Lian Li PC-Q25 mITX Case Review

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Lian Li was kind enough to send me their new PC-Q25 mITX case so that I can take a look at it. Let’s start off by taking a look at the specifications of the case.

Specifications

 

I would like you to take note of the PSU length supported per the specifications. The last time I looked at this page it listed 170 mm as the longest one supported.

Packaging

This is just a brief mention of the packaging for shipping  – it is the same foam crate that Lian Li has used since i started buying their cases back in 2003, so is pretty standard.

Q25 box

Case Exterior

Now let’s take a look at the case, starting with the outside.

Front of Q25

Front of Q25

Top of Q25

Top of Q25

Right side of Q25

Right side of Q25

Left side of Q25

Left side of Q25

Bottom vent minus filter on Q25

Bottom vent minus filter on Q25

I removed the filter to better show the bottom vent, so here is a picture of the filter.

Bottem vent filter for Q25

Bottem vent filter for Q25

Looking at the back side with the expansion slots, you have a small cover to help hold things in place.

Rear expansion hold down/cover on Q25

Rear expansion hold down/cover

Rear expansion without hold down/cover

Without hold down/cover

Case Interior

Now, here are some shots of the inside of the case. The lower drive rack has two thumb screws holding it in place. There are also two guiding screws, looks like screws to me, that help keep the rack in place.

Interior of Q25

Here you can see the 4-pin connectors, three in total: two for the top three drives and one for the bottom two drives.

Backside interior of Q25

Backside interior of Q25

Here are the power LED and power switch cables; I’m not sure why they did not include the case speaker in the same location.

Power Led and Power Switch on Q25

Power Led and Power Switch on Q25

Here is a closer look at the lower drive rack, where you can mount three 3.5″ drives so long as you don’t intend to have a long expansion card installed. It also supports three 2.5″ drives as well, and you can mix drive heights without any problems. When mixing drive heights the far right or mount closest to the front of the case has to be 2.5″ to allow enough room for a 320 mm expansion card to be installed.

Lower drive rack in Q25

Lower drive rack in Q25

Here are some shots of the hardware included for mounting the drives, motherboard, two 4-pin to 3-pin adapters, two zip ties, and case speaker.

Drive thumb screws

Drive thumb screws

2.5in drive screws

2.5in drive screws

3.5in/2.5in anti-vibration washers

3.5in/2.5in anti-vibration washers

Hot-swap drive rails

Hot-swap drive rails

case speaker, 4pin to 3pin adapters, and two zip ties

Case speaker, fan adapters, and zip ties

Lian Li provides two case fans. The top one is 120 mm in diameter and the front one is 140 mm. Taking a closer look at the front fan you can see a hole on each side on the frame. I have not yet figured out if this is to help reduce noise or to allow air to be pulled in.

Lian Li 120mm x 25mm fan

Lian Li 120mm x 25mm fan

Lian Li 140mm x 25mm fan

Lian Li 140mm x 25mm fan

Hole in 140mm fan frame for what purpose?

Hole in 140mm fan frame...why?

Taking the case apart to get things installed is rather straightforward; on the two sides of the case, there are slight protruding pieces you can pull up on and the side panel simply pops off. As you can see in the pictures below, there are pins that slide into the catches that hold the side panels on.

Lip for pulling off side panels on Q25

Lip for pulling off side panels

Pins for holding the side panels on

Pins for holding the side panels on

pin clips in case close up

pin clips in case close up

Here is a close up of the actual clip inside the case that grabs the pin to hold the side panel on. From the pictures shown on NewEgg, the case comes with 4 of them. This one, however, only had one and it was floating around inside the case.

Side panel pin holder close up out of case

Side panel pin holder close up out of case

Here is the motherboard tray, there are two screws at the top and two at the bottom. Remove them and it comes out from the back side; the screws are rather small so they will be easy to lose if dropped.

Motherboard tray close up

Motherboard tray close up

I did look over the instructions provided by Lian Li for mounting the hard drives. Houston: we have a problem; I hope the instructions get fixed for those unsure how to mount the drives.

Manual error

Manual error

Installing the rubber washers with the drive rails is not going to work with the screws they provided, as you can see here. One side has the rubber washer with screw and the other without the rubber washer.

Drive rail with washter and without

Drive rail with washter and without

There are simply not enough rubber washers to use, there are only enough for the three drives on the lower drive rack. I tried it to see if it was possible to use them and get them into the rail system. It actually is but getting them in is a bit of work (not too bad though).

Installation & Use

The parts going into this case are:

  • Intel 945GCLF2 motherboard
  • G-Skill 2 GB DDR2-667 (F2-5300CL4S-2GBPQ) RAM
  • Seagate Momentus 80 GB 7200.2 (2.5″), and two Western Digital Caviar Black (WD5002AALX) hard drives
  • OCZ ModXStream 600 Pro power supply
  • Seasonic SS-350ET power supply (see text)

Here you can see my one handed picture-taking to best show what is going on with the power supply installation. You can also see how much it is sticking out at the back.I found that installing things in a certain order helped. I mounted the PSU first and got the cables sorted a bit. I had no zip ties on hand for cable management, making it messier than it should be. I did have a problem though – mounting the power supply, which is why I listed two of them. No matter how I tried to bend the cables on the OCZ power supply, after plugging in the ones I needed (it is semi-modular), I could not get it installed. There just was not enough room, despite the PSU depth listed in the specifications.

OCZ modXstream 600pro in case

OCZ modXstream 600pro in case

OCZ modXstream 600pro

OCZ modXstream 600pro

Now here  is the SeaSonic installed – no problems at all now.

Seasonic SS-350ET installed

SeaSonic SS-350ET installed

I compared the two power supply depths: the OCZ is 6.5″ or 165.1 mm vs. the SeaSonic at 5.5″ or 139.7 mm. That somewhat small difference does matter, as the gap I have with the SeaSonic installed is only 1.25″ or 31.75 mm. Looking at the SeaSonic PSU depth vs. what is listed in the specifications there is a 1.59″ or 40.39 mm difference. When you consider the 1.25″ gap with the SeaSonic installed, I wonder how they figured out the power supply depth the case can handle.

Now, let’s take a look at the hot-swap bay. As you can see below on the right hand side there is a rail that slides down, this is to help hold the drives in place. Notice the thumb screw close to the front fan,  simply twist and pull up.

Empty Hot Swap Bays

Empty Hot Swap Bays

2 drives installed hot-swap, holding rail open

2 drives installed hot-swap, holding rail open

2 drives installed in hot-swap, holding rail closed

2 drives installed in hot-swap, holding rail closed

As you see here I have only three drives installed, only two of which I can currently use: one in the hot-swap and one on the lower drive rack. Installing the drives after the power supply made it is easier when going to mount the drives. If you mount your lower drives in the same direction as I did with the ports facing the back, install the cables first, slide the drives into place on the lower rack, then slide the rack into place in the case.

Ready to install the motherboard

Ready to install the motherboard

Here is the power led connector, which won’t plug in since the motherboard has a 2-pin header.

Power Led connector

Power Led connector

Here is the motherboard mounted to the tray. This is the last thing to be installed.

Intel 945GCLF2

Intel 945GCLF2

I then installed the power cables and SATA cables before sliding the motherboard in place. I found this to be the easiest way to get the computer assembled. I also ran into a problem getting the I/O shield installed, the cut out section for it was a bit too thick. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get the I/O shield installed. I wound up chipping off a bit of the case, not that it mattered: how often do you look at the back of the case?

Here is a final shot of everything installed in the case.

Everything installed and ready to go

Everything installed and ready to go

Final Thoughts & Conclusion

I really like this case a lot. It brings some new things into the mITX case segment. I am confused about whether this is supposed to be a micro server or gaming case due to its 320 mm expansion card length.  I can see it being a micro server case more then anything, as it has no 5.25″ drive bay for a CD or DVD drive, for a gaming box on the go. That wouldn’t be much of a problem if your games are already installed, or install via a service similar to Steam. The thing is, I don’t see this being a gaming case due to power supply depth issues, unless you went with a SFX (small form factor) PSU with a adapter plate.  Then you wouldn’t run into the depth issues but the largest SFX PSU I have been able to find is a 450 W unit from Silverstone. For my setup, however, the SeaSonic 350 W will be more then enough for the 5 total drives I will have after I get the PCI RAID card.

One thing Lian Li needs to fix is the power LED connector. I was not able to use the power LED as my motherboard has a 2-pin header for it and the case has a 3 pin connector; this did not stop me from using the case however. During the short time I spent on the computer everything was nice and quiet for me. As I sit a bit far back from the case, I couldn’t hear anything running.

If you are looking for a good mITX server case, I highly recommend you consider the Lian Li PC-Q25. From solely a SFF server perspective Lian Li has done an excellent job here. I look forward to seeing more mITX cases from Lian Li.

*Note:  while writing this, the price on Newegg has fluctuated a bit from $139 now at $119.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Thick aluminium side panels
  • 8 drive capacity
  • Two expansion slots,  supporting up to a 320 mm card.
  • 5 bay hot-swap

Cons:

  • Not all ATX PSU’s will fit, even following listed depth specifications
  • No SFX to ATX plate for power supply mounting
  • No 5.25″ drive bay or even slim drive bay
  • 3-pin power led connector, needs to be two 1-pin connectors.
  • I/O shield wall too thick to have it snap in place.

– Michael Evilsizer (Evilsizer)

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Discussion
  1. Aww, ain't that the cutest little case? I want to hold it and hug it and call it George.
    But yeah, nice little case. If I built my NAS now instead of a year ago I'd consider it.
    wish i could edit the article as it appears during the time the editors were looking it over. the psu spec has now changed to 140mm depth, how ever someone told me they have two specs. one for modular and one for non-modular, it should have both listed if this is the case.
    I think he did quite well with his available resources. I've reviewed two Lian Li cases and have a half-way decent photo setup. They are hard to photograph. Really hard.
    No, that was not a professional set up. I think he was just using a flash (truth be told, I should have given him pointers on shooting Lian Li, it's tough; I just didn't think about it).
    Heck, even I don't have a professional setup, I've just learned to do a decent job with what I've got. All writers here are volunteer. We do our best to bring forth professional quality articles, but none of us gets paid for work on the site. :thup:
    a couple of shots are with a p/s cam and some are done with a DSLR. taking pics is not my strong suite but doing more reviews will help with that. i couldnt figure out how to get rid of some of the flash reflections. on the p/s cam i used some paper and taped it over the flash, that only helped a little. the dslr i used the flash it had not a pro flash or anything like that, its my roomies.
    Sorry for being out of the topic...
    I would recommend this inexpensive and multi purpose light for tough situations where bounce flashing photography can not be used.
    Get 2 would be more effective.
    Clamp light....can be found everywhere...Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot from 8~$10 each

    A pack of 4 energy efficient spiral bulb. Look for the one listed light.
    Cost is about $10 for a pack of 4.
    Personally, if professional looking photography were used, I'd begin to question if it were a review or an ad, and probably stop reading....I would MUCH rather have an honest review by a hardware USER than a polished ad from someone with hidden intentions.
    Well done Michael!
    Nice little case. Always liked the Lian Li cases.
    BTW Good shots. I know taking pictures can be difficult. I know personally my pictures aren't the best but I do the best for what I have around, and the space I have to do it in.