Testing Methodology

For testing ATX cases, we use the following standardized testbed in stock and overclocked configurations to get a feel for how well the case handles heat and noise.

Full ATX Test Configuration
CPU Intel Core i7-875K
(95W TDP, tested at stock speed and overclocked to 3.8GHz @ 1.38V)
Motherboard ASUS P7P55D-E Pro
Graphics Card Zotac NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 (244W TDP)
Memory 2x2GB Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer DDR3-1600
Drives Kingston SSDNow V+ 100 64GB SSD
Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB SATA 6Gbps
Samsung 5.25" BD-ROM/DVDRW Drive
CPU Cooler Zalman CNPS9900 MAX with Cooler Master ThermalFusion 400
Power Supply SilverStone Strider Gold 750W 80 Plus Gold

A refresher on how we test:

Acoustic testing is standardized on a foot from the front of the case, using the Extech SL10 with an ambient noise floor of ~32dB. For reference, that's what my silent apartment measures with nothing running, testing acoustics in the dead of night (usually between 1am and 3am). A lot of us sit about a foot away from our computers, so this should be a fairly accurate representation of the kind of noise the case generates, and it's close enough to get noise levels that should register above ambient.

Thermal testing is run with the computer having idled at the desktop for fifteen minutes, and again with the computer running both Furmark (where applicable) and Prime95 (less one thread when a GPU is being used) for fifteen minutes. I've found that leaving one thread open in Prime95 allows the processor to heat up enough while making sure Furmark isn't CPU-limited. We're using the thermal diodes included with the hardware to keep everything standardized, and ambient testing temperature is always between 71F and 74F. Processor temperatures reported are the average of the CPU cores.

For more details on how we arrived at this testbed, you can check out our introductory passage in the review for the IN-WIN BUC.

Last but not least, we'd also like to thank the vendors who made our testbed possible:

Thank You!

We have some thanks in order before we press on:

  • Thank you to Crucial for providing us with the Ballistix Smart Tracer memory we used to add memory thermals to our testing.
  • Thank you to Zalman for providing us with the CNPS9900 MAX heatsink and fan unit we used.
  • Thank you to Kingston for providing us with the SSDNow V+ 100 SSD.
  • Thank you to CyberPower for providing us with the Western Digital Caviar Black hard drive, Intel Core i7-875K processor, ASUS P7P55D-E Pro motherboard, and Samsung BD-ROM/DVD+/-RW drive.
  • And thank you to SilverStone for providing us with the power supply.
Assembling the Lian Li PC-A05FN Noise and Thermal Testing, Stock
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  • jigglywiggly - Wednesday, December 7, 2011 - link

    I just bought a 30$ xigamatek pc case from newegg that craps all over this.

    This case is too small first of all.
    The xigamatek is fairly large, fits 3870x2 + 3870 in CF np, fits big heatsink.

    it has a hole to remove the heatsink from the tray so no need to take mobo out.

    Fits 630watt psu, totally tooless.

    This case is more than 3x the price and I would pick the xigamatek. It's also incredibly light so it's probably easier to transport.
  • insurgent - Thursday, December 8, 2011 - link

    The Xigmatek is also a boring steel case while this is made of brushed aluminum with superior build quality. The Xigmatek doesn't "crap" all over this, they belong in different market segments: those who are poor/cheap and those who appreciate nice things and have money to spare.
  • james.jwb - Thursday, December 8, 2011 - link

    I had an A05nb that i cut a PSU 120mm hole for, and added a top panel identical to this one for a 140mm fan.

    It's a great looking case, there is no denying it, but it's quite flimsy. The aluminium is very thin, you get no extra features either. No good cable routing, no sound dampening. I just swapped it out for a Define R3 and it really shows how Lian Li seem to be falling behind on what is now standard on most cases.

    There is no other case like it though. If you what a great looks and a small footprint, it's as good as it gets, especially now it has those extra fan placements as standard, because my god, it needed it with my old 4890 installed :)

    With the right fans, it can definitely handle a 6970 setup fine, mine did.
  • ckryan - Thursday, December 8, 2011 - link

    The old version of this case is where it's at. I don't like the new version as much.
  • Ben90 - Thursday, December 8, 2011 - link

    I just found a piece of cardboard from the dumpster that craps all over the xigametek.

    That case is too small first of all.
    The cardboard is fairly large, fits Bitchin' Fast 3D 2000 in SLI np, fits autocascade.

    It has no fasteners anywhere so no need to take anything out.

    Fits a bin of extra computer parts, totally tooless.

    This case is more than infinite the price and I would pick the cardboard. It's also incredibly light so it's probably easier to transport.
  • Gazziza - Sunday, December 18, 2011 - link

    "This case is too small first of all.
    The xigamatek is fairly large, fits 3870x2 + 3870 in CF np, fits big heatsink."

    You're obviously not the target market for this case then. The whole point is that this case is supposed to be smaller than most mid towers. Not everyone has the space to fit in a larger case. You're making an apples to orange comparison. This Lian-Li and your Xigmatek occupy different parts of the market.
  • Iketh - Wednesday, December 7, 2011 - link

    Lian Li must have read my mind regarding HD temps. If you're using 5400-5900 rpm drives, they get far too cool with fans blowing directly on them (20-25C). The approach in this case alleviates that, but what happens to HD temps when you're running a full load on the cpu for several hours straight?? That heat is blowing right over the hard drives. I can't see how they won't reach at least 50C, especially if using 7200rpm. That front fan should just be an intake also and open the top cover.
  • beginner99 - Thursday, December 8, 2011 - link

    plus with this design they are countering natural air flow (warm air is lighter) forcing it to flow down a bit. Inputs at the fronts bottom and top-rear exhaust makes more sense.
  • Alecthar - Thursday, December 8, 2011 - link

    The actual effect of convection for PC cases is usually overstated. Air, even warm air, is going to go where the fans draw it. There's also no reason to believe that "countering" the natural direction of air flow is in any way significant. Should you draw warm air over your HDDs? Maybe not, but that really has little to do with whether or not the case should be working with, or just ignoring, convection.
  • Strunf - Thursday, December 8, 2011 - link

    Why do you say the HD get far too cool? as far as I know 25°C is the optimal temperature for all electronics devices.

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