A Closer Look - Inside
To gain access to the interior you will have to remove eight small screws on each side panel. Upon taking the first one off, we can take a first look at the general layout. Without saying much, you can see that there are some obvious differences between the Q07 and Q11 - but more on that in a second. Just like its predecessor, you have to remove the other side panel as well, as this one is a mainboard tray and thus allows you to secure the mini-ITX board without the confines of the chassis itself. Once both sides are taken off, we are left with a bare chassis. If you look closely, you will see that Lian Li has used two pieces of aluminum to form the Q11. One for the back and another one which spans the top, front and flooring of the chassis.
The optical bay has also been changed in comparison with the Q07. The underside is now completely solid, which adds stability to the entire chassis. A large 140 mm fan is responsible for the entire active air flow within the chassis. It pulls cold air in through the air vents on the side panel. To do so, Lian Li has used an Aluminum piece to create some space between the fan and the front of the chassis. Such an approach has some advantages and drawbacks. First off, it allows for a solid and closed design of the entire front of the chassis - which is strong point for HTPCs and the dust built-up should not be visible from the outside, as it is pulled in and held back on the filter of the fan, so you won't have to clean the metal mesh of the case regularly. On the other side, it takes up some extra space within the already small chassis and you will have a hard time removing the fan for cleaning once everything is put together and the chassis is filled. We have taken out the fan and are happy to report, that it is mounted with rubber spacers, to stop any vibration from being passed unto the frame of the chassis.
Lian Li made the Q11 taller for one specific reason: to fit more drives within the chassis. It has also designed a new aperture in the process which allows you to use two 2.5 inch and two 3.5 inch drives at the same time - for a total of four hard drives. With SSDs becoming more and more popular, this is a great idea. To make sure that the traditional hard drives to not cause any vibrations, Lian Li has included their special screws which are rubber mounted - similar to those used on the front intake fan.
Before diving into the installation, let us take a quick look at the internal cables. To connect the buttons and LEDs, Lian Li supplies the traditional connectors. Only the power LED uses a three-pin plug with an empty slot in the middle instead of two separated pins, while most modern mainboards only supply two pins for this light. So you will have to take some scissors and cut the plug in half and I doubt you or Lian Li will be happy if you happen to destroy the connector in the process. As mentioned before, the USB 3.0 connectivity is realized by simply routing the cables through the case out the back of the chassis, while the front audio utilizes the standard mainboard header. The single fan comes with a mainboard header attached to a Molex adapter for maximum flexibility.