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Building The Lian Li DK-04X Gaming Desk

Building The Lian Li DK-04X Gaming Desk

We recently visited the Lian-Li production facility to check out the company's DK-04X gaming desk. This deluxe piece of furniture lets you dial in a height and save up to four presets you can change by pressing a button. This is supposed to ensure that family members, roommates, and random visitors with significantly different body types can all use the same desk.


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Evolving Beyond The DK-02X

The DK-04X is a robust table, and as such, its major components come pre-assembled from the factory.

Given the change in construction between the DK-02X and DK-04X, we found this to be a sensible evolution from Lian-Li’s previous model, which came packaged in several boxes and required you to assemble much of it yourself.


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Cutting Metal With Water-Cooled Lasers

Although Lian-Li employs third-party vendors for certain parts of the desk, such as the mechanism behind the height adjustment and the cabling, we wanted to see the powerful water-cooled laser go to work on large pieces of metal.


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Presses Make Parts From Aluminum

Speaking of lasers, the massive and programmable Amada EMK 3510NT wields not only a very precise water-cooled cutter, but also a number of other fabrication tools designed specifically for manipulating metal sheeting and other components.

After the EMK cut the major components to spec, we watched as an impressive array of presses manipulated the high-gauge aluminum into the desk's other key parts.


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Clean It Before You Assemble It

After fabrication, the pieces necessary for the desk’s assembly are thoroughly cleaned. Their now-colored surfaces are treated to prevent abrasion. Once they're assembled, the desk's electronic innards are installed. Last but not least, the entire package is ensconced in a hefty layer of cardboard and Styrofoam to prepare it for the long journey to our lab.


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How Do We Get It Inside?

Upon arrival, we had to figure out how to get the desk inside. Finding a solid grip on a 130lb, plastic-wrapped cardboard box the size of a St. Bernard was no easy feat. Because Lian Li doesn't include a moving crew with each purchase, you should probably open the package close to the desk's final home.

We chose high-end parts for our setup: a water-cooled, 4.3 GHz overclocked Intel Core i7-6950X with two GeForce GTX 1080s in SLI. 


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Getting Into The Nitty-Gritty

Before we proceed with a description of our build process, we want to assess what makes this generation better than the last. It is decidedly slimmer and more grown-up-looking than its predecessor. In addition to this desk's scalable height and generally larger proportions, the feet allow for height adjustment as well, addressing users of almost any size.

The desk measures roughly 47 ¼ inches wide, 29 ½ inches deep, and allows for a custom height ranging from 26 ½ to 45 ½ inches. A hefty, tempered glass plate acts as the desk surface itself, and while the idea of removing such a significant piece of glass from the desk can be intimidating, take solace in the fact that the DK-02X’s glass surface was even more cumbersome and heavy. Below you can find a more thorough chart containing the desk’s specifications.

Specifications

  • Model: DK-04 X
  • Color: Black
  • Dimensions: 1200mm (W) x 685-1157mm (H) x 750mm (D)
  • Net weight: 53 kg
  • Weight held: up to 100 kg on desktop
  • Drives: (1) 5.25" external, (8) 3.5" or 2.5" HDD internal to frame, (2) 2.5" HDD internal
  • Extension slots: 8
  • Form factors: E-ATX, ATX, Micro ATX
  • Fan: (4) 120mm front, (4) 120mm rear
  • I/O: (4) USB 3.0, HD audio
  • Compatibility: 320mm graphics length, 140mm air cooler height, (1) 480mm radiator - 60mm thick, (2) 240mm radiators - 60mm thick


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Height Adjustment Is Tricky

Let's see what's under that stately appearance. First things first, while the height adjustment option is welcome, the mechanics leave a little to be desired. A deft touch is required to get the table to stop exactly where you want it. Ham-handed folks will require a few tries to get the timing of the button press correct. Here's a tip: let go of the button before you reach your desired height. Additionally, the built-in PSU must be manually unplugged if 0.5W in standby prove to be too much, as there is no true shut-off switch. 


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The Desk's Current Height, Digitally Shown

The desk includes a digital display of the current height, shown here. Four numbers represent the quartet of height presets alongside an exact representation of the desk’s height in centimeters.


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Manage Your Cables!

Being able to set the desk’s height at will is a welcome luxury, but it also requires care in the cable management department. Leave enough slack to accommodate any height adjustment, since raising the desk without enough extra cable may damage your hardware if a connector is ripped out.


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A Removable Baseplate Helps

The DK-04X’s removable baseplate for the motherboard and other hardware is extremely convenient, especially compared to the DK-02's pull-out setup. For anyone interested in sleek and efficient cable management, your unsightly mess can be easily hidden beneath the baseplate.


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  • 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