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Lian Li PC-Q11 Review

Stylish, minimalistic and small it can pack a large graphics card but watch the temperatures.

Stylish and minimalistic

I tried a few setup for this case as I was a bit worried about it getting too hot when intensively using the GPU with a standard setup.

Hardware

Graphics card

Putting the case and my newly acquired ASUS NVidia GeForce GTX 460 side by side I quickly realized that getting it to fit in there will be a though fight. After quite a struggle I simply could not get it to slide into place from the side panel, it was missing like half a centimeter. For a minute there I contemplated chopping off a chunk of the plastic part covering the GPU heatsink. Then I realized I could try to slide it into position from the opposite side panel the one from the motherboard. That worked quite nicely. If you are having such a large graphics card it's the first piece of hardware you will need to put in that case.

Get the graphics card in first

Get the graphics card in first from the back side panel.
The card is resting on the hard drives rack fixed to the bottom of the case.

This chassis has obviously not been designed for such a powerful graphics card. It will get quite hot in there as you are intensively using your GPU - read "playing all night long". In fact the single case fan is blowing fresh air above the card's level thus probably not helping as much as it could to cool down the graphics adapter itself. To top it all the hard drives rack is located just below the PCI-Express slot so your drives temperature will increase as your are using your GPU. Thankfully there are air openings at the very bottom of the case's side panels. So hopefully through natural convection as the hot air from the GPU is moving up some fresh air is making it's way up from the bottom of the case.

Graphics card is in tight

ASUS NVidia GeForce GTX460 is in tight.
One can see the openings at the bottom of the back side panel.

But all is not lost, thanks to Lian Li PSU Extender you can make some room for your larger more reliable power supply while maximizing airflow.

Power Supply Unit

Lian Li's specifications are saying that case only supports PSUs of up to 140mm depth. Now strictly speaking that's not true. I was able to fit in a PSU that's 160mm deep. However that leaves very little room for a healthy air-flow. Admittedly the Corsair AX850 power capacity is over kill for that configuration which means it's probably not delivering it's best efficiency.

That case is packed!

Too little place for air circulation.
That PSU is too close from the fan thus preventing proper airflow.

But all is not lost, thanks to Lian Li PSU extender you can make some room for your larger more reliable power supply while maximizing airflow.

Chassis and PSU extender

Chassis and PSU extender before conversion.

After mounting our extender we get an extra 60mm between the PSU and the fan. Noticed that we also replaced Lian Li's 140mm fan with a be quiet! DARK Wings DW1. I found the DARK Wings is noticeably quieter and provides a better airflow. One issue though with that be quiet! fan is that you can't screw things on it both sides so we could not but back the safe guard on the inside. Since we just made a lot more room in our case it was easy to keep cables away from its blades.

Chassis and PSU extender

That PSU extender is providing a lot more room.
Here also featuring be quiet! DARK Wings DW1.

I had one concern about mounting that extender since the PSU built-in fan ends up being almost half inside the case and half outside the case. That was not of any annoyance in the end. No extra noise, airflow to the PSU seems good. The case section in the middle of that fan is also featuring air holes thus minimizing the problem. I have to mention here that unless under heavy load while playing games for instance our AX850 hybrid PSU is not spinning its fan so often.

Chassis and PSU extender

Chassis and PSU extender

Details of our PSU extender

Notice also that our hard drives rack is gone providing better airflow to the GPU too. More on that in the next section.

Hard Drives

As SSDs got eventually a bit cheaper I wanted to build myself a machine that's not using any mechanical hard drive. In theory that case standard setup can fit up to 4 hard drives: two 3.5" and two 2.5". In practice since the drives are affixed 2 by 2 just on top of each other I would advise to limit yourself to two drives. Moreover if like me you want to use a proper graphic adapter I'll dare you to mount 3.5" drives on that rack as they are mounted way too close from your GPU.


Name
PC-Q11
Brand
Lian Li
Summary
Stylish, minimalistic and small it can pack a large graphics card but watch the temperatures.
SelectCase
Lian-Li PC-Q11 (Mini-ITX)
SelectMotherboard
iBase MI945PA (Socket P)
SelectCpu
Intel® Core™2 Duo Processor T9400
SelectMemory
8 GB
SelectGraphicsCard
Asus ENGTX460 DirectCU TOP/2DI/768MD5
SelectPowerSupplyUnit
be quiet! STRAIGHT POWER E9 680W / CM
SelectFormFactor
Mini-ITX
SelectCpuCooler
Custom