Lian Li PC-V2120 Case Review

By on December 29, 2010, 4:24 AM
Much like Ferrari and Lamborghini in the automotive world, Lian Li is considered by many to be the flagship computer chassis manufacturer. Although they have been in business since 1983, it wasn't until around 2000 that they began turning heads with their all-aluminum PC-60 series enclosures. This happened to be the first enthusiast case I ever reviewed, and at the time, it was light years ahead of anything else on the market. A decade later, Lian Li is still making great cases but they aren't the only premium enclosure vendor on the block. With stiff competition from the likes of Silverstone, Corsair, NZXT and several others, does Lian Li still have what it takes to remain relevant in the ever-changing PC market?
Today we'll be looking at the Lian Li PC-V2120A, a luxury full tower chassis that supports most standard motherboard form factors and also EVGA's exotic HPTX format. In a nutshell, the PC-V2120 sports a tool-less aluminum design supporting up to ten 3.5-inch and two 2.5-inch HDDs, 11 expansion cards and five fans. Read the complete review.




User Comments: 48

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madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Users with average hardware might find the $400-430 price tag a bit excessive, however.

Which was what was put into this case.

Now, someone needs to deck out one of these cases... That SR-2 motherboard, an 8 port RAID card, triple/quad SLI/CFX, watercooling, etc to really show what this case can do...

CamaroMullet said:

That's one sexy case! Thanks for the review.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

"does Lian Li still have what it takes to remain relevant in the ever-changing PC market? "

Oh yeah baby. Lian Li puts out some of the sexiest cases on the market! Simply beautiful!

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

That's just a case for people who drink wine...I really wana see a case like that for people who drink beer!.

Give me some go faster stripes!!....Or some cheap plastic wings on it or something!!

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

That's just a case for people who drink wine...I want to see a case like that for people who drink beer!.

Give me some go faster stripes!!...Or some cheap plastic wings on it or something!!

lmao! You must be referring to the Cosmos SLR case mod. Granted, he drinks expensive German beer

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

madboyv1 said:

Users with average hardware might find the $400-430 price tag a bit excessive, however.

Which was what was put into this case.

Now, someone needs to deck out one of these cases... That SR-2 motherboard, an 8 port RAID card, triple/quad SLI/CFX, watercooling, etc to really show what this case can do...

I kinda agree with this, now I know its not always feasable to get the latest and greatest from companies but a review should push a case to its limits to see how far the case can go in terms of temps and noise and how well it manages its space etc...

Put a core i5 and a single SSD in there isn't really pushing it at all. Hell not even the hard drive cage was used!

Appart from that though the case does look sexy!

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

lmao! You must be referring to the Cosmos SLR case mod Granted, he drinks expensive German beer

Ooooh yeah, that's what i'm talking about...

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

I can almost guarantee that this is an awesome case - I have a Lian Li PC-V2100B case for my home fileserver and I decided right after I got it a couple of years ago that I would continue to use that case even if I replace all the innards. I did pay a crazy amount for my 2100 - somewhere around $400-$450, but it's been worth it. If you're looking to build a home server you'll love this case.

Mizzou Mizzou said:

That's a nice case and a very good review.

Lian Li makes a really great case and their high end units are absolute quality with extremely good airflow. I have my Intel rig in a Lian Li ArmorSuit PC-P80 and can't imagine when it would be necessary to replace it. Like LNCPapa, I paid through the nose for it but have no regrets.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

In a way this is a typical Lian Li chassis. Great styling, clean lines.....and too many flaws to justify the price.

Marketing problem #1 : Black chassis (V2120B) $430....Black chassis with black interior (V2120X) $500. A $70 difference for a chassis with no window to view the difference.

Marketing problem #2: All four front panel USB ports are 3.0 spec, yet Lian Li only supply a single dual-USB converter to allow two ports to be used with existing USB 2.0 connectivity.

Questionable design feature #1: When I looked at this chassis as a possible purchase a month or two ago, the fan cables -notably the rear and midsection units- couldn't reach the fan controller, which would necessitate the use of molex fan cable extenders just to hook up the fans the chassis ships with. Lian Li do not provide said extenders as part of the package.

Note to TS staff: Has this been rectified with the review sample that you received?

Questionable design feature #2: This chassis was touted as SR-2 compatible. Best of luck getting a decent radiator+ fan setup installed (either a 60mm deep rad+ fans, or 30mm deep rad with fans in push/pull config) above the motherboard regardless of whether the mobo is HPTX/XL-ATX, E-ATX or vanilla ATX. Running dual Xeons (presumeably OC'ed) in a chassis that has a door covering it's only intake source doesn't sound like a recipe for success.

WTH moment #1: No hot-swap facility in a chassis that costs $400-500....

I was originally weighing this chassis up as a possible replacement for my Armor+ (also known as the poor mans Dyson) and something a little better laid out than my 800D. Unfortunately I think this chassis bounces from extreme to extreme- Stock cooling suffers in much the came way as the 800D does - basically too large an internal volume for the provided airflow to move effectively without adding either higher performing fans and/or re-routing airflow (including adding roof mounted fans as intake), and too much needs to be factored in ( components and price) to make it effective out of the box.

Before this chassis was brought to retail my list for my next chassis was the A77F (suffers from the same dodgy fan controller setup) and the excellent "but some modding required" ATCS 840 & TJ07. I don't think my list has changed appreciably since the V2120's arrival.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

So many case makes and numbers I'm not familiar with, comes a cry from the cheap seats....

Anyhoo, how do any of these quite expensive cases stack up against the currently in vogue, (and much lower priced), Cooler Master HAF 932, or the Antec 1200 models?

By the by, my rather pedestrian eye finds the, Thermaltake "Spedo" offering very appealing.

If flames and skulls do appeal to some of you, (and you know who you are), I suggest anything by "NZXT"; [link]

"AZZA"; [link]

or "XClio" ; [link]

and last, but certainly not least tacky, "Apevia" ; [link]

After that; it's "logisys" for the lighting, and a quick trip out for some decals....! Nirvana

[link]

Ah, C'mon now, I'm not laughing at you, I'm laughing with you. After all, I did grab a CM "Storm Scout" on Black Friday. (I really like the handle).....

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I personally prefer my Cooler Master Cosmos S.

I think DBZ got most the issues with this case summed up in one.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

He always does..!

Mizzou Mizzou said:

Anyhoo, how do any of these quite expensive cases stack up against the currently in vogue, (and much lower priced), Cooler Master HAF 932, or the Antec 1200 models?

I don't always spring for the big bucks, bought a Cooler Master HAF 922 at just under $100 for my AMD build and am very happy with what you get for the money. There's a clear difference in quality and other features with the Lian Li but would have to admit that the Cool Master is the better value.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I don't always spring for the big bucks, bought a Cooler Master HAF 922 at just under $100 for my AMD build and am very happy with what you get for the money. There's a clear difference in quality and other features with the Lian Li but would have to admit that the Cool Master is the better value.

I think it's the CM 922 that's 10" wide, and it's an inch wider that the 932 (full tower).

That should allow quite a tall tower CPU cooler, along with both side fans installed.

Is that how it worked out....?

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

dividebyzero said: Questionable design feature #1: When I looked at this chassis as a possible purchase a month or two ago, the fan cables -notably the rear and midsection units- couldn't reach the fan controller, which would necessitate the use of molex fan cable extenders just to hook up the fans the chassis ships with. Lian Li do not provide said extenders as part of the package.

Note to TS staff: Has this been rectified with the review sample that you received?

Unfortunately not. Copied from page four:

The module can control up to four fans on the single adjustable dial, perfect for this installation. The problem I ran into, however, is that none of the fan cables were long enough to reach the fan controller. Even the front intake fans wouldn't reach. Lian Li should include enough 3-pin extension cables to actually make the controller useful. Fortunately, I had some spare extension cables on hand and was able to get everything wired up properly.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Anyhoo, how do any of these quite expensive cases stack up against the currently in vogue, (and much lower priced), Cooler Master HAF 932, or the Antec 1200 models?

Like most componentry I tend to judge using a sliding scale. Premium price should denote a premium feature set and product. Lian Li's main asset are their absolute quality of finish (general machining, tolerances and aesthetics) - unfortunately, like a lot of "elite" products *cough*Apple*cough* they also know how to charge like a wounded bull for the privilege of owning the nameplate.

Dollar for dollar I think you'll always get a better deal with a mainstream product in general. The HAF series are excellent value for money, as are the Storm Scout/Sniper and Antec 900/902/1200. The Spedo Advance is a little pricey locally and the build quality and flimsy plastic of the ones I've unpacked doesn't reconcile well with the cost. If the chassis could be had for the same price as a Silverstone Raven/Fortress or Fractal Design Define XL then I'd probably cut it a little more slack....though not too much in comparison with the FT02 Fortress which is a very impressive piece of kit.

Generally, unless you plan on building a server, or housing a foot-long graphics card or two, most mainstream chassis are going to do the job. I just wouldn't go too cheap since cheap case usually = rifle/sleeve bearing fans, very little in the way of sound dampening, loose build tolerances and a lack of filters, which equal noisy and dusty. The extra bells and whistles (removeable mobo tray, mobo cutouts, hot-swap, watercool options etc.) can be a godsend for enthusiast/tinkerer who is going to constantly tweaking the system...it's just that 99% of users have a set-and-forget mentality whose addiction to newer and brighter tends to override the kernal of common sense...a kind of consumerist dopamine.

Quite a find there captain! Hopefully the Limited Edition version when it launches includes a pneumatic arm rising from the the top panel with a disco ball suspended from it. An LED message ticker that reads out the fan speed, temps and the message "The World Is Yours" wouldn't go amiss either.

@Matthew

From the article:

Lian Li should include enough 3-pin extension cables to actually make the controller useful. Fortunately, I had some spare extension cables on hand and was able to get everything wired up properly.

When I read this I intuited that at least one extender had been included. While not exactly adequate it did seem a step in the right direction since the early offerings offered nil. Not a major problem since they are a sub-$1 item- just a royal pain if you need to make another journey to an electronics store after having started a new build or migrating a build to a new chassis.

Mizzou Mizzou said:

I think it's the CM 922 that's 10" wide, and it's an inch wider that the 932 (full tower).

That should allow quite a tall tower CPU cooler, along with both side fans installed.

Is that how it worked out....?

The interior of the case is closer to 9" but it's really roomy for a mid-tower, originally had a Noctua with dual fans and had plenty of space. Didn't bother installing the side fan since this case is so well ventilated and comes out of the box with a pair of 200mm fans (front and top). Have since gone to the Corsair H50 which frees up even more room from the side of the case, so I may eventually install the side fan. In addition to width there's a lot of room lengthwise, have a Radeon HD5870 in it right now ... again plenty of room to spare.

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

Not a major problem since they are a sub-$1 item- just a royal pain if you need to make another journey to an electronics store after having started a new build or migrating a build to a new chassis.

Agreed, it's an unnecessary hassle.

g4mer said:

It looks like a radiator. But its interior is awesome.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

It looks like a radiator.

That's what most desktop computers are anyway

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

OK, as always, I hate to break most of you out of your "silent reverie", and confront you with a reality check, but I feel I must.

The much vaunted, "styling", of most Lian Li cases, shouldn't be considered, "styling", at all. It's rather more of an industrial chic, based on form dictated by function. So, it's hard to justify calling it, "styling". Don't get me wrong, I appreciate quality of workmanship as a primary feature to be sought out. But in truth, they haven't done much with the "styling" of mayonnaise jars over the years either.

The ribbed extruded aluminum door motif, is far from innovative, and it's been around for decades in other arenas. I's just an engineer's trick, used to stiffen panels, and thus create stiffness, while saving weight. ("Saving weight", is also a euphemism for, "allowing the use of thinner, and thereby less expensive, material).

(If this "offending" door is in fact done by the milling process, I apologize. It's still ugly, I just apologize for the "extrusion" comment).

As to the "silver" finish of the test case, home entertainment electronics migrated to silver a few years back, but has returned to black. The silver is really too distracting in the context of today's home theater. You know, silver speaker grilles blasting you in the face while you're trying to watch your thousand dollar TV.

As to having doors on cases in general, you have to set any program capable of ejecting the tray of your optical drives to not do so, or you run the risk of ruining the tray door drives, every few times you forget and close the door while you're burning a disc.

Oh well, you can take the door of this case, and live with the resultant loss of the very little style it has in the first place.

Now, the wires not reaching controller issue. I say we've really become complacent in the tech field to manufacturer's complacency, if not outright hubris, in supplying "luxury" products as this, that aren't really functional as shipped.

And while I do appreciate the willingness and resourcefulness shown by supplying the initiative to go out and buy extenders for the cables, in any other type of consumer product, this nonsense would be recalled. Since this isn't a "safety" issue, Lian Li can mostly ignore it.

With all of that said, the manufacture of computer cases is probably the venue where there is the lowest start up cost of any field related to electronics. Just subtract what you think you'd pay to build a case factory, to what Intel pays to build a CPU factory, and you'll see exactly what I mean. Look at the laundry list of case suppliers at Newegg, versus the list of CPU suppliers, you'll get my point.

In conclusion, "wow it has wheels on it", but, "I'll take the Antec, and the 300+ dollars change.

EPILOG: Computer case "styling" is a field where it's all too easy to step over the line from elegance to pretense. A prime example of this is the Antec 900. The original release has a wonderful "machiney", intimidating look about it. It is, (was), also a triumph of target marketing, while being very innovative. Then, pressures forced on Antec by a plethora of copies, and competing niche models took its toll. Subsequent models of the 900, such as the 900 II, with it's coarser front grille material, starts to look like the grille of a tow truck, or a 50's room divider screen, and as to the 900 "SE", ( Silver Edition), I would seek a restraining order to prevent it from being within 500 feet of my property.

Guest said:

Nice review.

I think I will stick with my Corsair D700. Much better case.

Guest said:

I think I'll stick with my Lian-Li PC-A77B... aside from the "Smart Fan Controller" it's the perfect case (if they'd included a panel to replace the "Smart Fan Controller" it would be perfect). It's easy to work with, easy to mod (I had no trouble putting a 3x120 radiator in the top under a radgrill and could easily fit another in the front and even keep a few drive bays). Oh, and the A77(B) won't eat a whole in your wallet and if you aren't up for modding there are side panels available with windows pre-cut and even a replacement top panel already cut out for a radiator...

This looks like a nice case, and it is, but it's just not the enthusiast style.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

Its cases from Lian-Li like this one that makes me think about them as Jeremy Clarkson says of Porsche..."laziest design team ever"....I mean look at it!... its no Level 10! :p

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Its cases from Lian-Li like this one that makes me think about them as Jeremy Clarkson says of Porsche..."laziest design team ever"....I mean look at it!... its no Level 10! :p
Well hell Red, it's not even one of these:
Quite a find there captain! Hopefully the Limited Edition version when it launches includes a pneumatic arm rising from the the top panel with a disco ball suspended from it. An LED message ticker that reads out the fan speed, temps and the message "The World Is Yours" wouldn't go amiss either.
(Collaborative research by DBZ & me).

Lian Li needs to assert a bit of truth in advertising and corporate mission statement, "Lian Li, making journeyman cases available for service in industry"....

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

Well hell Red, it's not even one of these:

yikes! and Chef thinks mine is gaudy...How tall do you have to be to ride that thing?

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

How tall do you have to be to ride that thing?
Well, I'm pretty sure that it rides you......

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

Well, I'm pretty sure that it rides you......

I built a gamer for guy last year that wanted a 3 color circus...that also was no 'Level 10'

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I built a gamer for guy last year that wanted a 3 color circus...that also was no 'Level 10'
Well see, that XClio would have been one stop shopping. That thing probably should play the music at lap dance bars. It actually looks like a prop left over from the original, "War of the Worlds".

Have they released the crock pot adapter for over top of the video card compartment on the "Level 10" yet?

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

Have they released the crock pot adapter for over top of the video card compartment on the "Level 10" yet?

That thing brings one word to mind....Wurlitzer

That's what I said when I saw that VGA compartment on that thing. My 4 x 5850's run at 75-80c with literally 1000 CFM rolling past them. The VGA compartment on the '10' would be ...uh...one hot...box.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

That thing brings one word to mind....Wurlitzer
So you're giving the nod to XClio for sound reinforcement duties at the neighborhood roller rink then? Them's sure is some powelerful lookin' fans in thet suker.... If the local cover band's Leslie speakers blow a pinwheel, that'd be your go to case.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

So you're giving the nod to XClio for sound reinforcement duties at the neighborhood roller rink then? Them's sure is some powelerful lookin' fans in thet suker.... If the local cover band's Leslie speakers blow a pinwheel, that'd be your go to case.

Yep...er this here fancy feller:

[link]

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Well see, that XClio would have been one stop shopping. That thing probably should play the music at lap dance bars

Maybe it could play "Pour Some Sugar On Me"¹ at every successful POST with the added bonus for autograph hounds that you could get to meet Tiger Woods, David Duchovny or Jeff Reed² when they turn up on your doorstep shortly after system switch on.

¹ Yes, well aware of strip clubs play lists

² This autograph would probably devalue the paper it is written on.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Help me.....i've gone blind>>>>!!!!!

² This autograph would probably devalue the paper it is written on.

Or at the very least, irritate the heck ouf of your a**, if it were written on toilet paper

Maybe it could play "Pour Some Sugar On Me"¹ at every successful POST with the added bonus for autograph hounds that you could get to meet Tiger Woods, David Duchovny or Jeff Reed² when they turn up on your doorstep shortly after system switch on.

The wheels are turning..! So what you're saying is this; the XClio could be painted white, autographed by these infamous visitors to strip clubs everywhere, then auctioned off on Ebay, with proceeds going to benefit aging hookers with Crohn's disease.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

Help me.....i've gone blind>>>>!!!!!

well mom told ya that you would!

Maybe it could play "Pour Some Sugar On Me

yep, and Sheena Easton's 'Sugar Walls' was very popular at the 'DeJa vu' back in the day.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Yep...er this here fancy feller:

[link]

Replace the dial faces with this and you could comfortably quadruple the asking price. Make a killing...at least before HK's lawyers scent blood.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

Replace the dial faces with this and you could comfortably quadruple the asking price. Make a killing...at least before HK's lawyers scent blood.

Indeed . I'm thinking about the automatic rifle you sourced for my daughters 11th.

So Cap, did we settle this? do I owe ya $10?

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

So Cap, did we settle this? do I owe ya $10?
Well, I thought that Matthew more or less settled it to at least 75/25, he's Zorro. And anyway, if you don't pay me, I'll beat you within an inch of your life with my handbag...... :p

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

Well, I thought that Matthew more or less settled it to at least 75/25, he's Zorro. And anyway, if you don't pay me, I'll beat you within an inch of your life with my handbag.

ROFLMAO! my cartoon bubble is filled with Ruth Buzzi.

Okay fine Ms, i'll get it in the mail. :p

Gars Gars said:

For a $400 housing, it isn't that impressive. My Chieftec for around $150, 3 years ago, is good as this Lian-Li (imo)

http://www.chieftec.com/BX01.html

Housing 2x quad xeons/16gb ram/1Kw watts/nv460 all pined on [link] . Not so quiet case, but for the price it's a good one

I'm always looking for good housing but some manufacturers like Lian-Li, Thermaltake, etc. are overpriced and just want to steal the users attention (and $$$ ofc)

Mictlantecuhtli Mictlantecuhtli said:

I'm considering this as my next case since Yeong Yang server cube cases are really hard to find these days.

Guest said:

Well, compared to my CoolerMaster Stacker 811 model it looks a bit junky in the styling or internals.

Swamp Daddy

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Well, compared to my CoolerMaster Stacker 811 model it looks a bit junky in the styling or internals.

Swamp Daddy

It's bad enough that the V2120 has to justify its look, pricing, styling and equipment fit against real competition. Having the chassis compete with a figment of someones imagination is a tall order.

For the sake of completeness... the Stacker started life as the STC-T01 and evolved into the 810 ( a second rear 120mm fan instead of the option of a top mount PSU). The Stacker was extensively reworked in 2006 as the 830 (and 831/832 variants followed)

fpsgamerJR62 said:

I would prefer one of those Thermaltake super towers in black with the bright color trim and windowed side panels, but that's just me. For that kind of money, if I wanted a case that's classy with understated elegance, I would get myself a Corsair Obsidian 800D. It is, in my opinion, the best tower PC case on this planet.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

I would prefer one of those Thermaltake super towers in black with the bright color trim and windowed side panels, but that's just me. For that kind of money, if I wanted a case that's classy with understated elegance, I would get myself a Corsair Obsidian 800D. It is, in my opinion, the best tower PC case on this planet.

I own a 800D. They're "OK" but too big for most builds and too small/too poorly laid out for really effective water cooling- which was a large part of their supposed appeal (and the main reason I got the chassis).

When Silverstone finally get the a*s into gear and launch the TJ11 I think you'll find that you'll have a new favourite. I for one would swap the 800D for one in a heartbeat. This is a chassis that is begging for a watercool or TEC setup.

Adronson said:

There's a 20% discount on these V2120 enclosures from Newegg, so I ordered one this week. I'm pleased with it. I had a hard time finding a case that my friends and colleagues wouldn't laugh at, but this one serves well. I'm too old to pretend I'm Batman. My current case that I've had for about fifteen years is a solid, tank-like PC Power & Cooling "All Steel Tower." Painted in the classic tan tinged light gray of the old IBM style it is a gem and I'll continue to use it. A good case will last though many generations of motherboards and processors.

At least a couple of the shortcomings mentioned in this article have already been taken care of by Lian Li, at least in the outside Black version. My unit had additional cable access slots in the motherboard panel and many of the power cables can now be routed behind the MB panel. These slots also have a plastic grommet on the edges of the cutouts, protecting the power cables.

Guest said:

got this Case and love it

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