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Anyone use the Lian Li PC-9F?

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February 1, 2011 6:54:50 PM

Hi, I am looking for a new case and am drawn to the Lian Li PC-9F. A few positive comments on Newegg but I am not sure how it compares to other cases in this price range. I like the look of the Lian Li but the less expensive HAF 912 is also tempting since it meets most of my needs/wants. Thanks for helping.

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February 2, 2011 11:51:42 PM

Thank you, all very good suggestions. I have been using an old Antec Performance Plus case from 2001 (many updates) and was thinking about going for the big aluminum upgrade but have never seen one in person. Decisions... $44 Antec 300 or go for the Lian Li Pc-9F (or even get creative with the PC-A05).
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February 2, 2011 11:53:45 PM

Whatever you prefer. Just remember what your target interest is:

How much it costs
How big it is
How will it accommodate what I am doing.
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March 12, 2011 2:34:01 PM

spanky44 said:
Hi, I am looking for a new case and am drawn to the Lian Li PC-9F. A few positive comments on Newegg but I am not sure how it compares to other cases in this price range. I like the look of the Lian Li but the less expensive HAF 912 is also tempting since it meets most of my needs/wants. Thanks for helping.


Hi, to answer your question I am using the Lian-Li PC-9F to build a SOHO File Server. For my purposes I've found it to be near perfect. Here is what's in it:

Supermicro H8SGF-FO Motherboard (Opteron Processor)
Noctua 120mm Heatink/Fan
4 Hitachi 1 TB Enterprise Drives
2 Hitachi 500 GB Enterprise Drives
Asus DVDRW Burner
Seasonic 650W power supply

My criteria for a case was:
1. Reduce Weight (6 SATA drives can get heavy combined with a power supply, optical drive and Heatsink
2. Allow lots of airflow (Opteron CPUs and 6 SATA drives warm things up)
3. Power supply at the bottom to improve stability
4. Vibration absoarbing tools to reduce noise
5. Quick access to the HD cage if one of the RAIDs has a problem for quick replacement
6. No sharp edges for people to cut themselves on. (I've found Antec to have too many of these on their sub-$100 cases,I've written them twice on this, then gave up on them after seeing no improvement)

Just so you know I'm doing a RAID 10 with the 4 1TB and a RAID 1 with the 2 500 GB
Later I may need to transfer a DAT72 drive from an old machine into this one.

My findings:

Hard Drive mounting was an absolute breeze. (There are only 6 HD bays but that was the plan so perfect fit). only thing that would have improve it would be to have a hot swap tray (expensive but nice). Given that the hard drive connectors face outwards, I could change a drive almost as fast with the quick mount system. the case includes 2 140 mm fans (1 for each set of 3) with air filters which is BEAUTIFUL for cooling the drives quietly and minimizing dust buildup. The entire design was made to measure. It should be noted that on the PC-9F it looks like you can also mount an SDD under the lowest 3.5" drive (I haven't tried this yet).

Mounting power supply equally easy, plenty of room and I could mount it either upside down to drawn hot air downward, or standard to draw air into the power supply from below. I choose the later as the case is designed to draw hot air up and out (hot air rises so its logical).

The screws included for mounting the motherboard made it really easy to mount (could do it with your fingers alone possibly but I'd suggest using a screwdrivers after initial mounting to make it snug). And there was plenty of room to spare. There is no video card in this server (it is a server) but if had opted for one, I could mount a large graphics card easily.

There is a cool option to remove a plate at the top to mount an optional fan in the ceiling of the case. Default the cover plate is on but a metal fall mesh is included with the case. So if a large video card was added you could add the extra fan to help airflow.

You only have 3 5.25 inch bays to play with (one has a 3.5" mount for a floppy, SSD or DAT72 drive). While 3 doesn't seem like a lot, if your point is to build a file server (as in my case) its perfect, no space is wasted. Those who think they need more 5.25 bays should look at the PC-7FN whic has 5 external 5.25 bays and 4 internal 3.5. (better for gaming machine or basic desktop configuration)

the case includes cable managers, either a small 2 cable clamp or one that extends the entire floor of the case. Either one reduces the number of electrical ties required to manage cables. If you can't get a modulal power supply like I did, the difference is considerable. I still fond it welcome to keep slack with SATA power connector under control.

The holes on the MB tray are in great locations to snake the power cables under the MB plate to prevent cables interrupting air flow. Most ATX connectors are to the right of the MB, but the Supermicro has it at the top and center. So in my scenario I needed to use a ATX extension cable to extend form the upper right hole to the ATX conecter, but I could have simply kept it to the right as there was plenty of room between the MB and the hard drive/5.25 external cages.

Using the 5.25 external bays are surprisingly easy. I'm used to having twist of metal plates on Antec cases, so I had to force myself to follow the instructions which is to remove the front plate (which you literally just pull forward exactly as the instructions say) It was so easy I thought something was wrong at first. Then remove the Aluminum covers by squeezing the sides and pulling forward...gently, because the one big weakness of the Aluminum cases/cover plates is they scrape easily against each other. (Aluminum on aluminum). won't damage anything but you'll want to keep your baby in pristine order. After that putting in the optical drive was as easy as putting the fornt back on, opening the mounting bracket, sliding in the drive, and closing it. No screws! I love it.

Fans you barely hear blowing. I expected without sound padding for the drives to echo in the case, but surprisingly, I was barely aware of them (the grommels did their job).

The USB 3.0 ports is a nice touch and nicely mount at the top with a cable manager and even include a PCI bracket for unning the cable through to usb connectors on the back external MB connector panel if necessary so you can use the USB ports on top of the case. Nice touch. Remember the speaker is not attached to the case but a little mb attachment (which is a good thing in my view).

The case is light (as intended) but still quite strong. I'm not sure I would use it as a chair or CRT monitor stand, but it feels very solid. I put my weight against the outer sides to see how solid it was. I'd say put together its as an average steel case but a little more than 1/2 the weight. I would have liked if it they included the toolless power supply mounting mechanism (you can get it for a little extra dough as well as the toolless card mount) but I'm getting picky.

Basically I loved this case and as a SOHO file server its fantastic. As a gaming case it will work nicely too, but the internal hard drive bay screams file server to me. As I mentioned before, if you want lots of external 5.25 bays, the PC-7FN is the way to go. Otherwise, PC-9F is a beauty. Seems expensive, but in my view, compared to higher end Antec cases, its actually an excellent value. The only downside for me was I had to special order it as availabilty is limited in my area.

Just so you know, I've examined the cooler master cases as they are easier for me to obtain, but their edges are not as well polished as the Lian Li (few inside edges scrape silicone gloves or skin although nothing saw that could cut badly like some lower end cases). The HAF 912 case you mentioned has a lot of plastic do-dads on the front and especially the top. That concerns me a bit. More easily broken in my view. Also the roof is mostly plastic, not that solid in spite of the fact they are using steel so its heavier, yet in many ways more fragile. It is basically unsafe to put much on top of the HAF 912 in my opinion. To me the Cooler Master HAF 912 is heavier, less solid, harder to put together and less precision on the screws and only 2 fans means if you load 6 drives like I have, it wouldn't be cooled in the ideal way. Cool Master fans in my experience are okay, not the best I've used. I'd replace them with Arctic Cooling. The Lian-Li fans are high grade in my experience (I've had the fans in my giant PC-V1010 going for a couple years now and they still quiet). Anyway, there is my info, my Lian-li experience and opinion. I'd say for long term use, the Lian-Li is the better deal. More money short term, but less effort to assemble, maintain and more durability.
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March 12, 2011 11:04:40 PM

Best answer selected by spanky44.
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March 12, 2011 11:08:39 PM

Thank you! Great review. I bought a PC-a05 for my old system and am impressed with Lian LI. It looks like the Pc-9F is the choice for my next build.
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