Everyone who drives a car knows Rolls Royce stands alone as the epitome of 4-wheel luxury against which all other competitors are judged.  They’ve set the standard.  In the world of Personal Computer Cases Lian-li sets the standard.  And there are even fewer legitimate competitors.

 

Introduction

Everyone who drives a car knows Rolls Royce stands alone as the epitome of 4-wheel luxury against which all other competitors are judged.  They’ve set the standard.  In the world of Personal Computer Cases Lian-li sets the standard.  And there are even fewer legitimate competitors.

There are many arguments for purchasing a top quality case.  Design and cooling ability, fit and finish, and perhaps the best reason is that a good quality case can be reused over and over again.  Certain components of a PC are this way including power supplies, SSD’s, storage drives, they’re all reusable in a new build.  Most “new builds” are nothing more than the upgrade of the motherboard, CPU, and memory.  So the cost of a top quality case can be spread over several builds.

Lian-li makes many case styles and sizes, but this time what I wanted was the very smallest case that would still hold the most powerful available CPU, a full six banks of memory, a full size ATX power supply, and two of the largest most powerful video cards available.  It must be small and light enough to be easily lifted and moved, and durable enough to be considered portable.  There aren’t many such cases, perhaps 2-3 on the entire market.  The PC-V354 stands alone as the only quality case to meet these requirements.

 

Features

 

Everyone who drives a car knows Rolls Royce stands alone as the epitome of 4-wheel luxury against which all other competitors are judged.  They’ve set the standard.  In the world of Personal Computer Cases Lian-li sets the standard.  And there are even fewer legitimate competitors.

 

Size/Weight

This case stand a mere 12 inches (320mm) high, 9 inches (245mm) wide, and 16 inches (420mm) deep.  Folks, that’s barely larger than a shoe box, at least for someone who has size 13 feet.  100% aluminum construction allows this case to weigh in at only 9 pounds.  This means a fully loaded case, depending on how many drives you put in it, and the size of the power supply, will run from 15-20 pounds.  As portable as I need, and suitable for those who use them for LAN parties or even a HTPC. 

 

Motherboard

This case holds a Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX, or Mini-DTX sized motherboard.

 

Video Cards

Depending on your motherboard choice you can install a pair of the longest video cards such as the ATI Radeon 5970/6970’s.   If you do so you must remove the bottom hard drive case losing the capacity of 4 internal HDD’s.  Smaller cards like the ATI Radeon 5770 cards will easily fit with the cage intact.

 

Depending on your motherboard choice you can install a pair of the longest video cards such as the ATI Radeon 5970/6970’s.

 

If you do so you must remove the bottom hard drive case losing the capacity of 4 internal HDD’s.  Smaller cards like the ATI Radeon 5770 cards will easily fit with the cage intact.

 

 

Storage Capacity

 

You have one optical drive bay, 8 internal 3.5 inch drive bays, and 4 2.5 inch drive areas.  That’s a lot of storage.  Assuming you use a SSD (2.5”) for your system drive, that leaves up to 8 3tb drives for a possible 24tb of internal storage.  That’s a huge amount of storage.  Installing the longest video cards results in losing 4 of the 3.5” drive bays.

 

You have one optical drive bay, 8 internal 3.5 inch drive bays, and 4 2.5 inch drive areas.  That’s a lot of storage.  Assuming you use a SSD (2.5”) for your system drive, that leaves up to 8 3tb drives for a possible 24tb of internal storage.  That’s a huge amount of storage.  Installing the longest video cards results in losing 4 of the 3.5” drive bays.

 

Ports and Controls

The front panel hosts 2 USB3.0 ports which is a nice modern feature, a quality SD card reader, and on the rear panel an integral fan speed controller.  There is also a power button that lights blue when the power is on, and a reset button that doubles as a HDD indicator.  A greed LED lets you know the SD card reader is active.

 

The front panel hosts 2 USB3.0 ports which is a nice modern feature, a quality SD card reader, and on the rear panel an integral fan speed controller.  There is also a power button that lights blue when the power is on, and a reset button that doubles as a HDD indicator.  A greed LED lets you know the SD card reader is active.

 

 

Thermal Flow

Lian-li enjoys a great reputation for making cases that dissipate heat better than most others.  They do this with a thoughtful design, in this case high quality fluid bearing 120mm fans in the front, pushing the air through the case to cool the motherboard/CPU/RAM, and then another high quality fluid bearing 140mm fan vents the heat out the top, and a 120mm fan out the back.  There is a blank cut in the back with pre-drilled holes to mount a fourth internal case fan if you feel one is necessary.

 

Lian-li enjoys a great reputation for making cases that dissipate heat better than most others.  They do this with a thoughtful design, in this case high quality fluid bearing 120mm fans in the front, pushing the air through the case to cool the motherboard/CPU/RAM, and then another high quality fluid bearing 140mm fan vents the heat out the top, and a 120mm fan out the back.  There is a blank cut in the back with pre-drilled holes to mount a fourth internal case fan if you feel one is necessary.

 

 

Power Supply

Most small form factor cases are limited by what power supplies you can fit.  The PC-V354 holds standard ATX size power supplies of most any capacity.  This allows you all the power you might need for your requirements.

 

Most small form factor cases are limited by what power supplies you can fit.  The PC-V354 holds standard ATX size power supplies of most any capacity.  This allows you all the power you might need for your requirements.

 

 

The Build

 

The first thing you’ll want to do is remove the 8 screws from each side panel and set them aside.  Then remove the two drive trays which gives you access to the optical drive bay.

 

The first thing you’ll want to do is remove the 8 screws from each side panel and set them aside.  Then remove the two drive trays which gives you access to the optical drive bay.

 

Remove the bay and mount your optical drive.  I can overlook the need to remove the two drive trays to mount the optical drive because an optical drive isn’t something we replace often if at all.  It’s important to note that adjustment of the optical bays position in the bay is critical to smooth operation of the external ‘push down’ door.  Once adjusted it operates flawlessly.

 

Remove the bay and mount your optical drive.  I can overlook the need to remove the two drive trays to mount the optical drive because an optical drive isn’t something we replace often if at all.  It’s important to note that adjustment of the optical bays position in the bay is critical to smooth operation of the external ‘push down’ door.  Once adjusted it operates flawlessly.

 

Next, take the left side you set aside and you’ll notice there are mounting bosses welded on to mount your motherboard.  Go ahead and mount your motherboard, CPU, RAM, and CPU cooler.  At this point you’ll want to connect as many of the front panel switch and port connectors as possible. Be sure to attach the motherboard port insert into the back plane of the case.  When the motherboard is mounted and the wires connected, reassemble the side panel to the case.

 

Next, take the left side you set aside and you’ll notice there are mounting bosses welded on to mount your motherboard.  Go ahead and mount your motherboard, CPU, RAM, and CPU cooler.  At this point you’ll want to connect as many of the front panel switch and port connectors as possible. Be sure to attach the motherboard port insert into the back plane of the case.  When the motherboard is mounted and the wires connected, reassemble the side panel to the case.

Mount your video and any PCI cards at this time.

Lian-li includes a nice legend for this purpose, but for some reason this time they omitted the pin layout of the front panel switches.  They’re marked on the wires themselves, but unless you know the white wire is ground you could make a mistake.  They need to include the legend. 

At this time you’ll need to make a choice whether to connect the four case fans to the motherboard fan connectors and let the motherboard BIOS control the fans, or alternatively you can connect the case fans to the included fan controller on the rear, and adjust their speed using the adjustable rheostat. 

Now you’ll want to mount your drives in the drive trays while they’re still out of the case.  Use the included rubber bushing screws for vibration and noise free operation.  Once your drives are mounted assemble them back inside the case and run your SATA cables to your motherboard.

 

Now you’ll want to mount your drives in the drive trays while they’re still out of the case.  Use the included rubber bushing screws for vibration and noise free operation.  Once your drives are mounted assemble them back inside the case and run your SATA cables to your motherboard.

 

Finally you’ll need to remove the four thumbscrews holding the power supply mounting plate to the rear of the case, and then use the included four screws to mount the plate to the power supply.  Once this is done, carefully place the power supply into the case setting it on the rubber cushioned rails, and secure the mounting plate to the rear of the case using the same 4 thumbscrews you removed earlier.

 

Finally you’ll need to remove the four thumbscrews holding the power supply mounting plate to the rear of the case, and then use the included four screws to mount the plate to the power supply.  Once this is done, carefully place the power supply into the case setting it on the rubber cushioned rails, and secure the mounting plate to the rear of the case using the same 4 thumbscrews you removed earlier.

 

Now all that’s left is to plug in the power connecters to the motherboard, fan controller (if used), optical drive, and any SSD’s or HDD’s you installed.  Finally, if your video card requires a power cable plug it in now. 

You’re finished.  Reassemble the last side panel and snug up the 8 screws.

 

Now all that’s left is to plug in the power connecters to the motherboard, fan controller (if used), optical drive, and any SSD’s or HDD’s you installed.  Finally, if your video card requires a power cable plug it in now.

 

 

Performance

There are really only a few areas regarding performance to consider with a case.

  • Fit and finish, sharp edges, paint, etc
  •  Design, ease of assembly
  • Operation of ports and switches
  • Acoustics, how much noise it generates
  • Thermal efficiency.  How well it cools

 

Fit and Finish

I’m pleased to say the Lian-li PC-V354 didn’t have a single sharp edge, and all panels and trays fit exactly as they should.

 

Design

The design is generally excellent, but I think the power cables on the case fans could have each been about 6-8 inches longer, and the front panel USB3.0 internal cables another 3-4 inches longer.  I own several other Lian-li cases which require absolutely no tools for assembly, so I understand the 8 screws on each side panel and the traditional screw hold downs on the expansion card slots are necessary to keep the side and weight down.  Still, I wish they could find an alternative to those eight screws on the side panels.

We should also note that there are washable filters on the bottom air intake, and the front fans can be easily removed for cleaning as necessary.  The case isn’t “dust proof”, but they did attempt to make dust less of an issue.

 

Operation of Ports and Switches

Flawless.  The USB3.0 ports appear to be high quality and should last the life of the case, and the same can be said for the soft touch switches.  The SD card reader works well with cards I tried up to 64gb in capacity and installed without any special drivers required.  As I mentioned before the external ‘case matched’ door on the optical bay required some adjustment, but afterwards worked flawlessly as well.

 

Case Acoustics

I’m not at all fond of loud white noise generated by cheap fans, and even worse are errant vibrations caused by poor mounting design.  I’m pleased to say the Lian-li PC-V354 case, even at the highest case fan speeds, was totally silent even when sitting on a table top 2 feet from my ears.  And my ears work great.

Unfortunately  I can’t say the same about the fans on power supplies and video cards, so if a truly silent computer is your goal, choose the power supply and video cards carefully.

This case and it’s fans produced no audible noise or vibrations.  It was like driving in a Rolls Royce.

 

Thermal Efficiency

This is an area where every small case I’ve ever tested lets me down.  It always happens, shove a bunch of heat generating high performance PC parts in a small case, attach the sides, and it ends up running very hot with premature parts failure.

Not this time!  I installed a 1366 socket 130watt high power i7 CPU, 6 banks of high-speed RAM, a single powerful video card, and several hard drives, and the tempertures remained very reasonable.  CPU temps are roughly 38-42c on idle, rising to less than 60c under full load.  This is spectacular for such a small case and shows the thoughtful and innovative design.

 

Summary

 

This is a great case.  It’s small, lightweight, holds a full size power supply and video cards, mounts up to 24tb of HDD storage as well as several SSD’s.  The case ports directly support USB 3.0 and the most modern high capacity SD cards.

 

This is a great case.  It’s small, lightweight, holds a full size power supply and video cards, mounts up to 24tb of HDD storage as well as several SSD’s.  The case ports directly support USB 3.0 and the most modern high capacity SD cards.

Performance is generally excellent and there are only a few areas of improvement needed to make a perfect case.  Such as a dimmer for the case fan lights..

Quiet, stylish, small and powerful.. Perfect if these are your requirements.