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Written by Austin Downing   
Tuesday, 30 August 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
Lian Li PC-90 Computer Case
Closer Look: PC-90 Exterior
Closer Look: Interior
Detailed Interior Features
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Lian Li PC-90 Computer Case Review

Manufacturer: Lian Li
Product Name: PC-90
Price As Tested: $199.99 (Newegg)

Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article has been provided by Lian Li.

For many enthusiasts, fitting the very best hardware into a computer case comes at a high price. Unfortunately it means having large, unwieldy enclosures to house all of their hardware. To combat this, Lian Li has created an enclosure with unique properties to combat the growing bloat of systems, and to their credit it seems to has worked. By allowing users to fit the EVGA Super Record 2 motherboard into a case that is 20.15" x 9.05" x 19.25", Lian Li has effectively allowed users to have a smaller more manageable case with all the features of its larger cousins. Benchmark Reviews will evaluate if the Lian Li PC-90 computer case has all of the cards in its hand or if in the end it was a bluff and users are still better off with a larger enclosure.

In typical fashion Lian Li has created a very beautiful enclosure with the PC-90. Its dark brushed aluminum exterior, all aluminum interior, and unique design make it a joy to work even with the most powerful of components. All of this is done with Lian Li's legendary build quality and attention to detail. Even more impressive, users are able to fit HPTX motherboards like the EVGA Super Record 2 in a case that is 20.15" x 9.05" x 19.25" which only weighs 14.77lbs. Compared the 44lbs Corsair 800D the PC-90 is tiny allowing high power users to have a more manageable computing experience without the troubles of owning a giant case. So without further ado Benchmark Reviews will delve into the inner workings of the Lian Li PC-90 to see if this enclosure is as good as it sounds.

Lian_Li_PC_90_Right.jpg

When reviewing a case you have four major things you need to look at. First, you need to look at build quality because no one wants to spend hours putting hardware in a case only to find defects or to have parts that will fail months later. Secondly, you need to look at cooling because as the heat output of components goes up, so do cooling needs. Third, you need to look at the acoustics of your new case because as anyone who has worked on or near servers knows adequate cooling can come at an acoustic cost unless a company put expenses into preventing this. Lastly, you need to look at the ease of build, which depending on your system may or may not play a big role in your choice of case. If you like, I spend lots of time inside of your case modifying parts then you want a system that you can easily move around in while making modifications. On the other hand if you want to setup your system and leave it then this becomes less of an importance and therefore can be moved lower on the requirements for your case.

Lian Li PC-90 Features

  • Two 140mm fans in the front and one 120mm fan in the rear to keep hot air from damaging your hardware
  • Supports six 3.5" HDDs and six 2.5" HDDs with easy installation
  • Supports twelve 2.5" HDDs (using 3.5" HDD spaces)
  • Space for top fan if users desire
  • Users can easily acces USB 3.0, e-SATA and HD Audio front panel ports
  • Can fit 400mm Video Cards
  • Washable air filters

Lian Li PC-90 Specifications

Model PC-90
Case Type Full Tower Chassis
Dimensions 230mm x 512mm x 489mm
Front Bezel Material Aluminum
Color Black / Silver
Side Panel Aluminum
Body Material Aluminum
Net Weight 6.7KG
5.25" Drive Bay (External) 2
3.5" Drive Bay (External) None
HDD Bay 3.5" HDD x 6/2.5" HDD x 6
Expansion Slots 10
Motherboard HPTX/EATX/XL-ATX/ATX/Micro-ATX/Mini-ITX
System Fan (Front) 140mm fan x 2
System Fan (Top) None
System Fan (Rear) 120mm fan x 1
I/O Ports USB 3.0 x 2 /e-SATA x 1 / HD Audio
Maximum Video Card Size 400mm



 

Comments 

 
# RE: Lian Li PC-90 Computer CaseRobert17 2011-08-30 14:02
Nice review. It must have been fun getting your paws on it. The HDD mounting bars reminds me of a mod I had to do back in the early 90's with an old IBM expansion case. Too bad I didn't patent the idea then (?) or is it too late?

Just me, and no slight to you, I'd not have knocked the price too much as aluminum is getting a bit high priced as is the chemical anodizing. Bang for the Buck says the $219 really isn't that bad to me. Looks like Lian Li has done it again.
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# RE: RE: Lian Li PC-90 Computer CaseAustin Downing 2011-08-30 19:03
Thank you for the compliment.

I guess I look at it is when you go to Newegg over 70% cost less then $200 so that would make it in the top tier of pricing.
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# RE: Lian Li PC-90 Computer CaseAlan Holk 2011-08-31 12:06
Putting HDDs against the left panel(as you show) could cause overheating problems. Are you supposed to put HDDs on the inside of the drive beam and put only put SSDs outside against the left panel?

Is the left panel vented to aid in air flow over the drives?

It looks like you can't add/change cards, memory, etc without unplugging the drives unless you have lots of slack in the power and SATA cables.
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# RE: RE: Lian Li PC-90 Computer CaseAustin Downing 2011-08-31 12:54
Rarely have I seen HDD need active cooling. But in the event that it is need 3.5" drives can use the all aluminum side of the case as a heatsink to help dissipate their heat.

There are no openings on the left panel to aid in the cooling of the drives. But again that should not be a problem for most systems.

Unfortunately changing components will require some disassemble with the PC-90 but I assume that unless you are also a reviewer that many users have fairly static systems.
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# RE: Lian Li PC-90 Computer CaseFarnsworth Worthington 2011-08-31 12:39
In the picture of the HDD mounts, what is the beam in between them for? Is it a brace for large video cards?

This is a very interesting case design - not since Silverstone flipped a motherboard 90 degrees have I seen such an exciting-yet-obvious-in-retrospect case design.
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# RE: RE: Lian Li PC-90 Computer CaseAustin Downing 2011-08-31 12:55
The middle piece is both a brace and a cable routing system for the drives that you have installed.
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# Lian Li PC 90Tesla1776 2011-08-31 13:10
Personally I believe that Lian Li has quite a racket going. Some mysterious shift in attitude and reasoning seems to happen when a Lian Li case in placed in front of people. Repetitive and unimaginative inexplicably become 'simple and elegant'. Lack of features and functionality morph into 'unencumbered'. Coming from what may be the laziest design team since Porsche, the phrase "work of art" can be read in more Lian Li case reviews than Monet critiques.
I do not think I have ever read a review of a $220 case lacking wire management cutouts, or the room to tuck them behind the motherboard, that did not include a good castigation,impugnme nt, and or admonition. Also as Austin points out " it still lacks the cooling prowess of the Antec 900 or Silverstone RV02."
While acknowledging that looks and style are the definition of subjectivity. This case has what amounts to a Morse code of ...well...slots, much in the same fashion of those found on the back of my microwave. Not to mention that for being an "piece of art, they lack any architectural depth.
Not to be taken as a shot at you Austin. If you liked the case great. I do have to wonder however if this case (and many others by Lian Li) were to show up at sites around the net with the badge replaced with a different moniker. Would the comments and evaluations be so generous.
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# RE: Lian Li PC-90 Computer CaseAustin Downing 2011-08-31 13:19
In regards to the sincerity of any review I do. I could care less what company makes a product, and I also understand that not everyone wants a loud showy case. Yes they may be "unimaginative" as Porsche but that works for me. Personally Porsche is one of my favorite car designers and I love the 911 in any form.

I think what you are seeing is people understanding that Lian Li walks to its own beat and doesn't follow what the rest of the market is doing. And in every design the build quality is superb.

Some food for thought though. If so many reviewers like Lian Li designs then one of two things must be happening. 1) Lian Li is paying off every major review company out there or 2) Lian Li genuinally makes a great product and that is why they score well almost every time.

You tell me which one is more logical.
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# Lian Li PC 90Tesla1776 2011-08-31 13:34
"In regards to the sincerity of any review I do. I could care less what company makes a product, and I also understand that not everyone wants a loud showy case. Yes they may be "unimaginative" as Porsche but that works for me. Personally Porsche is one of my favorite car designers and I love the 911 in any form."

Hence "Not to be taken as a shot at you Austin. If you liked the case great."
I did not anywhere question your sincerity.

"Some food for thought though. If so many reviewers like Lian Li designs then one of two things must be happening. 1) Lian Li is paying off every major review company out there or 2) Lian Li genuinally makes a great product and that is why they score well almost every time.

You tell me which one is more logical."

I don't have to think either. I actually meant what I wrote;

"I do have to wonder however if this case (and many others by Lian Li) were to show up at sites around the net with the badge replaced with a different moniker. Would the comments and evaluations be so generous."

I read reviews, and hear people complain about the very same lacking of the Lian Li cases in other brands...and give Lian Li a pass. That was what I said.That is what i am saying. You chose to take it in a different direction.
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# RE: Lian Li PC 90san1s 2011-09-04 18:55
This exactly. This is a $200+ case, yet it doesn't have cable management holes, a way to hide cables or a painted interior. It's obviously aimed at the high end market (who else would buy a HPTX motherboard), yet there's no way to internally mount a decently sized radiator for watercooling. I highly doubt this case would have received such a high score if it did not have a Lian Li badge.
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# RE: RE: Lian Li PC 90Austin Downing 2011-09-04 21:39
What would be the benefit to our readers if we were so obviously biased?
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# #RE: RE: RE: Lian Li PC 90Pale Rider 2011-09-22 19:11
Exactly to the point. This review is ludicrous, at best. An outright payola scandal, at worst.
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# RE: #RE: RE: RE: Lian Li PC 90David Ramsey 2011-09-22 19:33
Yeah, snort, because the ONLY POSSIBLE REASON our reviewers could have for rating a case more highly than you personally think it should be rated is if we're paid under the table. It couldn't be because Austin's criteria of what makes a good case are different from yours (which you obviously feel should be the standard by which all cases are judged), or anything like that.

Go troll somewhere else.
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# RE: #RE: RE: RE: Lian Li PC 90Olin Coles 2011-09-22 20:53
It's great how the Internet allows some random know-it-all from North Carolina to come here and make ridiculous claims with no supporting explanation at all. Welcome to 'Merica, where people can make impossible claims without the slightest reasonable notion. Well Pale Rider aka I'm calling you out for being stupid.
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# RE: Lian Li PC-90 Computer CaseDoug Dallam 2011-08-31 22:41
I can feel your enthusiasm for this case. It's compact, sleek, and clean. I don't have a problem with its design, and I love the rounded corners and aluminum material.

Can you run the power cables for the hard drives from the top over to the back where the drives are? If so, that accounts for a huge number of cables on some systems. On others, it just reroutes a single hard drive power cable, but at least you can do that.

My only problem is 220.00 are you kidding me Li? My Antec Stacker was aluminum and twice the case this is for 290.00. Other than that, I like it.

Nice, clean, easy to read review too.
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# doggrell3000doggrell3000 2011-08-31 23:09
lian li has been one of the top case manufacturers for twenty years . they have created veritable works of art for the computer enthusiast . i suppose it is fair to say that a few of their designs were not all that great but for the most part lian li has been an industry leader in design trends and exceptional quality . the new pc-90 is the best pc case lian li - or any manufacturer - has ever produced . the pc-90 has an overall design of gorgeous understated elegance that makes all other computer cases look like cheap kids' toys . lian li have hit the ball out of the park with the pc-90 . when the new generation of 2011 socket motherboards and ultra thin intel cpus come out in january 2012 i will proudly house these latest components in a brand new lian li pc-90 . by that time ( 6 months away ) i figure i can buy the lian li pc-90 for $180 to $195 somewhere online . at that price it will be a steal and the only case worth every penny of its price . thanks for a great review . lian li has done it again .
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# Sheet metal projectBill 2011-09-01 04:23
So many cases look like a sheet metal project. Benchmark Review, will you find a nice looking case?
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# no removable motherboard trayRC 2011-09-01 06:33
I own two Lian-Li cases from 2003 and what I always liked about them was the removable motherboard tray. None of their current models have that anymore. That's a shame and is the main reason I've not purchased a new one from them in some time. It was a signature feature.. why have they move away from it?

I look at my PC-60 cases and think hmm.. ok make it a little wider take move things around a little bit to accomadate 120mm fans (or larger) and voila! perfect case.. But no.. Come on Lian-Li!!!
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# RE: no removable motherboard trayAustin Downing 2011-09-01 07:08
I agree I like the removable trays but if you imagine trying to put the largest of CPU coolers on a removable tray could be a pain.
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# RE: no removable motherboard traydavid ramsey 2011-09-01 07:47
Actually, several Lian Li current models have removable motherboard trays. Check out my review of the PC-1020: #benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=515&Itemid=61
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# RE: RE: no removable motherboard trayRC 2011-09-01 17:14
Thanks for the link David .. I've scoured thru several of their current models and not really seen the removable tray design like in that picture. Looking thru some of the photos of other models at newegg some of them look like they should be removable but it's not stated that they are.

Austin, Yeah my PC60 case has an i7 setup with a hyper 212 in it from coolermaster. Because it's in there I can't get the tray out.. (hense why I said new ones today need to be just a little deeper then the ones from they early 2000s.
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# Great Review AustinChristopher Fields 2011-09-01 07:58
I am an Old School Lian Li Fan. I own a case, full aluminum tower I bought back in 2005 ($450 from #frozencpu.com) and I still have it today. Although I do not use it because I have a fetish with buying a new case every 3-6 months, it is one case I will not sell or discard because I always say I'll throw a system in it. Lian Li has a pretty good rep with me.
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# RE: Great Review AustinAustin Downing 2011-09-01 08:00
Thank you Christopher for the compliment.

I have worked with a couple Lian Li cases and although I have some quips about them I do appreciate their attention to detail.
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# Great Review Again!KGregory 2011-09-01 12:36
I'll add my 'Old School' stamp on that as well. I have used many cases since the 90's, but Lian Li is my favourite(sp intentional). For my own personal builds I always end up choosing Lian Li. I had one Lian Li go through 8 years of builds/configurations.

Earlier this year I bought my PC A77F-B Lian Li which should last...well, until new motherboard standards arrive and I am compelled to buy such new tech.
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# RE: Lian Li PC-90 Computer Casedlb 2011-09-01 17:59
I think that the HD mounting location is pure genius, but one has to wonder if temps back there will get a bit too high. Personally, I don't see the fact that there's "only" two 5.25" bays as a negative. Who needs 3 optical or more optical drives? I realize some people may need 3 bays for 2 opticals and a fan controller, but since this tower has a minimum of fan mounts, people that need/use a fan controller would probably buy a different chassis. I was a bit surprised to see the top-mount PSU, but for this case it works and makes sense. I can see from the pics that the case is magnet for fingerprints!

As always here a BMR, a very thorough, complete review. Keep up the good work!
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# RE: RE: Lian Li PC-90 Computer Casedlb 2011-09-01 18:03
OOOOPS! I just took a look back thru the review... initially, I thought the HDD mounts were on the backside of the MB mounting platform, so the drives would sit between the back of the MB platform and the right side panel. And now that I'm thinking about it, that wouldn't be a bad spot for HDD mounts, but it would bring temps into consideration as a I mistakenly posted above....
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# RE: RE: Lian Li PC-90 Computer CaseDoug Dallam 2011-09-01 21:23
Well consider 2 optical drives (and actually, unless your a burning and ripping aficionado, 1 is sufficient) a card reader, a hot swap bay, and a fan controller. I could get by with 1 optical and 1 HDD hot swap bay, though. The more I see this case, the more I like it. I love the drive mount design.
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# RE: Lian Li PC-90 Computer CaseDoug Dallam 2011-09-01 21:26
Austin--I wanted to say nice job on the photography too. Looks pro.
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# RE: RE: Lian Li PC-90 Computer CaseAustin Downing 2011-09-02 07:15
Thank you for the compliments guys means a lot to hear that.
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# Cooling, cooling, cooling and coolingLuay 2011-09-21 04:05
I have some questions.
How hotter do 3 cards in Tri-fire/SLI get in there compared to the RV02-EW?
How much would the side fan improve the cooling?
Would the side fan get in a large heat-sink's way?
Can I buy the same fan Lian Li has in its case?
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# RE: Lian Li PC-90 Computer CaseAustin Downing 2011-09-21 13:10
I do not know because I do not have a tri-fir/SLI setup. But seeing as the RV02-EW only has 7 expansion slots in it running a proper tri-fire/SLI is almost impossible.

Secondly there is no place to put a side fan on the PC-90.
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# TheStuffy 2011-10-05 18:57
You can get Lian Li parts / fans etc separately. I have only found 140mm and 120mm fans but have not looked very hard yet. Wherever you can source Lian Li cases from, you should be able to get the other bits and pieces there. I recently bought one of these cases and used this review in order to learn a little more about the upper fan slot (case arrives here next week).
I have a silver Lian Li PC 60 (I think) which has served me well, but it was time to get a new one in order to fit in the newer crop of video cards which are getting ridiculously wide.
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# RE: Lian Li PC-90 Computer Casescheherazade 2011-12-09 10:57
I have this case.

It's the smallest HPTX case I could find, and I generally follow a rule where any case I buy has to be able to accept any size component. This is because I have a few computers, and I tend to do a bit of 'hand me down' parts replacement. Eg. I can't hand down an e-atx motherboard into a m-atx chassis.

I use this case as a media center PC, located in a living area.
The draw of the look is that it is sedate.
As with all my computers, I want them to not stand out when located in a public space.
The case is also rather compact for the kind of parts compatibility it offers.
It's essentially the same external size as a Lian Li PC-50 (another case I have)(it's a pinkie-thickness wider), and has gobs more space inside.
To me, I see the PC-90 as a 'mid tower'.

Technically, the case is not perfect.
Two changes would make it ideal.
1) The power supply should be on bottom, with a triple 120mm fan array on top for a good radiator.
2) the mainboard should be moved out an inch+, and the drive mounting system flipped to be 'behind the motherboard'.

Also, the 5.25 bays could use a 3rd bay, so you could do this :
1) Optical
2) IO panel / card reader
3) fan controller panel

The cable management could be better with mainboard tray cutouts.
However, there is a reason why they are missing.
The case is built with the presumption that you want a compact HPTX system.
An HPTX motherboard would span the entire back panel, effectively blocking any cutouts should they be there.
Granted an ATX board would make good use of the cutouts...

-scheherazade
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# RE: Lian Li PC-90 Computer Casescheherazade 2011-12-09 11:00
I also have the Lian-Li A77, and the Lian-Li PC-201, both purchased due to their sedate looks and 'presentability'.

I'm not a brand fan of any sort. I simply find a large selection of minimalist appearing cases with Lian-Li, and out of all minimalist cases I've looked at, Lian-Li has just happened to have a setup I like at the time that I was in the market.

A non-Lian-Li case I have is the Aerocool Masstige. Terrific airflow, elegant, and rather cheap.

There are plenty of great cases from many companies.
However, out of the 'good air flow' category of cases, from most companies, the majority of their offerings are just flamboyant.
I don't want crazy colors, crazy grilles, blue lights stuffed everywhere, etc.
So that generally leaves one or two cases per company that I could consider, and a few dozen I could consider from Lian-Li.

Note :
In regards to cooling, I use the top 14cm opening with :
(14cm fan) (14/12 adapter) (12cm radiator) (12cm fan).
It's adequate for a solid overclock, albeit not breakig records.
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