I’m sharply leaning towards an ITX PC when I do eventually upgrade from my trusty AMD Athlon X3. I’ve been mulling over future upgrades and how it would fit into my lifestyle in future. The size of the average ITX system ends up about the same as two Xbox 360s stacked on top one another and while Dell’s Alienware X51 chassis isn’t available on its own to buy as a barebones system, Lian Li does offer up something a little more squarish that hopes to take up some of that valuable desktop space while making a statement.
The Taiwanese enthusiast company has thus far made all-aluminium chassis catered for the high-end gamer or power user. Some are literally so heavy (PC-V1020) or so massive (PC-A77F) that they need their own set of industrial-strength wheels to go on the bottom or a pet Sumo wrestler to do the heavy lifting. Thankfully the PC-Q02, PC-Q03 and PC-Q16 don’t need a benchlifter’s muscles to move them around. Hit the jump to look at their new ITX lineup.
Starting things off is the PQ-Q02. Lian Li previously had the PC-Q11 fill this space and it aims to grab the title of best-fitting ITX chassis on the market. The chassis has support for ITX motherboards, features two USB 3.0 ports on the front and has space for a slim-line optical drive at the top. Slim optical drives aren’t readily available in sunny S.A., so some enthusiasts might want to invest in a USB optical drive to work around that issue. In fact, you’ll probably need one for the other two as well if you need to install programs using optical media. For the most part, though, ITX builds are centered around putting a full-working PC in as small a chassis as possible without sacrificing too much performance. Perhaps the loss of a DVD drive, the popularity of which is dwindling thanks to Ultrabooks and digital distribution, isn’t a bad thing for some. If its still a necessity, the also-newly-released PC-Q15 has space for a regular desktop drive. Note that the PC-Q02 only has for the motherboard – no discrete graphics cards allowed here. The chassis also ships with a rebranded Seasonic 300w SFF power supply, which is sadly not modular.
Next up is the PC-Q03. It ends up being a bit wider and longer than the PC-Q02 but that’s okay, because the chassis now support discrete graphics cards up 180mm long. You wouldn’t fit in a HD7950, but a regular-sized, single-slot GTX560 should be about the limit of what you could fit in there. As for the power supply, you can now fit in a regular ATX model and preferably a modular one at that. Cooler Master’s Silent Pro M2 420w or Antec’s HCG-M 400w would do well here, especially if you pop in a Core i7-3770, 16GB RAM, two hard drives and an SSD into the chassis. Imagine the space this thing would take up at rAge – none at all! Lian’s PC-Q25 is possibly the only other option for this size, as you have the same features, two PCI expansion slots and the ability to fit in monstrous graphics cards like the HD7970 (wouldn’t suggest the GTX690 because it employs a dual-blower heatsink design and therefore pours enormous amounts of heat into the chassis).
The PC-Q16 is the smallest of the lot, measuring a mere 16cm in height. Dwarfing the front of the chassis is a massive 140mm cooler with the option of installing up to three hard drives inside the chassis. There’s no DVD drive so only USB ones will help. There’s also no chance of discrete graphics options, so at best you’re left with the Intel HD4000 or AMD’s Llano Integrated Radeon solution. If you’re serious about efficient, quiet computing, perhaps throw in a passively-cooled Intel Atom N2800 with two low-speed 1TB 5400RPM 2.5″ hard drives with a 64GB SSD. Your power draw would be at least 75w on full throttle and the PSU’s fan wouldn’t even have to kick on. Of course, for work or for a small home theatre, go for Intel’s ITX H77 boards with a quad-core i7 for the ultimate grunt.
So, who’s going for an ITX build in the future? Any takers here? The PC-Q02 and PC-Q03 both launch at a suggested retail price of $149.99 (approx. R1260) and the PC-Q16 will retail for a suggested $159.99 (approx. R1400).