Lian-Li PC-K5WX Case Review
Lian-Li is a name synonymous with high end cases and their brand has been a prestigious brand for many years now. We were lucky enough to take a look at the PC-X510 back in January and as you can see from the review I was impressed, very impressed. So it was with great interest that I looked forward to my next encounter with Lian-Li, but this latest product wasn’t really what I was expecting…
The Lian-Li PC-K5WX is not your regular Lian-Li case because this is a budget case, not only is it budget for Lian-Li but it’s also budget in the real world too, costing around £50 at the time of review. The PC-K5WX is a mid-tower, full ATX case that is compatible with both ATX and M-ATX Motherboards featuring seven expansion slots. The new PC-K5WX is from Lian-Li’s new Ebonsteel range and is (somewhat obviously) made from steel (SECC) and not Lian-Li’s usual material of choice aluminium. The Case measures in at (W)205mm , (H)450mm, (D)500mm, sports two 5.25″ drive bays and is equipped with three 120mm fans. In addition to this the case can support a radiator up to 240mm in the roof of the case and has enough space for up to four drives with both 3.25″ and 2.25″ drives supported. Maximum Graphics Card length is quoted as 400mm (with drive cage removed), while maximum CPU Cooler height is 160mm.
The Lian-Li PC-K5WX arrived at pcG in a Eco friendly brown cardboard box that gave very little as to the contents within. As you can see from the image above, taken from the side of the box, there are actually two versions of the Case. The Windowed version (PC-K5WX) as we have here and the non-windowed version (PC-K5X).
On opening the box we can see that the case itself is adequately packaged (for a budget case – can’t believe I’m saying that about a Lian-Li case), with the case supported by two hard foam blocks and covered by a plastic bag.
There’s very little in the box other than the case, just a basic multilingual instruction guide and a handful of screws, cable ties etc.
At the time of review, the Lian-Li PC-K5WX is retailing at Overclockers UK for approximately £53 and comes with a 1 year warranty.
courtesy of Lian-Li
|Model||PC-K5X / WX|
|Case Type||Mid Tower Chassis|
PC-K5WX with window
|5.25″ drive bay (External)||2|
|3.5″ drive bay (External)||None|
|HDD bay||3.5″/2.5″ HDD x4|
|System Fan (Front)||120mm Fan x2
LED 120mm Fan x2 (PC-K5WX)
|System Fan (Top)||120mm Fan x2 (Optional)|
|System Fan (Rear)||120mm Fan x1|
|Space of Radiator||120mm x240mm x60mm|
|I/O Ports||USB3.0 x1
|Maximum Compatibility||VGA Card length: 250mm(400mm)
PSU length: 250mm
CPU cooler height:160mm
|PSU Type||ATX PSU (Optional)|
I have to confess that I was a little apprehensive when it came to un-boxing the Lian-Li PC-K5WX, as until now the words Lian-Li and Budget have never really gone together. I was hoping for a great budget Case with some of that Lian-Li flair for design and high quality. For this reason I found myself somewhat disappointed as really the Case appears to be nothing more than an OEM Case with a Lian-Li badge. Maybe I was expecting too much and maybe I’d do well to remember the asking price during this review…
The design and shape of both sides of the Case are effectively the same, with the left side of the Case sporting a medium size Perspex window, that helps to hide the drive bays at the front of the Case. Note how the panels on both sides are punched outwards, giving us an interesting window shape on the left and a little extra cable management room on the right. Both panels are secured by way of two thumb screws and can be removed by simply pulling backwards.
The top the Lian-Li PC-K5WX sports a comprehensive control panel consisting of Power and Reset switch, x2 USB 2.0, x1 USB 3.0 and audio ports (headphone & microphone). In addition to this there’s a Power LED (Blue) and a Drive Activity LED (red).
The top of the Case features two protruding sections, the first of which is a large rectangular section to house either x2 120mm fans or maybe a radiator internally, complete with detachable magnetic grill. It’s certainly good that it is protruding (even if it looks a little ugly) as there’s not much room inside the case above the Motherboard. Fitting a radiator here would be extremely difficult I would think, unless you put the fans on the outside! The smaller front section houses the main Front Panel controls.
The bottom of the case sits up off of the surface by approximately 15mm courtesy of four plastic legs, complete with soft rubber feet. At the front the four screws allow the removal of the lower drive cage. At the back we find a simple yet effective PSU Filter, although getting to the tab to pull it out (forward) is going to be tricky…
Looking at the front of the Lian-Li PC-K5WX we can see the angular lower section that acts as a filter for the two intake fans hidden behind. Above this there are two 5.25″ drive bays complete with tool-less design, While at the base we find a simple Lian Li logo. The front panel can be removed by pulling (gently) at the base as it is simply held in place by plastic clips. There’s little detail on the pre-installed fans but the two front Lian Li 120mm fans also feature Blue LED illumination. A 240mm radiator can also be installed on the inside of the case, assuming that all drive cages are removed.
Looking at the back of the case we see a very familiar design, complete with the (surely!) now defunct water cooling grommets at the top. Below this we find a single 120mm exhaust fan with no illumination while to the left we find the main Motherboard I/O Shield cutout. There are seven expansion slots that disappointingly are of the press-out variety, wow! To the right of this there’s simple exhaust mesh area while below we find the main Power Supply cutout, with PSU’s up to 250mm in length supported.
Removing the left side panel (that was not easy as it was so tight) allows us to take a look at the inside of the Lian Li PC-K5WX and what we find is a somewhat predictable layout. On the right we have two removable drive cages supporting either x4 HDDs or x4 SSDs, whilst also compromising airflow at the same time, probably best removed/moved for better GPU cooling. I say moved as there’s actually three mount points, the two pre-installed positions and one above. The PSU area has some basic rubber feet to aide in PSU noise dampening, while we can also now see that single (non-illuminating) 120mm rear exhaust fan. But what’s not so apparent at this point is how little room there is around the ATX MB area, very little up top and next to zero at the base, in fact the PSU is almost going to touch the Motherboard. Also what I was very disappointed by was the use of coloured cabling, I thought we stopped doing this years ago…
Removing the right side panel doesn’t really tell us much more, although you can now see the screws that need to be removed should you wish to remove either of the drive cages. Cable management space is also poor, with around just 5mm and there’s no cable tie points or grommets either; things are going to get tight back here during install I think…
The Lian-Li PC-K5WX is equipped with three 120mm fans from the factory, two up front and one at the rear; all fans are 120mm and that size cannot be increased. The front two fans also sport Blue LED illumination while the rear does not. Fan speeds could not be found (and not even measured, see Hardware Installation), but I estimate it to be around 1200RPM.
As I’ve already mentioned the two drive cages are removable and can be re-positioned in any one of three supported positions. Th upper two are simply held by four screws, while the lower one is held by eight (four in the back and four beneath). Each drive cage has two drive sleds with rubber dampeners, supporting either two 3.5″ drives or two 2.5″ drives.
In my first impressions I stated that I was a little disappointed, and now having reached the end of the First Impressions nothing has changed. This is a steel Lian-Li Case and like many Cases we have seen in the past there’s nothing particularly bad about it, but there’s also very little to get excited about either. Hmmm…
|Case||Lian-Li PC-K5WX||Power Supply||Corsair Professional Series AX 760i|
|Motherboard||ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 GAMING K6||CPU||Intel Core i5-6600K|
|CPU Cooler||Noctua NH-U12S||RAM||G Skill Ripjaws 4 16GB|
|Graphics Card||EVGA GeForce GTX 980Ti Classified||SSD (M.2)||Samsung SM951 512GB|
|SSD||HyperX FURY 120GB||HDD||Seagate 2TB SSHD|
The first task was to put together the motherboard assembly (MB, CPU, CPU Cooler & RAM) for this review. This consists of our test motherboard an ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K6, an Intel Core i5-6600K CPU, a Noctua NH-U12S CPU Cooler and x2 4GB G.Skill Ripjaws 4 RAM modules. This Motherboard assembly can be seen above.
Before installation I also decided to remove the upper drive cage (just four screws) in an attempt to get better airflow to the Graphics Card.
The next task was to fit the Corsair AX760i Power Supply, this sits at the bottom of the Case with the fan pointing downward to take advantage of the PSU filter below. The PSU sits atop four basic rubber mounts to keep vibration to a minimum and was secured using the regular four screws. Note that maximum Power Supply length is quoted at 250mm.
With the PSU in position I set about fitting the MB assembly after first fitting the I/O shield of course. It was at this point I discovered the hole for the CPU 8-pin power connector to pass through is obscured by the motherboard once fitted! WTF? I thought these sorts of issues were resolved long ago, but with the new Lian-Li PC-K5WX it’s back! This means that you’ll either need to trail the cable across the MB, or try to fit it underneath. I opted for the later which was not easy and resulted in lots of cursing and swearing… Also note how close the bottom edge of the MB is to the PSU meaning that the HD Audio cable has to be trailed across the MB.
After removing that upper drive cage installation of our (rather large) EVGA GTX 980Ti Classified Graphics Card was made all the easier as there’s now plenty of room. General installation on this side of the PC-K5WX was ok (apart from the aforementioned) but the overall aesthetic is let down by poor cable management options and coloured cables.
Turning our attention to the back of the Lian-Li PC-K5WX we can see quite the bag of knitting. Now of course this will all be hidden anyway once the side panel is back on, but… As there’s next to no cable management space and very few cable tie positions (well none that I could see) getting the panel on was no easy task. Luckily the panel itself features a punched-out section that makes things a little easier.
With the Lian-Li PC-K5WX powered up the fans come to life and very nice the front Blue LED fans look too! In fact once built the PC-K5WX looks good on the desk and some of the trials and tribulations of the installation are forgotten. But maybe not forgiven…
At pcGameware we use Prime95 and ASRock’s F-Stream utility to evaluate CPU temperatures and voltage, and we use MSI Afterburner to evaluate the GPU temperatures. Of course Prime95 being a CPU stress test also helps to generate heat for us to check the case thermals. We also use UNiGiNE Heaven 4.0 for GPU temperature testing.
CPU performance testing is carried out using Prime95 (Small FFT) to stress the CPU. Each run is timed for 15 mins and the maximum temperature is recorded for all cores and then the average core heat is taken. Testing was carried out with an overclocked Intel Core i5-6600K at 4.4GHz courtesy of the ASRock UEFI.
GPU performance testing is carried out by running UNiGiNE Heaven 4.0 for 15 minutes and then by recording the maximum GPU temperature.
* All case fans (x3 in the case of the Lian-Li PC-K5WX) and the CPU Cooler (Noctua NH-U12S) are run at 100% throughout testing. To ascertain case noise levels, the GPU fans are set to their lowest setting and the CPU Cooler fan is unplugged, whilst the dBA is recorded from 1m away.
|Case||Ambient Temperature||Max CPU Temperature (core average)||Delta Temperature|
|Lian Li PC-X510||22.00||58.00||36.00|
|Cooler Master HAF XB||21.00||58.00||37.00|
|Corsair Carbide 600C||23.00||60.00||37.00|
|Cooler Master MasterCase Pro 5||22.00||60.00||38.00|
|In Win 303||21.00||60.00||39.00|
|NZXT S340 (Special Edition)||22.00||61.00||39.00|
|be quiet! Silent Base 600||23.00||62.00||39.00|
As you can see from the data above the Lian-Li PC-K5WX hasn’t performed too well in the CPU cooling stakes, which to be honest I’m a little surprised at. The eagle eyed among you may have also noticed an anomaly in the Screenshot above; that being the fact that it doesn’t show the correct RPMs for any of the Lian-Li fans!? I do not know why this is, sorry. Therefore I’m not sure what speed they’re running at either, but I’m guessing (from the noise) that’s it’s approximately 1200 RPM. As I’d already removed the upper drive cage it’s unlikely to be that, but I’m guessing that airflow’s simply not as good as you may expect from this dual fan intake single exhaust setup.
|Case||Ambient Temperature||Max GPU Temperature||Delta Temperature|
|Lian Li PC-X510||23.00||77.00||54.00|
|Cooler Master MasterCase Pro 5||22.00||77.00||55.00|
|NZXT S340 (Special Edition)||22.00||79.00||57.00|
|Corsair Carbide 600C||23.00||80.00||57.00|
|Cooler Master HAF XB||22.00||79.00||57.00|
|be quiet! Silent Base 600||22.00||81.00||59.00|
|In Win 303||21.00||83.00||62.00|
Turning our attention to GPU cooling things don’t really get that much better, with a maximum GPU temperature of 84 degrees Celsius in an ambient of 24. But it’s good enough and I have no real cause for concern here. I’m sure this could be further improved by the removal of that lower drive cage and or the addition of a couple of 120mm fans in the top of the Case perhaps…
Noise wise the Lian-Li PC-K5WX scores well thanks to those quiet fans, that while at 100% emit just 39dBA of noise. In fact the PC-K5WX is far quitter than I would have thought, suggesting that those fans really do have a relatively low RPM, so there are some benefits! 😉
I have to say that I’m somewhat disappointed by the Lian-Li PC-K5WX but maybe I was expecting too much. I at least thought I’d get a Lian-Li Case, but the PC-K5WX is simply a Case, a Case like many other Cases available today.
The Lian-Li PC-K5WX arrived at pcG in a large brown eco friendly cardboard box. The case was found to be adequately packaged, surrounded by hard foam and covered by a plastic bag. Once out of the box it was soon apparent that the Case was a good looking case, but with little to make it stand out in a crowd.
In fact I have to say it wasn’t the case I was expecting, maybe by testing the Lian-Li PC-X510 I have been spoiled as that Case is simply one of my favourites, but all of the things that made that Case great are not here. But then again neither is the price tag. Without going into to much detail here ( READ: a rant) the PC-K5WX is simply a £50 case with a Lian-Li badge and maybe for some that might be enough, but for me…
The case itself is well equipped, with three 120mm fans and room for a 240mm radiator in the front, that’s if you remove the drive cages first. There’s USB 2.0 and 3.0, as well as audio ports, it can also swallow a large GPU up to 400mm long again if you remove one of the drive cages. But issues such as the Motherboard covering the hole for the top CPU 8-pin power cable, the fact that the Motherboard is so close to the PSU with no cable management holes for the HD audio cable etc, the lack of addition stand-offs, coloured fan cables and press-out expansion slots simply let it down.
Thermal performance is merely adequate with a maximum CPU temperature of 66 degrees Celsius, recorded at an ambient of 24. Graphics Card cooling (and that’s the important one) was again adequate with a maximum GPU temperature of 84 degrees Celsius.
Summing up is difficult, in fact I’m really unsure as to what to think of the Lian-Li PC-K5WX. As, on the one hand we have a budget £50 Case that’s not without its flaws, but it houses a fair size rig, a lengthy GPU and it’s quiet too. And on the other hand we have a Case from one of the best manufactures in the world who really know how to put a good Case together. But looking at the PC-K5WX, you’d find that fact somewhat hard to believe and I think that’s a shame.
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Many thanks to Lian Li for providing this sample for review