I would like to thank Lian Li
for the review sample.
Lian Li's Company Profile
Lian Li Industrial Co., LTD was founded in 1983. We are the one of the largest and most reputable manufacturer of aluminum PC case in Taiwan. With over twenty years of experience in the computer products field, our dedicated team of engineers, production specialists and administrative staff provide the finest quality accessories available on the market.
In 1993, Lian-Li Introduced the new lines of computer hardware, including bracket (for case & interfaces), Mobile rack (for H.D.D.), mounting kit(for FDD & HDD), aluminum PC cases, IPC, external cases, server cases and more. We also provide OEM & ODM services, you are assured of designs that will meet your exact specifications, innovative ideas in manufacturing that will give your products an essential market edge.
Our outstanding quality has earned us ISO 9001 certification for all of our products. In addition, we back up our quality assurance with a two-year guarantee on most of our products.
R&D is one of the reasons why Lian Li is able to offer quality products to the market. Whether it is for OEM or ODM projects, our experienced mechanical and electrical engineers are capable of providing our customers with the best solutions in product design.
The XB-01 & Specifications
Lian-Li has made some interesting products in the past, which were not intended as a PC enclosure. This time around it is a chassis for the Xbox 360. We already took a few snaps of the prototype at Computex 2008 and Lian-Li has sent us the final version for review. The XB-01 is intended to replace the standard console chassis, to give the unit a more HTPC look, so that it does not stand out among your other Hi-Fi parts in the living room.
||1 (XBOX360 DVD drive) , 2.5” internal x 1
||XBOX 360 Mainboard
||120mm (1500 RPM)
||160 x 250 x 415mm (W, D, H)
||Power, Eject, Pairing
Packaging & Contents
Lian-Li has decided to change the package design for the XB-01. Instead of going with the black/white background the package has a black/orange one. The general layout of the box design has remained unchanged, with the enclosure pictures on the front & back, while the sides hold the specifications of the package.
At this point we usually also show you what type of inner packaging is used and how the contents of the box are protected. This time around, german customs did a "routine" check of the contents and simply forgot (!!) to place the protective packaging back into the box. This means two things for this review: a) We won't be able to show you this inner packaging and b) the XB-01 was shipped from Frankfurt to its destination without any protection at all, so the chassis has a few scratches on it. You can - of course - expect, that the retail version will not suffer during transport.
Besides the aluminum casing, you will find two fan adapters, a SATA cable, two stickers to cover a specific cut out in the rear of the chassis and the needed screws. On top of that, a very detailed manual, with step-by-step instructions on how to take apart your Xbox 360 and how to place the pieces into the XB-01 is included, along with a bit of promotional material.
A Closer Look - Outside
When taking a look at the enclosure for the first time, it is apparent that Lian-Li is behind the whole thing. The rounded design, perforated front and build quality is identical to the manufacturer's PC cases. The front is mainly perforated to allow for more air flow, while both sides are made of solid pieces. The rear aluminum sheet is also solid, only featuring cutouts for the fan and connectors of the console.
In front you will find three openings. The one to the left covers the optical drive. In the center are the memory card slots along with the pairing and optical drive eject button. To the right is another door, covering the USB ports. The power button is surrounded by a ring just like the Xbox 360, which also lights up accordingly. The large cover to the right of the chassis only protects the two USB plugs found in the front of the console. So if you open this cover, you are greeted by two bare plugs on the PCB, not a very nice sight.
The rear has all the openings for the various connections of the Xbox 360 console. Starting on the left, there is the power button and a large 120 mm fan. This unit replaces the two smaller fans found inside the original casing of the console. Using such a large fan hopefully has a positive impact on overall noise level. Right next to the fan are holes to route water cooling out of the chassis. Below that are two, somewhat crude square openings for the additional USB & Ethernet connectivity and the proprietary AV connector of the console. Lian-Li has provided a fairly solid sticker to place on this larger hole, as there are two variants of the console - one with HDMI and one without. We will be using the latter version for this review, which is also the older kind of the two.
A Closer Look - Inside
To gain access to the case, simply remove the screws holding the top cover down. Once taken off, you can clearly see a large air shroud, which is needed to guide the hot air from above the GPU/CPU to the rear fan. The Xbox 360 has a similar shroud as well. In preparation for assembly this cover has to be removed to give way to the non-removable mainboard tray. Lian-Li has decided to incorporate the so called "X Clamp" mechanism in the console. So in case your mainboard does not have this system, you may use the included long screws to secure the mainboard to the case like that.
There are not many things to be found inside the chassis. The front area holds the frame for the "Ring Of Light" PCB of the console next to the openings and various buttons. The left area of the chassis is intended for the drives. Both the console's optical drive and the hard drive can be placed within the XB-01. Lian-Li has placed sound dampening material in this area, as the Xbox 360 DVD drives tend to be quite loud.
Assembly of the mainboard is done in two steps. First, the separate "Ring Of Light" PCB needs to be secured in the specific aluminum frame. Then the piece is connected to the mainboard and the entire contraption is secured within the XB-01 just like any other mainboard. To reach the various buttons on the Xbox 360 mainboard there are fairly long plastic prongs to get the job done. In our sample that gray prong did not reach the DVD eject button properly. The reason for this distance between front of the case and mainboard is the Ring Of Light PCB. Instead of having the extra PCB touch the power button directly, it has been separated by about one centimeter from the outer shell of the XB-01. This creates the even larger distance between the pairing and DVD eject buttons, which measures around 2.5 centimeters. Placing a few layers of tape on the blue button solved this problem.
Another, small but serious design flaw is the front door for the memory cards slots. It is roughly 82 mm wide on the XB-01, while the distance for the slots measures around 86 mm on the Xbox 360 itself. This means that you will not be able to insert more than one memory card when using the XB-01. The memory cards require exacly 5 mm space on both sides of the connector. The front door of the chassis is simply not that large. After talking to Lian-Li about it, I was assured that the new revision of XB-01 will not have this problem.
We used an XBox 360 "Core" console for this review. This means that the unit does not come with a hard drive. Lian-Li did not include the special cable, usually found within the removable HDD enclosure of the console, so you will not be able to connect a hacked or modded hard drive, unless you also have that grey clip on enclosure. Installing the optical drive on the other hand is easily done and it fits perfectly.
The Xbox 360 does not consist of many different parts, as the GPU, CPU, memory, etc. have been placed on the mainboard. The only thing left to do, was to install the aluminum air shroud, which also fit nicely into the filled XB-01.
When closing the unit, we hit the next problem. The cover did not close properly. Upon closer inspection, it turns out that the sound dampening foam gets in the way of the installed optical drive. Lian-Li should have kept the areas of contact clear instead. Using sound dampening materials is certainly a nice touch, but considering the large air vent up front, the noise is not really being encased anyways.
Before turning on the unit, let's take a look at the finished rear. As we are using a console without an HDMI connector, the specific sticker had to be used to cover the additional hole. While it does get the job done, it is certainly not very pretty. Maybe a similar type of backplate like on normal motherboards, would have been the better choice in this area. The power connector lines up nicely with the cut out of the chassis.
Turning on the console after the chassis swap bears a nice little surprise. The so called "Ring Of Light" works nicely with the power button of the XB-01. The only downside is the fact that the air vent around it, also lets the LED light shine through.
Comparing the XB-01 to the original enclosure of the console, it becomes apparent, that it is fairly large. Nonetheless, the XB-01 should look nicer in your living room. One nice design feature is the placement of the optical drive. You can now place the console standing up and easily access the optical drive.
As for noise level, the internal 120 mm fan turns out to be just slightly quieter than the dual 60 mm units found in the console itself. There is simply too much heat buildup and since the console is still used to control the fan speed, it simply dials up quite fast. While the air shroud in the normal console is quite compact, which translates into a more compact air flow, the 120 mm fan has to compensate the large passthrough area by pulling more air.
Value and Conclusion
- The Lian-Li XB-01 sells for around 90 €, expect a similar price, but in US Dollars for the States.
- Nice outer, Lian-Li design
- Works for both Xbox 360 types (with or without HDMI)
- Can be used for every Xbox 360 revision
- Very detailed manual
- X Clamps included on the board
- Ring Of Light works well
- 120 mm fan
- Water cooling ready
- Sound dampening materials around the drives
- Large air vent up front
- Pricey, the entire console only costs double that.
- One memory card will no longer fit
- Hard drive can no longer be taken off easily
- Sound dampening gets in the way of the chassis
- DVD eject & pairing buttons do not reach properly
- Case is much larger than the Xbox 360 original
- Not that much quieter than the original chassis
- USB 2.0 door just as large as optical drive bay, bare USB plugs look ugly when opened
- Loss of warranty on your console
- Rear AV connector opening only covered by a thick sticker
- No vibration dampening on the optical drive
Sure the Lian-Li XB-01 looks great. It did already turn some heads at Computex, where it was shown off to the public as a prototype. But even the reviewed product, which is intended to be a retail unit, has obvious design flaws. There is not just one flaw and the slew of problems make this unit hard to recommend. Starting from the size, noise level, inability to use more than one memory cards, large openings for USB. When first seeing the unit, it does look great and it has the outer build quality and the attributes we expect from Lian-Li, but as it stands now, the XB-01 creates more problems than it solves - if any - it feels incredibly rushed to market, making this hard to recommend. Maybe waiting for the new revision, which may fix some or all of the problems is the best choice in this case.