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Lian Li Launches PC-A51 Case with Reverse Airflow Design

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 16 comments

This case is based on feedback provided by the DIY community.

Lian Li introduced a new brushed aluminum mid-tower chassis, the PC-A51. Supporting ATX and Micro-ATX motherboards, this case was originally previewed to the community in its prototype stage, and now provides, in its final retail form, features that are based on community feedback.

For starters, the new PC-A51 sports a reverse airflow design, allowing cool air to be pulled into the chassis from the rear thanks to a filtered 120 mm fan. An additional 140 mm fan installed above the front-mounted power supply pulls the hot air out of the case. Owners can even mount an optional 120 mm or 140 mm fan on the floor of the chassis.

In addition to the airflow design, Lian Li's new case makes use of all the internal free space, allowing for CPU coolers up to 175 mm (6.8 inches), power supplies up to 160 mm (6.2 inches) and VGA cards up to 400 mm (15.7 inches). There's also a "tool-less" top panel that can be removed for allowing users to install 240/280 mm radiators and AIO liquid cooling kits.

The Lian Li PC-A51 also features a new "versatile" HDD/SSD mounting system that allows system builders to install 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch drives on the individually removable hard drive bays. If these bays are removed, users can mount up to three 2.5-inch drives directly onto the tray, thus freeing up space and helping to increase the airflow. Another 2.5-inch drive can be mounted in the 30 mm (1.2-inch) space behind the motherboard tray.

Finally, this community-driven case provides an I/O panel packed with four USB 3.0 ports and HD audio connections, which is located on the front bezel. There's also a "stealth" bay on the front for mounting a 5.25 inch optical drive.

The chassis comes in four flavors: the PC-A51A (silver) / PC-A51B (black) for $149 each, the PC-A51WX (internal black w/window) for $189, and the PC-A51WRX (red and black w/window) for $199. The PC-A51A, PC-A51B and PC-A51WX will be available in North America at the end of February, whereas the PC-A51WRX will be available at the end of April.

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  • 0 Hide
    meluvcookies , February 17, 2014 1:23 PM
    My biggest concerns with this airflow design is:1. Though it doesn't preclude the use of a AIO watercooler, it does raise questions about the ability to move enough air through the filtered 120mm fan at the rear of the case along with any rear-mounted radiator.
  • 2 Hide
    icycool_q1 , February 17, 2014 2:03 PM
    Just one thing strange about these cases.. no reset button!
  • 2 Hide
    hotroderx , February 17, 2014 2:11 PM
    This seems to me like a foolish design. I like the case don't get me wrong there, but this idea for reverse airflow seems kinda dumb.The first thing that comes to mind is why would you want the case venting hot air towards you? The second thing that comes to mind is the Video card. I have a AMD 7870 and a Nvidia GTX 770 video card and both blow some pretty hot air out of the back of my computer. What keeps that intake fan in the back from sucking up that hot air and blowing it back in to the case raising temps?
  • -1 Hide
    house70 , February 17, 2014 2:12 PM
    Since no case is airtight, I would just reverse the rear fan to exhaust, in addition to the top fan. Creating a vacuum-like environment will only draw more cool air in the case through the front vents, creating a relatively laminar flow. Their configuration begs for turbulence, which in turn means less effective air flow.
  • -1 Hide
    house70 , February 17, 2014 2:20 PM
    Quote:
    Just one thing strange about these cases.. no reset button!

    Got it the first time you said it, buddy, no need for triple post.
  • 4 Hide
    icycool_q1 , February 17, 2014 2:24 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Just one thing strange about these cases.. no reset button!

    Got it the first time you said it, buddy, no need for triple post.


    This interface is seriously screwed.
    I just signed up today, coz I couldn't find how to sign in normally (I made an account a year ago), so I went through gmail.
    Then it posted twice.
    Then I went to account settings to read the welcome mail.
    Somehow, it decides to post again??? Anyway, I have deleted the dupe posts, and really expect a bit better out of Toms, given the traffic this site gets.
    Incidentally, I know it has no reset button, because I downloaded the product manual from Lian-Li.
  • 6 Hide
    house70 , February 17, 2014 2:27 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Just one thing strange about these cases.. no reset button!

    Got it the first time you said it, buddy, no need for triple post.


    This interface is seriously screwed.
    I just signed up today, coz I couldn't find how to sign in normally (I made an account a year ago), so I went through gmail.
    Then it posted twice.
    Then I went to account settings to read the welcome mail.
    Somehow, it decides to post again??? Anyway, I have deleted the dupe posts, and really expect a bit better out of Toms, given the traffic this site gets.
    Incidentally, I know it has no reset button, because I downloaded the product manual from Lian-Li.

    Agree with the screwed interface. The site comments section has been destroyed ever since they decided to change it a while ago. During the "feedback" period they only considered cosmetic suggestions, ignoring the more serious functional ones. This is the result.
  • 5 Hide
    icycool_q1 , February 17, 2014 2:35 PM
    If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
    Also, I prefer the old way of seeing all comments instead of having to click "show", perhaps it's better for mobile devices with the infinite scroll-through of recent articles, but it doesn't suit me.
  • 1 Hide
    digitalexplosives , February 17, 2014 2:49 PM
    meh another computer case just with the fans flipped over to pull from the back instead of the front.
  • -1 Hide
    finder , February 17, 2014 3:27 PM
    how do you fit PSU inside this case?
  • 4 Hide
    doomtomb , February 17, 2014 9:32 PM
    $150 and less features than the other guys. Uhhh cmon' Lian Li
  • 0 Hide
    dragonfang18 , February 18, 2014 12:16 AM
    I really wish they mass produced the Ncase m1... I really regret not finding out about it sooner.
  • 0 Hide
    RooD , February 18, 2014 4:23 AM
    Reverse airflow is perfect for sitting in my entertainment center. I don't understand the people saying this is foolish
  • 0 Hide
    Haravikk , February 18, 2014 12:55 PM
    I don't get this reverse airflow "feature"; surely you can do that simply by installing fans in reverse? It's not like a dust-cover is a hard thing to install yourself, I have some pretty good perforated aluminium ones that cost about £1 each.It's great that they've taken community feedback, I just don't see what's really special about this case.
  • 0 Hide
    Kozzy72 , February 19, 2014 7:27 PM
    Go further Lian-Li...put intake fans on the bottom of the case. Lots of newer designs have the USB panel on top...why? With venting of heat out the top, where do the devices go? Some newer cases still have the bottom/front of the USB panel...best spot with the tower sitting on top of the desk. On the floor, or mounted lower, snatches up too much dust..a system killer. Lian-Li, give the customer an option...top mount USB or bottom/front mount. Last build was with Lian-Li and I sure would like to stay with you. Need help understanding the top-mount of this panel..Thanks.
  • 0 Hide
    vertexx , March 3, 2014 3:53 PM
    This is such a beautifully designed case, but they really screwed up the layout. With the PSU location, there is no hope of a dual-gpu setup, and don't even get me started on the convoluted airflow.

    A simple design fix would have made this case much more effective. Placing the PSU top-front on it's side (ala Silverstone SG09/10), with intake in the front and exhaust out the left side would have provided much more flexibility for either more drives or more expansion. It would also mean the PSU cables are already in the perfectly designed cable-run. Everything else up front would be pushed down. So you'd have the front intake blowing direct into the GPU area, and you'd have room for dual GPUs. With a width of 230mm, there was definitely room to do this, and it would have been fantastic.

    I would also like to see Lian-Li get more aggressive with the intake ventilation - it looks like a 160mm fan could easily fit on this one. On the bottom, they need more ventilation to allow cool are to the GPU(s).

    Overall, Lian-Li focuses on aesthetics and market-leading build quality, with airflow and component layout innovation as an afterthought. It's a shame, because I am in the market for a low-height full-ATX box like this, but this one just won't do.