Lian Li PC-O5S ITX Case Review
Published: 26th November 2015 | Source: Lian Li | Price: £279.95 @ OCUK |
If you've read the review and looked at the images you'll already know that with its oversized full frame smoked glass panel and Black brushed Aluminium chassis, the Lian Li PC-O5S is one stunning case. The PC-O5S though is not just a simple desk top mini tower. You see, this case can be, and in fact, is designed to be wall mounted. Not only that, but if you purchase the optional chrome feet pack you can position it horizontally so as to fit it into a TV cabinet, HIFI rack or AV systems cabinet. Basically, if Lian Li did a bumper sticker for this case it would say "The PC-O5S does it standing up, laying down, or up against the wall"!
So we have the style, boy do we have the style, and the quality is most definitely there, but what about the substance. Well for starters for a case designed to accept the M-ITX board, at 465x384x148mm (HxWxD) it is quite large. This though we feel is a necessary product of the style of the case, so we can't really mark it down for being a large M-ITX case, and Lian Li certainly make some small ones if that's what you're after. Fitting a GPU into a case with a width of 140mm is something of a challenge though, and one that Lian Li have overcome by mounting the card parallel to the motherboard and connecting it with a PCI-E 16x Gen 3.0 riser cable. Not only does this enable the card to fit, but it actually presents your expensive GPU face on to you, which means no more staring at the ugly reverse side of your graphics card. The only real problem is that to mount cards longer than 190mm you're going to need to remove the HDD rack. Doing so raises the max length up to a very acceptable 310mm
Talking of HDD racks, Lian Li have also catered for your storage requirements. Down at the base of the case lies the rack we mentioned above, this holds up to 3x3.5" and 1x2.5" drives, with Lian Li even providing a brushed Aluminium cover plate to if you want to hide your ugly old spinners. If you have to remove this rack, which is likely if you want to mount all but the shortest GPUs, then all is not lost as there's ample storage elsewhere. The first of these alternate locations is a panel that sits behind the actual GPU. This panel will take 1x3.5" and 1x2.5" or 2x2.5" drives. There's also a panel behind the motherboard tray which offers identical storage options. Finally if you're not planning to use a slim Optical drive in the provided slot then the tray will actually take a single 3.5" or 2.5" drive. Whichever option you go for we think there's a solution here for all.
Lian Li have had to make some concessions though. The main one being the necessary use of an SFX power supply. Now this isn't such a big deal as it was a few years ago, as good quality SFX PSUs can be had for reasonable money, it just means you're not going to be able to port one over from a previous build. Like the GPU, the PSU is also mounted parallel to the motherboard, with its fan facing outwards, towards the glass, with the air to it coming from the mesh panel at the front of the case, and the exhaust venting upwards to the roof fans. From a cable management perspective, there's a good 36mm of space behind the motherboard tray, and although there aren't any classic cable tie points, Lian Li do include some self-adhesive "P" clip type fastenings. Sadly there aren't any rubber grommets on the cable management holes, which, we have to say does seem an odd choice in a case such as this where it's all about the visual.
As the case is of an "Open Design", there's plenty of passive cooling to be had. Yes we know it doesn't exactly look open, but take a close look and you'll see what we mean. There is though still some active cooling which is provided by a pair of 120mm fans up in the removable roof section. There's also a mount for a 140mm fan behind the motherboard tray if you think you need a little bit more. With only 85mm of clearance above the CPU you're not going to be mounting a monster tower in here any time soon, but don't let that worry you too much, there are still plenty of good looking and decent performing coolers on the market that will fit behind the glass. If you're thinking of water cooling the PC-O5S, which is, let's face it more likely you're going to have your work cut out for you as things are pretty cramped up in the roof. OK, so being able to take the roof section off and work on it separately makes things easier, but you're still got to get it back on and bend those pipes around the large shelf that protrudes from the rear panel. With 60mm of depth available we weren't actually able to fit our usual XSPC rad as when combines with the fans it was just that little bit too thick, and although our Cooler Master Seidon AIO would fit in with the fans, we found that the tubing was too inflexible to make it round the corners to the CPU, and in fact risked damaging the motherboard which prompted a very quick removal. Now we're not saying you can't get a rad up in the roof, but we are saying it's not going to be easy and that you are going to have to choose something with decent hose length and good flexibility if you want it to fit. It can be done, but you're going to have to work at it.
All in all then the PC-O5S is one stunning looking case which offers a variety of mounting options. Storage is good, as is GPU compatibility once the HDD rack is removed. The case has decent cooling with the option of water cooling provided careful kit selection is made.
And so to the sordid subject of money. Let's cut to the chase, it ain't cheap. £279 is a heck of a lot of money. If you're just looking for a good value, good looking case that will take an M-ITX motherboard then there are better value options out there. If however, you're looking for something that looks totally different, something of unquestionable high quality, and something that will make even those that aren't into PCs stop and stare in admiration then the PC-O5S is the case for you. It might set you back a few quid but then quality and individuality rarely come cheap.