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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

Lian Li Armorsuit PC-P50R Final Thoughts

I wonder who buys Lian Li cases, for the most part. I'm sure Newegg could tell us; although they might not have the detailed demographic info I'm curious about. I think of them as a luxury brand, but I also wonder if that's really true. Certainly, many of their products have a luxurious appearance, and a classic design ethos that's associated with "old money". Not a bad market niche, even if it is a small one. Still, I scratch my head trying to think of the last nobleman that assembled a PC. Maybe Prince Harry is a never know. But, I never, ever saw a PC displayed in the society pages of Town & Country or the British equivalent, Tatler. If they did feature one, I can only think of a couple chassis manufacturers that could pull it off, and Lian Li is one of them.

Style and Fashion are two different things, though, and they don't always coexist. The PC-P50R is a fashion statement, meant to showcase the AMD brand, and it just happens to be produced by a company known for their stylish products. They've managed to create a mixture of the two in this instance, which is not a very common occurrence. Most attempts are substantially one or the other with just a sprinkle of duality. Think of the Lincoln Cartier Edition Town Car; it's 99.9% Town Car and 0.1% Cartier, not a real mixture of both. That's not true here; Lian Li has managed to meld the two concepts into one coherent product.


I once heard a Quality guru pronounce that "Quality is free!" (Management Gurus always capitalize the terms they are lionizing...) He was right, if you define quality as getting exactly what was designed into a product as the end result. Nothing more, nothing less, just consistent production of precisely what the design documents call for. By that standard, a Yugo could be the highest quality car produced in the entire world. I doubt that it ever was, but the possibility exists if you define quality as we did above. For most of us, when we think of a quality product the name Mercedes-Benz is more likely to come to mind. So, the term Quality has more than one meaning.

When I talk about the high quality of the Lian Li Armorsuit PC-P50R, one reason is because of the consistent finishes on all of the metal parts. Not just "close enough", but dead on. Aluminum anodizing is actually a tough process to get perfectly consistent. There are usually minor variations from batch to batch, day to day, and week to week; either in the color, surface roughness, or the reflectivity of the surface. The quality is also obvious when I disassemble and reassemble sections of the case, and all the parts fit precisely, not tightly. They glide together with practiced ease and with very little play between them. Another example is hidden in the fact that there aren't rubber grommets for all the various openings in the chassis meant to pass cables through. On first thought, it might look like they're trying to save a few pennies, or maybe they just didn't think it mattered. The reality is, the edges inside the chassis are so well finished, there aren't any sharp edges left to harm the cables.

I hate to make this section sound like a love-fest for Lian Li, because I need to remain objective and judge this product in comparison to its true competition. Depending on your preferences, anyone is likely to go gaga over a Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, or a Maserati. The problem is, very few of us can afford one, and comparing any of them to lower-priced vehicles is not a legitimate measurement. When I look at what separates Lian Li cases apart from their similarly-priced competition, I always come back the basics: their precision metalwork and the absolute perfection of their metal finishing processes. Even in the top echelon of PC chassis manufacturers, they still stand out in this area.

My only complaint is that it's almost too nice to use. Like a bright, shiny, new Snap-On wrench, I don't want to put the first scratch in it. When I eventually do, I know it will be my fault, not the tool's. That's the burden that comes along with the joy of owning the very best.



# 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.
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