Lian Li A4-H2O Review | PCMag


PC builders and PC case makers use the old term “SFF” (small form factor) as if it means something definitive. (It’s not.) But there’s no ambiguity about Lian Li’s brand new small PC chassis we just tested, the $120 A4-H2O: it qualifies for the “S” in any builder’s book. With 11 liters of internal volume (a metric the SFF crowd also loves to shake), the A4-H2O consumes just a 5.5 x 12.8 inch patch on your desk. The box has a similar height of less than 10 inches. The biggest surprise, though: this Mini-ITX chassis lets you pack some very serious components into a very small space. If you choose your parts well, the A4-H2O can be the basis of a powerful little PC.

The design: DAN has the plan

Lian Li designs most of its own cases, but this particular effort is based on the A4-SFX design from DAN Cases, a German manufacturer of small PC cases. DAN has a following in PC enthusiast circles, and its popular designs have meant the company has been unable to meet demand for its products, even at high prices. (Expect to pay over $200 for the A4-SFX.)

Our experts have tested 18 Products of category PC Cases over the past year

Since 1982, PCMag has tested and reviewed thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions. (Read our editorial mission.)

Thus the collaboration with Lian Li. The A4-H2O combines the basics of DAN design with the volume and economy of scale that Lian Li is known for. More importantly for PC builders, this means you should be able to pick one up in a more reasonable time and at a more moderate price.

Lian Li A4-H2O Another side view

(Photo: Thomas Soderstrom)

This chassis is definitely aimed at users who will be installing a dedicated video card (a rare bird themselves these days). It provides the extra space to mount larger graphics cards, up to three slots wide, in an unusual configuration behind the motherboard. The expanded space doesn’t stop there either, as the A4-H2O supports a CPU liquid cooling system, while the original DAN A4-SFX was designed for use with a heatsink. low profile fan cooled.

Lian Li A4-H2O side view

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The “front panel” ports are located on the front edge of the left side of the A4-H2O and include both a Type-A and Type-C port connected to the appropriate Gen 1 and Gen 2 header cables . You also get headphone and microphone jacks, but only one button: a single power button at the top of this section. A reset button is notably absent.

Lian Li A4-H2O Front Panel Ports

(Photo: Molly Flores)

As you’d expect, the A4-H2O relies on a compact SFX power supply (not included), not a full-size ATX power supply. The power supply mounts in the front part of the chassis. A power jack on the rear panel connects to this internally mounted SFX power supply via an internal passthrough cable. The power supply itself does not expose its rear face to the back of the case, unlike most conventional chassis. You’ll notice four screws on the back, but these act as a secondary security for the side panels, which actually attach via snaps at the four corners.

Insignia Lian Li A4-H2O

(Photo: Molly Flores)

To save space, the A4-H2O separates your video card from its slot on the motherboard. Since the case is designed to hold a graphics card upside down behind the motherboard, a PCI Express x16 riser cable runs from the bottom of its motherboard side to the top of its GPU side. You will plug this riser into the Mini-ITX board you are installing and into the board once it is mounted.

Lian Li A4-H2O riser

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Lian Li A4-H2O riser

(Photo: Molly Flores)

With this riser cable, the price of the case gets a little tricky. Lian Li offers options for PCI Express 3.0 and 4.0 riser cables, where the latter supports the older standard but costs more. The $35 difference between these cable options is barely marginal on a case model that has a base US price of $120, so you’ll want to make sure you really need the 4.0 riser before buying. opt for this.

Lian Li A4-H2O Back Side

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Building in the Lian Li A4-H2O

With no case-mounted LEDs to indicate power-on status or hard-drive activity, it’s not terribly complicated to connect chassis cables to your motherboard once the board is mounted. inside. The A4-H2O has headers only for the power button, HD Audio, and USB 3 Gen 1 and 2 front ports to connect to, in addition to the previously mentioned SFX power cable.

Lian Li A4-H2O headers

(Photo: Molly Flores)

For this compact build and future ones, Corsair brought us a pair of closed-loop liquid coolers, the H60i and H100i versions of its iCue RGB Pro XT series. Delivery of the larger (240mm) H100i ended up being delayed, so we moved forward with the H60i. We replaced the thermal paste spot with Arctic MX-4, as we plan to use the cooler in future builds long after the original paste is gone.

Corsair H60i RGB Pro XT

(Photo: Thomas Soderstrom)

Base CorsairiCue-H60i-RGB-Pro-XT

(Photo: Thomas Soderstrom)

As for the SFX power supply, PSU manufacturer FSP provided us with their fully modular 80 Plus Gold rated Dagger Pro 850W. This small SFX model includes enough cable length to work even in some full-tower cases, and we’re tempted to use it that way in some future releases thanks to the inclusion of a PS/2 adapter (aka full ATX ). plate. For this build, however, we’ll be using the Dagger Pro in its pure SFX form.

FSP Pro 850W Dagger

(Photo: Thomas Soderstrom)

FSP Dagger Pro 850W Label

(Photo: Thomas Soderstrom)

Here’s a look at our full test setup, which relies on a Core i5-9600K processor, an Asrock Mini-ITX motherboard, and a chunky Gigabyte GeForce RTX 2070 video card…

We’re not going to hover around the bushes when it comes to the complexity of the build: this one took hours. It wasn’t entirely the case’s fault; that was mostly down to our use of that 120mm cooler. The opposite-side coolant line just wasn’t flexible enough to meander around the back of the power supply, and the 12-inch hoses weren’t long enough to mount the radiator further forward in the chassis. . Accordingly, we recommend using a 240mm (2x120mm) radiator with the lines exiting in front of the power supply, provided its liquid lines are longer.

Side view of Lian Li A4-H2O construction

(Photo: Thomas Soderstrom)

We almost had opposite problem with power supply installation. Its extra long cables didn’t do us any favors, due to the minimal space to store excess cables. This case would give you a great excuse to splash out and buy a set of short cables from one of those custom cable companies like Pslate Customs, although PC builders who don’t need such power from output for the components they install can find a wider range of stock cable lengths in the lower power SFX models.

Lian Li A4-H2O build video card

(Photo: Thomas Soderstrom)

That said, there is enough space above the power supply and below the heatsink to provide good ventilation. Shown here is the only position the radiator of this closed loop system would fit in, due to the length and stiffness of the hose, as well as the plugged end of the power extension cable…

Lian Li A4-H2O Chiller

(Photo: Thomas Soderstrom)

A nice touch: Since you won’t have access to the back panel of the PSU once the case is buttoned up and built, the removable side panel makes it easy to turn on the power (if you forget to do this before finish building).

Another positive aspect of the side panels are the perforations. Those with a soft spot for RGB components can still get a good view through the side panel vents.

Lian Li A4-H2O performance

We’ve just launched a new test scheme to test PC case thermals, so we currently don’t have another chassis on the bench that small to compare the numbers against. (We will be expanding our testing pool in the coming months.) So for now, we’ve tested the A4-H2O against himself in closed-panel and open-panel configurations to see how well it would contain noise and let heat escape.

We set the CPU to a fixed voltage and frequency to maintain a relatively constant load.

Thermals Lian Li A4-H2O

In case you were wondering, that’s an 8-degree CPU core and a 7-degree GPU temperature reduction achieved just by opening the case. Meanwhile, our component noise measurement increased by about 1.5 decibels with the case open. The noise level went from 36.4 to 37.9 decibels when measuring at a 45 degree angle from the front left corner, and from 39.2 to 40.8 decibels when measuring at the same angle at from the right front corner.

Conclusion: a smooth chassis with tight tolerances

The A4-H2O is a brilliant design capable of housing a high-end GPU and an overclocked Core i5 processor to acceptable temperatures. Part of our effort being negated by component selection, we advise first-time builders to wait and see how other A4-H2O builds have turned out and choose their parts accordingly, especially in terms of AIO liquid coolers.

But get the mix right, and this chassis will rival the Streacom DA2 V2 as one of our favorite Mini-ITX chassis for deceptive builds. And it won’t cost you half of what the DA2 V2 will cost.

Lab Report to get the latest reviews and top product advice delivered right to your inbox.","first_published_at":"2021-09-30T21:24:30.000000Z","published_at":"2021-09-30T21:24:30.000000Z","last_published_at":"2021-09-30T21:24:08.000000Z","created_at":null,"updated_at":"2021-09-30T21:24:30.000000Z"})" x-show="showEmailSignUp()" class="rounded bg-gray-lightest text-center md:px-32 md:py-8 p-4 font-brand mt-8 container-xs">
Do you like what you read ?

Register for Lab report to get the latest reviews and top product tips straight to your inbox.

This newsletter may contain advertisements, offers or affiliate links. Signing up for a newsletter indicates your consent to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. You can unsubscribe from newsletters at any time.

Source link


About Author

Comments are closed.