so you could get a better feel for how the system works, with and without the rubber caps in place.
The front I/O has four USB 3.0 ports. Two get connected with a pin-style connector directly to the motherboard, while the other pair is connected with standard USB 3.0 connectors. If you only have one style, or neither style, all four of the ports can be connected via these adapters to any USB 2.0 port instead.
This is one of the cages that have the front door for access. For any of these cages it requires removal of four screws, and then they all come through the front of the chassis. I also wanted to give you an angle to be able to see the built in slider that holds the drives in the cage.
The installation guide covers every aspect of the build. Removal of the cages, the motherboard tray, 2.5" drive installation, a full parts list, and wiring diagrams. Lian Li does a nice job with the images and text to get you through every aspect of the PC-P80N. This manual is also multi-lingual.
Just in case you can't quite figure out how to route the wiring or attach the USB 3.0 adapters, it's covered as well. There are even wiring diagrams for both adapters in case you need that information as well.
Along with the rest of the paperwork, Lian Li sends along a product sheet showing you what else they sell that you may want to accompany this build in a future purchase.
The Build and Finished Product
I went ahead and installed the ATX GIGABYTE, Swiftech Cooler and memory onto the motherboard tray with the provided thumbscrews for the risers. Now I just have to get this back in the case and wire things up.
Looking behind the door before we close up shop to power this chassis and system up, you can see the optical drive fits in with the fan controller painting in white, and below, a lot of empty hard drive bays through the mesh.
While I was in here I finally noticed the fan filter slid in the front door. Lian Li made it really simple and this long dust filter slides out from between the door and the fans, and will allow you to clean one filter, unlike before where each fan would have its own filter.
While this chassis is directed more to the server market; something with dual processors, a ton of storage and possibly a huge "Folding farm", as you can see, my standard ATX build is dwarfed inside this chassis. Everything went really well and there is plenty of room for my build; possibly enough to still fit in a small child! Don't let the 24-pin running in the front fool you into thinking it doesn't fit behind the tray, it does. It's that my cable is just too short to route it cleaner without pulling on the connections.
I didn't fill out much in the rear of this chassis, but what I do have to install went in perfectly and leaves a clean professional look even with the pair of USB 3.0 cables coming out of the top.
With the channel that Lian Li and Lancool are using, it leaves a super clean look behind the motherboard tray. Literally, just a few wire ties and a bit of time, you can have these same results. There will be no issues sliding the door back over this!
Just wanted to take one last look at this behemoth before we get it powered up for testing!
While the activity and power LED are somewhat visible, with a dim glow through the plastic pieces in the front door, they aren't bright enough for images. Opening the door is easy enough to verify, but I like that the bright LED doesn't flood the room either.
With the PC-P80N testing and writing all the images up, it is very fresh to my mind and I can't really think of where Lian Li did anything worth complaining about. In fact, what I found was that Lian Li is even rethinking the smaller things in their chassis designs. Beefing up the GPU support rail, adding the wire managing channel, removing the impedance that was at the bottom of every motherboard tray I have seen prior to this, and full on USB 3.0 compatibility. And for those who can't go full USB 3.0, Lian Li has you covered too. While the PC-P80N demands a seriously premium price, I do have to say that there are very few cases in contention with this. In fact, the way I see it, its competition are cases like Mountain Mods, the 800D and the Elysium from Xigmatek, and that's not including previous cases from Lian Li. So that might help me put the pricing into a better perspective.
Outside, I really like the front door idea, and I like it more when it's backed with a trio of 140mm fans. The top, well, the Mowhawk isn't my style and I would prefer a flat top, but I can see why Lian Li would do this to keep in the trend of cases. The top also helps redirect airflow from the pair of 120mm fans under it, as well as adding room for the front I/O and Lian Li naming. I would have liked Lian Li to invent/adopt to a tool-free system for the optical drives and possibly for the hard drive cages, but if it has to be done with screws, I'm glad they are big thumbscrews!
The thumbscrews included for the motherboard installation couldn't be easier with the short ones for normal spots and a few longer ones for the tough to reach holes in the motherboard. In the back, the 120mm fan is a welcomed inclusion to help remove heated air directly from the CPU air cooler and the super solid tool-less latches for the expansion cards is a huge plus in my book. With all this in mind, don't forget, that heavy, solid front door can be reversed if you would prefer the door to swing to the right rather than to the left as Lain Li ships the PC-P80N.
Back to the part where we have to settle back down to reality and look at this chassis from a bang for the buck perspective. Considering this chassis is currently only in five listings of Google shopping, finding one might be a bit tough. Once you do locate the PC-P80N, you need to decide if the lowest price I could find of $379.99 from Sundial Micro is worth it to you. In reality, this chassis is quite a bit more than the Xigmatek or Corsair offerings and on par with a MM case, so I think the case is priced right in its market. For the average guy with a typical build, I don't think this is the case for you, but if you have a serious build with a ton of storage, or looking for the next chassis for a Crunching or Folding rig, or one of the few with a SR-2, this may be just the case for you.
For those with dual processor boards and those in the realm to need server cases, the PC-P80N is definitely right up your alley. As you read the award, don't let the Availability and the Value throw you off. With only five places to buy it, and the fact it is still $400, I had to score accordingly, but I still like what Lian Li is doing here and will recommend it to anyone with the need or simple desire for this kind of room in a chassis.
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