Lian Li PC-V354 MicroATX Mini Tower Case

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AUDIO RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

Each recording starts with ambient noise, then 10 second segments of product at various states. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Lian Li PC-V354 is essentially what we expected, a bigger version of the PC-Q08 for microATX boards with much of the same basic functionality. There is plenty of space for hard drives, a reasonably-sized CPU cooler, and a long graphics card. The larger volume and extra fans means it runs fairly cool, and the manual fan speed controller and memory card reader are nice additions. It is versatile enough to house just about any type of system and it looks nicer than most microATX towers. With proper planning and tweaking, it can handle a midrange system with adequate cooling at a reasonably low noise level.

Editor's Note: Larry and I differ on the usability and attractiveness of the PC-V354. In my opinion, the basic shape and proportions work for a smaller case like the PC-Q08. But the same proportions in the bigger PC-V354 reminds me of a small storage chest. A storage chest does not belong atop a desk, its footprint is way too intrusive. Even on the floor, the PC-V354 ends up taking a lot of floor space, as much as a larger mid-tower case. It is an inefficient use of space; the standard short tower mATX case is easier to place, can fit taller, bigger heatsinks, and is way cheaper. To me, the Lian Li PC-Q08 looks like an ungainly, ugly duck made differently just to be different (rather than for improved function), and there's nothing you can do to turn it into a swan.

That being said, aside from the extras and the obvious benefits from utilizing a larger form factor, the chassis itself is not an improvement over the PC-Q08. In fact, there are a few aspects of the case we wish hadn't strayed away from the PC-Q08 design. Our biggest problem with the PC-Q08 is its hard drive cages, which are not secured tightly enough, making them prone to vibration when multiple drives are installed. The PC-V354 suffers from the same problem, but it is actually worse as the drive cages are noticeably thinner and lighter. They are so weak we were able to pry them apart by almost a centimeter with our bare hands. We are also puzzled as to why they did not include a power supply vent on the side panel. Giving the PSU a cool source of intake air gives it and the entire system a thermal advantage that can translate into an acoustic benefit — with so many super quiet PSUs to choose from these days — which outweighs any noise reduction from having an unvented side panel. Finally, we had an issue with the I/O shield not aligning properly — possibly an isolated problem with our sample.

Lian Li PC-V354
PROS

* Support for up to four fans
* Fan speed controller
* Can hold up to seven 3.5" HDDs
* 14"+ graphics card clearance
* Front card reader and USB 3.0
CONS

* Prone to vibration
* No power supply vent
* Misaligned I/O shield?
* Not ideal for a silent PC

Our thanks to Lian Li for the PC-V354 sample.

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