The Lian Li PC-A7010 Aluminum Full Tower ATX Case
If you were ask any enthusiast who makes a quality all-aluminum case, I would bet 9 out of 10 times the answer you would get is Lian Li. Lian Li is known for making high end, high quality, all aluminum cases. I’m not going to lie; there is no such thing as a “cheap” Lian Li case. Today I have the pleasure of reviewing the new PC-A7010 from Lian Li. This new full tower case may not look like all too much from the outside, but inside is a whole other story. Let's take a look at the features and specifications from the Lian Li website before we get too far.
- PC-A7010 equipped SATA HDD Raid HDD cage to help make your life easier. You can have more time to enjoy your life; no more working with wire. It also features Raid function. (Still need the support from the M/B or SATA Raid Card chipset.)
- PC-A7010 has equipped four 120mm cooling fans in the front of the chassis, there are two fans to intake the cool air into the case, and two fans next to the HDD cage to draw the air to improve the air flow. The fans not only cool the HDD down, they also help the motherboard's North & South bridge chipset, and the graphics card.
- Huge internal space fits E-ATX motherboard and graphics card, which can up to 345mm long and there is room for 10 hard drives and for dual power supply units. There are a total of 6x 12cm cooling fans to cool the system down, and a lot of internal space for a liquid cooling system. It is ideal for gamer and pro user!
- PC-A7010 equipped a total of six fans to keep the system cool. To reduce the noise, PC-A7010 has fitted a three-speed fan speed controller, which can adjust six fans, speed from 1020 to 1240 to 1500 RPM. Factory setting is to Middle (1240RPM). User can adjust the fan speed to get the best balance of silence and cooling.
- Model: PC-A7010
- Case Type: Super Full Tower
- Dimensions: 220 x 595 x 590mm (W, H, D)
- Front bezel Material: Aluminum
- Color: Black
- Side Panel: Plain
- Body Material: Aluminum
- Net Weight:
- 5.25" drive bay (External): 5
- 3.5" drive bay (External): 1 (Using 1 x 5.25)
- 3.5" drive bay (Internal): 10 (SATA Radi x 7)
- Expansion Slot: 7
- Motherboard: EATX, ATX, M-ATX
- System Fan (Front): 120mm Ball-Bearing Fan x 4 (1020~1240~1500RPM)
- System Fan (Top): N/A
- System Fan (Rear): 120mm Ball-Bearing Fan x 2 (1020~1240~1500RPM)
- I/O Ports: USB2.0 x 4, IEEE1394 x 1, ESATA x 1, HD+AC97 Audio
At first glance the PC-A7010 looks like a very simple case. It has 5x 5.25” bays in the front, with one being home to a 3.5” bay adapter. By the top 5.25” bay are the only 2 lights on the case: the power and hard drive activity LEDs. These LEDs are very small compared to some of the cases I have reviewed lately.
Looking a little closer at the center of the case is the power and reset buttons. The buttons feel quite nice and sturdy.
Looking at the top of the case we have the front I/O ports consisting of USB2.0 x 4, IEEE1394 x 1, ESATA x 1, and HD+AC97 Audio. Now some are looking at the top and cringing at the idea of cutting that beautiful finish to make exhaust vents for a radiator. Relax, Lian Li has you covered. The top of the case can also be changed out with optional case tops available through Lian Li. Same goes for the side panels; there is a booklet in with the case manual that shows all of these parts.
Moving around to the back of the case, we see that there is a lot going on here. There is the standard rear 120mm exhaust fan, pre-drilled holes for external water cooling lines and vented expansion slot covers.
Looking closer to the top there is an extra 120mm fan. This provides cooling to a hard drive cage at the top of the case. This also can be removed, along with the drive cage, and a power supply be mounted in its place. More on this later.
At the bottom of the case is the stock mounting location for the power supply.
On the bottom of the case we have the case feet. These can be removed if and replaced with optional casters.
In pulling the side panel off we can now have a good look into the PC-A7010. There is a lot going on in this case so let’s start with the drive cages.
First is the main drive cage in the lower front part of the case. This cage holds 7x SATA drives and has a hot swap back plane to make cabling and drive changes easy. There are 2x 120mm fans that bring air from the outside into the drive cage, then another pair to pull that air through the drive cage and onto the expansion slot area.
The auxiliary drive cage is located at the top rear of the case and has room for 3 drives. This cage has a single 120mm fan pulling air across the drives and out of the case. The cage is also removable and allows for a power supply to be mounted in its place, giving the option for top mount instead of the stock bottom mount, or even dual units.
The expansion slot covers are all vented, and held in place with thumb screws. A nice touch to the rear 120mm exhaust fan is the aluminum grill guard.
Something else that is a very nice feature is that all of the case fans for the PC-A7010 are 3 pin fans. They all have 3 pin to 4 pin molex adaptors if you want to run 100% all the time. In order to use the stock fan controller, or even an after market one, all you have to do is pull off the adaptors. No need to re-wire or replace all your fans now; this is a big plus seeing as you just dropped $300 on a case.
At the bottom of the case is the stock mounting point for the power supply. Down each side of the support mount is a rubber strip that takes up vibrations and reduces noise from the PSU setting directly on the case bottom.
Another way Lian Li has implemented sound reduction is these little plastic nubs (it’s a technical term). These help keep pressure on the side panels and don't allow them to rattle.
The front I/O panel wires are more than long enough to be routed behind the motherboard tray for that clean look.
In the center of the case is the expansion card support rail. This rail is to help relieve the stress on both the card and the motherboard. The rail can be installed in 1 of 3 spots for short to very long cards. The rail can also be removed completely.
Moving around to the right side of the case you can see the back of the motherboard tray, the SATA back plane, and the fan controller connectors.
Looking closer to the back of the drive cage you can see the SATA data connections. The power is supplied by molex connectors.
In front of the drive cage is the wires for the fan controller. There are 4x short leads for the drive cage fans and 2x long leads for the rear fans.
The motherboard tray is removable as well. This is nice as it lets you have more room to work when mounting the motherboard. The tray is easily removed. First remove 2 locking screws off the back of the case, then slide the tray forward. Once past the slide locks (slots at the top of the tray) lean the tray out of the case.
The motherboard tray has several cut outs in it for wires and cooling. The cooling cutouts that are at the same level of the CPU socket are not rounded, and I would suggest not running any wire through them. The lower hole, just below the motherboard, has a plastic insert with rounded edges, so no chance of a cut wire here.
Behind the front panel there are the intake filter screens and the fan controller.
The fan controller is a simple 3 position switch for high 1500 RPM, medium 1240 RPM, and low 1020 RPM. The stock setting for the controller is medium. The only flaw to this is that to adjust the fans you have to pull the front cover off. Doing this is not hard, quiet easy actually, but it’s that you have to take it off. So if you’re not a ‘set it and forget it’ type then you might want to look at the drive bay controller.
The fan screens are easily removed for cleaning, and yes even the screen holders are aluminum.
The amount of parts in the accessories box seems like a lot at first, but it is everything that is needed and a couple of spares. What you get in the accessory box is all of the mounting screws needed (and then some), extra thumb screws, wire clamps, cable ties, hot swap drive rails, PCI card holders, secondary PSU adaptor plate and piezo speaker.
Let’s start by looking at mounting a drive in the upper drive. To get a better look at the drive I removed it from the case. The hard drives mount in cam-like fashion, and with the aid of the mounting hardware is quite secure and rubber mounted.
To mount a drive in the upper cage you first need to get the mounting screws and rubber rings. The rubber ring has a groove in it that mates up to the side of the drive cage.
With a drive installed you can see how the drive cage and mounting hardware keep the drive snugly in place and noise down.
Mounting the drives into the hot swap cages is even easier. First you place a drive into the drive rail/caddy.
Then install the drive into the drive cage and engage the locks on either side of the drive. Now here is possibly the down-side to this cage. Let’s say you would like to use the VelociRaptor drive in your build. If you own one already there is a large chance you have the cable connect version and the data and power connectors will not line up. If you have not bought the drive yet make sure you get the backplane ready version as it has the connectors in the right spot. Not a real large issue, but something worth pointing out.
Installing the rest of the parts was straight forward, and I was quite surprised that I didn’t have an issue hiding wires. The one thing that took a little bit of time was the expansion card support bracket. The video card I use in the test system has the power connector on the end of the card. So using the card support in its stock setting blocked the power connector.
Moving the card support system to the short position and using the short arm I was able to support the card and not block the power connector. It did however get very close to the CPU cooler.
Conclusion and Final Thoughts
The Lian Li PC-A7010 carries a whopping $295 price tag and is most definitely a high end case. With the time I have spent with the PC-A7010 I now know why some enthusiasts covet the Lian Li cases so much. The build quality is amazing, as it should be for an investment close to $300.
The last case we looked at that is in the same price range was the Antec P190. The P190 is a very nice case, and it even comes with 1200 watts worth of power supply for the same money. Its biggest drawback was its weight. This is where the PC-A7010 pulls ahead -- way ahead. The whole test system installed into the PC-7010 weighs less than the P190 does empty, and is just as quiet.
The SATA backplane is a nice feature. It will clean up a lot of cable clutter and make things look very nice, even though it is hidden behind the case side. Speaking of cable clutter, I would also recommend a modular PSU for use in this case. It’s not a must-have as there is space to hide cables, but the space that is available is between the case side and the SATA backplane. With a modular PSU you don’t have to worry about hiding cables you’re not using anyway and it also lessens the chance of snapping a SATA connector.
The PC-A7010 has the ability to house up to 10 hard drives. If you had the cash you could have 10x 1.5 TB hard drives; this should be more than enough for just about anyone’s home theater setup.
Now those that want water cooling, don’t worry there is more than enough room. To make things that much nicer, with the optional pre-cut tops you can purchase from Lain Li you don’t have to worry about messing up that beautiful finish for a top mount radiator.
Even with six 120mm fans set to medium, the case was very quiet. The fans also moved a fair amount of air throughout the case; so much that you can feel the exhaust air through the vented expansion slot covers.
The only downside that I can see with the case is its price, $295 + shipping; that is very close to a car payment for most people. Granted some may think it’s a drop in the bucket compared to some video cards out today and there are more expensive cases out there as well. Either way you look at it, it’s a significant investment. If you’re looking for a classy, sharp looking, light, and quiet case that has loads of room for your components then the Lian Li has you covered with the PC-A7010.
Legit Bottom Line: The PC-A7010 is a very well built case with some very nice features. If you have the means with the economy the way it is, I would highly recommend it for a home theater server or even a workstation.