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Lian-Li Armorsuit PC-P50R Dragon Case E-mail
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Written by Bruce Normann   
Tuesday, 25 May 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
Lian-Li Armorsuit PC-P50R Dragon Case
Closer Look: Exterior
Detailed Exterior Features
Closer Look: Interior
Detailed Interior Features
Build Notes
Lian Li Armorsuit PC-P50R Testing
Lian Li Armorsuit PC-P50R Final Thoughts
Lian Li Armorsuit PC-P50R Conclusion

Detailed Interior Features

The Lian Li PC-P50R is a true mid-size case, and is not an outsized tweener. As such, it relies on some design features to make it easier to work on during the build process. One of those is the removable drive cage. It's easy enough to remove and replace (R&R for the car guys...) completely, that it becomes the preferred protocol for installing hard drives. Physically, it can slide either out the front of the case, or out the back. The latter is not really feasible once you have other components installed inside the case. It's plain to see here how the front intake fan is mounted to the drive cage, as well. All the fans are clear and are fitted with Red LEDs in each corner. This is another upgrade from the base PC-P50 case.

Lian_Li_Armorsuit_PC-P50R_Gaming_Case_Drive_Cages_01.jpg

Speaking of fans, here is how the two 140mm exhaust fans on the top of the case look like from the interior. There are no finger guards here, and pretty much zero obstruction to airflow. The cable arrangement for both fans is well thought out and offers a lot of flexibility for getting the fans either hooked up to the fan headers on the motherboard or to 12V Molex connections direct from the PSU. There are plenty of 4-pin Molex adapter cables included, some preinstalled and another spare one in the accessory kit.

Lian_Li_Armorsuit_PC-P50R_Gaming_Case_Upper_Fans_Inside_01.jpg

Here's a better view of those expansion card clamps we looked at earlier. As promised, they are simple to operate, very secure once snapped into place and gorgeous to look at. The only downside I experienced was that some of the clamps would not stay in the OPEN position. This required one extra hand while installing cards, and two extra hands if you are installing a dual slot card. They are definitely secure once they are locked down, with an over-center linkage that snaps the lever into place in the CLOSED position. When I first saw these, I actually thought they were overkill, as I am reasonably happy just using screws. The more I used them though, the more I appreciated their simplicity, reliability, and utility.

Lian_Li_Armorsuit_PC-P50R_Gaming_Case_IO_Bracket_Clamps_01.jpg

Folks who have jumped on the SSD bandwagon are well taken care of, as all of the 3.5" drive trays are designed to accept 2.5" drives. Hindsight is always 20-20, but Lian Li has chosen the simplest and most direct method of securing the smaller drives; just provide the additional mounting holes for them on the drive tray. I've done this on a DIY basis to some other drive trays I own, so I quickly warmed to the idea. 3.5" drives can be installed with the tool-less clamp that just snaps into place, and there are also a couple of extra screw holes if you really want to keep the drive from moving. To be fair, there are some undersize and oversized 3.5" drives out there, so the extra screw holes are good insurance in case the clamp doesn't fit.

Lian_Li_Armorsuit_PC-P50R_Gaming_Case_Drive_Trays_01.jpg

Each of the front drive bat covers has a removable, washable air filter in it. The retaining frame snaps in and out easily, yet securely. The filter material itself is more of a stiff nylon mesh than a thin foam insert. Foam holds more dirt before becoming clogged, because of its depth, but the stiff mesh is ten times easier to handle when removing, cleaning, and replacing. Once again; if you make it easier to clean the filters, I'm more likely to do it on a regular basis.

Lian_Li_Armorsuit_PC-P50R_Gaming_Case_Bay_Cover_Filter.jpg

One of the other tool-less features of the PC-P50R is the clamp for the power supply. There are mounting holes on the back surface of the case for the usual four screws, that will accommodate right side up and upside down mounting of standard PSUs, but the clamp supplied by Lian Li is more secure and also more universal. I've had difficulties in the past with power supplies that had various parts mounted on the back surface that strayed outside the area defined by the cutout on the chassis. If you're stuck using mounting screws, which is true for at least 90% of all cases, it can cause trouble. I've actually cut away part of the mounting flanges on these parts and/or cut away the case in order to make everything fit properly. None of that will ever be an issue with this case, because the metal case of the PSU doesn't have to be pushed tight up against the inner surface of the PC chassis during installation.

Lian_Li_Armorsuit_PC-P50R_Gaming_Case_PSU-Bracket_02.jpg

Now that we've thoroughly toured both the inside and outside of the Lian Li PC-P50R, there's only one thing left to do, start building a system with it. I've chosen some typical gaming components to see both how they fit and how the cooling system performs.



 

Comments 

 
# 5.25 drive brackets are terribleArt Woosley 2011-02-04 14:23
The Lian Li optical drive brackets are a poor sloppy design. The brackets come with the pins in the wrong location and the instructions say nothing about moving them. With a pliers, I was able to carefully dislodge the pins and relocate them in the correct alternate holes. This is Lian Li "tooless" design???? This is UNACCEPTABLE! Furthermore, the drives are NOT held firmly and required screws on the opposite side (bracket is only on one side). All the reviews pour over the cosmetics of Lian Li but the inside guts of the case are not very good.
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# No problem for me....BruceBruce 2011-02-04 16:22
I didn't remember having an issue, so I just pulled the case out and tried it again. N problems....... I actuall like how they have provided an option for the location of the retaining pins, but every ODD I've tried in it used the front set of holes. I don't know of any other cases that allow you to switch the pin location.

I admit the drive can wiggle a tiny bit when the OP Side screws are not used, but that's just cosmetic. The drive isn't going anywhere.

BTW, what drive wereyou installing that neede to use the rear set of pins?
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# RE: Lian-Li Armorsuit PC-P50R Dragon CaseArron Arntzen 2011-10-17 10:22
Hi Bruce
Having built numerous computers over the years, including about 40 Lian Li's for various clients, I would offer the following comments.
1) I have never, ever cut myself (or a wire) on a Lian Li - all the likely competitors should hang their heads in shame on this one. Blood sacrifices to the machine god are wearisome after a few hundred occasions.
2) Everything fits well - I have recently built 3 PC50 machines and their snap in 5.25 drives work well. Of course, showing my age here I guess, I still use the screws as well.
3) Using a gigabyte UD-7 motherboard (inbuilt passive air cooling), two gigabyte silent cell 5770 graphic cards and a Noctua NH-D14 CPU cooler (quietest fan speed), 16Gb Kingston RAM, Corsair 950 watt non-modular PSU (less connections) in a non-airconditioned, bare brick environment in Australia, the client can sleep in the same room with the machine on. Further, I cannot hear it until I am literally at the keyboard. Highest temperature - AMD-1100BE CPU 48 Celsius, Intel i7-960 CPU (12 Gb RAM) 63 Celsius, case AMD - 58 Celsius, Intel - 61 Celsius, ambient - often over 30 Celsius. Yes, I checked it several times - the AMD with the Noctua runs at a lower temp than the case - even when she played Crysis at the top settings for a whole day... (the Intel was actually being built for a different client, however she tested it in the same room because she wanted to see if it was faster). Client's previous system - three quarter height steel tower (expensive, famous gamer brand) usin!
g the AMD CPU and AMD heatsink/fan. It sounded like a loosely mounted jet engine and ran over 10 Celsius hotter case temperature. Lian Li's don't resonate!
4) The plastic strap across the top of the 3.5 hard disk drives gave me a hot spot on a server system, so I removed it & went back to the screws - gamers beware... my only criticism of the PC-P50 may be disk threatening. The PC-P80 or PC-A77F are a much better, cooler cradle IMHO.
5) I am picking up another PC50 later today - this time a "dragon" - and will be placing more in less the same bits in it. Unless the fans are a lot noisier than the "black" case, it should be very close to silent.
6) This is being written on my workhorse - a (1999?) Lian Li PC62, my other is a (2009?) PC-P80 - which is quieter and cooler than either the PC-P50 or the PC62.
7) A very thorough review - well done.
Arron, Western Australia.
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# Good FeedbackBruce Bruce 2011-10-17 10:46
Thanks for the informative post, Arron. The more I work on some things, the less I'm willing to sacrifice on the basic quality of the thing. Features yes, quality no..... BTW, when I'm building for real, I also use the screws. I HATE having slightly crooked drives, with uneven gaps. The screws allow me to line up all the pieces and lock it all into place.

Thanks for sharing all this excellent info, based on real world experience. I'm curious how you detected the hot spot(s) on the drive. Thermal imaging, or low-level environmental reporting from the drive itself?

Thanks, Bruce.
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# Temperature measurementsArron Arntzen 2011-10-18 01:31
Hi Bruce

I sent the first email in because your review was so thorough - some gamer type hardware reviews are so poor I would not waste my time. I commend you on your approach, and wish there were more like you in your profession.
I share your view on quality vs features. Pity some coders out there clearly don't...
My digital "instant read" thermometer plus thermal sensing strips are my essential friends in these days of massive "so far over the top I am stunned" power consumption. The original pentium 100 CPU pulled 4 (well, 3.9 actually) watts average - count 'em, one hand. Last year an nvidia graphics card pulled nearly 1000 watts - scary or obscene?
Anyway, back to the PC-P50 - I intended to hammer it the next day, however after only two hours of reasonably hard use just getting a feel for the machine, the drive's sound changed a little. I measured 85 celsius under the strap, 67 near it, both readings where the disk platter would be spinning. A temperature variance of zero to +18C to zero in less than three inches across a high precision device spinning faster than an angle grinder - shudder. Clearly HDD internal frame warping and / or platter shattering is a no cost option. I repeated it with temperature strips the next day - 86 and 67C after two hours.
Result - bin the strap, use those old obsolete things called spare aluminium screws from another Lian Li case. FWIW, that strap is probably the only thing Lian Li have ever come up with that makes no sense at all to me - fashion over function I guess. Even the individual disk cradle runs noticeably warmer than the PC-P80 or PC-A77F's older, lighter and more ventilated "3 drives at a time predecessors".
Oh, and yes, aluminium screws do make a small difference, especially in aluminium frames, conducting heat away a little quicker as well as avoiding hot spots compared to their steel cousins. Screws and closing all gaps also prevents clients losing expensive software - like a Novell server 50 licence disk that disappeared for 4 years until we scrapped the previous assembler's machine ? a technician originally installed it and it had vanished when they needed to reinstall it ? it was between the CD drive and the hard disk, scratched beyond use and already replaced by a not happy insurance company.

More than enough for now, please keep up the good work.
Thanks for your feedback.
Arron.
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