Lian Li PC-Q06 Benching Station Review

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Lian Li is known for killer cases. Mostly all aluminum, they can border on works of art. When they approached us about reviewing a benching station it took me by surprise. They have released a couple new benching stations, the PC-Q06 and the PC-T60, the former of which we’ll be sinking our teeth into today.

Packaging & Specifications

The PC-Q06 is actually a mini-ITX test bench, which is good for testing mini-ITX boards but doesn’t do a whole heck of a lot of good for overclockers. They weren’t sleeping on their laurels though and have also released an ATX motherboard tray that mounts right on top of the unit. Here are the specifications for the base station:

Model PC-Q06
Case Type Mini Tower Chassis
Dimensions (W) 205mm x (H) 210mm x (D) 250mm
Front bezel Material Aluminum
Color Black / Silver / Red
Side Panel Aluminum
Body Material Aluminum
Net Weight 1.2KG
5.25″ drive bay (External) 1
3.5″ drive bay (External) None
3.5″ drive bay (Internal) 1
Expansion Slot 2
Motherboard Mini-ITX (Option: ATX / M-ATX)
System Fan (Front) None
System Fan (Top) None
System Fan (Rear) None
I/O Ports USB2.0 x 2 / HD Audio

Box Front

Box Front

Box Rear

Box Specs

Like a lot of cases, the PC-Q06 comes padded with foam and bagged in plastic. Thankfully, that’s a great way to protect it. This box came straight from Lian Li in Taiwan and it took a good beating on the way here.

Box Opened

Box Opened

Pulled Out

Pulled Out

Looking Around the Base Station

This section is going to be more of a gallery. The first impression of this thing is like a lot of Lian Li cases – the quality of craftsmanship is obvious from just looking at it. Let’s do that, shall we?

First, a look ’round the table at eye-level.

Front

Front

Eye-Level One

Eye-Level One

Eye Level Two

Eye-Level Two

Eye-Level Three

Eye-Level Three

Eye-Level Four

Eye-Level Four

As you can see, the PSU mounts in the bottom of the unit, exhausting out the back. The vented grille above the PSU is held on with four thumb screws. There is a U-shaped cutout that both allows wires to come through and wrangles them into a central area.

On the bottom of the unit, there is a mesh filter to keep the air coming into your power supply clean.

PSU Air Filter

PSU Air Filter

The filter is easily removable for cleaning when it becomes necessary. Rubber feet elevate the case and keep it from moving on you. The attention to detail is remarkable; even the feet look good. In case you missed it above, there is also a cover over the ODD bay to keep the look uniform.

The power and reset buttons on the front are accompanied by a headphone jack, microphone jack and a pair of USB 3.0 ports, a nice touch.

I/O Panel

I/O Panel

Now let’s have a look around from above. Warning: gratuitous photos from all four angles to follow!

Top-Down One

Top-Down One

Top-Down Two

Top-Down Two

Top-Down Three

Top-Down Three

Top-Down Four

Top-Down Four

In these photos, you can see the ODD bracket, set back a little bit to account for the matching facade. You also see one of the biggest beefs with the design of this station. There is no easy way to install a hard drive. Well, it’s not difficult by any means but they didn’t go out of their way to make it easy on the user.

To install a hard drive, you must remove two screws from two separate brackets. Then you install them on your HDD outside the case. After you do that, you can re-install the separate brackets, now with a HDD in between them. All told, that’s eight screws to remove and re-install every single time you change a HDD.

Some sort of hot-swappable tray would most definitely come in handy here. The bay on top of the Cooler Master CM 690 II Advanced reviewed previously has spoiled me. Something like that wouldn’t take up a whole lot more room and would make using this benching station a whole lot easier on the end user. This is a benching station after all, not a case. Presumably people won’t use it for 24/7 operation, and the need to change out hard drives might pop up quite often.

Enough admiring the exterior though, let’s pull one of the side panels off and look inside.

Before looking in though, we are brought to our second issue. The side panels have no less than six teeny, tiny screws to pull off. For installing an ODD (or fan controller) and PSU, that’s twelve screws. This isn’t nearly as annoying as the HDD issue since it won’t come up nearly as often, but it’s worth mentioning.

Open Side

Open Side

Open Side Two

Open Side Two

To mount your power supply, you simply set it in convenient guide rails and push it back into its perch, securing it with whatever screws came with the PSU. ODD installation is equally straightforward. If you want to install a fan controller (common for benchers), you have to remove the bay cover, which is easily accomplished with only a couple of screws.

I saved the best photo for last. What you’ll be struck by when seeing this thing for the first time is it’s size. It. Is. Tiny. Cute even. Here it is next to a processor box, making it look like it holds the worlds biggest stock cooler.

Size Perspective

Size Perspective

The small footprint is a boon to benchers that are pressed for space. It can sit on your desk, right next to your keyboard, mouse, monitor and – dare I say – LN2 thermos.

With only a couple issues, the base station itself is very well put together and would do very well as a mini-ITX test bench. Not many mini-ITX boards overclock though, so let’s get this thing ready for a real system, shall we?

Preparing for ATX Action

To make the station useful for benchers, Lian Li has released an ATX tray that mounts where the mini-ITX board otherwise would.

ATX Motherboard Tray

ATX Motherboard Tray

The tray comes complete with eight-slot expansion card bracket and a slew of stand-offs and screws.

Card Bracket

Card Bracket

Put them together and you can see we’re now on to something we can use!

ATX Tray Assembled

ATX Tray Assembled

System Installation

Installation is pretty straightforward, at least until you realize that there is no PSU on earth with wires long enough to do what is being asked of them. The one used in this review is the Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold 800W examined last week. The 24-pin and PCI-e harnesses aren’t necessarily the longest on the market (500mm and 600mm, respectively), but they’re not short either.

Here’s the problem. The power supply is mounted in a way that the hot air exhausts out the rear of the case. So far, so good. Where you run into an issue is when trying to get the wires out. Just to merely be outside the case, the wires have to run the entire length of the PSU, then exit the case. After that, they have to cross the entire ATX Tray to be able to plug in.

Now you’re faced with two choices. Either you purchase extensions for the cables so they can reach or get inventive. The latter is cheaper, so let’s go with that. What you can do is manipulate the 24-pin and PCI-e harnesses up through the gap in front of the HDD and ODD bays. While the table is obviously not designed for this, it’s not too difficult to accomplish with a little elbow grease.

PSU Installed

PSU Installed

Other Side of the PSU

Other Side of the PSU

Wires Squeezed Out

Wires Squeezed Out

PSU Installed - Rear

PSU Installed - Rear

Two items to keep in mind if you go this route. First, it was simple for me to get the wires out because I went with a fan controller. If you plan on using an ODD, you’ll want to pull the wires through before installing it. Second,  rather than the two standoffs stacked on top of each other as recommended in the ATX Tray instructions, you will need to add a third so it’s not putting pressure on your harnesses.

There is a plus side to all of this though. You don’t have to have a bunch of wires over top of your board while benching. That also makes it look a heck of a lot better installed. While it’s a minor inconvenience, this is far from a deal breaker. Heck, even if they were long enough I’d have done this anyway for just those reasons.

One last photo and we’ll finish putting the station together; here’s the HDD all mounted up.

HDD Installed

HDD Installed

The good part is, after you’ve reached this stage, there is pretty much no reason to go back into the belly of the beast unless you need to add another PCI-e cable.  The HDD is accessed from outside, so it can be changed without removing a side panel – a definite plus (well, you have to remove the ATX tray but that is a mere four screws).

Now let’s stick the tray on here, put the side panels back on and see where we stand!

Tray Installed

Tray Installed

Tray Installed Two

Tray Installed Two

Tray Installed Three

Tray Installed Three

Now we’re cookin’ with gas! There is one thing to note about the card bracket. From the factory, they come set up from the tray a little bit, as you can clearly see in photos two and three above. It’s a simple matter to re-mount the bracket’s, um, brackets such that it sits flush against the tray. Save yourself some time and do that before installing the bracket on the tray. In its factory configuration, it doesn’t allow the card to sit fully in the motherboard’s PCI-e slot.

Without further ado, here’s a system installed on this puppy!

Installed From Above

Installed From Above

Installed Rear

Installed Rear

Another From The Back

Another From The Back

Another Installed

Another Installed

From the Front

From the Front

Standoffs

Standoffs

Last One

Last One

There you  have it folks. A benching table for the ages. Tiny and packed to the gills, it has everything important where it counts!

Final Thoughts & Conclusions

First off, the look of this thing is just beautiful. Anyone would be hard pressed to find a better looking little cube than this one. It has all the quality and beauty we’ve come to expect from Lian Li. It’s certainly not perfect though. With a few improvements a good benching station could be made superb.

Pros

  • Small for the bencher with tight spaces.
  • Build quality.
  • Looks.
  • Lian Li’s trademark aluminum.
  • USB 3.0 ports.
  • For its size, it is one strong little beast.
  • Available in three colors.

Cons

  • HDD mounting system needs to be simplified. For benchers that change systems on their benching stations often, this is key.
  • PSU wire management could be better. While getting the wires out the front isn’t hard, it could be simplified with cutouts on either side in front of the HDD.
  • This might not be a con, because I understand the side panel screw placement; but four screws instead of six would make removing the side panels less cumbersome.
  • It would be nice if there was a (slightly discounted) ATX package deal for purchasing the base station + ATX tray.

The pros on this station far outweigh the cons. While the latter aren’t nitpicking by any means and could substantially improve the benchmarker’s experience, none of them are deal breakers. For anyone that has a tight space, or just prefers their benching rig right next to them on their desk, this little station has your name on it.

At Newegg, the base station is available in silver or black for $79.99 and red for $89.99. The ATX trays are brand new and it doesn’t appear Newegg has received them yet, but Lian Li said their MSRP will be $17, which would make the ATX-style station total just under $100. Considering the quality you’d be paying for, it’s worth every penny!

Jeremy Vaughan (hokiealumnus)

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Discussion
  1. You're not the only one, no. If you feel the urge, you can read through the feedback at XS.

    If you are in need of saving space while benching (i.e. you want it all on your desk), this is a good solution. It's also good as a test bed, albeit the HDD issue is a strong annoyance. If you don't need to save space, I would go with something larger, yes.

    Regarding the tipping, you have nothing to worry about. See the question & answer from the XS thread:

    the fact it looks as if it would topple over with a big pot on it.


    It actually wouldn't. Two of the mounting screws are where the CPU socket is, or just inside it. I had the same concern when seeing how the tray fit on there.

    So...I put the benching station on my workbench, put one hand on the area where the CPU socket would be and the other on the stool at the bench. After lifting myself up (albeit for a very brief period...basically push up, feet off ground, release immediately; didn't want to crush the thing) and seeing that it did not, in fact, tip over, I was satisfied. Plus you'll have the video card(s) helping offset the pot's weight, for what that's worth.
    Am I the only one who thinks this is totally useless? Now people who bench aren't very stingy. Be it with voltage, with cold or with fans. Since when have we started caring about how the station looks, or how small it is? I would never, ever ever ever buy something like this. A good ol' motherboard box is and always will be enough.

    On a non-biased note, the wire management could be improved and I'm not digging the motherboard hanging over the edge much. Tipping + Ln2 = very, very bad.
    Thanks Jolly! I like the little thing a lot. I'm not sure how much holes in the tray would help really TBH. There isn't much room around the MB in the first place. If the HDD issue was addressed with an easier solution, it would be pretty darn close to perfect.
    Nice review hokiealumnus, very nice looking Benching Station, though also the ATX plate would be better if it had cable slots in to facilitate cable routing,

    and as you have stated HDD isnt easily accessable