Lian Li Alpha 330 Mid-Tower Chassis Review

Lian Li Alpha 330 Mid-Tower Chassis Review

Lian Li marches right into the mainstream market and kicks down the doors with the Alpha 330Mid-Tower Chassis.

@chad_sebring
Published Mon, May 7 2018 10:00 AM CDT   |   Updated Sun, Aug 2 2020 12:19 AM CDT
Rating: 99%Manufacturer: Lian Li

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

If this were a few years ago, we would be starting this review off about how Lian Li is the premier chassis builder when it comes to aluminum cases. We would be glowing about how large and how light, yet structurally sound their cases are. Of course, this would also be followed with sticker shock as we tried to reason with you on why Lian Li is the aluminum chassis to have. However, times have changed since last we dealt with Lian Li. New ownership, a new direction of attack on the market, and what appears to be an attempt to go mainstream after years of making a name for themselves as a top tier and expensive chassis maker.

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With the last chassis to hit the lab for testing, we are seeing that Lian Li is taking a turn to work like many other companies on the market. Rather than making cases to sell to 100 to 1000 people, it appears as though they now are running a tighter ship, where they are offering designs that multitudes of customers will gravitate to.

Many a chassis has come across our desk, where the case sports tempered glass in some fashion. Some with tempered glass on the left, some with it on the front and the left, and even a few with glass on the front, the left, and the right.

However, with many cases that offer this much glass, there are only a select few that take strides to make the area seen through the right side of the case as clean as the view seen through the left side. Some opt for paint, and some opt for plain steel covers, but what you are going to see now is a level of detail that maybe only one or two case makers have ever gotten to.

We are about to take you on the tour that is the Lian Li Alpha 300 mid-tower chassis. Gone is the aluminum, replaced by steel, and the old school panels with plastic windows is a thing of the past as well. Not only is Lian Li moving into the market of the everyman, but they also do so with all the finesse we know Lian Li to deliver in their cases. At first glance, you may walk right by the Alpha 330 and think it is just another tempered glass wearing mid-tower chassis, but you couldn't be more wrong. The attention to detail and the feature set is what the Alpha 330 is all about, and we feel that it is well worth the time to stop and check it out.

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The Alpha 330 is made of steel and has three tempered glass panels mounted to it. You do have a choice of colors too, as there is a white version as well as a black option. There are no external bays to detract from the sleek and clean appearance, and rather than going with the standard offerings, the front I/O panel offers USB 3.1 Type-C, one of maybe three cases we have seen thus far to do that. Dimensionally, this mid-tower chassis is 491mm in height, 486mm from front to back, and it is 230mm in width. All told, the Alpha 330 weighs in at 12.4 kilograms.

On the inside of the chassis, there are no 5.25" bays, and it is shown that there is no room for 3.5" drives either. However there is a cage to support a pair of hard drives, and for those with smaller drive needs, Lian Li offers seven 2.5" drive mounting locations. The motherboard tray will house Mini-ITX and Micro-ATX motherboards as well as ATX boards, but the length of the front I/O panel wires can restrict what is possible. In the back of the chassis, there are seven expansion slots to be filled, along with a few limitations to note. Video cards can be 400mm long, CPU coolers can be 170mm tall, and when it comes to the PSU and cables, the Alpha 330 has 250mm of room.

To cool this chassis, as shipped, it comes with a single 120mm fan mounted in the back of the chassis. It is a good thing that the options for cooling are much better than what is provided. In the front of the chassis there is room for up to three 120mm fans, and at the top, there is room for as many 120mm fans, but there 140mm fans, three of them, can be mounted as an option. The back of the chassis is only drilled for 120mm fans, but all areas can also be used for water cooling that matches the fan options.

At this time, it appears that the Alpha 330X or the black model is slightly cheaper to obtain. We see it listed currently for as little as $95. However, the white version does carry a slight premium with it, as we see it listed at $109.99. Even so, we feel that with the attention to detail and all of the tricks of the trade found in the Alpha 330 mid-tower chassis, that there is a tremendous value to be had.

Chad's Chassis Test System Specifications

Packaging

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While our Alpha 330 had a harsh and abusive journey to us, there is still enough left of the box to see what is going on. The larger panel seen here may even be the back of the box, but it is nearly identical to the other side. What we find is a shiny black box with bright white test offering the name of the manufacturer at the top-left and the Alpha 330 name across the middle.

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The side of the box is more of the shiny black cardboard. This time, we see the name of the chassis across the middle, and near the bottom, the included version of the chassis is noted with a green sticker. We also see a gray circular shape on the left edge, which does not make much sense.

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This could very well be the front of the box, as it does display the Lian Li logo in gray near the bottom. Otherwise, we see the company name, the chassis name, and smaller color notations, with white, again being marked.

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What we found is that both sides of the box are identical. Seeing the logo on the last panel explains why the gray carries around to this side of the box.

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All of the glass gets coated with plastic which needs to be peeled off, and then the entire chassis is put inside of a cloth bag. At the top and the bottom, we see cardboard mostly, but it is used as the backbone to glue high-density foam to, to absorb the abuse this chassis took getting here. Inside of it all, the chassis is in good shape, no paint missing or any major damages to be addressed.

Lian Li Alpha 330 Mid-Tower Chassis

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The tempered glass that runs down the face of the Alpha 330 is put inside of a plastic bezel, which allows the glass to be far enough away for large holes at the top and bottom to provide airflow into the chassis. Contrasting the white of the case, the glass has its edges painted black, and it also hides the frame behind it.

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The front I/O panel is built into the top of the chassis and is found just behind the air gap. In the panel, we see the power button on the left and a pair of USB 3.0 ports following it. Next, we run into the HD Audio jacks and at the right end of it all, there is a USB 3.1 Type-C port.

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The top of the chassis is made of steel, it is level with the side panels of the chassis, and the vast majority of it is covered with a black plastic dust filter. The filter is inset, so it is level with the steel, and has magnetic strips on the underside to keep it attached to the chassis.

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From the outside, all we see on the left side is a large tempered glass panel, four thumbscrews holding it in place, and chunky white feet at the bottom. Again, like with the front, the edges of the glass are painted to obstruct the view of the frame.

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The back of the Alpha 330 shows some height at the top, before running into the rear I/O and exhaust fan location. Under them, there are expansion slots in an 8+2 configuration for potential GPU mounting options. The bottom of the chassis is used for the PSU, and we notice the dust filter under the chassis does not come out the back.

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The right side of the chassis is similar to the left, in that there is another full-length tempered glass panel in play. This time, while thin areas are painted black at the top and on the sides, the bottom has a much taller section painted, as to eliminate a view behind the PSU cover.

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The bottom of the chassis offers a view of the feet which are as wide as the chassis, and both the front and back has a pair of rubber pads applied for grip. What we realized from here, is that the long dust filter that covers the entire length of the chassis pulls out through the left side of the case, which simplifies cleaning it for the end-user.

Inside the Lian Li Alpha 330

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The bezel and the glass are easily removed from the front of the chassis, and we can see the gaps at the top and bottom of it for airflow. We have also removed the dust filter and set it to the left, but what is in the middle is a removable section of the chassis which makes mounting fans and or radiators much easier to accomplish.

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Like in many other cases, Lian Li opts for the dual compartment layout. The op is wide open for the motherboard, GPU, and cooling, while the thin lower section is all blocked from view with the PSU cover.

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Since there are no fans to discuss here, we would like to move your attention to the left. We see a steel cover over where the PSU cable would connect to the motherboard, or SATA cables too. To the right of the cover plate are two large holes with grommets, so that fan wires can be easily sent to the back of the chassis to be hidden.

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The top of the chassis offers slots for ventilation, and the wider slots on either side are for mounting additional cooling. Remember, you can get three 120mm fans in here, or a pair of 140mm fans.

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The motherboard tray is one solid expanse of steel from the front to the back. We see ten wire tie points, a decent sized opening for cooler access, and again, the openings to the right are mostly blocked with the Lian Li logo embossed cover.

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The PSU cover offers a hole at the front so radiators can go through it, and there is also a universal pump mounting bracket included too. The opening near the motherboard tray has a grommet in it, but the slot near the open side allows PCI-e power cables to go up, without anything to impede them. Also, at the back, we see it is ventilated, and one could install the PSU either way.

Inside the Alpha 330 Continued

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There is a single 120mm fan found at the back of the case, and it can be powered by either a 3-pin fan header or by the 4-pin Molex connection tail coming from it. The typical eight expansion slots are accessed internally, while the +2 section to the left is accessed externally. Sadly, though, no riser card is provided.

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Behind the motherboard tray to the glass is 30mm of space, but that is encroached upon with the three 2.5" drive locations on the left via the fold-out bracket, as well as the two single 2.5" drive tray under the access hole. We found the hardware and the manual as well, tucked into the HDD cage.

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The HDD cage hidden under the PSU cover is removable and provides room for a pair of 3.5" or 2.5" drives. Not only does the cage come out, but so do all of the accompanying spacers and plates. Doing so offers more room for the PSU and extra wires, but you can have an AIO in the front and retain the drive bays.

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Use of a long PSU is of little concern in the Alpha 330. The side rail of the chassis is lowered to allow the PSU to slide into the chassis, and it rests upon rubber pads on either side of the case.

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Hidden behind the SSD tray at the left side, we located the chassis wiring. These cables should be sufficient for various motherboards, but header location will determine how they need to be routed. There is the native USB 3.0 cable, a ninety-degree USB 3.1 Type-C connection, an HD Audio connection, and a single wire for the power button.

Hardware & Documentation

Hardware & Documentation

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The group of screws at the top are used for mounting HDDs into the cage as well as a few of them used for 2.5" drives as well, as there is a mix of 6/32 and M3 screws given. At the bottom, we have the PSU screws, standoffs, four 6/32 screws for optional equipment, and a set of M3 screws for mounting the motherboard.

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The manual is simple and does not offer a ton of information. It does, however, cover all of the features of the chassis, delivers a parts list, and does address a case build in the most basic sense. However, the chassis is intuitive in its design and layout, which leaves very little to question in the first place.

Case Build & Finished Product

Case Build & Finished Product

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On the outside, the Alpha 330 has not changed one bit. When looking through the glass, things have changed, as the radiator from our AIO is not blocking the view through to the back of the chassis as we saw originally. The intake would also be spectacular with a set of RGB LED fans.

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With all of the contrast on the outside of the black on white, we love that the interior offers the same feel. Very little of the wiring is seen from this side of the case, and it looks as if the parts are just floating inside of this spacious mid-tower.

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Where the dust shield mounts, there is no top or bottom metal, so once snapped into place, it may still need its height adjusted. The video card went in well and is easily secured, and the same can be said for the PSU.

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With glass to provide a view of this side of the tray, we like that Lian Li allowed us to keep the wires mostly out of view, and we still have room, had we any desire to fill out the 2.5" drive trays or the HDD cage.

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Once the chassis was back in one piece and power added, we like the Alpha 330 more and more. We do feel that RGB fans are a much, maybe even some interior lighting, but the sleek and clean looking chassis is a perfect showcase for all of your goodies.

Final Thoughts

To be blunt, Lian Li marches right into the mainstream market and kicks down the doors. Yes, there are many mid-tower cases with tempered glass, but not many are this clean when complete, and fewer still offer the feature set that Lian Li provides at this cost. A tempered glass front with room to breathe and keep the components inside cool, glass on both sides with paint to block what you don't want to see, and ever so slightly tinted glass to look through at what you do want to see. There is a pump bracket, room for a pair of 360mm radiators, optional 140mm radiator option at the top, from all angles and aspects, Lian Li took what could have fallen into the average category and took it right to the top.

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The chassis may not be aluminum like we are used to from Lian Li, but steel and tempered glass has been working for many companies for a while now. To stand out, you do have to take things over the top, like removable drive cages, room for up to seven drives, covers both front and back to hide the wires, the inclusion of grommets, the list just keeps going. Of course, there is only one fan included, and that is a bit of a downer, but at least the chassis has ample potential for airflow, and the noise delivered from that one fan is at 27dB when you are a foot away from the case. While we tend to reserve this section for faults in design or flaws we found along the way, we cannot think of a single thing to bring up, which would in any way, dissuade you from seriously considering the Alpha 330 as your next chassis.

Looking at both examples, the Alpha 330X and the Alpha 330W we have, we are more in love with the black on white contrast rather than all of the black blending in. However, right now, the black variant is slightly cheaper at around $99. In the end, though, there is no way we would have skimped on the $10 increase to $109.99 for the white version. The overall look and finished product are too nice in the Alpha 330W from Lian Li, wherein the black one, the chassis is the highlight, not the highly contrasting bits inside of it. IF it were our money, and we were looking for a mid-tower chassis with tempered glass sides and front and wanted one with all the options today's market should offer, Lian Li has edged out the masses and makes quite the showing.

Chad's Chassis Test System Specifications

TweakTown award
Performance97%
Quality100%
Features99%
Value100%
Overall99%

The Bottom Line: The Lian Li Alpha 330 is a tough act to follow. The rich feature set including USB 3.1, a pump bracket, and ingenious solutions to many needs put this chassis in the running for the best of its kind. It may not be what we expected from Lian Li, but none the less, it is a near perfect solution!

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DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM, cooling, as well as peripherals.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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