Lian Li is a manufacturer that caters to experienced builders. The Taiwanese company is known for cutting zero corners and focusing on the high-end. In the past, they’ve never really appealed to the general masses. Instead, they choose to focus on enthusiasts who know what they’re doing – cable management, for instance, is left to the user. This seems to be changing now. The brand is offering new, budget cases; these are a much friendlier experience.
The PC-O11 Dynamic is quite different from the previous PC-O11. Overclocking enthusiast Roman “Der8auer” Hartung is responsible for many of these changes. It does things uniquly compared to other mid-towers. Most notable is a dual-chamber design. This allows the case to support up to E-ATX motherboards in a quite compact form. It is much broader than standard compact cases, however. It attempts to win over the liquid-cooling fanatics, with three triple-length AIO support.
This product is placed in a curious spot – between the consumer-friendly trend of new Lian Li cases and the overclocking fanbase. At a launch price of $130, it is by no means cheap. And, you get no fans, either. Yet considering what the case is – a premium product for enthusiasts – it seems to have a reasonable price. Does this eccentric design pay off, and what about the performance?
We go through the specs, build quality, design, and utility of this PC case to provide you with a verdict.
- Type: Mid-Tower
- Compatible motherboards: E-ATX, ATX, mATX, mITX
- PSU: 2 x ATX supported
- Weight: 9.7 kg
- Dimensions: 446 x 445 x 272 mm
- Drive bays: 3 x 2.5″, 3 x 2.5″ or 3.5″
- Expansion slots: 8
- Front I/O: 2 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2 x Audio pair
- Front fans: none
- Top fans: 3 x 120 mm or 2 x 140 mm (up to 360/280 mm AIO)
- Side fans: 3 x 120 mm (up to 360 mm AIO)
- Bottom fans: 3 x 120 mm (up to 360 mm AIO)
Design and Build – Interior
After you undo the thumbscrews that hold the top panel in place, you can approach the insides. This interior is divided into two vertical chambers, instead of having the typical horizontal PSU shroud. The primary partition holds the motherboard, GPU, and coolers. Up to E-ATX motherboards are supported, despite the compact frame, since this chamber does not need to hold the PSU. Attempting to do so may leave a part of your mobo unsupported, however, so be warned. Vertical GPU mounting is possible but will cost extra since you need to replace the rear wall entirely.
At the bottom of the primary partition, there are two 2.5″ drive trays for showing off your SSDs. Right beside them is two holes to lead to the back. Above the removable expansion, covers are the only logos present in this case. Over it, the vent is not meant to hold a rear fan, but a pump or reservoir for liquid cooling. The main compartment supports a side-mounted radiator, but a 45-degree bend means longer GPUs will still fit.
On the opposite chamber, the bottom can hold up to 210 mm long PSUs. The top PSU bay can also be extended, but that means losing the 3.5″ drive cage. There are plenty of holes and rubber grommets to facilitate cable routing. Regarding cooling, this case supports triple fans on the top, side, and bottom locations. Of course, it ships with no fans, because you aren’t really exploiting the full potential of this case without water cooling.
Design and Build – Exterior
No, it’s not a fish tank. It’s the PC-O11 Dynamic. The front and side are made of glass, and the rest of the chassis is steel and brushed aluminum. The PC-O11 is thick and muscular. But, it also weighs in 9.7 kilos, making it dense for its form factor. The overall design focuses on hard corners and a balance of minimalism and utility.
The front panel has a thick bezel to the right, which houses the I/O panel. There’s a power button, a USB 3.1 Type-C port, two USB 3.0 Type-A ports, and an audio port duo. The rest of the front is occupied by the tempered glass. It has a black lining to it, and mounting hooks on the inside. This panel is slightly tinted, but not enough to obscure interiors.
The other glass panel covers the side fully. It gives a view of the main chamber and has a similar tint. No thumbscrews are visible, unlike many other PC cases. The reason is that these panels can only be removed after the top panel has been unfastened. It makes opening your case more of a hassle, compared, for example, to the hinge panel of the darkFlash DLM22. The pro is that you’re unlikely to drop your panels and shatter them. The opposite side panel is entirely metal and has two slotted vents. The right vent is slightly thicker than the left.
The bottom is held up by rubber feet, lifting the chassis. There is a dust-filter covering the vent for the bottom fans or radiators. The top has a similar design, but with a mesh filter on the inside. The rear panel of the PC-O11 Dynamic is distinctive due to its internal layout. The PSU bay is to the bottom left, and above it is a removable vent panel for another PSU or two 3.5″ drives. The eight expansion slots are at the bottom, and right above them is the motherboard cutout. Another vent is present on the top right.
Benchmarks and Usability
This case’s performance is quite interesting since the two glass panels and a myriad of vents are at odds with each other. It’s also interesting to see how the dual-chamber layout plays out. Let’s look at benchmarks from Tom’s Hardware.
These tests seem to indicate that the PC-O11 Dynamic favors noise suppression over thermals. But note that these scores were taken in the stock configuration, without any fans installed. Needless to say, such a setup is not recommended. The chassis seems to suggest having at least two AIOs installed. Or better yet, go for a custom loop.
We have no complaints regarding the utility of this case. Except that it might be a bit too heavy to even move around your desk. The number of expansion slots, fan mounts, and drive bays is ample. All air vents have removable dust filters. The panel-removing mechanism is sturdy and well thought out. Extra-large GPUs fit comfortably, and support for dual PSUs is commendable. While this case is not beginner-friendly by any stretch, it is a pleasant piece of hardware for seasoned veterans.
Thus, we come to a conclusion. Is the Lian Li PC-O11 Dynamic worth your money?
If you are a first-time PC builder or going for a rig that just works, stay away. This is a case for experts, and we mean that. If you cannot plan your cable routes and tuck everything away neatly, then the dual glass panels will highlight your awkwardness. When going for a high airflow setup, then there are better cases.
If you don’t fall into the beginner, hardcore airflow, or budget category, you’ll love this design. Many users have likened it to an aquarium case, and that’s what it is. It’s built for two things. The first is to show off your build in fine detail and lighting. The second is to optimize full-length radiator usability at the top and side. Set up your rig well, and this is practically a piece of art.