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Aluminum Server Case Review 290

Anonymous Coward writes: "Hi guys, Here is a review of the Lian Li PC626, which is a server case made entirely out of aluminium. Unex from Belgium :)" Or aluminum, which is the only proper spelling, of course. Are these cases actually worth the premium price? I may be having heat problems (for the first time) with our latest PC purchase, so I'm suddenly more interested in cooling...
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Aluminum Server Case Review

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  • How much better could a alumininum case be for cooling? I mean think about it, the only thing that ever touchs it are convection currents. I wonder how much a all copper case would cost..... hrmmmm.
    • I bet you could figure a way to turn the sides/top/back/front into a nifty radiator for a water cooled system.
    • Re:Al ? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Argy ( 95352 )
      I was wondering the same thing. If you made it out of steel or something that conducts heat better, then it would conduct some of the heat from inside the case to the outside. Or looked at another way, it would conduct some of the coolness from outside the case to the inside. Any thermo gurus care to elucidate?
      • Re:Al ? (Score:2, Informative)

        by 1337 $14X0r ( 445930 )
        FYI, Steel does *NOT* conduct heat better. It is heavier and cheaper, and it is used in 95% of the computer cases out there. You'll never see a steel heatsink in your life - Aluminum, Copper, and Silver all do the job much better.

        If you look around that (or any other) overclocking site, you'll find more cooling info than you could shake a stick at. In fact, I'm installing [] [] such a system as we speak.
        • by Argy ( 95352 )
          Thanks...guess I should have inferred that from the aluminum heat sinks! Overclockersonline seems down for the count right now. I found a list of thermal conductivity in W/cm-K, which listed silver at 4.2, copper at 3.9, aluminum at 2.2, and low-carbon steel at 0.7.
        • "You'll never see a steel heatsink in your life..."

          It's the steel heatsinks that you don't see that get you, like where some TV's horizontal output transistors are mounted on a steel bracket that doesn't dissipate heat quite fast enough for that particular transistor after it's got a few years on it.

      • coolness is just a lack of heat; there is no "cool" energy; just a lesser amount of heat energy..

        soo... it would transfer heat away from the inside, thus cooling the interior..

    • Actually (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The whole case is aluminum. The drives dissipate a lot of thermal energy thru the case as they heat up the brackets and other nearby parts of the case. The motherboard doesn't have much of a thermal connection to the case however, unless you use some sort of material under the motherboard, filling the space between it and the case.
  • I know what aluminium is, and i guess everyone kmows. But what the hell is "aluminum"?
    • by de Selby ( 167520 ) on Sunday October 21, 2001 @10:30AM (#2456290)
      While aluminium is a metal with a silvery colour, aluminum is one with a silvery COLOR.
    • Re:aluminum ? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Keju ( 82514 ) on Sunday October 21, 2001 @10:40AM (#2456312) Homepage
      The English chemist Sir Humphry Davy who discovered the element derived the name from alumina, which was taken from the French tanning mineral "alum".

      Sir Humphrey first called it alumium, then aluminum, and finally aluminium. Somehow the Americans ended up calling it by the intermediate name and it stuck.
    • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Sunday October 21, 2001 @10:41AM (#2456314)
      It's a bastardization of the proper spelling. Or should that be bastardisation?
    • if "aluminum" is correct, then why not "Titanum" and "Barum" too? We give you the gift of English, and this is how you repay us!
    • You know, Asimov wrote a short story where the entire plot revolved around the difference in spelling...
    • Sorry guys, I love my country but the Brits have us on this one. Here's the story:

      Before the 20th century, aluminium, while very common in the earth's crust, was extremely rare in it's metallic form. The reason was that no one could figure out a cheap way to convert it from ore form (bauxite) to a metal. Once a process was discovered to do this cheaply, new companies started up refine and manufacture aluminium products.

      One of these companies, the Aluminium Corporation Corporation of America, forerunner of Alcoa, sent an order out to a printer for stationary, forms, etc. Somewhere along the line, someone dropped the 'i' and everything wound up getting printed up as "aluminum". The company decided, since not that many people had ever heard of the stuff, to go with the new spelling instead of going through the expense of having everthing reprinted. There it is: a spelling mistake that got institutionalized (institutionalised for the Brits).

      This is not unique: The national park up in Maine, Acadia, is called that because when the first maps were made of the park, the mapmaker dropped the r in Arcadia. The Park Service decided to just go with it instead of reprinting the maps.

      Also, here's the reason we are not the United States of Columbia: A few years after Columbus landed in the New World, another Italian, Amerigo Vespucci, was running around Europe claiming he disovered the New World. German mapmakers (the best in the world at the time)had nothing else to go on and started making maps based on his descriptions. They then misspelled his name as America and that's what got put on all the maps.

  • $600 for a case is insane. For $200, you can get a fantastic case and top-notch power supply from PC Power & Cooling [] which leaves $400 for a faster CPU, better hard drive, and extra cooling fans.

    This is a luxury item. Total overkill.

  • Yeah right (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ferret007 ( 442361 )
    It's aluminium, check out any periodic table. Aluminum is just another example of American bastardisation of the english language, much like the use of center/centre (meter/metre), *ise/*ize.
    • either that or it comes from alumina Al2O3, but no aluminum.
    • It's aluminium, check out any periodic table. Aluminum is just another example of American bastardisation of the english language, much like the use of center/centre (meter/metre), *ise/*ize.

      Shouldn't that be bastardization, not bastardisation? :p

      And yeah of course I'm only doing this to be annoying. :)

    • by Teun ( 17872 )
      Talking about periodic tables: When did Natrium (Na in the table) transform in some languages into Sodium?? Or K= Kalium / Potassium?
  • Let the spelling flamewar begin!
  • Can you imagine that baby burning? The scenario is something like this:

    John: Hey Sid? Wanna check out my new Athlon? It's overclocked something awful.

    Sid: Yeah, cool. What's that white fire in your room?

    John yells some incomprehensible syllables (mostly vowels), grabs the fishtank and runs to the fire

    Sid: Hey John! That might be a bad id...


    Ah well... At least they don't make fire extinguishers out of aluminium...

  • I've seen plenty of servers not respond, but never just the database engine. Config probs? Maybe a MySQL guru out there could give them a hand.
  • CoolerMaster (Score:4, Informative)

    by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Sunday October 21, 2001 @10:28AM (#2456284) Homepage Journal
    The best computer cases in the worlds IMO are available at They're so pretty. They have extra fans, alluminum body, and USB in the front, which is great for my gravis gamepad pro USBs. They're also extremely roomy and easy to work with. The trouble is finding a place that sells them, because the company doesn't sell them direct, and they have distributors in Japan and Europe, but not the US. They aren't all too expensive either. I personally reccomend the ATC-201 for anyone who needs a full tower and worries about heat. The fan in the top of the cast helps SO much.
    • The best computer cases in the worlds IMO are available at They're so pretty. They have extra fans, alluminum body, and USB in the front, which is great for my gravis gamepad pro USBs. They're also extremely roomy and easy to work with. The trouble is finding a place that sells them, because the company doesn't sell them direct, and they have distributors in Japan and Europe, but not the US. They aren't all too expensive either. I personally reccomend the ATC-201 for anyone who needs a full tower and worries about heat. The fan in the top of the cast helps SO much.

      You can find it at Directron []. I love these guys - they're usually the first or only to sell some of the more esoteric stuff.

      They had removable aluminum U66/U100 IDE drive trays, USB 2.0 external drive cases, etc well before anyone. The prices have consistently been near the best on pricewatch, and delivery's been quick - can't say enough good about 'em.

      And no, I don't work there or even know the guys running it.

    • Ars [] has a full review of the ATC-201 located here [].


    • carries them here [].
  • Or else my chemistry text books have been all wrong. Everyone else, too.
  • ... your pentium iv overheats, and sets the whole case on fire []?
  • aluminium []

    n. Chiefly British
    Variant of aluminum.

    Sheesh, /. really is US centric. This is the common spelling and pronunciation in many countries. I know it's off topic, but someone had to say it. Incorrect spelling, huh :)!

  • Cool! (Score:1, Interesting)

    I finally get to truthfully say:

    I submitted this months ago and it was rejected!

  • by PhotonSphere ( 193108 ) on Sunday October 21, 2001 @10:34AM (#2456301) Homepage Journal
    I own a Lian Li PC-60 and a CoolerMaster ATC201. I could never go back to the full tower cases I had used for the last decade... Not only do these cases stay 3 times cooler than regular cases, I find that even with the reduced interior space I have much more usable room. Other perks like sliding mobo trays, power supply brackets, thumbscrews on everything, and nice smooth interior edges make them truly a pleasure to work with.

    My biggest justification for the extra $$ spent to get the cases was this: I go through hardware like mad, but the one thing that will remain constant in my systems for the next few years is my case. It is an investment that will undoubtedly be in my top performance machine for years to come. If you can reccommend another purchase to fight hardware obsolescence as effectively, I'm all ears.

  • Weight (Score:2, Interesting)

    by notext ( 461158 )
    The best part is the lightness of these cases.

    If you go to a lot of lans or move your box from place to place a lot aluminum is the only way to go.
  • In Belgium (Score:2, Informative)

    by Slef ( 8700 )
    Or aluminum, which is the only proper spelling, of course.

    Actually, aluminium is the only proper spelling in Belgium: in French, in Flemish, and even in German. For once we all agree on something!

  • Lian Li Cases (Score:3, Informative)

    by NormAtHome ( 99305 ) on Sunday October 21, 2001 @10:54AM (#2456338)
    You can easily pay over $16,000 for a high end dual cpu Compaq Proliant server, $600 for a fabulous server case is not that bad. I've built three systems using the Lian Li PC-60 USB case and I've never been happier with any case. The newer model has an internal bracket that mounts five hard drives right behind two front mounted fans with dust filter and four front mounted USB ports for motherboards like the Asus A7A266 which has headers on the board for the four ports. It's an expensive case (now $159 from Directron.Com) but it's a joy to work with and it does keep the components cool.
    • They definitely are high quality cases. I just recently picked one up to build a new system and everything fits together like clockwork. The hard drives are kept nicely cool by the front two case fans blowing air over them, and the power supply and back fan more than adequately cool the AMD 1.4Ghz Thunderbird. I'm not overclocking it yet though until I find out what the acceptable heat ranges are for the processor. Currently it runs at about 47C and the system temperature is 36C. Anyone know if this is the normal range for this type of processor?
  • A Slashdot editor correcting someone's spelling? This has got to be a sign of the apocalypse.

    It'd be even weirder if there actually was a mistake though, and not just a regional difference. I guess the world's not going to end just yet.
  • Slashdotted! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Helmholtz ( 2715 ) on Sunday October 21, 2001 @11:01AM (#2456350) Homepage
    Damn it, I was about to go onto page three in the review, and then this happened:

    Warning: MySQL Connection Failed: Too many connections in /home/sites/site1/web/index.php on line 4
    Could not connect to database!

    So does Slashdot ever warn sites that they're going to be posting a link to them?
  • My Lian-LI Case (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I bought a Lian-Li PC-67 USB case about two months ago. You get alot more than just an aluminium case with great cooling. There are thumb screws eveywhere and everything can be easily removed, the airflow through the case is incredible, I clean the front fan filters every couple of weeks and and invariably find amazing amounts of dust on the front. I spray-painted my drives silver to match the aluminium so the case just plain looks cool. It seems to be well built and though it is hard to justify the $200+ price tag remember it is an investment that will be used for years to come.
    I would definitely recomend this case to anyone who opens ub thier box often, it is wonderful to work on.
  • by Anonymous Coward
  • The site's now down.
  • Supermicro cases (Score:2, Informative)

    by acidblood ( 247709 )
    For most server needs, take a look at the Supermicro [] cases. I own the now-classic SC-750 and have no complaints about it.

    Yeah, I know they're just OEMs, the SC-750 is actually made by some other company (which I can't recall now), but anyway if it was picked by Supermicro then it must be very high quality.

    Also, Supermicro always bundles high-quality power supplies, an increasingly important point with the powerhogs that are Dual Athlons and Xeons. In my case, the Sparkle FSP300-60GT -- hasn't failed yet (and the load's high on it, believe me, plus it's 24/7), and should be enough power for most needs. Unless you're building the ultimate peltier/watercooling rig.

  • I have one of these (Score:3, Informative)

    by Azog ( 20907 ) on Sunday October 21, 2001 @11:11AM (#2456369) Homepage
    Mine is one of the medium-high tower models. It's a really nice case, but yes, it was awfully overpriced. And mine didn't even come with a power supply - by the time you add the price of a premium power supply, it gets really spendy. However, I don't reget the purchase.

    I got sick of all those garbage $50 cases made out of stamped metal with the razorblade sharp inside edges, cheaply riveted together.

    The Lian Li case looks good (especially with Tux, Gnu, and Linux stickers on it!). More importantly, it fit my motherboard perfectly (a dual Slot 1 Tyan) and the drive cage at the bottom is PERFECT for a small RAID setup. I've got four 60 GB Maxtors stacked in there, and with the twin drive cooling fans right in front of them they don't even get warm to the touch. (I have a lot of MP3 and OGG files...) The cooling works well for the twin 800 Mhz CPUS as well.

    The whole case comes apart with thumbscrews. You can pull out the power supply, the motherboard, all the drive cages... very quick and easy.

    Best of all, even with all those fans it isn't too loud. The twin cooling fans on the front have a three-way switch that lets you adjust the speed (and noise) as appropriate for your cooling needs. I have mine at max speed, and I still have no trouble sleeping next to it.

  • PC60 not bad (Score:2, Informative)

    by germann ( 463803 )
    I've got both the PC60 and PC70. The former is a midi for home users, whilst the latter is a big tower sold as server case. Both are carefully designed, but I definitely prefer the PC60. It has a removable mobo tray, thumb screws (which both the PC70 has not) and on the whole is really a lovely piece of pc case: lots of bays, no sharp edges etc. etc.
    Concerning the cooling - well with all those fans it should be allright, and until now I've experienced no problems with my Athlon 1.33, GeforceGTS2 etcetera.
    Apart from that, I myself can't really measure the difference to other cases. Of course both cases emit some noise (because of the fans), which is tolerable at least for the PC60. As you know, both good cooling and little noise are hard to get, so if your priority lies on the latter you might want to try another case.
    On the whole, I'd recommend - for the average user - the PC60, whereas the PC70 is not designed for regular hardware fiddling and a bit too loud.
    Wether the PC60 is worth the extra money ? Well, I don't know. But it sure is a nice case.
  • Things like this make me glad I'm Canadian. Although we're supposed to spell things the way the Brits do, we're close enough to the US that nobody cares. Go Canada!
  • Some information from

    In 1761 de Morveau proposed the name "alumine" for the base in alum. In 1807, Humphrey Davy proposed the name alumium for the metal, undiscovered at that time, and later agreed to change it to aluminum. Shortly thereafter, the name aluminium was adopted by IUPAC to conform with the "ium" ending of most elements.

    Aluminium was first isolated by Hans Christian Oersted in 1825.

    Aluminium is the IUPAC spelling and therefore the international standard. Aluminium was also the accepted spelling in the U.S.A. until 1925, at which time the American Chemical Society decided to revert back to aluminum, and to this day Americans still refer to aluminium as "aluminum".

    So, although it wasn't discovered, named or isolated in America, a group of American Chemists randomly decided to use the SECOND name Humphrey Davy gave to an element he hadn't yet isolated, even though he changed his mind later.

  • review of 4 Al-cases (Score:2, Informative)

    by paulbeasd ( 518564 )
    There is a review of 4 cases
    - Coolermaster ATC-200, Coolermaster ATC-201-SX, Lian Li PC-60, Lian Li PC-61 -
    in dutch and in english at: oo lerkasten.htm
    (from: GamePC, 21 April, 2001).

    one quote:
    "The ATC-200 still stands as one of the best aluminium cases on the market,
    despite being more than a year old."
    So, by now, it is at least one and a half year old allready!
  • But have you looked at the price of the aluminum chassis? I did not see a listing on pricewatch for the one reviewed, but the older version is starting for about $200 w/o a power supply. I like a nice chassis like the next guy and the last year or so have used the Antec SX830/840 [] (about $50 w/o ps sx800) for smaller boxes, the SX1030/1040 [] (about $60 w/o ps sx1000), or a SuperMicro 760A [] (about $140, but includes nice ps). For $200, you start moving into solid rack mounting chassis (with a ps).

    If your boxen is running too hot, start with the basics. Clean the clutter - round your cables, bundle wire, and have airflow (not to be confused with tons of fans just making noise). If you are carving blow holes or doing other mods, the steel in these cases are a lot easier to work with than aluminum. Ducting can help with hot spots as well.

    Course, nothing says I have money to blow out of my ass like a shiny aluminum chassis.... there is that. A good 3U setup will bring the proper googling, however...
  • More Lian Li reviews (Score:5, Informative)

    by Daniel Rutter ( 126873 ) <> on Sunday October 21, 2001 @11:27AM (#2456389) Homepage
    My reviews of other Lian Li cases, in reverse chronological order:

    PC-76 server case []

    PC-70 full tower []

    PC-31 mini-tower []

    PC-60 midi-tower []

  • UM vs IUM (Score:2, Interesting)

    by eander315 ( 448340 )
    Or aluminum, which is the only proper spelling, of course.

    Actually, it appears Aluminium is the more correct spelling, considering the British guy who found it settled on the -ium ending himself. There's a whole article devoted to the subject at World Wide Words [].

  • I bought a Lian-Li case because I was building a computer as a gift, and I thought it looked really slick. When it arrived, though I was shocked by how light it was -- just under 6 Kg without mobo/powersupply/etc. I've since bought 3 more for computers that I frequently move, and it really makes a difference. I am not uncomfortable carrying 2 or even all 3 of them at once (comfort including fear of dropping, that is).

    Yes, they cost significantly more. They are also significantly more convienient if you have to open them up frequently. Are they better a cooling? I suspect that, for the difference in price between a "standard" case and a Lian-Li AL case, you could buy fans, etc. that would make more of a difference. Even their large server cases are refreshingly light. These cases are definitely not for everyone, but if you need a large, light, accessible, and sturdy case, I don't know of anything better.

    (and if you know of anything better, I'd like to hear about it... these are awfully expensive ;)
    • With you moving them around all the time, maybe you can answer a question that I had about them.

      How do they hold up against scratches and brushes? I'll be the first to admit that I am kinda rough with the cases that I throw into my trunk all the time. I'd really be afraid that the case would look horrible after just a few of my moves.

      Is this an issue?
  • I am probably less of an environmentalist or whatever than the next guy, but I'd like to see the energy I've expended throughout the years in throwing beers cans into the recycling bin put to use.

    I don't see any of these cases claiming to use recycled aluminum and I can't image there would be a less quality using it compared to virgin aluminum. So, is there a recycled aluminum case?
  • Spelling??? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pgpckt ( 312866 ) on Sunday October 21, 2001 @12:57PM (#2456542) Homepage Journal
    The slashdot editor said...

    "Or aluminum, which is the only proper spelling, of course"

    Please, tell me, when did slashdot even give the slightest consideration to spelling? Does this means the editors will *gasp* spell check their witty comments, polls, and other writings? Oh please, tell me it ain't so!

    • by alienmole ( 15522 ) on Sunday October 21, 2001 @02:12PM (#2456747)
      Spelling matters to the /. editors when there are alternative spellings and one of them is American. In these cases, such as with "aluminium" and "aluminum", /. editors feel obliged to take a strong patriotic stand, denying the existence of any other spellings. This offends many non-Americans, and over time, countless little incidents like this build up, eventually spawning an irrational hatred of Americans, which ultimately turns into terrorism. Some hapless terrorist then attacks America, which gives America an excuse to bomb all the countries it has been itching to bomb for the last few decades. Thus, spelling is an important tool of military conquest, and /. plays a leading role in America's foreign policy.

      The use of spelling in this way goes back to the very founding of America. In early secret sessions of the Congress, it was decided to deliberately change certain spellings, at that time as an irritation to the British. The King's court in England would be plunged into a grammatical outrage when receiving a communication from the American colony, containing strategic abuses of the King's English. This prompted the King to send troops to whip the colonies into shape, which in turn inspired ordinary American colonists to rise up and throw off their oppressor's yoke.

      This is why the "spelling bee" is such an important feature of America's education system. As any boy can tell you, "bee" is for "bomb". Indoctrinating young Americans to misspell is the secret weapon which America has used to devastating effect against its enemies, who are so flummoxed by the apparent illiteracy of their opponent that they forget to watch for incoming Tomahawks. Misspellings are behind some of the key events which have shaped our history. Next time you see a /. editor use "then" instead of "than", turn on your TV - the consequences are sure to follow swiftly.

    • I bet this article was chosen just so michael can point out the typo and make the editors look like, well, editors.

      Slashdot: where the coders can't implement a built in spell check.
  • Lian-Li PC+61 USB (Score:2, Informative)

    by jgrumbles ( 515918 )
    Since the articled called the effectiveness of aluminum cases into question. Before I put my new Athlon system in my $200 Lian-Li case I ran a Q3 Demo loop and some math program that attempts to kill the cpu ;) In the traditional beige case made out of whatever with 8 fans strategically placed it maintained a system temp of about 44 F and the cpu about 48 F. I then switched it over to the Lian-Li PC+61 USB case (black aluminum, very sexy) and the system temp is now 37 F and cpu is 46 F on full load. So they do have their uses, but I mainly got mine because it was black.
  • I see lots of OT threads being created on Brit versus American spelling here. Maybe this [] reference will shed some light.

    Canada is (as usual) comfortably wedged between the Brit and American columns of the table -- sometimes Canucks use the Brit spelling exclusively, sometimes they use the American one exclusively, and sometimes they use both. How diplomatic!
    • While programming, the one that bites me in the butt is US 'gray' vs. UK 'grey'.

      Can't we all just agree that the constants with gray/gray should just be one thing? I don't care what we all decide on, but if my compiler balks on a "Undefined Constant" just for a color/colour again, I'm gonna invent a symbol and get it shoved in the Unicode standard just to represent the midway between black-and-white. We can call it the "Color Previsouly Known as the Often Misspelled Color Between Black and White." or we can just call it "the Color" for short.

  • Face it, the amount of heat transfer through the case itself is trivial. Stick a thermal probe on the the inside of the case, on the outside, and ambient. There's only a small fraction of a degree difference between the inside and outside of the steel, but quite a difference between the inside of the steel and the air leaving the case.

    Al may be light and slick-looking, but it's not really a thermal improvement over steel. If you really want to improve heat transfer through the case, try these:
    • Paint the inside flat black. A remarkable amount of internal heat is transferred by radiation.
    • Put a thermally-conductive pad under the mobo so that more heat makes it to the steel directly.
    • Add another pad (or at least vent some air) between the mobo tray and the bottom panel (right side on towers.)

    • Hmmm...I doubt painting the inside black is going to be an improvement. For one thing, black is the most radiant color, which to me indicates it will help keep the metal case cooler at a slight expense of keeping the air inside warmer. (exactly backwards of what one would prefer) Right?

      The real reason, though, is that pretty much any paint is going to have a negative effect on your thermal characteristics. You really need to anodize metal for radiant effect, and even then the performance difference is tiny.
  • One note I saw in another review of these cases (In the November Linux Journal) was that they are about as hard as very hard cheese. The thumb screws should not replaced because the force of a normal screw driver will strip the screws.

    There are times when I just want to build my own case. I wonder where I can find sheet titanium... (Actually, you used to be able to get scraps from Boeing. Probably not big enough to build a case and too damn hard to work. Have to talk to my father-in-law. He has a metal shop.)
  • I bought an aluminum case this summer, the Coolermaster ATC 201. Best case I've ever worked with, without a doubt. I've tried Antec, Inwin, and Enlight, but the Coolermaster is just the perfect mix for well-constructed and stylish for me.

    I've gotten many comments like "Wow that is a badass case" since I built this machine. Hell, my girlfriend even thought it looked cool, and she is not anything close to a geek :)

    Beyond that, it runs 15 degrees cooler than some of my friends computers, and that is without any crazy fans.

    I did put in an Enermaz power supply. I have been very happy with the setup.

Information is the inverse of entropy.