Finally, we reach the high-end market. Ready your pockets, we’re leaving behind half-hearted attempts and relatively small price tags. The cases from here on out are big, expensive, and packed with any number of features. This is Lian Li territory, the place where Lian Li made a name for itself, and so you’d expect them to have a strong presence here. Well, yes, you expect right…
The Lian Li A20: if you have to ask, you can’t afford style and quality. If you’re used to standard sized ATX cases, the A20 will surprise you by virtue of its sheer size. A full tower chassis, the A20 simply oozes quality out of ever possible orifice. Is it a good case? Yes it is. Would you buy it? No, and here’s why. A common feature on high-end Lian Li cases, the PCI card holder is a crossbar descending vertically from the top of the case to the lower third sectional wall, and is intended with the use of extras to hold any cards installed into the PCI-E slots. What is wrong with the conventional method, only Lian Li knows, it’s not like you’ll be moving this case around any time soon. Far too much to say and only a small space to say it, so I’ll run through the rest quite briefly. The same exhaust vent found on the V1000Z makes an appearance, and helps the crossbar restrict access to the motherboard chamber, which has prompted the need for a removable motherboard tray. A good idea, but done so badly you wish they hadn’t. Space for 6 drives also akin to the V1000Z, with the same inherent problem of overheating, and lastly, space behind the motherboard tray for cable management. A good idea, but cramped enough to make it useless. A great case, in looks and on paper, but once again, “features” get in the way.
Onto my favourite case in the entire roundup: the A7110. Let me run over what the case does right first, because let me tell you, there’s plenty. Space for 11, yes, 11 3.5″ drives, comes standard in this case, and what’s better, all are well ventilated. The Achilles’s heel of the Lian Li high-end removed. 7 of these bays allow the hard drive to slide into a circuit board, making installation quick and easy. The lack of an insane number of 5.25″ is also welcome, sporting only 4 when all 11 3.5″ bays are filled. The case also supports space for 2 PSUs, bottom and top, a great feature for eATX motherboard users and high-end enthusiasts alike. Lastly, no ridiculous extractor fans placed in inconvenient areas. This case, similar in size to the A20, feels much bigger, and supports far more hardware, has far more positives, supports decent cable management, and is overall a better buy. That’s not to say the A7110 doesn’t have its downfalls, however. The same useless removable motherboard tray system makes an appearance, as does the vertical crossbar, and if you think you’ll be moving the case with hardware installed, think again. As a whole, though, this case is worth every cent, and won’t make you regret adding another wing onto your house to accommodate it.
Two cases aimed at the same market, with a similar price tag, couldn’t be more different. One a resounding success, capable of being one of the best cases money can buy, the other frustrating you every time you look at it.