Summary: ATI enthusiasts, your case has arrived. Lian Li has partnered with AMD to deliver the ultimate CrossFire case. Its all-aluminum chassis is very lightweight while its removable motherboard tray makes it a delight to work with. But all isn't perfect. Read our full impressions in today's review!
Consumers have come to expect a certain level of function, design, and style from these high-end manufacturers that works to set them apart from their lower level competitors. Computer case producers are no different, where there are manufacturers who focus entirely on entry level cases with a bare bone set of features, while others use only the highest quality parts like brushed aluminum and multiple fans for maximum cooling.
Lian Li is one such manufacturer who has built their entire brand name on a tradition of high quality and longevity. They were one of the first manufacturers to achieve the ISO 9001 certification, which has strict requirements to ensure a company’s products are of a certain level quality. All of their cases are constructed of either brushed or anodized aluminum, a process that generally trades off cost for weight reduction, ease of use, and appearance. Today we are going to take a look at the Lian Li Armorsuit PC-P80R, a special Crossfire edition of their PC-P80 full tower ATX case.
CES 2008 Showcase
The PC-P80R was unveiled at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show to much fanfare due to its highly customized design, something rarely seen before from Lian Li who has a tradition of cases with a more conservative appearance. While the PC-P80R was originally meant to be originally exclusive to CES, the response was so positive that Lian Li decided to release the case to the public. The PC-P80R is a modified version of Lian Li’s PC-P80, which is available only in black and lacks a side window. The PC-P80R instead comes in what can only be described as hot rod red, along with a laser-cut spider pattern window boasting the words “ATI CrossFire X” on the side. The case is constructed entirely of brushed, anodized aluminum, which helps the case keep weight down while also giving it that signature Lian Li look.
The front features a hinged, lockable door that even has a little ‘clicker’ that makes a noise similar to a car door when you close it. The door is also completely reversible, allowing the end user to swap which side it hinges on. Actually swapping the door requires the user to remove two screws and then re-mount the hinge hardware on the opposite side. Behind the door rests 3 140mm fans, complete with a removable fan filter for easier cleaning. There is an additional fan in the top shroud, as well as an exhaust fan in the rear of the case. Just above the first 5.25” drive bay rests a fan speed knob that allows the user to control the speed of the top and front fans. Above the door, hidden behind the Lian Li badge is the I/O panel.
The top of the PC-P80R is completely removable for easy service or replacement and Lian Li has even built in support for a reservoir kit that can be installed aftermarket. The rear of the case features 4 pre-cut holes for water tubing, as well as extra vents to maintain a high level of airflow as well as a positive pressure environment. Even the feet of the PC-P80R are high quality, as they are also fashioned from aluminum and sport rubber cushioning to help damper vibration noise and protect the surface they sit on.
While we were initially skeptical of this approach, since you cannot see how the drives snap-in, we found that sliding the drives into place was a lot easier than expected. The grommets always lined up perfectly each time, making the removal and addition of hard drives extremely easy.
Lian Li also designed a removable motherboard tray, easing installation further. The tray has a single cut hole in it to assist in running some wires behind the panel, although we found that once the side panel was replaced, there wasn’t much space to run much more than the I/O panel connectors. Throughout the entirety of the case, Lian Li has implemented dampeners that work to prevent the case from rattling and vibrating from the many removable parts. The add-in card slots are also vented, further adding to case ventilation.
Overall, we found the PC-P80R to be extremely easy to work with. The motherboard tray comes out so easily and it’s replaced just as simply thanks to its design. It’s amazing to see how tight, yet accepting the tolerances are that Lian Li has designed into the PC-P80R. There was no ‘forcing’ required of any parts, as everything seemed to go together exactly as designed. We did find the space behind the motherboard tray to be lacking though, as it could only really support the I/O panel connectors and SATA cables. The power supply cables, especially the motherboard connector, were simply too thick to run behind the tray without preventing the side panel from reinstalling properly.
System SetupAMD Athlon X2 5000+ Black Edition @ 3.05Ghz
OCZ Reaper 2x4GB PC8500 5-5-5 DDR2 RAM
2x HIS ATI Radeon 4870X2 2GB CrossFire
Western Digital 300GB SATAII
Lite-On LH-20A1S DVDRW
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit
Since this a CrossFire themed case, we wanted to see how it would handle the latest and greatest from ATI in a dual card setup, the 4870X2. We tested case temperatures using a Raytek temperature gun, while sound levels were monitored with an Extech sound level meter. We also tested the PC-P80R with the case fans set to their highest and lowest settings, to see what, if any, difference the result could be using the fan controller.
The Armorsuit seemed to have no trouble keeping all our components cool, evenly and efficiently. We didn’t detect any hot spots that might be indicative of poor airflow and we checked just about every nook and cranny we could. The temperature readings weren’t as low as we thought they would be considering the amount of air the case moves, but this is offset by the sound levels we monitored as shown below.
Noise levels were exceptional, as the PC-P80R never went above 50dBa. When you consider the fact there are five big fans constantly running, you realize just how efficiently the Armorsuit cools all the components. It may not have given us better than expected cooling, but it did give us a nice performance that didn’t require extraneous levels of noise output. This is thanks to the usage of larger fans that can move more air at slower speeds. We did not hear one bit of rattling or case chatter, except for the occasional hard drive activity.
Style: It has to be said that the Armorsuit PC-P80R is one sharp looking case. The bright red exterior and laser cut window stands out from the crowd, gleefully showcasing a person’s dedication to ATI and CrossFire. While we certainly understand a lot of people might not enjoy the more “bling-filled” cases being marketed today, if you are one of those who does enjoy showing off, the PC-P80R would be the right way to go. Nothing makes a broader statement than a flaming red case emblazoned with your manufacturer of choice more so than the Armorsuit.
Cost: Depending on taste and system requirements, it’s not uncommon for users to spend upwards of $150 on a computer case. We always try to keep these things in mind when we factor the price into reviews, however the Armorsuit PC-P80R currently retails for $630 on Newegg. There are limits, even for our eccentricities and the PC-P80R far surpasses them. It only gets worse when you consider that the non-CrossFire edition case, the PC-P80, retails for around $350. This makes it still quite expensive, but at least it is somewhat more reasonable. You also have to consider that the only difference between the two cases is the CrossFire theme; everything else about the standard Armorsuit is exactly the same, including features and performance.