Versatile case for modders wanting nothing more than to get down to business
Remarkable craftsmanship; anti-vibration features; removable motherboard tray; useful cable clips; excellent ventilation
Inconspicuous design could be considered boring by many modders
When personal computers first became available to the public, the majority were produced in simple, beige-coloured cases. Now they come in all shapes and sizes, from compact micro-ATX cases, to desktop cases and 19-inch rackmount cases. You can even buy cases designed exclusively for building a gaming PC, a home theatre PC (HTPC), or even a blade server. Many people, particularly hardware enthusiasts, opt for cases with clear windows to illustrate a computer’s power (by showing off the internal hardware), and also for aesthetic purposes, while tech-heads go crazy and modify a case to improve a computer’s eye candy and performance.
Lancool’s (a brand owned by well respected manufacturer Lian-Li) latest offering is aimed at the mainstream gamer and enthusiast in the mid- to high-end market segment. The PC-K1 (around £85) is a relatively subdued midi-tower chassis that cuts straight to the chase. Exquisitely cut from aluminum and steel, the chassis is a good choice for the discerning needs of enthusiast-level gamers not interested in garish accessories.
The PC-K1, along with the costlier PC-K1 Pro, is a wholly black chassis that sports a steel inner core. Not only does this attention to build quality make the PC-K1 heavy (7.2kg), but it makes it a lot stronger than an all-aluminum chassis – perfect for LAN parties. Another added benefit is that steel is cheaper than aluminum, helping you to save some pennies for other computer niceties. Although the PC-K1 is a mid-range chassis, Lian-Li’s manufacturing expertise is evident from the outset and there are many unique touches that make the PC-K1 stand out from the crowd.
Most noticeable is the traditional hair-line brushed finish with black anodised aluminium, while the internals have finely honed edges to keep up high safety standards. The PC-K1 Pro even has a clear window in the side panel and an all-white interior finish, ideal for reflecting light with LEDs and creating your very own rave, along with a 140mm Blue LED intake fan (900rpm) preinstalled in the front of the chassis and a 120mm Blue LED fan (1000rpm) at the rear of the chassis. While the PC-K1 comes with the same size fans, you may be disappointed (or pleased) to know that the LEDs have been dropped.
The PC-K1 is designed for experienced power users, so it is wide and rigid, using a minimalist style where every aspect is well thought out and has a specific purpose. There are no frills, but plenty of thrills, especially if you are a modder. Silent padding on the front panel helps to reduce noise levels from the internal components, and the chassis has special anti-vibration clips for the side panels which are placed to prevent vibration. Furthermore, the hard drive bay – which supports four 3.5-inch drives – has special mounting tool-less screws with rubber grommets to keep the drives completely secure. And there is space between each hard drive to allow cool air to pass through, in order to keep drives in a low working temperature.
Additional features include a removable motherboard tray for easy installation, vent holes on the PCI slot brackets, seven PCI slots, five 5.25-inch bays (one is interchangeable with a 3.5-inch bay), special clips to secure optical drives without tools (simply insert the drive and it clips into place), and a noise dimmer panel in front of the intake fan to cut the noise down to make the system run silent. And for more cooling performance the PC-K1 supports liquid cooling systems – there are two openings at the rear that allow water tubes to pass through.
A really neat feature is a little flip-open dust-free lid on the top cover which reveals multimedia I/O ports for easy access. Under the lid is an I/O bracket which accommodates two USB 2.0 ports, a single IEEE1394 port, and HD+AC97 Audio in/out capabilities. The chassis supports full ATX and micro-ATX form factor motherboards and has a secure power supply bay designed to keep it rigid during transportation. When it actually comes to building your machine it couldn’t be easier. Thumbscrews remove the need for any tools, the top panel can be removed or replaced, and cable management is a synch – special cable clips on the back of the motherboard tray secure in-the-way cables. Heck, there’s even a removable motherboard tray, letting you install the motherboard on the tray outside the case – goodbye working in a small space! Do not underestimate the PC-K1’s unassuming looks – it’s one heck of a good chassis.