Temperatures and ConclusionTo ensure accurate thermal results, we installed the same hardware in each case when possible. Since we haven't tested a mITX case before, we decided to compare its thermal performance to larger mATX cases. It goes without saying that this isn't an apples to apples comparison.
For the mATX cases, we installed the Gigabyte H55M-UD2H, a Core i5-750 cooled using the Cooler Master Hyper TX3, a Radeon HD 6870, a pair of Western Digital Scorpio Blue 500GB hard drives and OCZ's ZX 850w power supply.
The Lian-Li PC-Q25 was outfitted with the Asrock Z68M-ITX/HT motherboard, a Core i5-2500K with the standard Intel box cooler (again, the power supply made it difficult to use any third-party coolers), as well as a Radeon HD 6870.
The Lian-Li PC-Q25's idle performance was surprisingly good as the HD 6870 ran at 41 degrees while the front-mounted intake fan kept the hard drive at 31 degrees and the Core i5-2500K idled at 28 degrees -- a tad higher than the Core i5-750 in the larger mATX cases.
Under full load using Prime95 and FurMark, the Lian-Li PC-Q25 performed reasonably well. It kept the graphics card and hard drive cooler than the larger PC-V354 and Vulcan cases. However, the Core i5-2500K processor hit 74 degrees with Intel's stock cooler.
The Lian-Li PC-Q25 is a robust little chassis that picks up where the PC-Q08 left off with a retail price tag of $120 -- a justifiable sum considering its functionality. Granted, most Mini-ITX cases cost less than $100 and include a power supply, but none of them can accommodate dual-slot graphics cards and they certainly can't tame a beast like the Radeon HD 6990. This alone makes Lian-Li's latest offering unique.
Think about it, the PC-Q25 lets enthusiasts build a shoe box-sized rig that can tackle the latest PC games. Such a machine would cost approximately $900 using the Asrock Z68M-ITX/HT motherboard, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, a Core i5-2500K, and a Radeon HD 6970. That's around the same price you'd pay for a standard size desktop computer (see our buying guide) and again, it's a fraction of the total size.
Naturally, this comes with at least a few drawbacks. Although it's not too difficult to work around the PC-Q25's PSU length limitations, keep in mind that there's very little space for a tall aftermarket CPU cooler (78mm is the maximum height). This isn't an issue in itself because the stock cooler should be sufficient for standard usage, but it ultimately means that you'll have less options if you intend to overclock.
Besides that, there are no real disadvantages to building a system in the PC-Q25. We're very impressed with the quality and flexibility of Lian-Li's new case and highly recommend it to anyone looking to build anything from a portable Mini-ITX gaming system or a shelf-bound HTPC. If you're seeking other alternatives, the only competitor we're aware of is Silverstone's Sugo series (start at $105 for the SG05, $120 for the SG06, and go up to $210 for the SG07).
Pros: Great design, can fit high-end hardware, e.g. dual-slot graphics cards, hot-swappable 3.5" hard drive bays, good temperatures, price is adequate.
Cons: Forgoes 5.25" external bay for internal space (not really a con), must be careful about PSU choice and CPU cooler (stock HSFs will fit fine).