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Lian Li PC-O11D Mini Review: Weird and Wonderful

SFF-ish, it does ITX well, but can fit ATX, too.

Lian Li PC-O11D Mini
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

For thermal and acoustic testing, we are using the following software and settings:

CPU Clocki9 9900k: 4.6 GHz (46x 100MHz) @ 1.1v
GPU ClockRTX 2070 Super: Stock
GPU DriverNvidia GeForce 445.87
Case & CPU Fan Speeds100%
GPU Fan Speeds75%

Test Results

After setting up the system and calibrating the fan profiles, I ran the CPU fans in the ‘balanced’ iCue profile, the pump at maximum speed (because it’s broken and is rattlier and noisier at low speeds; the replacement did not arrive in time), case fans at 50% duty, and GPU fans at 75%.

This simulated the system under significant load, and I recorded acoustics at 46.1 dBA. Without the GPU blasting away at this high speed 45.4 dBA, and in the optimized idle scenario (with everything running at minimum speed) I recorded 35.9 dBA of idle noise.

None of these figures are quiet, but we wouldn’t read into them too much. This GPU is too loud both under load and idling, the AIO has a broken pump, and the fans on it, in all fairness, are louder than they need to be. So are the case fans, but it’s all I had at my quick disposal to build a system – this is possibly the least optimal configuration if you’re concerned about acoustics.

Of course, thermal performance was excellent, with the CPU peaking at no more than 67 degrees Celcius and the GPU running at 63 °C – which are excellent figures considering the room was at 25 °C during testing.

Buy Quiet Components for This Case

If you don’t care about noise levels, just buy what’s affordable. But because this is a relatively open chassis that doesn’t have any kind of noise damping, it’s worth the time to find quiet components. Find a GPU with big fans and a zero-RPM mode for desktop use. If you’re going the AIO route, it can be worth your money to opt for a side-mounted 280mm radiator instead of our 240mm unit, or you can opt to top-mount a 360mm radiator. Hard drives will also contribute to noise levels, so they’re best avoided if at all possible.

Of course, if you want to go all-out, you can opt to drop an extra $700-$1000 on a dual or triple-radiator custom loop, which will lead to blissful acoustics and great thermals. This chassis lends itself extremely well to custom loops, packing three different kinds of pump mounts in the accessory box So if you want, you could plan it as an upgrade down the line.

Lian Li PC-O11D Mini

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Conclusion

Normally, when companies make small cases, the smaller footprint means you only end up with one way to build a system into it, but that’s not the case for the PC-O11D Mini. Of course, this case is only SFF-ish, but built in collaboration with Der8auer, Lian Li’s new ‘Mini’ chassis instead becomes highly modular, giving you a plethora of options in how to build your system into it. 

This creative freedom makes it a fun chassis to build in. Honestly, building a system in this chassis was the most fun I’ve had building a system in quite a while, and I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing what kind of builds people will stuff into it. 

But be warned: This isn’t a case for the lazy builder who just wants to whack some parts in and call it a day. It takes some planning, and requires consideration. Put the time in to do that, and you’ll be rewarded with a highly personalized system.

Priced at just $100, plus $50 for the PCIe riser unit if you want it, it’s also not an expensive case, so it’s not like getting in on this fun is going to cost you a ton of money. But there are a few things to consider. The acrylic shroud around the top IO is going to require a delicate touch to ensure it doesn’t scratch over the case’s useful life, and at the time of writing, Lian Li hasn’t been able to make its vertical GPU bracket PCIe 4.0 compatible. Whether that’s a dealbreaker is going to depend on what kind of build you intend on installing in this case, but with the rising popularity of AMD systems, it might be worth waiting for Lian Li to sort that out.

For now, this means that I can only award the case 4 stars, but I will give it an Editor’s Choice award along with a spot on our Best PC Cases list. If the company offers a followup revision with a PCIe 4.0-compatible bracket and a fix to the acrylic up top and the ugly bottom filter implementation, this could be the perfect case for those who want something somewhat compact, but extremely versatile. 

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  • HFirst
    I love the 011 cases. Built my last pc, a threadripper, with an 011 Dynamic. I just wish Lian Li would truly design these cases to be more flexible and allow an inverted setup with the glass on the right. Another nice plus would be an updated dual chamber design with a mesh front. A really nice touch would be an option to let us choose whether we want the power button and io ports to be on the top or the front.
    Reply
  • Leptir
    I'm really not sure this case qualifies as SFF or even "SFF-ish".
    Reply
  • Blindfly
    Leptir said:
    I'm really not sure this case qualifies as SFF or even "SFF-ish".

    It really isn't, I mean on their own website its listed under mid size cases, its just mini for the O-11 series. I think they make it pretty clear that its an ATX capable case AKA not small
    Reply
  • gameaholic710
    I am hoping for a mesh version.
    Reply
  • ajr1775
    Leptir said:
    I'm really not sure this case qualifies as SFF or even "SFF-ish".
    It takes an SFX power supply but yeah, nothing that can hold a full size GPU should be labeled SFF.
    Reply
  • ajr1775
    That intro picture........AIO tubes on the bottom.......NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
    Reply
  • Uferizer
    ajr1775 said:
    That intro picture........AIO tubes on the bottom.......NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
    This is the preferred way with a front or side mounted AIO. Have you not watched the behemoth Gamer Nexus video on this?
    BbGomv195sk:1076View: https://youtu.be/BbGomv195sk?t=1076
    Reply
  • ajr1775
    Uferizer said:
    This is the preferred way with a front or side mounted AIO. Have you not watched the behemoth Gamer Nexus video on this?
    BbGomv195sk:1076View: https://youtu.be/BbGomv195sk?t=1076
    Missed that one. Thanks for that. Always under the preconceived notion that the tubes at the top of the radiator should always be higher than the pump itself.
    Reply
  • Uferizer
    ajr1775 said:
    Missed that one. Thanks for that. Always under the preconceived notion that the tubes at the top of the radiator should always be higher than the pump itself.
    Yeah it's a bit finicky, especially in this case where if you're like me and want to go full ATX, you have to mount the rad for the AIO on the side (not enough space on top). If you've got any sort of normal sized GPU, I think even a 3070/80 FE, then having the tubes at the bottom of the AIO is gonna be hard. I guess in this case the solution was to mount the GPU vertically. From what I understood in the Gamer Nexus video though, having the tubes on the top in a side or front mounted orientation is just going to be more noisy, whereas having the whole rad under the pump is detrimental to the lifespan of your AIO. So I may just have to live with the noise and gurgle because it just wont fit otherwise.
    Reply