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.
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.
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.
Now let’s take a look at the case, starting with the outside.
I removed the filter to better show the bottom vent, so here is a picture of the filter.
Looking at the back side with the expansion slots, you have a small cover to help hold things in place.
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.
Here you can see the 4-pin connectors, three in total: two for the top three drives and one for the bottom two drives.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Now here is the SeaSonic installed – no problems at all now.
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.
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.
Here is the power led connector, which won’t plug in since the motherboard has a 2-pin header.
Here is the motherboard mounted to the tray. This is the last thing to be installed.
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.
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.
- Thick aluminium side panels
- 8 drive capacity
- Two expansion slots, supporting up to a 320 mm card.
- 5 bay hot-swap
- 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)