They say big things come in small packages, and that's precisely the marketing angle Lian Li has taken with its small form factor cases. Being a mini chassis, the company's new PC-A04 only accepts micro-ATX or mini-ITX motherboards, but it can still hold up to seven 3.5-inch drives and a high-end graphics card -- just like the PC-V354 we reviewed in October. The PC-A04 has two removable hard drive cages that can be mounted facing the left, right, or back. As we saw with the Mini Q PC-V354, this offers extreme flexibility. You can use the enclosure for an HTPC or a home server with tons of storage, or you can remove one of the cages to provide clearance for video cards measuring up to 370mm long. Externally, the PC-A04 greatly resembles the PC-V354, but they have different dimensions. The former is (W) 188mm x (H) 386mm x (D) 460mm, while the latter measures (W) 245mm x (H) 320mm x (D) 420mm. The PC-A04's additional height can mostly be attributed to its extra 5.25-inch bay. Both weigh about the same at 4.1kg versus 4.17kg.
Interestingly, the taller PC-A04 appears to have one less rear expansion slot (four instead of five). It trades one of the two USB 3.0 ports for USB 2.0, but it adds an eSATA connector to the mix. Cooling also seems to be slightly reduced. The PC-A04 keeps the two 120mm front fans, but swaps the 140mm top blower for a smaller 120mm exhaust.
Some other features also appear to be missing, such as the built-in SD card reader and integrated fan speed controller. In fact, Lian Li suggests the second 5.25-inch bay is intended for an aftermarket controller. The PC-A04 is expected to ship soon for around $110, which is about $40 less than the PC-V354 and surely accounts for the downgrades.
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