Lian Li is best known for their all aluminum PC cases, which are widely regarded as the best money can buy. Everything from build quality to stunning looks have made Lian Li a popular choice among PC enthusiasts for quite some time now. Back in 2012, Lian Li tried their hand at producing a test bench and released the PC-T60. The PC-T60 was a very unique approach to a test bench, but was a little limited as far as enthusiast features go. Fast forward to today; and Lian Li presents the PC-T80, which is quite a bit larger than its predecessor and offers support for motherboards up to XL-ATX in size. There are several more enthusiast-level features the PC-T80 offers, and we’ll explore these as the review progresses.
Specifications and Features
Here are the specifications as provided by the Lian Li product page. The PC-T80 Test Bench will be available in two models with the only difference between the two being the color choice of black or silver. Just about all motherboard form factors are supported, as well as full-sized ATX PSUs. Depending on how you assemble the PC-T80, a combination of up to 10 2.5″/3.5″ HDDs can be installed.
|Lian Li PC-T80 Test Bench Specifications|
|Case Type||Test Bench|
|Dimensions||(W) 440 mm – 17.32 in
(H) 435 mm – 17.13 in
(D) 335 mm – 13.19 in
|Net Weight||6 kg – 13.23 lbs|
|5.25″ drive bay||None|
|HDD bay||3.5″ HDD x3
2.5″ HDD x7
(or 2.5″ x4 + 3.5″ x6)
|System Fan||120mm x3 (Optional)|
|I/O Ports||USB3.0 x 4
HD Audio (Optional)
As you can see in the animated image below, the PC-T80 can be broken down into three different zones, the upper, middle, and lower. One of the unique features is the Fan/HDD Dual-Function Tray, which can be installed in the upper or lower zone. The tray accepts up to three 120 mm fans, a 360 mm radiator, or can be used as a HDD holder in lieu of using it for fans or a radiator.
The middle zone is the most likely home for the motherboard tray and the 2.5″ HDD rack that sits just below it. As mentioned above, any form factor motherboard should be no problem to install.
Included in the kit is a HDD cage that will accommodate up to three 3.5″ HDDs and an additional 2.5″ drive on the top of it. You’ll also find an 8-slot PCI expansion card bracket and a PSU mount included. There are a couple optional items you can purchase to add functionality to the PC-T80, which include a USB 3.0/Audio front panel bracket and a SATA Hot-Swap bracket.
The PC-T80 was shipped to us directly from Taiwan and arrived without so much as a mark on the carton. The box has some basic Lian Li branding on two of the sides and a multilingual list of specifications on the other two sides.
Once inside the box, you’ll find everything well protected with foam blocks and plastic wrapping. Each piece is individually wrapped to protect it from being scratched during transport. A box full of hardware used to assemble the PC-T80, along with the instruction sheets can also be found in the box.
The first thing that needs to be done is to attach the feet to the two side panels. The round feet are outfitted with rubber rings, which help protect the surface and provide anti-vibration qualities. Once the feet are on the side panels, you attach them to the bottom support plate with screws. The support plate serves to stiffen the unit only, but the base plate that’s installed just above it is where the bottom zone components get installed.
The next item installed is the 2.5″ HDD tray, which sits just below the motherboard tray that’s installed a bit later. The 2.5″ HDD tray is attached to the side panels using screws and adds an additional layer of rigidity to the unit. In order to install the base plate (lower zone), motherboard tray (middle zone), and the dual-purpose tray (upper zone), there are six support poles that need to be installed. The poles are held in place with large thumb screws and bushings. You’ll notice in the pictures below that the side panels have slotted holes where the poles are attached. This allows you to position the support poles to lock down the trays that sit on them or to release the tray for removal. When the support poles are in the release position, you can also lift just one side of a tray for quick access to what’s below without having to completely remove the tray.
At this point, we can get the different trays installed. The first tray that needs assembled with components is the base plate. This is where your HDD cage and PSU retaining bracket get installed. As you can see by the below pictures, the HDD cage can be positioned in any of three locations. The PSU retaining bracket can be installed at the far right or far left of the base plate. Once those two items are installed on the base plate, you can then set it in place and lock it down by moving the support bars to their appropriate positions.
The motherboard tray is easy to assemble and only requires attaching the PCI expansion bracket. Once that is installed, set it in place and lock it down. Unfortunately, Lian Li’s quality control people missed the insignia being installed upside down… oops!
The Fan/Hard Disk Dual-Purpose tray can be installed either at the upper zone or at the rear side of the lower zone. If you decide to install it at the lower zone, the intended use is for installing additional HDDs on it. If it’s installed at the upper zone, the intended use is for adding up to three 120 mm fans or a radiator up to 360 mm in size.
If you use the Dual-Purpose tray at the bottom zone, you’ll need to remove the two support poles that we already installed at the upper zone; and install them at the back of the lower zone. There are additional slotted holes in the side panel to allow moving the support poles to this location. Included in the kit is a seventh support pole that needs to be installed at the upper zone if you install the Dual-Purpose tray at the lower zone. This will restore needed rigidity to the upper zone. The first picture below shows the Dual-Purpose tray installed at the upper zone. The second picture shows the tray installed at the lower zone and the seventh support pole installed.
The power button is wired to provide both the power and HDD activity LED lighting. Looking at the second picture below, you’ll notice there are cutouts for USB and audio connections. Unfortunately, that bracket is only available as a separate purchase and not included in the kit.
Now that we have the PC-T80 Test Bench assembled, let’s grab some parts and see what we can throw together.
Putting it All Together
Beginning with the HDD installation, we opted to use the HDD cage for installing one 3.5″ standard HDD and one 2.5″ SSD. If you’re only using 2.5″ HDDs, then using the 2.5″ tray that sits below the motherboard tray would be a better option for you, especially if you want to install a custom water cooling loop. By removing the HDD cage from the lower zone, you end up with a great deal of room to install a pump and reservoir. Rubber grommets and special screws are provided, which need to be attached to the HDDs before installing them.
Sticking with the components to be installed at the lower zone, next was installing the power supply. You’ll find a couple rubber strips included in the kit that are used to cushion the PSU and reduce any potential vibrations. After applying the rubber strips, simply slide the PSU into place, and secure it with screws.
Moving up to the middle zone, we installed the motherboard. The motherboard mounting pegs and the thumbscrews used to secure the motherboard are all found in the hardware included with the PC-T80. Three of the thumbscrews are much taller than the others and are intended to be used in more crowded areas of the PCB, which makes getting your fingers on them easier than trying to use a shorter thumbscrew.
To get an idea of radiator and fan support, we grabbed our Swiftech H220 AIO cooler and installed it. At first, we installed the radiator and fans under the Dual-Purpose tray, which was easy enough to accomplish.
Next, we needed to install the video card, and here is where we ran into a bit of a snag. With both the radiator and fans under the Dual-Purpose tray, the tray was not able to close all the way back down. The first card we tried was an ASUS GTX 980 DCUII, but the heatpipe on the video card hit the radiator before the Dual-Purpose tray could be closed all the way. Next, we tried an EVGA GTX 780 Ti Classified that does not have a heatpipe protruding outside the cooler’s housing. Sadly, the Dual Purpose tray again wouldn’t close all the way because the radiator made contact with the video card near the SLI connectors.
Faced with the above dilemma, we simply placed the fans on top of the Dual-Purpose tray. Once that change was made, everything fit without issue. In theory, you could install the motherboard tray in the bottom zone, but that would create other fitment and cable management problems. It’s also possible to install the motherboard tray at the upper zone, but then you lose the Dual-Purpose tray’s ability to house a radiator and fans. So, if you plan on decking out the PC-T80 with water cooling (either AIO or custom) and a tall video card, be prepared to mount the fans above the Dual-Purpose tray. If you’re an extreme overclocker using LN2 or DICE, then you won’t need the Dual-Purpose tray at the upper zone, and things will be wide open for your pot.
Once the video card was installed, we just tidied things up a little and ended up with what you see in the pictures below.
The Lian Li PC-T80 proved to be a very versatile test bench that offers ease of access to your components. Depending on the cooling components you choose, it can be made to work with an AIO liquid cooler, a custom water cooling loop, or even extreme cooling that requires a pot. There is ample room at the lower zone’s tray to accommodate a pump and reservoir if a custom water cooling loop is in your plan. The only drawback is the inability to install a radiator and fans under the Dual-Purpose tray and have it clear a tall video card. However, installing the fans above the Dual-Purpose tray isn’t such a bad thing, as it does allow easier access to them and makes them much more accessible for cleaning. Another well conceived design feature is that each tray can be loosened and lifted up from the front, which affords easy access to the components below.
Assembling the PC-T80 is easy to accomplish, and the instructions are well laid out and easy to follow. Ample hardware is included to easily get a system installed and functioning quickly. About the only thing missing was a provision for installing a 5.25″ optical drive, but those are quickly becoming obsolete. If you must have an optical drive, you could probably sit one on the lower zone’s tray and just use some Velcro to keep it in place. In lieu of 5.25″ optical drive support, it would have been nice to see Lian Li include the USB/Audio front panel in the kit. About the only other nitpick would be that the Lian Li emblem was installed upside down, and it’s not an adhesive applique that can be peeled off and repositioned. I doubt this a wide spread issue though, and probably a rare instance.
The MSRP assigned to the PC-T80 is $166.99, but Newegg has it listed at $179.99. That’s likely to come down to the MSRP price after a couple of weeks. It’s a bit difficult to compare pricing on test benches because so many different variations exist. However, keeping in mind the PC-T80 is constructed almost entirely of aluminum and its wide variety of component support, in our opinion, the price is justified. Other than a couple minor quirks, the PC-T80 is a well constructed and great looking test bench that’s certainly worth consideration if you’re in the market for one.