With all the doom and gloom surrounding the global economy, it's easy to assume that cash-strapped consumers are spending less on PC upgrades or new system builds. You could argue that cheap-and-cheerful has become the sensible way forward for many PC builders, and that's a trend that doesn't bode too well for Lian Li.
Although regarded as one of the very best chassis manufacturers around, Lian Li has a habit of carving PC enclosures out of premium aluminium, and though the end result tends to ooze quality, the workmanship is more often than not overshadowed by a hefty price tag.
The fact that the competition is hotting up doesn't help Lian Li's case, either. Today, a variety of steel frames with plastic accents are available for well under £100, and in comparison Lian Li's aluminium options come across as luxury items for PC enthusiasts who haven't felt the pinch of the recession.
One such example is the recently-launched PC-V700. Priced at a substantial £180 and touted as Lian Li's smallest ATX chassis to date, this is an enclosure that elicits mixed opinions for obvious reasons. On the one hand, it's a lot of money for a relatively-small mid-tower case, and on the other hand, it's an elegant enclosure that's finely crafted, space-saving and visually luxurious.
Getting past the price-hurdle might be a challenge, but spend a bit of time with the PC-V700 and it's easy to see how this could be deemed money well spent. To begin with, the chassis' sleek exterior looks fantastic, with clear lines, little interruption and perfectly-rounded edges, and the brushed aluminium frame feels better than what's on offer from many of the various steel pretenders.
Build quality, as expected from a chassis at this price point, is really very good, and Lian Li has done well to bring a mid-tower ATX frame down to 210mm x 400mm x 496mm in size. The PC-V700 is comfortably smaller than, say, a Corsair Graphite 600T, but the specification suggests that there's ample room for a high-end build.
Lian Li PC-V700
|Colour(s)||Silver (PC-V700A) / Black (PC-V700B) / Internal Black (PC-V700WX)|
|Motherboard Support||ATX / Micro ATX|
|Drive Bays||External||5.25in x 1|
|Internal||3.5in x 4 (hotswap)
3.5in x 2
2.5in x 2
|Cooling||Rear||1 x 120 exhaust fan (included)|
|Front||1 x 140mm intake fan (included)|
|Top||2 x 120mm exhaust fans (included)|
|Front I/O Ports||USB 3.0 x 2
USB 2.0 x1
eSATA x 1
|Component Clearance||VGA Card length: 440mm
PSU length: 180mm
CPU cooler height: 160mm
|Power Supply||ATX (not included)|
|Dimensions||(W) 210mm x (H) 400mm x (D) 496mm|
Starting from the top down, we know that the PC-V700 is available in three colours; Silver for £180, Black with a silver interior for £187 and Black with a windowed side panel and an all-black interior for £220.
Each model supports ATX or Micro ATX motherboards and offers a good storage possibilities in the form of one external 5.25in optical bay and a total of eight hard-disk bays (two of which are of the 2.5in variety). On top of that, all four fan mounts are occupied as standard to provide a front intake, a rear exhaust and two top exhausts, eight expansion slots hint at multi-GPU possibilities, and the front I/O panel is equally well stocked with USB 3.0, USB 2.0, eSATA and audio jacks.
The chassis is well-stocked all round when you consider the shortened dimensions that Lian Li is working with, but it's the precision of the build quality that's most attractive. It looks smooth and sophisticated from all angles, and the clip-on side panels are excellent; like all good side panels, they're very strong, secure, but nice and easy to remove.
Hats off to Lian Li's styling department, the PC-V700 isn't just an expensive case, it looks like an expensive case, too. But producing a small, high-performance ATX chassis isn't as straightforward as it seems, so what sacrifices (if any) has Lian Li had to make?