Hardware, Reviews

Lian Li PC-TU200 Case Reviewed – Project Tiny Ivy

Today we will be reviewing Lian Li’s Mini-ITX case for gamers, specifically designed to be portable, yet powerful with the ability to support a lot of desktop-like components.

The PC-TU200 is designed to be a portable Mini-ITX system for users looking to fit desktop-like performance inside of an extremely compact and portable form factor. The PC-TU200 case is a fully aluminum case that measures in at a width of 8.8 inches (220mm) with a height of 12.8 inches (320mm) and a depth of 14.4 inches (360mm). Weighing in at 6.8 lbs or 3.1 KG, this case is relatively light mostly due to the all aluminum construction.

When it comes to features, this case is packed with little things here and there that make it a useful case. It features two USB 3.0 ports in the front, as well as 3.5 mm headphone and microphone jacks. It also has support for dual-slot graphics cards up to 300mm long and 80mm high CPU coolers. It also sports support for full-size ATX power supplies, which is generally one of the biggest limitations in mini-ITX builds. Usually, the lack of an ATX PSU means that you’re limited to how much power you can pack inside of the case since it’s usually a proprietary PSU rated at 500w or less.

This case also features some unique retention methods for the side panels as it is a combination of dimples that pop into place and metal clamps that you will find in other Lian Li cases. Overall, though, this solution not only feels solid, but it also looks good and works relatively well. The case also has a nice little fan filter at the bottom of the case (which is elevated by metal studs built into the case). The case’s hard drive bay features four hot swappable hard drive bays thanks to a pre-installed backplane. However, due to the mounting system, it isn’t necessarily the easiest to use with four drives.

After getting everything ready, we decided to go ahead and install our new Z77-based system inside of the PC-TU200 case. This system was originally intended to be a water cooled one, but upon further inspection we realized that we would not be able to fit our water cooling system inside of the case like our previous Lian Li mini-ITX case that we had reviewed. This is because there is nowhere to mount the radiator to in the case other than in the front, but the area allotted for that is too small by a few millimeters.

Since that was the case, we opted for a cooler Intel Core i5 3570 and went air cooling on conjunction with our P8Z77-I ASUS motherboard. We also went with 16GB (2x8GB) of Patriot 1866 MHz Intel Extreme Masters RAM.
After that we opted to install the motherboard into the case to get our build going. The unfortunate part about this was that unlike its predecessor, the motherboard tray on the PC-TU200 is not removable, which does make installing the motherboard a little bit more difficult.

The nice thing about the ASUS motherboard is that they made it very easy to connect the front panel connectors of the case to the motherboard using their included adapter, so having to deal with a small, packed motherboard, in a small, packed, case was not as much of a pain.

After that, we installed the EVGA GTX 660 Ti and upon doing so, also removed the hard drive cage since we would only be running one SSD. Do note, that you can still run hard drives in the case with a larger graphics card like the GTX 660 Ti (or larger) without any problems, but you will want to actually take the cage out while installing everything else in order to make the installation process easier.

Real World Use
The case itself, is incredibly sturdy and has little hardened corners for transportation. Because this thing has a handle, it is also incredibly easy to carry around. The only complaint with actually carrying this case around is that when you set it down and let go of the handle it seems to make a very loud knocking sound. Lian Li did not pad or coat the plastic handle with anything so whenever it hits the aluminum body it makes a very loud sound.
The actual system itself under normal use is whisper quiet and is capable of cooling itself relatively effectively. The system is designed to exhaust heat out the back of the system or using the PSU’s fan because there is only one chassis fan installed in the front of the case, the 140mm one. We believe that this may not be enough in warmer scenarios or places with little airflow. We did not encounter any overheating in our testing, however, it may be possible if you have a non-modular PSU to starve your parts for airflow.

This case sells for $169.99 on Newegg’s website, considering all of the quality that Lian Li has put into this case, $169 is not an unreasonable price. However, at $169 it does put itself into 2nd place as the second most expensive Mini-ITX case on Newegg. It’s very similar (handle-less) predecessor the PC-Q08 does not have a handle, but in our opinion, it has better cooling. There is also Bitfenix’s Prodigy which is slightly larger in size but is much more watercooling friendly and similarly portable for $89.99.

We’re not entirely sure if this case is worth the $169.99 considering that fitting water cooling is fairly difficult and the amount of air cooling is beyond limited. We would be more comfortable with this case selling for under $149.99. But, if you read the Newegg reviews, people seem to be happy with paying $169.99 and up for a very compact and portable LAN rig.

The Lian Li PC-TU200 case is a great LAN rig case, that can also enable you to take a full desktop system with you anywhere you go. Other than being a powerful gaming rig, this could also serve as a render system or an audio production system. The sheer size of this system and amount of power it is capable of holding is nearly impossible to comprehend until you pick it up, plug it in, and power it on.

If you take into consideration that this case does not really support watercooling and that you absolutely must use a modular PSU, then you c
an easily build yourself a nice gaming system or production system that you can essentially take with you anywhere or just put on your desk. The case itself is already beautiful and quiet, so it really holds its own in most scenarios.

We recommend this case for people that are willing to go with slightly weaker CPUs in order to reduce the thermal output of the internals of the system to prevent overheating. Unfortunately, it comes just shy of winning an award in our eyes because of the lack of support for self contained watercooling.