Lian Li PC343 ATX Case Page: 1
Introduction & Specifications
Lian Li is a name well known amongst the modding community and for good reason too. The have built up a reputation world wide for quality well engineered and designed aluminium PC cases. Their designs are sleek and subtle, never bold or brash like some other mainstream manufacturers.
Most will have heard of the V2000, the V1000 and the PC-7 cases that are available on the market today. But have you heard of the PC-343? I’ve looked for it on Lian Li’s website and there is no mention of it at all?
The guys over at Aqua-PC’s
have sent us a PC-343B for review and state that its perfect for any enthusiast wanting to build a high end system with high end cooling and has plenty of room to house it all. Now that to me is a very bold claim, but is it well founded?
Information on the PC343 is limited on-line but here are the details Aqua-PC's advertise with the case:
• Dimensions - 515 x 458 x 460 mm
• Construction Material – Aluminum
• Weight – 8,15 kg
• Drive Bays - 18 x 5.25”
• Cooling - 2 x 80 mm, 3 x 120mm Exhausts
• Front Mounted Ports - 2 x USB, 1 x Firewire, 2 x Audio
• Motherboard - Up to full size ATX
The PC343 is a modular case, which basically means it comes as a bare unit which you buy extra accessories for depending on its intended use. There are a wide variety of accessories available and we are lucky enough to have some to look at today as well. Aqua-PC's kindly sent us:
EX-33 Black HDD module £25.50 + VAT
This slots in to 3 drive bays and allows you to fit 3 HDD but also has a 120mm fan to help keep those Raptors cool.
PC-343 120mm Fan Module £17.30 + VAT
Also takes up 3 drive bays and allows installation of a front 120mm cooling fan. Aqua strangely sent us a silver module for the black case we have, but I’m guessing seeing as they have the exclusive in the UK for this that might be the reason why!
PC-343 Rad top £12.77 + VAT
This is a replacement panel for the roof cut out and allows you to fit a 240mm rad like the Black Ice II.
PC-343 PSU Filter Box £8.50 + VAT
Quite simply a shroud and filter for the psu, but stops the psu drawing in warm case air. The shroud seals the PSU fan off to draw cold air in through the perforations in the floor.
PC-343 120mm Fan Blind £4.50 + VAT
There are 3 120mm fan mounts on the back of the 343 so if you don’t want to use them all you will need one of these.
PC-343 Dual 80mm Fan blind £3.95 + VAT
Above the usual 120mm exhaust fan is 2 80mm fan mounts again if you don’t want to use these then this is a tidy way to hide them.
Drive Bay Radiator Mounting Brackets £6.38 + VAT
This is a brilliant and cheap way to mount radiators in the drive bays.
There are other accessories available on the Aqua-PC's website - here are some that caught my eye....
PC-343 Top Window £9.00 + VAT
Another replacement panel for the roof but this time an acrylic window to show off your hardware.
PC-343 Windowed Side Panel £30.00 + VAT
A replacement side panel with an acrylic window, an easy way to show off all that prized hardware.
PC-343 Dual PSU plate £9.00 + VAT
Simply remove 6 bolts and slot this plate in to add another PSU in to your system.
PC-343 Perforated Bezel £5.00 + VAT
Perfect for that extra bit of air flow, matches the 120mm Fan mount and HDD mount if you like a matching look to your case.
PC-343 Optical Bezel £7.95 + VAT
Nice and clean looking optical bay cover to match the case.
PC-343 Fan Top £11.50 + VAT
Another Replacement roof panel for 2x 120mm fans if you need that extra bit of airflow for that overclocked quad or multi GPU set up.
Lian Li PC343 ATX Case Page: 2
The packaging for the 343 is a simple brown double walled cardboard box with a line drawing of the case and some basic manufacturer info. I was thankful for the cut out handles in the side as this wasn’t the easiest thing to move around, due to its size and the fact the suns out for a change I headed outside to take the photos.
Once getting into the case we were met by another layer of card board with foam protection pads, on one side and some more foam on the reverse corners to keep the case in place. There is exactly the same style layer at the bottom of the box but with cut outs for the castors to sit into.
We were actually very surprised, normally at this stage you would be met by some thick layers of polystyrene protecting the precious cargo from the couriers who like to play Rugby with our new purchases.
You will find that there is a 3 inch gap around the case from the outside of the box and just a simple plastic bag covering. The foam mentioned before is all that is holding the case in place, but nothing stopping anything puncturing the box and causing your case any damage. Still if the couriers look after the parcel all will be fine… Right?
When removing the 343 from the box the first thing that sprung to our minds was it is actually surprisingly light. We began to wonder how Lian Li have kept the weight on a case of this size down?
Typical to Lian Li’s styling this is a very smooth and understated case, the only thing that stands out is the 18 drive bays that dominate the front of the case. This looks to me like 2 mid tower cases with 9 drive bays each nailed together in a very posh manner. But is it that simple inside?
Staying with the simple clean touches in the centre of the front panel there is a chrome style ringed power and reset switch, between those are 2 LED’s indicating power and HDD activity. Further down the case there is a Firewire port, 2 USB connections plus head phone and microphone jacks.
Moving round to the back of the case there are 3 - 120mm and 2 – 80mm fan mounts. The PSU is on the lower left side and the expected motherboard plate is to the right.
When removing the side panels the reason for the low weight became apparent the materials used to make this case are much thinner than what you would expect from Lian Li. The doors are cleverly folded from a single sheet of 1mm aluminium (v2000 is 2mm) this includes all the rails for locating to the case.
In their defence to keep the weight, manufacturing costs and shipping costs for the customer down thinner materials was an easy choice to make and has been carried out very well. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled with the v2000 which has a sturdy bomb proof feel to it.
Lian Li PC343 ATX Case Page: 3
This is again very simple. The case is split almost perfectly down the middle, one side for the motherboard and one side for the PSU. The dividing tray stands 36cm high, this still leaves a 10cm gap above it to house the 240mm radiator and some beefy fans if you so wish. There is a cut out in the dividing panel for cable routing, although due to the room available it not really an option for hose routing when installing your watercooling. There are some vent holes in the floor to allow the PSU to draw in cool air from outside the case.
The front panel is also removable to gain access to the drive bays a bit easier. The roof is held on with 6 screws, at 1st it wasn't thought this was going to be needed to be mentioned. But later on during installation is became apparent that this might actually be removed a lot more than you may have thought.
To start off with I fitted the accessories, the fan blinds do a nice job of tidying up the look of the back of the case. I decided to put both the HDD cage and the 120mm fan mount on the mobo side of the case to help with airflow over the motherboard.
Now the parts going in to this mammoth case:
CPU: Intel Q6600 @ 3.4ghz (1.45vcore)
CPU Heatsink: Stock!
Graphics Card: Gainward Bliss 8800GT
Motherboard: Asus P5K Premuim
Hard Drives: 37gb Raptor (system Drive)
2x 750gb Seagates (storage)
Nothing out of the ordinary in the parts list other than the fact that everything is on stock cooling to help test the airflow in the case. We also used 2 extra 750gb HDD for that extra bit of heat and to test how effective the hdd caddy airflow is when fully loaded.
The case comes with the usual Lian Li box of screws and fittings plus that handy tool to fit the motherboard stand off's.
The motherboard was easy to fit, but the 1st problem came with my choice of placement for the HDD caddy. I fitted this before the motherboard due to the lack of space between the dividing plate and the drive bays. But now I needed to move it and I’m not taking all of the motherboard ect out (you wouldn't do this day to day) so I had to remove the roof to get easy access. Its only 6 screws so not too much hassle. I swapped the cages round and the GPU issue was fixed.
But something else caught my eye while the roof was off - the dividing plate does not sit perfectly in the middle. Now the mobo side you can just get your hand down with a thumb screw to fit the cages, the PSU side is a different matter all together! I couldn’t even get my hand down there let alone hold a thumb screw. On closer inspection after another cup of coffee to wake me up the drive bays have rails that run to the outside of the case. Then in a moment of inspiration I realised you can fit rubber grommets and mounting screws to the dvd drive ect and just slide it in place! Some thing I thought was so difficult just became very simple. Thank you Nescafe!
With the main components in the case I turned my attentions to what Aqua said on there website about this case and I quote:
“It’s the Ultimate case as it is able to take the highest performance pc with plenty of room to fit extreme cooling in there as well”
I set about trying to find a home for a second radiator. Extreme cooling to most is a well built custom water cooling set up. We already know this case can mount a 240mm radiator in the roof so I got the drive bay radiator mounts out and set about fitting a 360mm XSPC radiator to the drive bay. We only had a XSPC R120T radiator here and a Thermochill pa120.3 but sods law these are the only radiators that do not fit straight in. Pretty much every other 360mm radiator will fit straight in but if you do feel the need to have one of the larger rads then you can remove the roof support with 4 rivets, if you mount the radiator right up against the roof this can act as the missing roof support so you will have no structural issues. I didn't want to start drilling the review sample but there are a few pictures for you to get the idea.
Another issue for fitting a radiator in the drive bays is airflow. You would need to buy some perforated bezels to allow the rad fans to draw in cool air from the outside, even with the 240mm radiator that means 6 bezels which is another £30 to add to the shopping list. Could be a very clean and tidy way of getting a big rad internal if you want a smooth look.
Lian Li PC343 ATX Case Page: 4
To ensure that we didn't give the PC-343 any unfair advantages, only the stock fans provided with the case were used during the testing. In addition to this, all fans were connected directly to a +12v molex to prevent any potential skew in the results from the motherboard trying to manage the fan speed.
Temperature readings for the CPU and Case were taken using Asus' PC Probe, GPU was taken using ATITool and Hard Disk directly from S.M.A.R.T. While we fully understand that these results may not be entirely accurate when compared with a digital thermal probe, they serve perfectly well when results conducted with the same core hardware.
To test the airflow in the case the system was put under 100% load by running OCCT, Nvidia Stability test, HDtach (long Bench) were run simultaneously for 30 minutes. The case temperature rose by 12c over the 30 minutes testing, which is a very good result. The front fans and roof radiator mount gave the case very good airflow. The Q6600 and 8800gt were both belting out the heat in the tests and the case worked very well to keep the temperatures down.
Even with four 120mm fans running at 100% this case is still not over powering, its only the graphics card fan in this set up you can hear. Most surprisingly for me an everyday Raptor user is the HDD cage has silenced it. Even when testing the drives for temperature I couldn’t hear the Raptor or 750gb drives clunking away like they usually do. I had to take the side panel off at one point and put my ear to them to check everything was ok!
Lian Li PC343 ATX Case Page: 5
The Lian Li PC-343 is a big case with a big price tag of £220 including vat and then you have to budget in all the accessories which it needs to make it usable. Our review sample carried a price tag of £312.70 inclusive with all the extras which is a huge amount of money to spend. It was stated though that there was plenty of room for extreme cooling, and with the right extras you could get a 360mm and a 240mm radiator in with out any modifications. This has to be a major selling point for any of you not that confident with a Dremel. Even if you did fit a 360mm rad that would still leave you with 9 drive bays to expand in to.
When discussing this we couldn’t help but compare the case to the Mountain Mods Duality. The 343 with the extras is roughly the same price and the same size. The main difference is the layout, the MM can fit 2 Thermochill 120.3’s straight in the front, 2 motherboards and 4 PSU’s. The 343 however is totally tunable, you can buy the exact accessories you need to suit your needs and system requirements. It definitely has the upper hand on the quality side of things as well, the MM is very simple compared to the 343.
This case with the right purchases could be amazing, you just buy the extras you require and build the exact case for your system needs and there isn't many cases out there that can offer this level of personal tuning.
* Light for a case of this size
* 18 drive bays for ultimate expansion
* Wide variety of accessories available to suit any needs
* Modular so has the ability to create the exact case you require
* Roof is easily removable to help with build and maintenance
* Ability for 2 cooling loops with a 240mm and most 360mm radiators with out modifications
* Can not fit HDD caddy right next to GPU
* PSU placement restricts floor space
* Feels flimsy compared to other Lian Li's
* The price
* Needs accessories to be bought at time of purchace to make usable
* Layout restricts you using all of the space available
Thanks to Aqua-PC's
for the review sample. Discuss this review in our forums.