Skip to main content

Building The Lian Li DK-04X Gaming Desk

The Mounting Plate Is All About Compromise

The design of the large radiator’s 45-degree mounting plate is nothing new, but it still offers a reasonable compromise when it comes to space. We removed all HDD cages, as we preferred to install SSDs and needed additional space for our cooling solution’s fluid pressure regulator, also known as a surge tank. 


MORE: Part 1: 20 Crazy And Unique Case Mods


MORE: Part 2: 20 Crazy And Unique Case Mods


MORE: Tom's Hardware's Top 40 Steampunk Computer Mods From Pinterest

USB Ports, Power Buttons, And More

The front side presents a standard complement of USB ports and power buttons, adding controls for RGB mixing, too.


MORE: Best Cases


MORE: All Case Content


MORE: In Pictures: 40 Unusual Computer Case Mods

What We Put Inside It

We wanted a robust, gaming-capable machine inside our new desk and decided on the following specs: an Intel Core i7-6950X overclocked to 4.3 GHz, 32GB of G.Skill TridentZ memory at 3400 MT/s, an inexpensive cooling block from Phobya, and an 850W be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11 PSU.


MORE: Part 1: 20 Crazy And Unique Case Mods


MORE: Part 2: 20 Crazy And Unique Case Mods


MORE: Tom's Hardware's Top 40 Steampunk Computer Mods From Pinterest

Fitting Two Radiators Required A Little Work

Using two radiators required slight customization, as the larger of the two, a 480mm Alphacool NexXxos XT45, had to be mounted on a support plate to allow sufficient space between the unit and the desk's glass surface. 


MORE: Best Cases


MORE: All Case Content


MORE: In Pictures: 40 Unusual Computer Case Mods

What You'll Find Underneath

As you can see, the desk's underside only has one hole grid for screws. This doesn’t leave much real estate for fans. On top of that, the threaded openings on the radiator would not have fit the grid, hence our change.


MORE: Part 1: 20 Crazy And Unique Case Mods


MORE: Part 2: 20 Crazy And Unique Case Mods


MORE: Tom's Hardware's Top 40 Steampunk Computer Mods From Pinterest

Keeping Cool With An Extra Radiator

To provide sufficient cooling, we required an additional 240mm radiator as well. Its thickness was limited to 45mm; anything more would have resulted in contact between the fans and the motherboard's VRM heat sinks.


MORE: Best Cases


MORE: All Case Content


MORE: In Pictures: 40 Unusual Computer Case Mods

Worry-Free Coolant Removal

Installing the smaller radiator deeper in the table allowed us to add a drain hose that could be conveniently passed through the bottom. This guarantees worry-free coolant removal should we ever need to swap out components or perform hardware maintenance.


MORE: Part 1: 20 Crazy And Unique Case Mods


MORE: Part 2: 20 Crazy And Unique Case Mods


MORE: Tom's Hardware's Top 40 Steampunk Computer Mods From Pinterest

Forget The Conventional Pumps

Having already demonstrated the cooling capacity of Alphacool's Eiswolf GPX Pro, we deliberately passed on a conventional pump and used two Eiswolf GPX Pros (combination VGA cooling block and pump attachment) to allow both coolers to work as independent all-in-one solutions.


MORE: Best Cases


MORE: All Case Content


MORE: In Pictures: 40 Unusual Computer Case Mods

Entering No-Man's Land With Two GTX 1080s

Our decision to run a pair of GTX 1080s in SLI put us in the technological version of no-man’s land. Cooling was at the front of our minds: should we use one pump for one card and a standard heat sink on the other, or should we try two pumps and risk any negative interactions between them?

Before we continue, a little explanation of Alphacool’s cooling technology is necessary. To make a long, convoluted discussion of patented (or unpatented?) technology short, Alphacool’s pumps use a reverse flow approach. The rotor in the pump rotates in the opposite direction of a normal pump, thereby sucking water in and spitting it out into the micro-canals to cool the GPU. This diagram presents the Alphacool reverse flow pump technology in picture form.


MORE: Part 1: 20 Crazy And Unique Case Mods


MORE: Part 2: 20 Crazy And Unique Case Mods


MORE: Tom's Hardware's Top 40 Steampunk Computer Mods From Pinterest

Wait, Will This Even Work?

The real question is whether or not this configuration will even work the way we want it to. During testing, we came to the conclusion that one large radiator was not sufficient to guarantee that both GPX Pro coolers were filled with water at start-up. As such, we had to make some changes.


MORE: Best Cases


MORE: All Case Content


MORE: In Pictures: 40 Unusual Computer Case Mods

  • bambiboom
    Igor Wallossek,
    The general idea of desk that also acts as the system chassis is, on the surface, practical and presents good visual opportunities.

    However, coming from a workstation and industrial designer's perspective, I think there are some opportunities that were miscalculated:

    1. I would find a complex, fairly brightly lit volume under the keyboard extremely distracting.

    2. The noise-making components are about as close to the users' ears as possible, although the radiator fan are tucked under and are oriented away.

    3. Although the system is heavily liquid-cooler oriented, the cooling air stream has a good pattern although it appears diffused over a very large volume.

    4. It would have been interesting to see a configuration using 7.1 surround sound. The speakers in the photos are too far apart for proper stereo imaging.

    5. Aesthetically, I've long thought Lian Li strike a nearly ideal clean and neutral aesthetic- attractive and purposeful, but not distracting. However, for this use- and cost- it might have some more fizz in the appearance- it could be the computer desk in a dentists office. It should be the computer desk in Frankenstein's dentist's office, or in better- in Dr. McCoy's sick bay...

    6. Is it my imagination or is it delivered in the box with the stand / legs attached? It's the size of an apartment refrigerator. Who can move that size box in a home without two or three people? To get it up stairs, the stand would have to be removed anyway.

    Not bad at all, but some missed opportunities.

    BambiBoom
    Reply
  • scannall
    I like the idea. And it is very nice looking. But the two biggest drawbacks for me are price, and I'd rather not have a glass top. I know some people have to have their computer bling, and that's fine. Just isn't for me is all.
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    This case-desk does look rather cool, though I had some of the same thoughts about it potentially being a bit distracting and possibly a bit noisy.

    I suppose you could turn off the lighting to reduce distraction though, or simply build the system with less-extreme lighting. It might be a bit less distracting in a brightly lit room too.

    Noise-wise I get the impression that any vibrations could easily get passed to the desk surface, and in turn to anything on the desk. And speaking of things on the desk, if you want to get into the case for any reason, it looks like you'll need to remove everything from the desk's surface, which isn't exactly ideal.

    It also looks like you would need to clean the surface a lot, since dust and smudges would be quite noticeable on that glossy black surface.

    As for the price, if someone wanted a similar-looking desk, but didn't want to spend $1500 on it, I don't think it would be particularly hard to convert another, much cheaper desk into something like this.
    Reply
  • Fulgurant
    Interesting article. Would have liked to see some air cooling numbers, but I understand it's a niche product.

    As for the table itself, it seems like it suffers from the same malady that afflicts so many other computer-enthusiast products -- over-design, gimmickry for its own sake. As if a table that doubles as a computer case wasn't enough, they have to make the height adjustment mechanism electric (and thus more easily breakable), and apparently Lian Li's quest for component bling led to their trapping the motherboard's IO ports within the table.

    This is the kind of thing I might buy if I felt it would be a practical long-term investment. Real desks aren't exactly cheap, after all. But sadly as it stands, this Lian Li desk looks like just another in a long line of luxury computer products that you're expected to discard a few years down the line, when the next version comes along.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    19745527 said:
    I like the idea. And it is very nice looking. But the two biggest drawbacks for me are price, and I'd rather not have a glass top. I know some people have to have their computer bling, and that's fine. Just isn't for me is all.
    Glass does a great job of reflecting noise, far better than most metal panels. Practically speaking, you'd want either a 1/4" glass or 1/2" MDF top (with Formica surface). Of course the MDF top could capture some of those noises instead of bouncing them back...
    Reply
  • Graham42
    What are the ergonomics of the desk like?
    Height adjustment is good, but only means that the desk height can be changed to accommodate the correct chair height for the user.
    I have helped quite a number of people with sitting position at work computer workstations and most need to have the chair seat to desk top distance as small as possible. The relatively thick front edge of the gaming desk limits that, which could lead some users to need to raise their forearms to use the keyboard and mouse, which leads to shoulders strain especially during long gaming sessions.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    If you don't place the back against a wall, the fans strike me as somewhat unsightly. This thing would look better in an executive's office if they'd placed a long vent on the back and located fans only on the bottom. Possibly quieter, as well.
    Reply
  • drwho1
    Way overpriced.
    I rather spend that money on a REAL wood desk.
    Reply
  • elbert
    It would have to house 2 PC's and atleast one console. Have a fully integrated KVM system and mounting for upto 5 monitors. Also is it to much to ask for a cup holder and all the heat routed to an area of the desk to heat my pizza?
    Reply
  • FormatC
    At first: it is nearly unherable, it is silent! The fans are spinning not more than 800 rpm, the both pumps are running not on their max. speed, but much lower. Try this 700W rig with air coolers and you will be shocked. This heavy glass plate is a perfect noise insulation, much better than any metal. ;)

    7.1 might be good for gaming, but it is nothing for music. This speaker setup is one of the best active speaker systems that you can buy in Germany. But it makes totally sense from the acoustics side, to put the speakers not an the desk but on own stands with spikes at the bottom. I can rotate the speakers in my direktion, if I'm playing.

    The price, yeah.... It is a good point. But I can use the table for years and the craftmanship is really excellent. This makes the price more relative. People are changing VGA cards every year and nobody is discussing about it. Such a table is a longliving product, like excellent headphones or expensive speakers like mine. 10 years warranty from manufacturer. I also bought a setup with Klipsch (2.1), but these Chinese speakers are real crap in direct comparison with my Nubert.

    My office desk:
    Reply