In and Around the Lian Li PC-TU100

If you read our review of the Lian Li PC-TU200, what you're going to see with the PC-TU100 should be fairly familiar. What's different is the scale, and in scaling the design down, Lian Li removed most of the elements I found problematic in that larger chassis. When you're dealing with a small form factor enclosure, elbow room is at a premium, and I wasn't as happy with the compromises made in the PC-TU200 as I am here.

First, the PC-TU100 continues to enjoy that all-aluminum construction that's a trademark of Lian Li enclosures. I'm not a tremendous fan of aluminum; like any building material, it needs to be appropriate to both the design and usage of the product, and so in some of Lian Li's larger enclosures I've often felt that it was the wrong choice. In the PC-TU100 it makes sense, though; the large handle on the top of the case is a pretty big clue as to what Lian Li intends it for. The case itself is very light and easy to lift with the handle, even after it's been outfitted with hardware.

Our review case is entirely black, with two USB 3.0 ports and a pair of audio jacks in the front beneath the intake vent. Between the vent and the slimline optical drive bay is the power button; the reset button is next to the I/O. I can't help but feel like the 120mm fan, the only active or passive cooling in the case, is a missed opportunity, though. There's definitely space for at least a 140mm fan, which would offer both superior airflow and potentially lower noise levels, but alas, the mount is designed only for a 120mm fan.

As I mentioned before, a handle is built into the top of the PC-TU100, and it's plenty sturdy enough for carrying around the case with a full computer built inside. On the bottom are four metal feet, while the back of the case is well ventilated. There's a single vent in the left side panel, above where the power supply would mount, to allow fresh air to enter the PSU separately from the rest of the system. Note the two levers on the back of the case; the side panels aren't held in by thumbscrews but are instead "popped out" using these levers.

When you do open up the PC-TU100, you reveal what is in my opinion the simplest interior Lian Li has ever designed. Lian Li interiors are typically busy and sometimes slightly daffy affairs, but there's just no room for any kind of craziness inside the PC-TU100. You get a removable drive tray at the top for the slimline bay, and two 2.5" drive mounts in the bottom of the case. Smartly, Lian Li includes a grill for the fan inside to prevent cables from getting caught in the blades.

This is definitely one of the better designed Lian Li cases I've tested, but there's still room for improvement. I sometimes feel like nobody at Lian Li actually builds their computers with these things; if there were, the front wouldn't be so scattered. It's not an aesthetic issue, but a practical internal one. The I/O, including the power switch, should all be in one place, preferably beneath the slimline bay, or vertically arranged to the side of the intake fan. There's also virtually no reason why the intake fan should be just 120mm instead of 140mm, and it could be better placed to help feed both the expansion slots and the CPU instead of just the CPU. These are minor complaints, but they would go a long way towards both cleaning up the interior a little bit and potentially improving performance.

Introducing the Lian Li PC-TU100 Assembling the Lian Li PC-TU100
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  • ronmccord - Saturday, September 21, 2013 - link

    I think you are being hard on this very small and unique case. First off 50-65 celcius under load is not bad at all considering the case. and 35db not bad at all either. I am coming from laptops that run that and dbs can be higher so I am not as picky. The temps are well under specs and this is a much smaller case the prodigy or sg08 that you speak so highly of. In fact this is one of the smallest itx cases you can buy with a real 450 watt power supply and 760 asus small video card. The prodigy is downright huge and is really an mini atx case. Not only can you pick this up and go easily but it will fit in a backpack or in carry on luggage like a waterproof pelican 1510 which only a couple of other cases will do. The look is quality and unique and you can put it behind a monitor whereas the prodigy and shoebox style cases can take up too much room especially the wobbly plastic prodigy. This is a quality specialist case and My plan is to ditch the optical drive, get a silverstone gold 450 sft modular, one ssd and the new Asus 760 mini. I wll just udate the mini video card every couple of years and be good to go! Would of been nice to have someone really review this with a modular powersupply and getting rid of any excess cables with the new 760. Reply
  • Haravikk - Saturday, April 12, 2014 - link

    The review mentions the 120mm fan mount, but would they take a 140mm fan with 120mm mounting holes? I often use the Prolimatech Ultra Sleek Vortex 14 for that purpose; although it's really a CPU cooler it makes a great case fan thanks to being only 15mm thick, provided you're okay with only having a PWM connection.

    Personally I think this case looks pretty sweet, but I can understand the reviewers issues with it. But assuming you have a video card that is single height, perhaps you could use one of those single-slot GPU cooler blower fans to help keep the heat down? Personally I was thinking of maybe cutting a piece of plastic to direct some of the airflow down towards the GPU.

    I'm also hoping Lian-Li may just ditch the optical drive in a future model, as it's a better place to put your 2.5" drive(s), and you could probably do it now if you wanted to keep them away from the GPU. Plus it may open up room for a second 120mm fan on the front; I suppose technically you could even do that yourself on a TU100 right now if you're willing to drill into it, which is one of the hidden benefits of aluminium (it's a lot easier than even thin steel).

    You're right though that the attention to detail is a bit lacking, as this could otherwise be a perfect case for small form factor computer, without sacrificing (much) component choice.
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  • n13L5 - Thursday, September 10, 2015 - link

    This is a great design, but silly and obvious mistakes being made in the allocation of space.

    Lian Li's designers have not paid attention to recent component trends (last 5-7 years are wholly ignored). When they do build smaller boxes, space is usually misallocated, leading to limitations that end up sending even Lian Li fans to purchase lower quality Silverstone cases with better layout and cooling strategies.
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