|Lian Li PC-T60 PitStop ATX Test Bench Chassis|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cases|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Thursday, 24 June 2010|
Page 5 of 5
Test Bench Final Thoughts
Test bench style cases didn't even exist 10 years ago; when I was working at Apple back in the 1980s, we mounted prototype motherboards on pieces of wood for testing. Probably the first popular consumer test bench case was HSPC's Tech Station, but others soon followed, like the Sunbeam Ultra Tech Station, Danger Den Torture Rack, Microcool Banchetto, and the Technofront HardWareDock. The Lian Li case stands out as the only all-aluminum case— the others are largely or completely plastic, often transparent acrylic. The aluminum T60 is both lighter and more attractive than the plastic cases, and Lian Li does add some nice touches: the "real" card backplane, optional front I/O panel, carrying handle, and 2.5" drive mounts. Its price seems reasonable when compared to its competition, some of which is much more expensive.
But although the case is attractive and reasonably priced, Lian Li seems to have missed the point of a test bench case: the design of the case and its use of screws for everything means that swapping out many components is more trouble than it should be; even many "normal" cases with tool-less design elements make it easier and faster to swap components than the Lian Li T60 does. Of course, you still have easy access to the motherboard, so swapping RAM or cards, or checking voltages, will be easy. But it would be just as easy with competitive cases. Lian Li in the past has shown a penchant for striking case designs that seem to value appearance over function, like their snail-shaped bright blue PC-777 Anniversary Edition case and the recently-introduced PC-T1 "Spider" Mini-ITX test bench, which resembles nothing more than a giant mutant arachnid on your desk. I suspect Lian Li knows of the T60's shortcomings: notice that there's no CPU cooler on the system in the publicity shot below.
I have a system built into a Cooler Master HAF 932 case. With the side panel to the case off, it's easier to change hard drives, optical drives, and the CPU cooler than it is to change the same components in the Lian Li PITSTOP T60. Changing motherboard components (RAM, video card, processor) and the power supply is about the same for either case. In fact the only real advantage I can see to the T60 in this comparison is that it's smaller, lighter, and easier to carry around than the HAF 932.
Lian Li PITSTOP PC-T60 Conclusion
Although our rating and final score are made to be as objective as possible, please be advised that every author perceives these factors differently at different points in time. While we do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer changes which occur after publication that would render our rating obsolete. Please do not base your purchases solely on our conclusion, as it represents our product rating at the time of publication. Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate.
Performance in a "normal" computer case would encompass areas like cooling and noise, which don't apply to the T60. In this case I'll judge performance as "How well does this work as a test bench?" It's kind of a hard determination to make since for many uses it will be just fine, but it would not work well for things like troubleshooting optical drives or testing CPU coolers. Pretty though it may be, the T60 simply doesn't measure up to the competition in this area: its design and lack of tool-less feature mean that it's simply not as convenient to use as it should be. A couple of the Lian Li ATX / Micro-ATX Test Bench's features, such as the optional front I/O panel and handle, are useful additions to the genre, but do not fully compensate for its other weaknesses.
The appearance and construction of the case are, as one would expect of Lian Li, exceptional. It's nice to have a choice of colors (a choice Lian Li is spreading to many of its other cases as well), and the finely brushed aluminum finish harmonizes well with the usual impeccable Lian Li construction quality.
The functionality of this case is a cut above most of its competition, mainly for its expanded ability to handle drives. The ability to have two 5.25" as well as two 2.5" devices is very nice, and I wish more test bench cases would accomodate them.
Value-wise, it's kind of a toss-up. The PITSTOP PC-T60's $$99~129.99 price tag might seem a little high, but it's at or below the level of most competitors. You can get the silver version or black version for $99.99 at Newegg, and the red version for $129.99.
Ultimately, it's hard for me to recommend this case. It's an option for those who are willing to sacrifice some functionality for appearance, or who simply want to run a nice open-air case and don't intend to swap parts frequently. But those who really use test bench cases will probably prefer something else.
+ Visually striking test-bench style case
- Screws used for everything
Final Score: 8.15 out of 10.
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