Lian Li PC-Z70 Case Review

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When computer enthusiasts think about high-end, ultra quality cases, what’s the first name that comes to mind? Yes, that’s rhetorical; we all know it’s Lian Li. They’ve defined aluminum elegance for a generation of computer enthusiasts. While their more recent chassis have skewed toward the smaller form factor in number, they’re still quite capable of making (and are indeed actively producing) mid- and full- tower solutions.

Today we’re going to look at their newest full tower enclosure, the Lian Li PC-Z70; and let me tell you, when Lian Li makes full tower, ‘big’ is an understatement.

Packaging & Specifications

The PC-Z70 comes in the typical, sturdy Lian Li box surrounded in plastic and encased in protective foam. No problems here.

Lian Li PC-Z70 Box

Lian Li PC-Z70 Box

Lian Li PC-Z70 Box Side

Lian Li PC-Z70 Box Side

Box Cracked Open

Box Cracked Open

Out of the Box

Out of the Box

Did I mention this thing was big? When the box (with maybe 1.5″ of clearance around the case sides) dwarfs a dining chair, you know you’re going to be reviewing a giant.

Compared to....a CHAIR

Compared to....a CHAIR

Specifications

The specifications give a hint to how big this case is, considering it is rated to house HTPX motherboards (that would be EVGA’s SR-2). It also includes all of the fans, which is typical of Lian Li but not necessarily other manufacturers. The whole thing is aluminum with a little plastic thrown in where necessary.

Lian Li PC-Z70 Specifications

Lian Li PC-Z70 Specifications

Now let’s look over this monolith.

Exterior Tour

Here we have the main event. The side panels are nearly identical with vents on both sides. The intake fans are on the ‘back’ side (behind the motherboard tray). For a little more perspective on case size, those are 120 mm fans…three of them.

The front of the case is as understated as the rest. Even the ODD blanks are the Lian Li typical brushed aluminum and match the rest of the case perfectly. The only plastic you see is the I/O & switch panel. Plastic or no, it too matches for a seamless looking case all over.

Lian Li PC-Z70 Side

Lian Li PC-Z70 Side

Lian Li PC-Z70 Other Side

Lian Li PC-Z70 Other Side

Lian Li PC-Z70

Lian Li PC-Z70

Lian Li PC-Z70

Lian Li PC-Z70

Lian Li PC-Z70

Lian Li PC-Z70

The top of the case has twin 140 mm exhaust fans. Consequently, these are spaced perfectly for a typical 2 x 140 mm radiator.

The front I/O is a mix of old and new. You have the typical headphone and microphone jacks, one eSATA port, one USB 2.0 port and two USB 3.0 ports. The power and reset switches are silver and white. The power switch glows a pleasant blue color and the reset switch doubles as the HDD light, blinking red with activity.

Lian Li PC-Z70 Top Panel

Lian Li PC-Z70 Top Panel

Front I/O and Controls

Front I/O and Controls

Turning to the rear you can get another idea of how big this case is. To give a little of the ending away, there is a Rampage IV Extreme in this box now. It takes up seven PCI bracket positions. There are eleven on this case.

There is plenty of venting for air movement. The PSU mount, which we’ll outline in more detail letter is a removable bracket there on the bottom.

Back Panel

Back Panel

Rear Ventilation & PSU Mount

Rear Ventilation & PSU Mount

The rear exhaust fan is 120 mm. There are also ports for routing water tubing out the rear of the case if you desire. One minor quibble about this case is the side panels. They aren’t as solid as the PC-X900 we reviewed before and they function as typical side panels do – slide on plus three rear thumbscrews (though they did put plastic washers to protect the aluminum).

The PC-X900 had a neat unscrew-and-slide mounting mechanism and it is missed here. Granted, that alone probably makes up a big part of the difference between this and the $400 PC-x900, so it’s a fair trade.

Rear Fan & Water Tube Holes

Rear Fan & Water Tube Holes

Panel Mount

Panel Mount

So far we have a very nice looking, elegant (if understated) exterior. Before we check out the full interior and features, let’s have a look at the included accessories.

Accessories

When I was pulling the case out of its box, there was a decent amount of clanging going on. Only after pulling the side panel off did the secret emerge. While it was tied down, the tape on the accessory box had come loose, allowing it to open and spill its contents throughout the case. Blissfully, nothing was scratched when jostling around, but it was disconcerting to open such a nice case and discover this.

Ruh-Roh Raggy!

Ruh-Roh Raggy!

Look Ma', No Accessories!

Look Ma', No Accessories!

Again, there was no damage to the case. It was startling, but no harm, no foul.

The accessories pack is chock full of things for using this case how you like. That metal plate on the left is for mounting SSI CEB/EBB server boards. On the right is all the screws you could ever use as well as the plastic pieces that function with the VGA pillar (to prevent sagging video cards).

Accessories Spread

Accessories Spread

Bits, Baubles and Such

Bits, Baubles and Such

There is a rubber-padded PSU hold-down bracket (which is very necessary for some PSUs, as we’ll see later). On the right you have the included motherboard speaker, longer screws for use with the VGA pillar and a whopping two wire ties for some semblance of cable management. It goes without saying you’ll need your own supply of wire ties for proper cable management.

PSU Hold Down Bracket

PSU Hold Down Bracket

Speaker, TWO Wire Ties, etc.

Speaker, TWO Wire Ties, etc.

As they usually do, Lian Li includes a very handy screw case to keep track of all of the included screws. This is a lifesaver and I really wish more manufacturers included these. I have retained possession of all Lian Li screws that have ever passed my way. Certainly can’t say that for the rest of the cases I’ve had.

Also photographed are the HDD bay keys, for safe-keeping of your hard drives, ATX-to-3-pin fan adapters (for five out of the six included fans) and the included USB 3.0-to-USB 2.0 adapter in case your motherboard doesn’t have a USB 3.0 header.

Handy-Dandy Screw Case

Handy-Dandy Screw Case

HDD Bay Keys

HDD Bay Keys

Fan Adapters

Fan Adapters

USB 3.0 -to- 2.0 Adapter

USB 3.0 -to- 2.0 Adapter

Overall the accessories pack has all of the things you could need and none you don’t; everything you’d expect with a Lian Li case.

Interior & Feature Tour

Now we look at the interior and it is a massive one. It looks like a ‘normal’ sized case until we get some components in it later. Here you have the case as-is from the factory.

Lian Li PC-Z70 Interior

Lian Li PC-Z70 Interior

There are two tool-free ODD brackets, springing free with the flick of a finger but holding solidly once locked into place. While this is a solid solution for those that use them, I actually prefer screws so these are usually removed when drive devices are installed. They do function as well as any other tool-free drive bracket I’ve come across though.

ODD Brackets

ODD Brackets

For your 3.5″ drives, the hard drive rack in this case is all hot-swap capable. You plug in these circuit boards and once done you don’t have to mess with wires again. There is room for a massive nine 3.5″ hard drives.

Below those is the SSD mounting bracket. They require physical wiring after you screw the drives into the bracket. The dual-SSD bracket slides in & out of the HDD bays just like a 3.5″ HDD.

Rear of HDD Cage

Rear of HDD Cage

Connection Close-Up

Connection Close-Up

SSD Mounting

SSD Mounting

The PSU has two ways to get air. First, it’s elevated a little from the bottom of the case on padded rails to isolate vibration. It pulls air both from the interior of the case as well as through the vent below, which has a dust filter on it. The vent is a little forward of where your typical smaller PSU will reside, so that elevation is a very good thing if you don’t use a monster PSU.

PSU Rails and Venting

PSU Rails and Venting

Regrettably there is one problem with the PSU mount. It’s not quite compatible with all PSUs on the market, as evidenced by the Cooler Master Silent Pro Hybrid 1300W used for this install.

PSU Mount Mishap

PSU Mount Mishap

That little tab just happens to be in the wrong place to use the bracket. A little filing and it will install perfectly, but be forewarned about a possible trouble spot. Thankfully the PSU hold-down bracket makes using this one unnecessary. Redundancy never hurt anyone, but it’s very nice to have the other option.

The rear of the case has Lian Li’s superb tool-free PCI slot mounting. The levers are very easy to operate with a single finger/thumb but lock solidly into place when closed. You can also see the rear 120 mm fan and PSU mounting hole.

Interior Rear

Interior Rear

Expansion Slots Locked

Expansion Slots Locked

Expansion Slot Opened

Expansion Slot Opened

On the top of the case are two 140 mm exhaust fans to help out the rear 120 mm fan. There is enough room up here for a thinner radiator (30 mm or so) plus two 25 mm fans.

Fans - Dual 140mm Top & One 120mm Rear

Fans - Two 140mm Top & One 120mm Rear

The bottom of the case houses the slide-out removable PSU air filter for easy cleaning. The case rests on stout aluminum, plastic & rubber feet that give the PSU plenty of room to breathe.

Case Bottom

Case Bottom

Removing PSU Fan Filter

Removing PSU Fan Filter

Filter Removed

Filter Removed

Case Feet

Case Feet

There is a ton of room behind the motherboard tray, with 7/8″ (23 mm) of clearance for wire management. Almost a full inch of space to hide wires is huge and a great boon for those that like to keep their installs clean. I’m glad to see they went with flexible rubber grommets on this case rather than the hard plastic ones that tended to pop out when you put a bit of pressure on them with the PC-X900.

Rear Panel Removed

Rear Panel Removed

Rear Panel Depth (23mm, or 7/8")

Rear Panel Depth

The rear intake fans are simple to pop out for cleaning. Just slide them up ~1/4″ and they come right out. It does take a little pressure to do so, which is good. The rubber mounts are plenty secure and keep fan vibration isolated to the fans. These are the same filters as the one for the PSU intake; easily washable if you choose (but take them off the fans first!).

Intake Fans

Intake Fans

Intake Fan Removed

Intake Fan Removed

Intake Fan

Intake Fan

Removing the front panel (it just pops right off via plastic tabs mounted on an aluminum panel) gives you access to the locked HDD rack. The two supplied keys work as they should, no surprises there.

Front Panel Removed

Front Panel Removed

HDD Lock

HDD Lock

The rack itself is quite well designed. You first mount rails to your HDDs with thumb screws. Then unlock the sliding HDD lock, loosen the thumb screws and slide it down. After you install your HDDs, push the slider back up, tighten the screws and lock the cage. It’s quite secure actually. Unless someone is REALLY determined, they’re not getting these drives out (especially if you lock the side panel, as is your option to do with a padlock). If they’re that determined though, they’ll probably walk out with the whole computer.

Also pictured below is the SSD bracket we mentioned before. It slides in and out just like a regular HDD, but you must wire 2.5″ drives the old fashioned way.

HDD Rails Mounted

HDD Rails Mounted

Installing HDD

Installing HDD

HDD Locked Into Place

HDD Locked Into Place

SSD Mount

SSD Mount

SSD Mount Removed

SSD Mount Removed

The motherboard tray is huge. Sure it’s rated to take HTPX boards, but until you see it with something installed, you just can’t understand.

Motherboard Tray

Motherboard Tray

Video Card Stabilizer Removed

Video Card Stabilizer Removed

To help you get a picture of the massive dimensions of this case, this is a larger-than-ATX form factor Maximus IV Extreme-Z. You’ll also notice the PSU installed with only the hold-down bracket. As long as you’re not pushing or pulling on it, that works just fine.

Maximus IV Extreme-z Installed

Maximus IV Extreme-z Installed

There are only two items with which I take issue on the motherboard tray. First, the upper-right wire grommet is just too far to the left for this form factor. It resides slightly under the board such that you can’t put the main 24-pin harness  up through it without bending the board. You’ll need to run that one through the long slit on the right there.

There is one more quibble that remains from past Lian Li cases – the CPU mounting bracket hole just isn’t quite large enough for this form factor board.

CPU Cooler Mounting Hole

CPU Cooler Bracket Mounting Hole

Both of these issues would not be a problem on a regular ATX form factor board, but are definitely ones to keep in mind if you run one of the few slightly-larger-than-ATX boards on the market. If you’re one of these folks, you’ll need to put the CPU cooler bracket on before installing your board in the case.

In case you still aren’t getting just how big this thing is, let’s put an AMD HD 6990 in there; currently the longest video card on the market.

AMD HD 6990 Installed

AMD HD 6990 Installed

How many cases can YOU name that dwarf a 6990? Definitely very few, and this is one that easily does so.

Overall, this interior deserves a very solid rating. There are two minor issues (grommet position & backplate hole) and one more important one (PSU bracket incompatibility), but none are insurmountable; it’s just important to be aware of them.

Installed & Ready for Showtime

The system going into this case is a whopper. Ultimately it will be a project called “Rhapsody in Red”, the build log for which can be seen on our forum. Before we get the Bitfenix items in though, we can see how a system would look with the stock fans and PSU wiring. Being a massive Lian Li case, we’d be remiss if we didn’t water cool it too, so there’s a little Overclockers bonus in here for you.

Test System
CPU Intel i7 3960X
Motherboard ASUS Rampage IV Extreme
RAM 32GB (4x8G) G.Skill RipjawsX DDR3-2133 / 9-11-11-31
GPU AMD HD7970
SSDs OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS 240G (main OS), Patriot Inferno 100GB (benching OS)
HDDs Samsung 1TB, Seagate 750GB
ODD HP CD/DVD RW with LightScribe
Fan Controller Lamptron FC9
PSU Cooler Master Silent Pro Hybrid 1300W
Water Loop 10W DDC Pump, XSPC Res Top, Swiftech Apogee XT CPU Block, Koolance 2x140mm Radiator

Without further ado, here is the water-cooled goodness!

Lian Li PC-Z70 With System

Lian Li PC-Z70 With System

System Specs

System Specs

Lian Li PC-Z70 With System

Lian Li PC-Z70 With System

Lian Li PC-Z70 With System

Lian Li PC-Z70 With System

Lian Li PC-Z70 With System

Lian Li PC-Z70 With System

This was the best I could do in about three hours with wire management. We’ll get it truly managed and buttoned up as Rhapsody in Red progresses in April. Until then though, it looks like a solid system. Wire management was definitely simple and installation was a breeze. With all the room behind the motherboard tray even closing the side panel was easy.

Final Thoughts & Conclusion

There’s not much to say about this massive, beautiful piece of hardware that hasn’t already been said. The PC-Z70 is another work of art from Lian Li. Overall it is a treat to work with. Cooling is superb; with three 120 mm fans cooling off all of those hard drives while sending plenty of air back to the rest of the system and then 2x 140mm and 1x 120mm to pull the hot air out. …And the room; oh the room. To be able to breathe like this while installing a pretty substantially-sized system is glorious.

You probably want to know how much it will set you back. The Lian Li PC-Z70 retails for $279.99 at Newegg, which actually isn’t too bad considering the quality of case you’re getting. The Cooler Master Cosmos II that Bobnova reviewed goes for $349.99, so when viewed against that backdrop, this case is a steal. Add a better-than-included-with-the-Cosmos II fan controller and you’re still saving money. Appearance is of course subjective, but of the two, I think the PC-Z70 looks better too.

So you have a great case that’s easy to work with, has stellar yet slightly understated looks, good cooling, nine 3.5″ HDD hot-swap bays and all the room you could ask for; all clad in classy aluminum. What’s not to like? Without a doubt, the Lian Li PC-Z70 is Overclockers Approved.

For anyone that likes the PC-Z70 but is a little intimidated by a monolith this large, check out the PC-Z60 MattNo5ss reviewed last July. If this is too big, that one may be right up your alley.

– Jeremy Vaughan (hokiealumnus)

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Discussion
  1. True about Silverstone. Though I've really only seen one case that I drool over from them - the TJ-07, which has been the Silverstone go-to for water cooling modification for years. They definitely make good cases; the TJ04-E is a solid looking case for sure, you made a good choice there.