Introducing the Lian Li PC-A05FN

If you're willing to shell out the money for them, there are a lot of interesting alternative enclosure designs on the market. Companies like SilverStone, Thermaltake, and Lian Li are happy to sell you more experimental and exotic cases once you get past $150 or so, but what if you want something a little spicier without breaking the bank? At $99 Lian Li has you covered with the new PC-A05FN. There are a lot of good (or at least interesting) ideas at work in the PC-A05FN, but how well do they pan out?

From the outside the PC-A05FN looks like a fairly typical midtower enclosure, albeit one made entirely out of aluminum, but the dimensions are a little unusual. This is a surprisingly short, surprisingly deep enclosure, and one you wouldn't expect to be able to fit a full ATX motherboard. But appearances can be deceiving, and when you pop it open you'll see it's anything but typical.

Lian Li PC-A05FN Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX
Drive Bays External 2x 5.25", 1x 3.5"
Internal 3x 3.5", 2x 2.5"
Cooling Front 1x 120mm exhaust fan
Rear 1x 120mm intake fan
Top 1x 140mm fan mount
Side -
Bottom -
Expansion Slots 8
Front I/O Port Power and reset buttons, mic and headphone jacks, USB 2.0, USB 3.0
Top I/O Port -
Power Supply Size ATX
Clearance 10.5" (Expansion Cards), 165mm (CPU HSF), 160mm (PSU)
Weight 9.7 lbs (4.4kg)
Dimensions 8.27" x 15.16" x 19.69" (210mm x 385mm x 500mm)
Price $99

As you can see from the specifications, there isn't that much that seems noteworthy for a basic midtower. The PC-A05FN seems a little shy for hard drive mounting space, but not that many users need more than three 3.5" drive bays, especially with how frequently people are using SSDs now; we have space for two of those as well. Something unusual should catch your eye, though: the PC-A05FN has flipped the traditional airflow design. Instead of taking in cool air from the front and exhausting hot air out of the back, Lian Li has opted to bring cool air directly into the CPU heatsink fan and then blow it over the hard drives out of the front. It's definitely a shift in priorities.

In and Around the Lian Li PC-A05FN
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  • jigglywiggly - Wednesday, December 7, 2011 - link

    I just bought a 30$ xigamatek pc case from newegg that craps all over this.

    This case is too small first of all.
    The xigamatek is fairly large, fits 3870x2 + 3870 in CF np, fits big heatsink.

    it has a hole to remove the heatsink from the tray so no need to take mobo out.

    Fits 630watt psu, totally tooless.

    This case is more than 3x the price and I would pick the xigamatek. It's also incredibly light so it's probably easier to transport.
  • insurgent - Thursday, December 8, 2011 - link

    The Xigmatek is also a boring steel case while this is made of brushed aluminum with superior build quality. The Xigmatek doesn't "crap" all over this, they belong in different market segments: those who are poor/cheap and those who appreciate nice things and have money to spare.
  • james.jwb - Thursday, December 8, 2011 - link

    I had an A05nb that i cut a PSU 120mm hole for, and added a top panel identical to this one for a 140mm fan.

    It's a great looking case, there is no denying it, but it's quite flimsy. The aluminium is very thin, you get no extra features either. No good cable routing, no sound dampening. I just swapped it out for a Define R3 and it really shows how Lian Li seem to be falling behind on what is now standard on most cases.

    There is no other case like it though. If you what a great looks and a small footprint, it's as good as it gets, especially now it has those extra fan placements as standard, because my god, it needed it with my old 4890 installed :)

    With the right fans, it can definitely handle a 6970 setup fine, mine did.
  • ckryan - Thursday, December 8, 2011 - link

    The old version of this case is where it's at. I don't like the new version as much.
  • Ben90 - Thursday, December 8, 2011 - link

    I just found a piece of cardboard from the dumpster that craps all over the xigametek.

    That case is too small first of all.
    The cardboard is fairly large, fits Bitchin' Fast 3D 2000 in SLI np, fits autocascade.

    It has no fasteners anywhere so no need to take anything out.

    Fits a bin of extra computer parts, totally tooless.

    This case is more than infinite the price and I would pick the cardboard. It's also incredibly light so it's probably easier to transport.
  • Gazziza - Sunday, December 18, 2011 - link

    "This case is too small first of all.
    The xigamatek is fairly large, fits 3870x2 + 3870 in CF np, fits big heatsink."

    You're obviously not the target market for this case then. The whole point is that this case is supposed to be smaller than most mid towers. Not everyone has the space to fit in a larger case. You're making an apples to orange comparison. This Lian-Li and your Xigmatek occupy different parts of the market.
  • Iketh - Wednesday, December 7, 2011 - link

    Lian Li must have read my mind regarding HD temps. If you're using 5400-5900 rpm drives, they get far too cool with fans blowing directly on them (20-25C). The approach in this case alleviates that, but what happens to HD temps when you're running a full load on the cpu for several hours straight?? That heat is blowing right over the hard drives. I can't see how they won't reach at least 50C, especially if using 7200rpm. That front fan should just be an intake also and open the top cover.
  • beginner99 - Thursday, December 8, 2011 - link

    plus with this design they are countering natural air flow (warm air is lighter) forcing it to flow down a bit. Inputs at the fronts bottom and top-rear exhaust makes more sense.
  • Alecthar - Thursday, December 8, 2011 - link

    The actual effect of convection for PC cases is usually overstated. Air, even warm air, is going to go where the fans draw it. There's also no reason to believe that "countering" the natural direction of air flow is in any way significant. Should you draw warm air over your HDDs? Maybe not, but that really has little to do with whether or not the case should be working with, or just ignoring, convection.
  • Strunf - Thursday, December 8, 2011 - link

    Why do you say the HD get far too cool? as far as I know 25°C is the optimal temperature for all electronics devices.

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