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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

Closer Look: Interior

The first thing you notice, once the dragon is removed, is RED. The entire interior is finished in red anodizing. It's not like you aren't expecting it, the clues are all there, but it's actually a bit overwhelming the first time you experience it. When you look at the image below, there is a slight color shift as you go from the rear of the case, on the left, to the front of the case. The left hand side is more pure red, and it gets progressively more purple to the right. This is strictly an artifact of the lighting and my photography, and not indicative of the case itself. The actual color is quite consistent, and more like burgundy than a pure red. Once we get to build notes, you'll see what I mean, when I install an outrageous fire-engine-red PCP&C PSU and a red-themed Radeon video card from ATI.


Next, let's look at the bottom of the case, where the PSU sits on two raised rails permanently attached to the bottom plate. The top of these rails is covered with fairly dense foam, which reduces vibration and prevents scratched to the finish of your PSU. The rails put the bottom of the PSU about 12mm (0.5") off the bottom surface of the case and allow plenty of space for airflow, and clearance for a fan grill on the PSU, if there is one. Many cases have vents in this location, but the Lian Li PC-P50R is the only one I know of that has louvers. What's the difference? Louvers create an air path that does not have a line-of-sight path to the outside, which reduces the likelihood of starting your house on fire if your PSU explodes. It all sounds a bit dramatic, but at least someone's thinking of your best interests.


The front of the case houses all the drive bays, both internal and external. This image of the lower section shows that, minus the drive cage, it is a very clean, open and uncluttered space. On my first build attempt I ended up stuffing all the unused PSU cables here, and relocating the drive cage to the middle position. We'll see how well that works from an airflow perspective when we do thermal testing. I worried that I might not get enough fresh air to the video card, especially since I've had good results lately with cases that have side panel fans feeding cool air right into the heart of graphics card territory.


The upper drive bays are designed specifically to accept 5.25" size drives, typically Optical Disk Drives (ODD). The thin, rectangular brackets on the outside are the requisite tool-less mounting mechanism. They unlatch and swing out of the way when removing or inserting a drive into the bay. When locked in place, two pins mate with the mounting holes on the side of the ODD to secure it, and a thin rubber pad on the swing arm presses the drive snugly in place and eliminates rattling. There are also screw holes on both sides which can be used by the braces-and-suspenders crowd. There is plenty of space above the top drive bay to pass the front panel I/O, USB and Audio cables through, and there is a convenient portal located there to route them along the backside, if desired. The supplied cables are long enough to make it to the far corner of an ATX-sized motherboard, even when run behind the motherboard tray.


The right side of the case holds few surprises, but it's still pretty to look at. It's a little easier to see the various access holes on the motherboard tray in this view. I used all four of the large ones during my build, and at some point I know I would end up using the largest one directly behind the CPU, to swap out CPU coolers. There is about 14mm of space behind the motherboard tray for cable routing and storage. There is a vertical stiffening rib along the full height of the mobo tray though, that limits the space to 4mm for cable that have to pass between the front and rear sections of the case. Fortunately, very few cables need to traverse that area; most start and terminate in the same section, or can use one of the access holes to bypass the offending rib. It's not an issue in the lower portion of the case, below the motherboard.


The rear panel on the interior is a whole lot more interesting than the exterior view. Two things really stand out to me here, the expansion card clamps and the fan guard. The clamps are a very slick design, and they look fabulous. There is no way around the fact that these are the best looking and best made clamps I have ever seen in a PC chassis. I'll give you a better look later, but this is how they look as part of the whole. The red anodized aluminum fan guard is also a bespoke item that combines good looks with efficiency. They could have used the same black wire-frame item that is on the exterior, but this custom made part speaks volumes about Lian Li. They don't mind showing off the fact that they have arguably the best metalworking talent in the business. Talk is cheap, I like their approach better.


There is one final item to take note of in the image above, and that's the cutout in the motherboard tray for the ATX 12V cable. It's tucked up pretty high, but it has to be, to clear the motherboard. Let's continue looking in the next section, at some of the detailed features on the inside of the PC-P50R from Lian Li.



# 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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