Lian Li has introduced a new chassis that could serve as a compromise between the familiarity of a horizontally structured chassis and the oft-advertised superior cooling of vertical layouts. The PC-90 (alternatively called "The Hammer") offers a unique spin on hard drive storage, mounting the drives on two trays standing inside the left panel instead of stacking them behind the case's front intake fans.
This design presents two immediate benefits: more space and better cooling. Because the hard drives are standing inside the door, components such as your motherboard and expansion cards will have a ton of extra room. The PC-90 supports EVGA's massive HPTX motherboards (13.6 x 15 inches) as well as video cards over 15 inches long (that's about three inches longer than the Radeon HD 6990).
The enhanced cooling, however, could prove more valuable than that in our opinion. In a recent test, Puget Systems determined that vertical cases such as Silverstone's Raven series don't receive their cooling prowess from the natural occurrence of convection (i.e. the "stack effect"). Instead, their superior cooling stems from the fact that they offer less resistance between intake and exhaust fans.
If you look at a Raven series case, you'll see two or three bottom-mounted intake fans that are largely unobstructed compared to conventional horizontal case designs. The PC-90 seems to offer a similarly barren path that allows its dual 140mm front-mounted intake fans to feed air to the rear 120mm exhaust. If Silverstone's cases are any indication, we'd expect The Hammer offer some solid cooling performance.
The rest of the enclosure is on par with what you'd expect from Lian Li's premium chassis. The all-aluminum full tower weighs a modest 6.7kg (14.7lbs), supports six 2.5 or 3.5-inch storage drives and has 10 expansion slots, two USB 3.0 ports, one eSATA port, audio jacks, liquid cooling holes, dust filters, and a CPU hole in the motherboard tray. Units should begin shipping sometime next month for around $219.
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