Lian Li has been known for years as a designer of quality aluminum PC enclosures. Many an enthusiast has built a performance rig inside a Lian Li tower case. This summer, Lian Li released two new HTPC enclosures that follow the company’s design principles of simplicity and efficiency. These offerings, the Lian Li PC-C36 MUSE and PC-C37 MUSE, offer similar layouts with slightly different feature sets.
Lian Li offered Icrontic the chance to review the PC-C36 MUSE, the more feature-rich of the two HTPC chassis offerings. The PC-C36 showcases a TFX form-factor power supply unit, as well as several options intended to allow a variety of hardware configurations to be installed in the case.
We put the Lian Li PC-C36 to the test, both functionally and cosmetically.
Specs provided by Lian Li product page.
- Model: PC-C36
- Case Type: Desktop / HTPC
- Dimensions: 435 x 94 x 378mm (W, H, D)
- Front bezel Material: Aluminum
- Color: Silver / Black
- Body Material: Aluminum
- 5.25″ drive bay (External): 1
- 3.5″ drive bay (External): 0
- 3.5″ drive bay (Internal): 2
- Expansion Slot: 2 ( Full size with Riser)/ 4 (Low Profile)
- Motherboard: Micro ATX
- System Fan (Rear): 7cm slim type@1500RPM
- I/O Ports: USB2.0 x 2, IEEE1394 x 1, HD+AC97 Audio
Features and Impressions
The PC-C36 MUSE arrived securely packaged in a box that is typical of modern enclosure manufacturers. A high-gloss “glamor shot” style photo of the case adorns the front of the package, with feature highlights listed to the side. Let’s dig in and see if the real thing lives up to the hot model on the cover.
Opening the lid gives a peek at the case, safely wrapped in blue plastic and held securely by foam packing blocks.
Removing the case from the packaging yields an impressive sight. On first blush, it looks out of place on the desktop. The Lian Li PC-C36 immediately feels as if it would be right at home in an entertainment center.
Front and center, Lian Li has provided a set of I/O ports that somehow manage to keep the look of the bezel uncluttered: microphone and headphone jacks, dual USB, and a single Firewire port.
To the far right, the bezel features aluminum power and reset buttons alongside status LEDs. Aesthetically, the front panel features add just the right amount of visual interest to an otherwise barren expanse of black brushed aluminum.
Lian Li designed the case as a piece of home theater equipment, right down to the feet. The noise-isolating case feet use rubber rings with attractive aluminum surrounds, trimmed to look just like stock home theater equipment.
Inside, Lian Li has provided a place for everything. To the rear of the case, the PC-C36 MUSE features a TFX-specification power supply unit, which slides out through the back panel to provide extra room for hardware installation. Across the middle, Lian Li has designed the case with a “linker bar” at the top which serves the dual purpose of attachment point for the hard drive tray to the side and providing additional rigidity to the aluminum design. The linker bar flips up or even unbolts completely for installation of components below. The other side of the enclosure contains a removable tray for an optical drive at the top and an additional 3.5″ drive at the bottom.
Lian Li provides a logical array of accessories with the PC-C36 MUSE. Inside the innocuous white box that ships within the case, we found a riser card to allow horizontal installation of one 1x PCI-E device and one 16x PCI-Express device such as a video card. Also included is a replacement rear panel with four half-height expansion card slots for optional upright installation of expansion cards. Beyond that, Lian Li provides us with the standard fare hardware packets, including cable tie-downs, noise isolating rubber washers, and retention screws.