Lian-Li has announced a new full tower PC case dubbed the PC-A79. The PC-A79 supports HPTX, E-ATX, XL-ATX, ATX, and Micro-ATX motherboards and features a removable motherboard tray with cut outs for the CPU and rubber grommets for improved cable management.
Measuring 9.0 (w) x 24.3 (h) x 23.4 (d) inches, the PC-A79 seats up to nine 3.5-inch drives and eight 2.5-inch drives via tool-less mounting. The case also boasts 11 expansion slots with support for multiple graphics cards measuring up to 350mm or 13.7 inches in length. CPU coolers are limited to 145mm or 5.7 inches in height. The I/O panel is up top and hidden away under a stealth cover. It features four USB 3.0 ports and support for eSATA, and HD audio.
As far as cooling is concerned, there are 120mm fans mounted to the three HDD cages. These can be adjusted so they're either towards the front of the case or behind the cage. There's also dust filters on each of the 5.25-inch front bezels, two 120mm fans on the side panel that automatically shut off when the side panel is removed, and a 120mm exhaust fan in the rear. Those looking at liquid cooling solutions will be pleased to hear that the PC-A79 boasts a tool-lessly removable panel to allow for the installation of 240mm radiators as well.
The PC-A79 will be available in black (PC-A79B) in North America at the beginning of September and will be priced at $389.
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Computer cases are the signposts of the system within and the Lian Li PC-A79 signals to me a very good combination of design, features, and build quality.
Not everyone will like the severe styling. I can well understand why a gaming system would want to look like a Transformer ready for action, ablaze with lights and clear tube red liquid cooling visible through windows, and fans on every side letting you know the superchargers have spun up to boost, but in the workstation world, a complex, detail-laden case is not desirable.
I have a Dell Precision T5400 with what I call the 1963 Rambler Ambassador grille case and even the slightly sculpted, silver mouth on it seems to catch my eye too often. I don't believe I have poor powers of concentration, it's that as a designer, I'm never off duty analyzing design and objects that are eye-catching tend to be eye-catching. In my workplace quest for neutral design, I even use a plain white cylindrical coffee cup with no cat faces or "World's Greatest Second Cousin" on it. My ideal case is invisible- or very, very plain- the monolith from "2001" - except the air flow would be poor.
It's true the PC-A79 does not appear especially innovative, but the number of bays, air flow configuration, accommodation for components and level of standard pieces is very, very good and the styling is non-intrusive.
Our friend WithoutWeakness mentions the exceedingly wonderful Case Labs designs and this offers a useful perspective. The Case Labs cases are really a modular system of very well thought out pieces that allow a builder to have as much or as little going on as they like, and easily add about anything and everything going- elaborate plumbing, probably dozens of drives, twenty fans or whatever. This is wonderful to have available, but as WithoutWeakness notes, this is at a serious enthusiast level. If I were buying a Case Labs, I would be spending $700+ because the Magnum STH10 is $570 without anything in it- no drive bays, fans, windows, grilles, front USB ports. I think if I had one of those big double Case Labs I could have my espresso maker conveniently mounted and have espresso while waiting on renderings. I don't know the entire Case Labs product line, and correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe some Case Labs arrive like IKEA furniture and you have to assemble them from 2D into 3D. This may seem like an impenetrable marketing decision, but I think it's actually another important feature to allow full disassembly to facilitate extensive modifications and the possibility for testing / configuration with access to every side of every component. It's like building a custom house, build the frame, add components, get the plumbing, air conditioning, wiring. and lighting just right, test it, watching for leaks and smoke, and add the sides when everything is going.
With Case Labs as an example of the most versatile / configurable, the Lian Li at about $390, as for other comparable middle-ground cases would be easier on the user> it doesn't require the same level of decision making as to the internal features- possible complex assembly, allowing focus on the complex task of specifying the innards- and appears to me to have ample facilities for a very high level system. When I build my dual liquid cooled, 12-core / 48 thread Xeon, 256GB, 3X Tesla K20, Quadro K6000, LSI Controller, 9 drive, dual PSU (words that total about $18,000) Personal Supercomputer, yes Case Labs, but for quite high end workstations using standard components up to $5,000-6,000, the Corsair Obsidian 900D (about $350), the Lian Li PC-A76WX (about $240), or the Lian Li PC A79 (about $390) would appear to offer very good choices.
I think I'll start a computer case company called " Shaker Systems ®$©™℠℞©£ ". Our motto, "Plain Systems for Plain Folks doing Flight Dynamics Simulation"