I would like to thank Caseking.de
& Overclockers UK
for supplying the review sample.
|Lian Li PC-TU200
|| Mini Tower Chassis
||1x External 5.25" |
4x Internal 3.5"
2x Internal 2.5" (one uses a 3.5" bay)
|Mini-ITX / Mini-DTX |
||(W) 220mm x (H) 320mm x (D) 360mm
||140mm fan x1
||2x USB 3.0 |
Lian Li ships the minuscule PC-TU200 in a compact full color cardboard box. Both the larger sides hold the same information, with an image of the chassis itself and a plane taking off in the background. Apparently Lian Li considers this cool enough to take on a journey. The details and specifications can be viewed on the side of the package.
Two foam spacers hold the chassis in place, with a heavy duty plastic back further protecting it from scratches and fingerprints.
You will receive three bags with screws, special rails and a basic USB 3.0 to 2.0 adapter with the case. Having seen this adapter before, the pins are a bit too thick for the standard 20-pin USB 3.0 plug, making it hard to connect the two. It would be great to see a sturdier adapter within the package - like the one virtually every other manufacturer uses. The usual set of papers - a manual and a little pamphlet with Lian Li products rounds up the extras within the box.
A Closer Look - Outside
The case itself is not lined with any plastic, just the handle has some foam wrapped around it. In terms of design, the case really looks like a flight case with a handle. The reinforced corners and lined edges act as reinforcements to the chassis. The fact that these are made of Aluminum also means that they scratch just as easily as the rest of the chassis however.
Lian Li has not really changed too much on the overall looks of the chassis. The only air vent present is found on the front, along with the Lian Li logo. In the rear, the chassis looks much like the PC-Q08, with the PSU next to the mainboard. But unlike the Q08, things are a bit more compact, with even less clearing for coolers. Both sides of the TU200 are completely solid, so this chassis should encapsulate sound quite nicely.
The I/O has been placed in the front of the chassis. Considering the price and limited external expansion options, the two USB 3.0, pair of audio connectivity and eSATA plug may not be enough for some. I would have liked to see something along the lines of an SDHC card reader for example, to put the internal USB headers of the motherboard to good use. In the middle a square air vent allows for fresh air to be pulled inside the case by the 140 mm fan. Above that is the one and only 5.25" drive bay with a matching cover.
Turning the TU200 around, we have the two motherboard expansion slots on the very bottom. Seems like the mainboard is installed standing up, just like in a traditional case, as the opening for the backplate is right above these. Lian Li also uses a frame for the PSU, allowing you to push the unit into the chassis from the rear of the case - something that will come in handy when assembling the entire system. Both sides are held in place by clips and pins instead of screws, thus a mechanism is in place to pop these off the chassis in both corners of the case. You may screw these down, so you won't end up opening things by mistake.
Four domes on the underside act as feet, while a large 140 mm dust filter can also be found on the underside. This one protects the air vent and may easily be removed for cleaning.
A Closer Look - Inside
On the insides, everything is where you would expect it to be, as the TU200 mimics the layout of a mid-tower with the exception of the PSU bay. Lian Li has included a SATA PCB for all 3.5 inch drives and uses an actual motherboard tray instead of forcing the user to install the board on the actual side panel of the chassis. These two aspects should really help out in the assembly process and in keeping things clean within the compact enclosure.
The TU200 may hold four 3.5" drives in the cage, with the possibility of putting a single 2.5 inch drive into one of these bays instead. You may remove the entire cage, which reveals another 2.5 inch placement on the floor of the chassis. Those who want to build a gaming rig, will be able to remove the cage, use an SSD and attach a 140 mm radiator to the fan. This would allow you to use a high-end CPU in combination with a powerful graphics card. The ODD bay is nothing out of the ordinary and requires traditional screws to hold a unit in place.
Turning our focus to the rear, the two motherboard expansion bays are protected with separate covers. A sliding lock mechanism further holds any of the expansion cards in place. Above that are the afore mentioned openings for PSU and backplate. You may install the power supply with the fan facing the motherboard or the side wall of the chassis. I suggest you use the PSU to pull air out of the interior.
The simple air vent in the underside will give high end graphics cards access to fresh air. You cannot install a fan here though, as the mounting holes are not present.
All the cables within the TU200 are of the standard variety. While the case ones are colorful, Lian Li has ensured, that the I/O cables are all sleeved black.
Installing the Mini-ITX motherboard is done just as you were using a mid-tower. Simply place it on the spacers and screw it down. Thanks to the removable hard drive cage, you should have enough space to work with. I have routed some cables below the motherboard, minimizing any mess from the start.
Placing the hard drives within the TU200 is done the same way as its larger, modern brethren. Simply clip the rail unto the drive and screw the big, special screws into it. Next, simply slide the drives into the bay until they attach to the SATA backplate. I have put three 2 TB drives within the system - which will run in RAID 5.
As I am using a 64 GB SATA II SSD as a boot drive, which usually stays in the system over extended periods of time, it was placed on the floor of the case. Lian Li supplies rubber rings and proper screws, so that it rests nicely on top of these contraptions.
Installing the optical drive means, that you will have to remove the front cover first, then slide the drive well past the front panel. Once there is enough space, put the front cover back into place and secure it with the previously attached screws. Lastly, line up the drive and screw it down as well. This entire procedure is a bit complicated, but we are talking about a very compact chassis here , so this was to be expected.
Lian Li has made sure, that you can install large and powerful graphics cards within the TU200. To show this, I have used one of the longest single GPU cards out there - a GeForce GTX280, with room to space. A GeForce GTX 670/680 or Radeon HD 7950/7970 should easily fit, which is certainly a cool feat. A support beam may also be applied to keep the card in place during transport.
With all the parts in place, before installing the PSU, the system makes a very clean impression - mostly thanks to the SATA PCB and the fact that the I/O cables were routed properly.
The best way to install a PSU is by using the frame of the chassis and then sliding it through the back of the enclosure. This gives you the chance to attach all the leads properly, before locking things down. Due to the compact size of the chassis, it is vital that you use a a short power supply. Lian Li recommends one with 140 mm length at most, but I suggest you go for a bit less, to give you some room to breathe.
Once everything is installed, it should become apparent, that Lian Li has really used every cubic inch of the chassis to the fullest. All of the cables are hidden behind the HDD bays, but I had to stuff some of these back into the chassis as the side panel would keep popping off due to the pressure exerted by the cables.
With everything in place, the PC-TU200 makes a really cool impression. Considering the possibility of filling the case with a high-end graphics card, water cooling and high-end CPU really impresses. A blue LED lights up behind the PSU button, while the reset one also acts as a HDD activity LED.
Having used a Samsung DVD-RW drive, the front cover ensures, that things still look uniform - regardless of the drive color. As is the case with many different covers out there, the shape of the drive tray results in it getting stuck on its way in. Not a real deal breaker, but quite annoying.
Value & Conclusion
- Tiny chassis
- Strong handle for easy transportation
- Hot-swap PCBs for 3.5" drives
- Can hold four 3.5" HDDs
- Space for up to two 2.5" drives
- Internal USB 3.0
- USB 3.0 to 2.0 adapter included
- Excellent build quality
- Side panels may be opened without tools
- One silent 140 mm fan included
- Water cooling system should be possible without modding
- Can hold long graphics cards
- Front for ODD included
- Dust filter in all intake areas
- Fragile USB 3.0 to 2.0 adapter
- Very limited CPU cooler height
- No possibility to install a fan in the rear
- Side panel behind motherboard tray may pop off if cables are pushing against it
- No anti-vibration measures for the 3.5" hard drives
- Basic I/O
- Side panel behind mainboard tray will pop off if you do route too many cables behind the tray
- Will you really take a system like this on a plane? There are things called notebooks
The Lian Li PC-TU200, takes the general configuration of the PC-Q08 and reduces its overall size even further. First off, you need to ask yourself, if a smaller size, handle and SATA PCBs for easier cable management are worth a price premium of 60 Euro in comparison to the PC-Q08. If you decide for it, then the PC-TU200 will put nothing but smiles on your face. Tiny yet, strong in terms of build quality, with a solid handle are just the exterior. A real motherboard tray and the four SATA backplates make installation almost as simple as with any normal mid-tower case and the ability to really go all out and install a modern high-end graphics card, water cooling and also longer PSU should not be taken lightly. This possibility means that you may be able to create an immensely powerful gaming rig, with a handle - perfect for the next LAN party. Just make sure nobody walks out with your baby. I just would not take a system like this on a plane - airport security will have a field day, thinking that a rig like this could be all kinds of things - except a tiny powerful system.
If you can get past the fact that the PC-TU200 chassis will set you back more than some brand name full-tower cases, then we can wholeheartedly recommend this cool, little, portable gem.