Single page Print

Lian Li's PC-V800 enclosure

Power HTPC?

ManufacturerLian Li

FOR YEARS, ENTHUSIASTS have drooled over Lian Li's high-end PC cases. Carefully designed and immaculately manufactured, the all-aluminum towers have undeniable sex appeal and enough practical features to back up the their visual flair. You see, while aluminum can be brushed or polished for an attractive finish, the metal's physical properties also allow manufacturers to create lightweight enclosures that radiate heat much better than steel or plastic designs.

Lian Li's most recent tower designs have borrowed heavily from Apple's Power Mac G5 enclosure, and the company's new desktop case is no exception. The PC-V800 features the same perforated panels as Lian Li's PC-V1000 tower in a form factor suitable for PC desktops and home theater systems. Is there a place for the PC-V800's bold aesthetic in the living room? Does this desktop design work for home theater PCs? Read on to find out.

The case
The PC-V800 measures 380mm wide, 400mm deep, and 164mm high. That's a little taller than most desktop or home theater PC cases, but also narrower than comparable ATX enclosures. The narrower profile could help the PC-V800 slide more easily into home entertainment units, at least those with adjustable shelf heights.

As one might expect, the PC-V800's all-aluminum construction makes for an extremely light case. At 5.5kg, the PC-V800 isn't the lightest desktop case we've reviewed (SilverStone's LC01 weighs just over 4kg), but it's easily the sturdiest. Of course, weight is only so important for a desktop enclosure. Desktop cases tend not to be popular at LAN parties, and most home theater PCs never move more than a few inches.

The PC-V800 is a study in brushed aluminum. It's essentially a desktop version of Lian Li's PC-V1000 series, whose design roots can be traced back to Apple's Power Mac G5 enclosure. The bold look should be popular among those who favor industrial designs, but it's certainly not for everyone. For those looking for a more subdued enclosure, the PC-V800 is also available in black. The black finish tones down the front panel's grill-like appearance and should blend more comfortably with home theater components and living room environments. I'm a sucker for bare metal, so the brushed aluminum looks better to me.

While we're looking at the front of the case, I can't help but point out the floppy face plate on the bottom 5.25" drive bay. The face plate should keep beige or otherwise mismatched drive colors from clashing with the case's aluminum exterior, but it leaves a gaping and ultimately unattractive hole at the front of the case. Do home theater PC users actually need a floppy drive? With the exception of using third-party storage drivers during Windows XP's installation routine, does anyone use floppy drives anymore?