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

You'll Never Guess Where They Put The Optical Drive

Given the unconventional shape of this case, it isn’t surprising that there's only room for a slim optical drive. That's certainly not something we can hold against Lian Li. However, most slim drives employ a mini-SATA power connector, and FSP's unit doesn't have one. Thus, right out of the gate, you're forced to buy an adapter for a few bucks. The expenditure isn't major. But using an adapter may create a problem; in our case, we needed to work around it.

Lian Li's installation guide recommends installing the optical drive from the front, after first removing the bay cover. Any slim disc drive should fit through the opening.

Getting the power and data cables to the front of the engine to hook them up is a minor hurdle. But if you use a SATA-to-mini-SATA adapter, make sure that it doesn’t come loose as you ease the drive back into the vacant bay.

In principle, this is fairly easy, though not completely foolproof. The optical drive mounting bracket held the bay cover in place, and it needs to be unscrewed first. The screws are too long for a typical optical drive though, and should either be replaced by shorter ones or used, but not screwed all of the way in. Otherwise, they can block the drive's tray or damage the drive itself.

Case in point, I wound up locking the drive tray by tightening the screws too hard. Luckily, I didn't harm the drive. With the screws only halfway in, however, there is some audible vibration as discs spin up. I wound up stabilizing the whole assembly with Super Glue.

With this advice in mind, mounting the drive becomes much easier to do correctly. On one side, two tiny pan head screws are used, while on the other side, two flat screws hold the drive in place.

The assembly guide makes no mention of this, but the bottom of the locomotive can be taken off completely after removing only four screws. Although I followed Lian Li's instructions to the letter, I think that dropping that bottom panel is the best way to get access to the optical drive.

Adapting the Adapter

Let’s revisit the SATA-to-mini-SATA adapter. Depending on make and model, it may not be a perfect fit. Keep an eye out for a narrow adapter. Your other option is to file/grind one side of a wider adapter to make it fit. I used a Dremel tool for this.

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  • Trueno07
    I am so jealous right now, this looked like it was a blast to put together!
  • slomo4sho
    I am surprised you didn't use the model with the moving train!
  • bit_user
    Not the first time I've seen it, but I still think this case is just an exercise in sheer ridiculousness.

    But since the PC era is coming to an end, who can blame Lian Li for having a little fun while they still can?
  • edogawa
    This thing is so awesome...if it wasn't for the noise I would get one...I love trains...
  • ASHISH65
    awesome! i want to drive that train
    The Little Engine That Could...
  • g-unit1111
    *Ozzy Osbourne Voice* ALL ABOARD!!! HA HA HA HA....
  • bambiboom
    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.
  • shikamaru31789
    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.
  • ojas
    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 :)
  • flong777
    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!
  • Tran Khanh Vinh An
    Ugliest case ever, if they want to make a locomotive case, at least make it with all same down scaled ratio. Has LianLi really been far even as decided to make even go want to do look more like?
  • christop
    Looks like a fun build...
  • fimbulvinter
    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.
  • warezme
    Far better than that one that shaped like a conch or shell.
  • doct3rphil
    choo choo motherf*ckers. time to boot up train simulator 2013
  • englandr753
    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!
  • FormatC
    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.
  • Vorador2
    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.
  • lilcinw
    Wow. Can you get a steam kit for the stack? How about some sound effects from the piezo speaker?
  • FormatC
    My intention for this review was my little son. Ok, he is very young but all this technical things are for him more interesting as all the expensive toys in his room. We were together in the museum and I saw his eyes :)

    My lab is for him the paradise on earth. Cables, computers, a lot of monitors and other things. My grandfather had a large workshop and I also grew up between cables, batteries, screws and tools. I remember this.
  • dalethepcman
    First off awesome photos, it looks like you guys made a great field trip out of this build! I was looking at purchasing one of these, but before I did I have a question for anyone that might be able to answer.

    Can you purchase additional tracks / mod the existing tracks to make this run a circular course?

    I would love to set this up 100% wireless and have it run in a tiny circle around my office. :)
  • lp231
    Is this the new version of the train case or the original? The original even has steam coming out of the funnel. From the pictures, it looks like this funnel is blocked.
  • lowguppy
    Oh there is totally room for at least a low profile video card if not a shorter full height card. You'd have to cut holes for the output connections, but it can be done. Also, if it fits a 120mm exhaust fan, it will fit a closed loop liquid cooler.