I got my first Lian-Li case back in 2002, it was the second revision PC-60, complete with a full set of 80mm fans and a beautiful , silver, hard anodised, aluminium finish.
Since then, I have owned several Lian-Li cases with varying degrees of customisation, and it was only around 18 months ago that I strayed from the Lian-Li path and straight under the wheels of a Mountain Mods truck.
I have never really liked the MM case and have been looking for a replacement for a while, but nothing has pushed my buttons until this week, and that button pusher was the Lian-Li PC-A77-B.
The case had to check several boxes and they were:
- Black Anodised Aluminium
- Full Tower Sized
- Had to be able to fit a PA120.3 in the top
- Had to be able to fit the rest of my watercooling gear easily enough
- Had to look smart without being tacky (that's my job )
- Plenty of drive bays
- Good airflow
- Once I had seen, the A77 on the Lian-Li website, it was clear that this was perfect for the job, so the plan was to buy the case from the cheapest place and then get Lee at Watercooled-PCs to do the cuts for the radiator and the window.
As always, things didn’t quite go to plan and the only place that I could find in the UK with stock was ChilledPC.
To save sending the case backwards and forwards, I decided to let CPC do the cuts – more on the details of those later .
A week or so later and I have the case. In its standard form, it is quite an understated design, similar in size and shape to the PC-70/71/G70 series.
Like the G70, there is room for two PSUs and the motherboard sits central between the two PSU compartments, that’s where the similarities end though....
The Outer Casing
Let’s take a look round the outside of the case and see what we have.
Looking head on at the front panel, there are twelve 5.25” bays and a 3.5” bay at the top which is filled with a fan controller/temperature sensor, otherwise known as the "Smart Fan Control – Thermometer".
This lights up blue, looks good without being tacky and gives limited control over the case fans.
The 5.25” drive bays sport the new style Lian-Li bezels that are punched with hundreds of tiny holes to increase airflow. They look fantastic, and as the entire front panel is made up of these, there shouldn’t be any problems with cooling.
With all those holes, you might expect dust to be a problem, but Lian-Li have incorporated a dust filter into each bezel, which consists of a simple plastic frame and a rectangular piece of low density mesh – Simple, yet effective.
Behind the lower six bezels are two 120mm fans - more on those later.
Also, hidden behind the top six bezels are the 3.5” hard drive bays – More on those later too.
The top of the standard issue case has the on/off switch, a tiny reset switch and the flap for the front connections, and I have to say that I love this bit.
From left to right we have:
- 2x2 USB 2
- Microphone Socket
- Headphone Socket
A closer view of the switches.
On top of the flap is the Lian-Li badge. This appears to have been added as an afterthought, and in my opinion they should have put this elsewhere, or used a flatter badge, or even cut the logo into the flap! - On this case, it doesn't matter too much as the radiator cut has already detracted from the clean lines somewhat.
While we are looking at the top of the case, you can see one of the modifications I have had done, and that is the hole cut for the Thermochill PA120.3 radiator.
The side panels for the A77 are standard panels with no ventilation holes. They are anodised on both sides, which I thought was a nice aesthetic touch, if a little pointless from a practical point of view!
One of the other mods that I had done was to the left hand side panel.
If we take a look at the back, you can see the dual PSU compartments. The top compartment doubles up as an extra home for a three hard drive cage and a 120mm fan, both of which are included as standard with the case.
As you can see, the top PSU compartment is covered by a vent, but should you need to use the PSU in the top, or even dual PSUs, brackets are provided for both eventualities.
The lower PSU compartment is a well thought out affair, and comes complete with Lian-Li’s trademark PSU retention plate which is held in place with four thumb screws.
This is the best way to mount a PSU in a case that I have seen, bar none.
Further up, we have the PCI/PCI-E slots and also a further vent which can hold an optional 120mm blower or side fan.
Above that is a 120mm exhaust fan, again manufactured by Adda and is the same as the front fans (Again, we will look at these more closely later).
There is a shiny, steel wire grill on the outside and a flat, pressed aluminium grill on the inside. I found the pressed aluminium grills to be quite noisy in the past, so I will be ditching that as soon as possible.
To the left of the exhaust fan is the obligatory hole for the I/O panel – nothing to report there.
Directly above the 120mm exhaust fan are two holes with plastic grommets inside them.
These are to allow any watercooling tubing to pass through, and it is a clear sign that Lian-Li had the enthusiast in mind when they were designing the A77.
The holes are easily big enough to pass though even the fattest of ½” ID tubing.
With the side panel removed, I remembered why I love Lian-li cases so much, and that is because everything just fits.
You can strip one of these cases down as far as the chassis and then put it back together and everything fits back together with military precision. There’s no forcing or bending things so they go back together, and that is a sign of design excellence and craftsmanship. Sure, you pay extra for this, but to me it’s 100% worth it.
The main internal section of the case is heavily braced by two large cross bar pieces. The vertical one is actually a bracket for any large PCI/PCI-E cards that you may have, and the horizontal one forms a "T" piece across the top of it between the top PSU compartment and the back of the top three 5.25” bays.
Inside the case is a box of bits and pieces:
- 40x M2 screws
- 16x copper motherboard stand offs
- Adjusting nuts for above stand offs when using the SSI CEB/EEB M/B Bracket
- Screwdriver for the above stand offs & nuts
- 1x SSI CEB/EEB M/B Motherboard mounting plate
- 3x Small PCI/PCI-E card holder brackets
- 4x large PCI/PCI-E card holder brackets
- 1x Internal speaker
- 1x Large white plastic snail clip for wiring
- 9x Thumb screws for HDD (coarse thread)
- 3x small cable ties
- 38x special thumb screws for HDD cages
- 38x Anti vibration rubber grommets for above thumb screws
- 1x Spare thumb screw (metric)
- 12x hex/Phillips screws, coarse thread for PSUs
- 1x PSU bracket
- 1x Battery for temp sensor/fan contoller
- 3x Sticky temp sensor strip
- 7x long thumb screws for PCI/PCI-E card holder
Ok, starting at the top of the case, the lid (that we had cut for the radiator) simply lifts off by removing 2 screws at the front and 2 at the rear.
This is a brilliant idea and makes access to the inside really easy – great if you have Shrek hands!
The HDD cage that we mentioned earlier can be easily removed by undoing four screws and for most people, that would leave the space free for a PSU (or second PSU), but we need the space for the radiator, more on that later.
Removing the HDD cage will also remove the 120mm fan, and I would like to keep that to bring in some fresh air later on, so I will have to find a way to secure it.
Another feature of note when looking from this angle is that Lian-Li have placed a selection of holes in the motherboard tray.
These holes allow for ventilation at the back of the CPU and are also handy for passing smaller wires through to the back of the motherboard tray to keep things tidy.
The lower hole in the pic below allows the threading of the 12v EPS cable round the back of the motherboard tray, up and over, removing the need for an extension cable. Of course, you can thread anything you like through the hole, this is just one example.
Just inside the lower PSU compartment is a raised platform that the PSU sits on, and it has two rubber strips down either edge to combat vibrations and also to protect the PSU. In between the rubber strips is a circular mesh/vent and this is so that you can position the PSU either way up.
With the PSU fan facing downwards, the air is drawn in through a vent in the back of the case and along the raised platform then through the mesh grill into the PSU....Genius!
Moving upwards, we have the PCI/PCI-E slots.
Attention to detail here is stunning with polished chrome, vented blanking plates and thumb screws.
Moving up further still, we have the first of the rear 120mm exhaust fans - Note the pressed aluminium grill - I'm not keen on these, they tend to be noisier than the wire type, especially if used with a higher CFM fan.
The fans are made by Adda and are very quiet/almost silent in use, they also come with connections for a standard, full size, 4 pin molex, or the smaller 3 pin fan plug.
Moving over to the lower 5.25" bays, we can see the two, 120mm Adda fans.
There are no grills present on these, and grills aren't really needed as the fans are out of the reach of fingers (for most people ).
You can see that there is room for six, 3.5" hard drives at the front, so that's a huge nine drive capacity so far!
The PC-A77 comes with a bag of oddly shaped thumb screws and rubber grommets for fitting your hard drives into these special cages.
To fit a hard drive, you simply push a grommet onto a thumbscrew and then screw that into the drive. Do the same with another three thumbscrews and grommets and then slide the drive into the cage.
The grommets will act as an insulator against any motor vibration and will also dampen seek noise if you have something like a Raptor.
Also, in this picture, you can see a bunch of wires top the left...
To remove the hard drive cages, there are four m2 phillips screws.
If you remove these two hard drive cages, you could potentially fit a double or triple radiator in the upright position, something which will be very appealing to people with limited modding skills.
The wires are for the top panel connectors and consist of:
USB 2 (There are two of these and each one has two ports)
- AC97/HD Audio
- e-SATA (the top connector is e-SATA and on this end it is a standard SATA connector)
The Motherboard Tray
The PC-A77 has a removable motherboard tray, and it is slightly different to others that I've used, in so much as it doesn't bring any of the PCI/PCI-E cards/slots with it when it is removed.
I'm not entirely sure if I would ever use, the removable tray in this case myself, but the feature is there if ever you need it.
An instance where it could be very useful, is if you are trying to fit a large air cooler.
Removal is easy. Undo the two thumbscrews at the rear of the case.
Grab the motherboard tray firmly, and slide towards the front of the case.
We are almost down to the bare chassis of the case.
The view of the front fans from outside with the front bezels removed - Radiator anyone?
The Fan Controller
This is a fairly basic temperature controlled unit that can automatically adjust the speed of three fans, there are three temp sensor probes and also a clock. The unit is powered by a single four pin molex connector.
All the bezels and temp sensor/fan controller removed.