|Lian-Li Armorsuit PC-P50R Dragon Case|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cases|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Tuesday, 25 May 2010|
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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 gamer....you 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.