Lian Li TYR PC-X500 Chassis Page: 1 Introduction
Founded in 1983, Lian Li Industrial Co.Ltd. have gained an excellent reputation for the build quality, engineering and styling of their products. Stylish, outwardly simplistic designs and great functionality have made the Lian Li chassis a favourite with PC modders. You may have heard of the TYR PC-X2000, which is a behemoth of a chassis. The X2000 has a little brother, the TYR PC-X500
, and it is this chassis that we shall be reviewing today. Lian Li have classed the chassis as a Super Mid Tower, and it's aimed at the gaming/HTPC PC builder. Our friends over at A-One Distribution have kindly supplied us with a review sample.
So let's see what Lian Li have to say about the X500:
"In 2008, the new TYR series, with new style, new structure, and better quality! The whole internal has been anodized in black. There are also protection kit to protect user’s hand and cables. When come to users’ safety, all the detail counts.
The new TYR series, PC-X500 is the case which functionality and style converge. Open the side panel with the tool-less latch, the removable HDD cages, 2 x120mm silent intake fans with filter, 2 x 120mm silent exhaust fans, and top mounted multi-media I/O ports have been redesigned – because when it comes to your comfort, every detail counts."
Model: TYR PC-X500
Case Type: Super Mid Tower Case
Dimensions: 230 x 380 x 585 mm ( W, D, H)
Front bezel Material: Aluminum
Side Panel: Aluminum + Sound Insulation Material
Body Material: Aluminum
5.25" drive bay (Ext): 2
3.5" drive bay (Ext): 1
3.5" drive bay (Int): 4
Expansion Slot: 7
Motherboard: M-ATX, ATX
System Fan (Front): 2 x 120mm Fan ( 1020-1200-1500RPM, Factory set to mid speed)
System Fan (Rear): 2 x 120mm Fan ( 1020-1200-1500RPM, Factory set to mid speed)
I/O Ports: USB2.0 x 4, IEEE1394 x 1, E-SATA x1, HD+AC97 Audio
The X500 chassis features two separate thermal zones, with the first being the area where the drive bays and PSU are located. The second is where the motherboard and main components are housed. As with the X500's big brother, the 5.25" drive bays are side mounted, and we will discuss this further later on in the review. There are some unique touches to this case but are they enough to earn Lian Li's claimed title of 'The Ultimate Gaming/HTPC chassis? We shall see.
So without further ado, let's take a look at the packaging and contents on the next page.
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The X500 comes in a sturdy box with the front and back emblazoned with photos of the X500 in all its glory. There are little insets with photos of all the chassis' features with a little text explaining them. On the sides of the box, you get a glimpse of the innards of the chassis with some more text.
All the information printed on the box is clear and concise and the packaging is strong enough to ensure the case doesn't get damaged in transit. So far so good then, so let's take a look at the contents within the box.
The chassis is well packed within the box, and placed in a plastic bag. Lian Li have used two foam inserts within the box, to keep the chassis from moving around. All the usual screws and accessories are located in a cardboard box, which is tie wrapped into the chassis to ensure it doesn't get bounced about. Within this box you will find:
A buzzer with motherboard header
12x Motherboard stand-offs, 30x screws and a screw driver
2x Clamps& 3x Cable ties for cable management
18x Thumb screws and rubber washers for HDD's , 6x PSU & 8x CD fixing screws
8x Spare thumb screws
2x SATA cables
A plastic box for keeping spare screws etc.
There was also an installation pamphlet
with easy to follow instructions, and decent enough diagrams. All in all, there were no nasty surprises with the packaging and it was more than adequate for the job in hand. There are plenty of screws etc. with which to use in your build and the provision of anodised black thumbscrews ensures that the style of the chassis is carried throughout.
Next, we move onto the chassis itself. Let's now take a look at the externals of the chassis.
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So now we get to the nitty gritty of this review, the chassis itself. Simply put, the chassis oozes style. Every inch of the X500 is anodised black and it looks great. Clean, simplistic styling is what the chassis is all about. Everything on the case has a function, and nothing is added just to try and add some bling, apart from a silver line down the front panel, which leads neatly to the silver Lian Li logo. Some may find the style of the chassis to be plain or even boring, but this chassis is able to blend into most settings without standing out like a sore thumb. Looking at the chassis, and its finish, you just know it's going to be a pleasure to work on.
As you can see from the photos, the 2x 5.25" and 1x 3.25" drive bays are side mounted and you can mount the drives either to the left or the right as the panels are identical on either side. The side of the chassis also features an air intake grille which runs nearly the length of the chassis. These grilles feed the two 120mm fans underneath the front panel. Considering the side panels are all one piece of aluminium, the finish on them is outstanding. Around the drive bays shows only the smallest of gaps, and the cuts are a great example of precision engineering.
The top panel is just as well finished, with two simple black switches for the reset and power, which tie in with the theme of the case nicely. The peripheral slots are hidden by a lift up cover which is also in keeping with the case styling. There are four USB, one Firewire, and one E-SATA slots, plus the usual audio in/out 3.5mm jacks under the cover.
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The X500's most striking feature is the front panel, which dominates the chassis, but what lies underneath it? Well, underneath are two 120mm fans, which are controlled by a simple 3 speed switch. But that's not all, there is also a dust filter, which slides out easily for cleaning. It's little touches like this that have made my heart warm to this chassis. The dust filter works well, and keeps all but the tiniest specks out of the rig. Even under the front panel, the metal is anodised and has received the same care and attention as the chassis externals. My only quibble is that Lian Li could have found a better location for the fan controller, as you have to remove the front panel and then the dust filter, just to be able to change fan speeds. If, however, this is something you don't do very often, then it won't be a problem.
Now if we work our way around to the sides, and take a look at the side panels. as you can see from the photo above, Lian Li have applied a layer of foam to the inside of the panels, which is intended to aide in reducing noise levels from the fully built system. The side panels can be released quickly and easily with the method Lian Li have used to secure them. There is a sliding mechanism, which when slid, locks the panel in place. You then only need to tighten one single thumbscrew on each side to secure the sliding mechanism. To remove the panel, you just loosen the thumbscrew and pull the lever to release the sliding mechanism. This system works very well and really is quite effortless and hassle free. As the thumbscrew is fixed to the lever, you don't have to worry about dropping and losing it.
Now let's turn our attention to the actual innards of the chassis. Able to house a full ATX motherboard, with space for four hard drives, with two 5.25" and one 3.25" bay, the chassis is able to house a decent system and still have room to spare to consider installing a water-cooling loop. The chassis feels roomy and we will see if this is correct when we build the test rig up in the chassis. As was previously mentioned, every inch of the chassis, both internally and externally, is anodised. Nothing looks out of place, and everything looks superb. This chassis is crying out for a windowed side panel to show all the goodness off.
So let's now see exactly what this chassis has to offer and take a closer look at the internals on the next page.
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Internal Impressions - A Closer Look
One thing I would have liked to have seen with this chassis is a removable motherboard tray. When I reviewed the X2000 a couple of weeks ago, I was impressed with this feature. So I was surprised to not see it feature on the X500. Having said that, the chassis is roomy enough to enable good working access though. There are pre cut holes with which to route the cables from the top compartment and there is also space behind the motherboard tray to hide any slack cables.
The chassis comes complete with six PCI slots with vented PCI slot covers, which are anodised black and look great. Lian Li have also included black thumbscrews with which to fasten them. For those who would consider using watercooling with this chassis, Lian Li have provided four pass-through holes for tubing with rubber grommets, if you wanted to externally house your radiator.
The Top Compartment
The top compartment is quite busy in the fact that it houses the optical drives, HDD's, and PSU. We shall see how well this arrangement works when we build the test rig.
Hard Drives Caddies
Fitting the hard drives means removing either of the two available caddies and fitting the drive to the caddy. All that is then required is to slot the caddy in place, and to secure with the fixed thumbscrew. The caddies have rubber washers on the screw points, which will aid in keeping vibration down to a minimum. There are thumbscrews provided to fix the hard drives to the caddies.
Optical Drive Bays
Fitting the optical drives is a straight forward job. Firstly, you have to decide on which side of the chassis you are going to mount the drives. As previously mentioned, you can mount either side and this comes in handy if you are going to be placing the chassis next to something when it's in use. Next, you have to remove the blanking plates, by removing a few screws. You then fit the supplied CD/DVD screws to the drive sides, which will allow you to simply slot the drive in place. Lian Li have drawn some criticism for only supplying two 5.25" bays, both on the X500 and the X2000. Whether or not this will be enough for your own needs is a question you would need to ask before you considered purchasing this chassis. We would also have liked to have seen the stealth drive bezels which Lian Li supply as extras to be included with the chassis, considering the price point the chassis is at.
Power Supply Unit
The PSU sits on a vented bottom within the chassis, and Lian Li have placed two rubber strips for the PSU to sit which aims to prevent vibration and noise. With the PSU fitted, it can feel quite cramped, and someone with large hands, like myself, would find it awkward to work on the PSU cables when the PSU is fixed in place.. Fixing the PSU in place is attained via a plate on the rear of the chassis, which is fixed onto the chassis with four thumbscrews. The PSU is then fixed to this plate, using a further four screws.
That's the interior covered, so now let's discuss how assembling the PC inside the X500 was, on the next page.
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Cooling, Assembly & Cable Management
There are a total of four 120mm fans provided within the X500, two act as intakes on the front, and the other two act as exhausts on the rear. Each fan is complete with a matching grille, and can be powered by molex or via a 3-pin header. The two front fans can be connected to the inbuilt fan controller by removing the molex connector and using the supplied header plugs. We shall discuss the effectiveness of this setup further in our testing page.
Assembly & Cable Management
Motherboard: ABit IP35 Pro Skt775
CPU: Intel Pentium Dual Core E2200 with stock HSF
Memory: 2GB Geil Ultra DDR2-800
GPU: Powercolour Radeon HD4850
PSU: ThermalTake ToughPower 750w Modular
Hard Drive: Hitachi SATA II 160GB with clean install of Windows XP SP3
Assembling the PC inside the X500 was a breeze. There were no unwelcome surprises and Lian Li have provided all the screws and fittings necessary for the build. This is one of the few chassis that I have worked on, that hasn't resulted in cuts on the hands. If you were to spend time looking for sharp edges within the chassis, you would probably fail. Little things like this deserve merit as it shows that the manufacturer has given their product thought. Assembly took me around 25 minutes to complete, and the chassis was a joy to work on. With all the little extras Lian Li provide, it does make the task much easier.
I found that managing the cables within this chassis was a lot easier that with the X2000, and this was down to the reduced height of the chassis. This reduced height meant that routing the PSU cables was a lot easier and resulted in a tidier finish. Also, there is a gap between the right side panel and the motherboard tray, which enables the concealment of the slack on cables. When I assembled the chassis, I used only what Lian LI provided to manage the cables, and I got good results within the motherboard compartment, with very little effort. On the reverse of the motherboard was a little untidier, but this was more down to me not spending enough time to arrange the cables, due to time constraints. Overall, I was very happy with the results.
On the next page, we shall put the X500 through its paces.
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Components Used in Build:
* Motherboard: ABit IP35 Pro Skt775
* CPU: Intel Pentium Dual Core E2200 with stock HSF
* Memory: 2GB Geil Ultra DDR2-800
* GPU: Powercolour Radeon HD4850
* PSU: ThermalTake ToughPower 750w Modular
* Hard Drive: Hitachi SATA II 160GB with clean install of Windows XP SP3
To get a feel of how the chassis performs and feels when in use I built up a system within the X500. I tested for temperatures and noise output when the system is in use. For the purposes of testing, I ran everything at stock settings using the built in fan controller on the front air intake fans, and used the motherboard fan headers for the rear exhaust fans. The front fan controller has three settings, low medium and high. I had the two rear fans set to standard speed. To measure the full range of system temperatures, I used Everest Ultimate Edition. The temperatures recorded were:
* CPU Core 1
* CPU Core 2
* CPU Core 3
* CPU Core 4
* GPU Diode (DispIO)
* GPU Diode (MemIO)
* GPU Diode (Shader)
I tested while the system was at idle and the CPU & GPU fans were running at stock speeds. This should give a good indication of how effective the different fan settings were on the X500 with the supplied case fans.
As you can see from the graphs, the temperature differences between the three settings was only very slight in some components and varied as much as 3 degrees celsius difference in others.
At Low Fan Speed Setting:
Overall noise was very quiet, and the hard drive could be clearly heard above fan noise. Ideal setting when chassis as used as a HTPC.
At Medium Fan Speed Setting:
Overall noise was slightly more noticeable, but the hard drive could still be heard above the fans. The noise output would still be acceptable when the chassis was used as a HTPC.
At High Fan Speed Setting:
Overall noise was very noticeable, and could be heard over the hard drive. When used as a HTPC, this setting may not be acceptable, as the fans would be heard in quiet parts of movies.
So that's the results in. Now let's draw our conclusions and discuss the scores given to the X500 on the next page.
Lian Li TYR PC-X500 Chassis Page: 8
The X500 definitely scores big in the style department. It also rates very highly in build quality and finish. Without a doubt, the chassis lives up to the usual Lian Li standards. Having said that, there are a few gripes I have. Lian Li should have used either braided or black coloured cable for the IO panel. as they have used grey coloured cables, they stick out like a sore thumb. Also, I cannot see why Lian Li did not provide at least a couple of stealth CD/DVD bezels with the chassis, especially considering the price of the chassis. If they had then the overall finish of the chassis would have been perfect.
When I reviewed the X2000, the X500's big brother, it drew some criticism for only having two 5.25" bays, well the same holds true with the X500. So, if you didn't like this on the X2000, you will also be disappointed by it with the X500. I personally wouldn't find this a problem, as I only have one DVD -RW installed. It does limit your options, and you should be aware of this before considering purchasing an X500. Another small gripe is the placement of the fan controller, which means that you have to remove the front panel and dust filter to access it. This is only a minor niggle, especially if you don't change fan speeds often.
Assembling the PC inside the X500 was really easy and very straight forward. Most people should be able to assemble without having to consult the manual, which is always a bonus. Everything needed for the build was provided by Lian Li, and there were plenty of spare screws left to replace lost items, should you ever need them.
All in all, I would highly recommend the X500 to anyone who wants a high quality chassis, and who doesn't mind paying extra for the attention to detail and quality Lian Li have given. When combined with a smart AV setup, or a matching destop setup, the chassis looks superb. Although I have a couple of gripes with the chassis, these are far outweighed by the positive aspects. Price will be an issue to some, but for those who know quality and don't mind paying a premium, the X500 is definitely a winner. I am not sure about the chassis being the 'Ultimate gaming/HTPC' choice, as Lian Li have claimed, but it does come pretty close. The recommended retail price of the TYR PC-X500 is around £250, but can be bought for around £200 from some e-tailers.
+ Excellent build quality
+ Attention to detail and finish
+ Stylish design
+ Easy to build PC inside
+ Good airflow with supplied fans
+ Dust filter
+ Anodised internally and externally
* Price limits the appeal
- Internal cables don't tie in with overall style
- Fan controller placement
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