Lian Li PC-B25S Mid-tower Aluminum Case

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The Lian Li PC-B25S is one of the more complex and perplexing cases we have encountered in some time. As we stated at the start of the review, some of its low-noise, performance and convenience oriented features are ingenious and well executed, some are smart but don't work quite as intended, and still others don't even make any sense or appear to be absurd errors. There are so many of these features that it is worthwhile to itemize them explicitly.

Special Features in Lian Li PC-B25S
Unique rubber fan grommet mounts - Easy mounting/removal while providing vibration damping
OK but not great vibration isolation; back panel fan mount requires normal screw removal.
Unique rubber grommets and sled mount for side mounted hard drives - Easy mounting/removal while providing vibration damping
Poor vibration damping due to small amount of rubber between HDD and sled; reduced airflow due to impedance of side mounted HDD. Normal mounting allows air from front fans to flow more easily around the drives. This hurts cooling of higher power components, especially video card
Two Built in Fan Controller with 3-speeds - for convenient fan control and reduced noise
. The controllers are nice but the fans are not quiet / effective enough to make great use of the controller. Switch locations are inconvenient.
Four fans included with case
Generous, but fans are not quiet enough to be that useful for a silent PC enthusiast, even with the fan controllers.
Top airflow fan baffle/exhaust vent, lined to reduce noise
Seems to work OK, and looks pretty good, but noise reduction is minimal.
PSU bottom mounted on raised sleds to ensure cool intake airflow and minimze fan ramping
Works very well.
Lots of holes around motherboard tray for good cable management
Generally work well, but some holes are too small and more cable tie anchors are needed.
Handy clamp to keep PSU really secure, esp. useful in transit
Works well, ensure good security for shipping the case with a system installed.
Exhaust Fan Baffle/Deflector to reduce noise
Not tried because we know from past experience with similar devices that the effect is reduced airflow and decreased cooling with little or no effect on noise.
Front intake fan baffle to reduce noise
Unnecessary added cost, impedes airflow, which can result in poorer cooling and higher noise. But easy to remove. Front bezel already ensures indirect noise path to users.
Beautifully machined 2-piece aluminum disc feet to keep bottom intake vents above even thick carpeting
Works beautifully.
Thick aluminum panels, high quality construction Mostly very nice, impressive. Still evidence of increased hum due to lower density compared to good steel cases.
Foam lined side panels Good idea but... too thin and light. Noise reduction is minmal; so is vibration reduction.
Photo-illustrated installation guide Not terrible but not great. Makes no mention of fan controllers.
Dust filters, easily removable on fans to keep out dust Mostly work well, some mounted on wrong side of fan.
Tool-less PCI locking mechanism for quick, convenient and secure access to add-on cards
Works beautifully.

This may not be a complete list, but what we have so far is 7 thumbs up, 6 thumbs down, and 3 neutral/mixed. A positive balance overall. However, the elegant sexiness of the aluminum package has to be considered. Yes, this a personal thing, but there it is. The PC-B25S may not have the panache of a Porsche or even an iPad, but it is a pretty polished looking heap of anodized brushed aluminum. And the look, feel and appeal of a case lasts long after the excitement of all the latest hot component you install in it: The case, along with your monitor, keyboard, and mouse, are the visible hands-on, interactive points between you and your computer.

We are still not certain which way to lean. Straight out of the box and tested under our standardized conditions, the Lian Li PC-B25S provides good cooling and noise with a modest power system, but only mediocre acoustics with a higher power system. The biggest issue, in many ways, is the quality of the fans, which are not terrible by any means, but just not quite good enough. Replace all the fans with lower noise equivalents and many of the noise-related issues would fade, because the airflow-to-noise ratio would be improved. The cheapest good replacements are probably Scythe Slipstreams, and they could help the overall noise quite a bit. However, is it reasonable to spend another $25~40 on fans for a case that typically sells for over $200? It probably depends. It is if you can afford it and this is the case you want.

Improved fans do not cure the HDD vibration issue, but then again, there are hard drives with less vibration than the model we've been using for our case reviews. We use it specifically so that we can clearly assess differences in the ability of cases to damp HDD vibration. Choosing a quieter, lower vibration drive should help considerably. There's always the smaller SSD + large quiet 5400~5900 RPM data drive combination that is still the best value/performance option these days. As for hot, noisy video cards, there are many aftermarket cooling solutions that can transform them, albeit, not without some cost (typically $50 or higher). (And for the inveterate silent PC modder, discarding the entire HDD cage for a DIY floating suspension rig for the drives would minimize airflow impedance from the front fans to the VGA card, while eliminating HDD vibration noise.)

In the end, buying or not buying a Lian Li PC-B25S case is a very personal decision. Viewed in a purely objective way, it is not the best purchase for value, noise or cooling. There are better balanced cases for less money. But human beings are rarely purely objective.

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