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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 Conclusion

Performance in a PC gaming or enthusiast chassis is mostly about cooling, and the noise that usually occurs to achieve it. The Lian Li PC-P50R really surprised me with its cooling capability. I never would have guessed that, with a full load of Crysis on the GPU and CPU, it would run cooler than another capable gaming case that had three 200mm fans running at 100%. The larger fans on the other case were quieter, but not silent. Overall, the sound from the case fans on the PC-P50R was about equal to that generated by the installed CPU cooler and video card. The extra noise is not a deal breaker for me, but without any built-in speed controls, you will notice it. There is a lot of open area for air to pass through on this chassis, and most of these areas have filters built in, which are easy to access and remove for cleaning.

The appearance of this special AMD version of the PC-P50 is fantastic, IMHO. I love the effect of the red anodizing on the interior, and Lian Li has taken full advantage of this lightweight material to make a stunning fashion statement. The dragon motif on the windowed side panel is whimsical, rather than fearful, and totally unique to this product. The full red lighting treatment via four very bright red LED fans adds back a bit of menace to the overall look once the system is fired up. The only possible negative I need to mention is the blue backlighting of the power switch, it just doesn't fit in very well among all the other red lighting accents.

Construction has always been a strong suit at Lian Li and the Armorsuit PC-P50R is no exception. There might be one or two equals in the PC chassis business, but there are none better. Some may take exception with the rigidity and/or ruggedness of this case, comparing it to prior Lian Li efforts, but low weight was a design priority. You have to accept that a 6.6 kg mid tower case isn't going to have the same rock-solid feel as an 8 kg case. It wasn't flimsy, by any stretch of the imagination, but you can tell the difference. Just to put it in perspective, the last gaming case I reviewed was steel, and it weighed 10.6 kg. I appreciate the lightness!

Functionality is also a strong suit for this Lian Li chassis. The flexible mounting of the combined front fan mount and HDD cage means this is one of the few cases that will easily handle an HD 5970 video card. The case also accepts oversized power supplies and holds them in place firmly with a wide toggle clamp and raised support rails. The expansion card clamps are a marvel of design and execution. Easy to use and very secure once locked in place, they are one of the highlights of this, and other recent Lian Li cases. Cable management is good for a case this size, and there is just enough room behind the motherboard tray to run or store cables. I would have liked some additional tie down points on the back surface, but I made do. The tool-less mounting for all of the drives is simple and effective, with vibration dampening features, and all three HDD trays have mounting holes for 2.5" drives.

As of late May in 2010, Newegg is selling the LIAN LI ARMORSUIT PC-P50R Red Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Computer Case for $199.99. There is really very little competition for this case, as the design is unique, but for a full aluminum case with this feature set, the price is competitive. Lian Li does offer two other versions: a full black model with blue LED fans and a basic side window, and a simpler one without a side window, a clear anodized interior, and basic black fans. This one sells for $50 less, if you like the basic design, but don't want the high fashion model. For me, I like the red interior and the uniqueness of the side window treatment. It's the closest thing to a full custom case-mod version that's available in the normal retail channel.

Lian_Li_Armorsuit_PC-P50R_Gaming_Case_Top_FRont_34_02.jpg

It should be obvious that I think this is a very nice case. It may not be everybody's idea of an attractive chassis, but I like it and that's all that matters. It looks great, performs better than I expected, is manufactured to a very high standard, and can handle just about any gaming components I can think of, including that extra-long 5970 video card. The cost is not trivial, but the combination of looks, performance, construction, and functionality is hard to beat.

Pros:Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award

+ Unique style
+ Cable management is effective
+ Fit and finish are the best I've seen
+ Basic black and non-window version available
+ Trick expansion card clamps
+ Excellent airflow
+ Room to install oversize CPU Coolers and Video Cards
+ Built-in support for 2.5" drives
+ Majority of intake air is filtered
+ Easily holds large PSUs securely

Cons:

- Noisier than some large diameter fan alternatives
- Every AMD-specific item in my build is a different shade of red
- Blue power button backlight doesn't look right
- No tie-down points on backside of motherboard tray

Ratings:

  • Performance: 9.25
  • Appearance: 9.50
  • Construction: 9.50
  • Functionality: 9.25
  • Value: 9.00

Final Score: 9.3 out of 10.

Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.

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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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