Anyone who's heard of Lian Li knows they produce some of the most expensive computer cases. Seriously, they're crazy expensive. Though with all the cool features and chic designs Lian Li brings to the table, some would argue the prices of these high-end cases are justified.
Today, I'll be reviewing the Lian Li PC-B25F mid-tower case, which features brushed aluminum plating, tons of removable parts, and a tool-less design.
After taking the case out of the box, I thought the case looked nice, but it didn't look like anything special. To be honest, it looked painfully plain. However, I couldn't deny it had that "classic" Lian Li touch to it: minimalistic and light. The case I was transferring my computer from was approximately 3/4 the size of the Lian Li case, but the two weighed about the same, which was nice to feel. However, the weight of a case normally doesn't matter much to me, as whenever I am transporting my computer, it is short distances, like to my car. Otherwise, it sits on my desk -- why should I care about the weight?
Of course, one of the first things you look (or in this case listen) for in a new case is the amount of sound it creates when the computer is turned on, and I was pleasantly surprised when I switched the PC-B25F on for the first time. Despite having five case fans, the CPU fan, and the GPU fan, the computer was barely louder than my full tower with liquid cooling. As quiet as it was though, I feel like they could have improved upon this by adding some foam insulation on the inside of at least one of the side panels to absorb some of the sound, but pickers can't be choosers and I couldn't possibly knock Lian Li on the small amount of sound the case is making.
Looks can be deceiving, so let's go into a little more in depth on how this case looks and what comes included in this seemingly simple case. As I stated before, the case looked very plain coming out of the box; made of brushed aluminum, it comes in only one color: black.
The material looks and feels very nice to the touch, though when I first picked up the case, it left finger prints that I can't seem to wash off. I'm not sure what it was, as it hasn't happened since. Additionally, when I had a CD drive installed on the case, the traditional black plastic that came with the drive didn't match the case, which eventually drove me crazy. If this kind of thing bothers you, I would advise not having a CD drive installed and using USB instead.
The case comes with no side ventilation, but it does come with two 140mm fans on top in addition to the two 120mm fans in the front and another 120mm fan in the back. Contrary to most cases where the front fans are exposed through the front panel, the PC-B25F features a solid front cover, with the intake coming from small vents in the front of the side panel.
The case comes with two USB 2.0 ports, one e-SATA port, and your typical power and reset buttons on the top. Below them is the Lian Li logo in silver. Below even the logo on the lower half of the front panel lies the true beauty of this case. It's a plain and simple blue ring that really ties the minimalistic theme of the case together. Sadly, pictures don't do it justice and the only thing I can think to relate it to is Iron Man's miniature arc reactor in his chest.
Moving on, the biggest advantage of this case over other cases is the unique tool-less design the case features. I've worked with other cases that claimed to be tool-less, but it didn't seem to work out one way or another. The B25F really took "tool-less" to a T in that everything could be put together by hand; from the more mundane things like hard drives to even the power supply and motherboard.
Although I said tool-less hard drive installation is nothing new, I found the way Lian Li went about doing it differently from how other companies chose to look at it. Using thumb screws to screw into the normal holes, the drive bay acts similarly to a train track in that you slide it in. When you get all of your hard drives completely installed into their respective bays, you can simply slide a lever on the side up to lock them all in place at once.
I'm going to lump the video card and DVD drive installation into one simply because they really aren't that unique from other cases. Both work in a lever system that secures them just like any other case that features a tool-less design. Not that impressive, to be frank.
The motherboard was installed through the use of thumb screws that were actually a lot harder than I had anticipated to get in. Between me having to move the board into place and my fat fingers, I got in the first few without a screwdriver, but just ended up putting in the last few screws with one (although it was definitely possible without one -- I was just being lazy).
Lastly, I found the power supply to be the coolest thing, because I haven't used a case that didn't require a screwdriver to install the PSU. The device consists of a simple clamp that secures the PSU down pretty tightly. Even with some effort, I was unable to move the PSU once the clamp was in place, though I would still screw it in if you are intending on traveling with it.
Okay, so I lied, the power supply wasn't the last thing I wanted to talk about. This case also comes with three removable dust filters, which are extremely easy to remove and clean. No more having to buy aftermarket filters with these things; they definitely get the job done and are nice and manageable. There are two located in front of the two front fans (you have to remove the front panel to access them), and the last is located on the bottom on the outside of the case, which would be useful if you had a power supply that has a fan on the bottom.
Is it worth the money?
It goes without saying that this is the question at the top of everyone's mind, and I'm going to have to go with a big "no" on this one. I know my review of this product was largely positive, because I really do love the case. However, it's the price that really kills it for me. For a $150 mid-sized tower, the thing better install the computer components itself. While the tool-less design and materials in this case are indeed top notch, I can't think of any reason why someone would need this case other than for bragging rights or they have entirely way too much money.
That said, if you do have the nasty predicament of having too much money (yeah, right) or just want the case to say that you own a Lian Li, I full-heartedly recommend this one. While the PC-B25F lacks the flashiness that other cases have, the simplistic beauty of the case shines in its own way. Between the smooth brushed aluminum and the blue ring of power (one ring to conquer them all), I truly do love this case -- I would just love it a lot more if it were $50 cheaper.