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Take The Train: Lian Li PC-CK101, Built, Tested, And...Driven?

Take The Train: Lian Li PC-CK101, Built, Tested, And...Driven?

Lian Li sent us a locomotive chassis that wraps around a PC; it's time for daddy to turn into a boy again. We'll show you how to get the right parts into this case and how to get it mobile. Then, we'll take it to a train museum full of steam-powered tech.

Lian Li's PC-CK101 was apparently a big hit at Christmas. It sold out, and remains so, at most online vendors. The kit consists of a locomotive and a tender, which house all of the components you'd typically find in a PC. When you step up to the 'L' model, you also get 10 feet of railroad track and a motor.

So, here's our plan of action. First, we're going to build a complete PC into the locomotive. Then we're going to make the whole thing mobile. Finally, we're taking our rail-based configuration to an outdoor train museum, just for kicks. All aboard, friends.

Even without its fancy tracks and motor, this case is unique. It deserves an objective review, and we aren't going to sugar-coat any of its drawbacks. Lian Li does demonstrate with this showpiece what amazing things skilled metal workers can build from aluminum parts. It's all the more impressive that the company was able to bring this chassis to market, rather than simply making it some sort of exhibition piece.

Model Name
PC-CK101 (+ PC-CK101L with motor and tracks)
Mini-ITX, Mini Tower
Width: 7.3", Height: 10.2", Length: 20.3"
Black (Powder-Coated)
Body: Aluminum
Windows: Acrylic
9 lbs.
Drive Bays
1 x 5.25" external (Slim ODD)
1 x 3.5" internal (hard drive; only if the motor kit is not installed)
2 x 2.5" internal (SSD; if the motor kit is installed, only 1x)
1 x 120 mm with dust filter
2 x USB 3.0 (on the locomotive)
Box Size
CK101S 21.8" x 9.7" x 15.2" (L x W x H)
CK101L 21.8" x 9.7" x 24.7" (L x W x H)
Power Supply
SFX PSU (made by FSP)
300 W 80 PLUS
PriceApprox. $229 (PC-CK101S w/o motor, 20" track)
Approx. $312 (PC-CK101L including motor, 10' track)

So, those are the speeds and feeds. But how easy is it to get a PC built inside? What follows is the blow-by-blow account. Minor hurdles did have to be overcome, but in the end we had a lot of fun.

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  • 9 Hide
    Trueno07 , April 18, 2013 9:22 PM
    I am so jealous right now, this looked like it was a blast to put together!
  • -2 Hide
    slomo4sho , April 18, 2013 9:35 PM
    I am surprised you didn't use the model with the moving train!
  • 2 Hide
    edogawa , April 18, 2013 9:51 PM
    This thing is so awesome...if it wasn't for the noise I would get one...I love trains...
  • 0 Hide
    ASHISH65 , April 18, 2013 10:07 PM
    awesome! i want to drive that train
  • 2 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , April 18, 2013 11:05 PM
    The Little Engine That Could...
  • 9 Hide
    g-unit1111 , April 18, 2013 11:20 PM
    *Ozzy Osbourne Voice* ALL ABOARD!!! HA HA HA HA....
  • 0 Hide
    bambiboom , April 18, 2013 11:27 PM
    Just brilliant. Finally, a computer case with a bit of style suitable for grownups.

    Taking the mobile computing theme further, and addressing the limitations on computing power, if you had a Dell Precision M6600 or 6700 laptop with a broken screen, how about mounting the components, motherboard , PSU, batteries, drives, Wifi and all? Then, there could be an i7 CPU and a Quadro 4000M, all very quiet and still getting more air than it's used to. And, appropriately, no power cord!

    The idea of a serious, self- propelled workstation steam train model seems the best use possible of this fantastic enclosure idea. That the computer is itself the game is on the borderline of being art.

    And congratulations to Igor Wallossek for an excellent description of something so wonderfully out of the ordinary.
  • 2 Hide
    shikamaru31789 , April 19, 2013 1:04 AM
    I remember when I first saw this on Newegg. I thought I'd lost my mind for a moment. It's definitely a unique case.
  • 6 Hide
    ojas , April 19, 2013 1:18 AM
    Tom's Hardware's German team has a lot of fun, i can see :D 

    Really enjoyable read, Igor! Also got to know about that Gigabyte wireless streamer, should prove useful!

    Nice house btw :) 
  • 1 Hide
    flong777 , April 19, 2013 3:28 AM
    How fun and what an interesting idea from Lian Li. Kind of a pain in the ass to set up but still it is really interesting.

    Great Article!
  • 1 Hide
    christop , April 19, 2013 4:32 AM
    Looks like a fun build...
  • 4 Hide
    fimbulvinter , April 19, 2013 6:25 AM
    Tran Khanh Vinh An Has LianLi really been far even as decided to make even go want to do look more like?

    Possibly if even then yes like more go.
  • 1 Hide
    warezme , April 19, 2013 6:44 AM
    Far better than that one that shaped like a conch or shell.
  • 3 Hide
    doct3rphil , April 19, 2013 8:57 AM
    choo choo motherf*ckers. time to boot up train simulator 2013
  • 4 Hide
    englandr753 , April 19, 2013 9:30 AM
    Tran Khanh Vinh An Has LianLi really been far even as decided to make even go want to do look more like?

    fimbulvinterPossibly if even then yes like more go.

    You both destroyed thousands of my brain cells processing that, lol.

    My 4 year old son who loves Thomas the Train would have a fit over this, especially if you could get a thomas the tank version. I'll have to admit, I'd love it (and my wife) just as much watching him with it and I would have an excuse to work on computer stuff for a few hours. =D

    I do see this as a possible future purchase! Great article and awesome product!
  • 3 Hide
    FormatC , April 19, 2013 10:02 AM
    My own son Thomas (14 months) loves this train too.

    I'm using this mostly as HTPC now but I've programmed for him a special distance control and a small game to play with animals, colors etc. (like memory game). In this age he knows all basic colors (and pink :D  ), more than 20 animals and a lot of other things. Each day only 15-20 minutes are enough. And he loves Thomas the train and Shaun the Sheep + Timmy.
  • 3 Hide
    Vorador2 , April 19, 2013 10:57 AM
    This is pretty cool. Good job.

    Now if you get to install a third rail and make it completely wireless, it would be absolutely amazing.
  • 2 Hide
    lilcinw , April 19, 2013 11:09 AM
    Wow. Can you get a steam kit for the stack? How about some sound effects from the piezo speaker?
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