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Lian Li PC-C36 MUSE home theater case

Lian Li PC-C36 MUSE home theater case

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.

Specifications

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.

Lian Li spared no expense on product packaging.

Lian Li spared no expense on product packaging.

Opening the lid gives a peek at the case, safely wrapped in blue plastic and held securely by foam packing blocks.

From here the view looks promising.

From here the view looks promising.

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.

The PC-C36 MUSE looks like a piece of home theater equipment.

The PC-C36 MUSE looks like a piece of home theater equipment.

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.

Front panel inputs are front and center.

Front panel inputs are front and center.

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.

Power and reset buttons blend with the bezel.

Power and reset buttons blend with the bezel.

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.

This case is made for HT, right down to the feet.

This case is made for HT, right down to the feet.

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.

A place for everything, and a premium on space.

A place for everything, and a premium on space.

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.

The contents of the white box.

The contents of the white box.

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Comments

  1. jared
    jared Nice - if bluray support wasn't so crappy in the HTPC scene I wouldn't mind grabbing one of these. The case is very sleek :D
  2. Komete
    Komete Great review. Those HDD temperatures are a little concerning. Heats a killer. Looks great though. In the last picture, that DVD player with the yellow and orange label is wrecking the perfection of your setup.lol
  3. Komete
    Komete Oh the HDD light and the CPU light... is it detracting while in operation? Sometimes those little LED lights seem to flash straight at ya.
  4. GHoosdum
    GHoosdum
    Komete wrote:
    Great review. Those HDD temperatures are a little concerning. Heats a killer. Looks great though. In the last picture, that DVD player with the yellow and orange label is wrecking the perfection of your setup.lol

    Yes, that's my parents' cheapo progressive scan player that I threw in the media center when mine bit the dust. I've been meaning to take that sticker off of there... I should have for this photo op!
    Komete wrote:
    Oh the HDD light and the CPU light... is it detracting while in operation? Sometimes those little LED lights seem to flash straight at ya.

    They can get a bit distracting. I'd personally unplug them for regular use in the media center if they were in line of sight.
    Gargoyle wrote:
    I'm not sure I like the way the optical bay looks on the front. I know it would limit choices, but I think the case would look a lot better if it just had a slot for slot-loading drives.

    I don't actually have a photo in the review that's a good representation of the drive door. It looks better than you'd think, just matching piece of aluminum that can be attached to the drive door with double stick tape. I didn't stick it on because I was only performing a temporary installation for the review. The pic of the front of the case shows it with the fastening tape that was used for packing still affixed, making it appear a bit odd.
    jared wrote:
    Nice - if bluray support wasn't so crappy in the HTPC scene I wouldn't mind grabbing one of these. The case is very sleek :D

    It definitely captures Lian Li's design philosophy, leading to a nice sleek front panel.
  5. Gargoyle
    Gargoyle Nice review, GH.

    I'm not sure I like the way the optical bay looks on the front. I know it would limit choices, but I think the case would look a lot better if it just had a slot for slot-loading drives.
  6. BobNel
    BobNel Would a full atx motherboard fit ?, there looks to be some space between the edge of the micro atx board and the psu.
  7. GHoosdum
    GHoosdum No, although there is definitely some space there, it is not enough to fit a full-size ATX motherboard.
  8. Jim
    Jim is it possible to use this with a PCI (not express) riser card? i was thinking of getting this case but i wondered since the riser is "all in one" and has pciex1 and x16, i wondered if i got a standard PCIe x1 riser card and a stanard PCI riser card, if it would work, since those riser cards only "rise" by 1 unit, or slot. if i were to have the x1 on teh bottom slot and a PCI on the top slot, how would i go about doing that? do they make risers on flexible ribbon cables so you can adjust where they are?

    thanks. good review. pics and descrips were very helpful.
  9. GHoosdum
    GHoosdum I would assume you can indeed use a full-height PCI card, provided you use a different riser card, if you can find it. Keep in mind that my fitment troubles came from a discrepancy between the motherboard and the provided riser card.

    If your Micro-ATX motherboard has a 1x PCI-E slot and a normal PCI slot, I'd recommend seeing if you can get your PCI-E and PCI cards with half-height bracket.

    Or, if you can't find them and your cards' PCBs are not full width, you can take the attachment bracket off the back of the card and fashion a new one using the blank out of the back of the case. I've done it before using a drill and a dremel for a PCI video card I once owned.

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