When one looks for a case for a new high end PC building project, Lian Li always comes up among the interesting manufacturers. It is my opinion that Lian Li is synonymous with quality; design; elegance and exclusive features. This time I will be looking at a case which has all those features but also a reasonable price tag.
The LanCool is really more a brand of itself than just a Lian Li product series. Lian Li is by most considered as a high end brand, so to diversify into the medium range consumer market without negatively affecting the Lian Li brand, they started the LanCool brand. It is in some places sold without the “Lian Li” in the product name. Anyhow, what really matters is that Lian Li targets lower price level market with the LanCool brand/series.
One of the differences that I have noted about Lian Li versus LanCool cases is that Lian Li mostly uses aluminum while LanCool uses SECC steel for the construction of their models. OK, so here are the technical specifications of the LanCool PC-K58:
LanCool Dragonlord PC-K58
Size Average tower
Dimensions 496 x 214 x 498 mm
Weight 9.45 kg
Materials Steel CECC of high quality
Compatible motherboards ATX and Micro
Expansion bays 5 x 5.25″
4 x 3.5″
Expansion slots 8
Max PCI card size 290 mm
Front ports 2 USB 2.0
Audio AC97 and HD
Cooling system Front: one 140mm 1000rpm fan
Back: one 120mm 1500rpm fan
Top: two 140mm fans (not included)
Extras No tools needed for installation
Supports CrossFireX systems and 3-way SLI
Anti vibration system for hard disks and fans
Wiring management system
Pins for liquid refrigeration
Even though the price tag is not very high for this case, I would like to put this case in the high end segment due to all the extra features. One big plus of this case is that it is quite spacious and supports high end graphics cards.
The LanCool PC-K58 comes in a very large and heavy card board box. And it’s normal since it is a large case and it is mainly made of steel and is thus quite heavy.
The accessories include; a printed manual; an anchorage adapter for the power supply; a mainboard speaker; a plastic cable management clip, one molex adapter and some screws. If anything, the accessories made me more curious about the assembly process to come.
LANCOOL PC-K58 IN DETAIL, THE OUTSIDE
My first thought about the design was that it looked like something from a SF movie but still sober. I guess it’s the block build style which makes me think of SF. I really liked the design which is of course my subjective opinion. Anyhow, the finish is absolutely top of the line. The entire outside of the case is completely black, except for the back of the case which has the old gray steel look. The sides of the case is very simple, there’s no window or side cooling system. It is actually possible to acquire a side panel with a window and the logo of the “Dragonlord” series printed on it.
Something that I have seen coming more and more with high end cases is the metallic grid in the front. It’s great because it enables the air to move in and out the case more easily yet it keeps the dust on the outside.
The back part of the LanCool Dragonlord PC-K58 is quite interesting. The first thing I noticed was that the PSU is placed at the bottom near the floor where the coolest air always is. Above the PSU hollow, there are eight expansion slots. Note that all the slots have back plates with grids to increase the ventilation. The location of the tubes for the liquid cooling system is placed more or less at the medium height. This is good because it allows us to keep the circuit short. Another good detail is the screws for the fan which have an anti vibration function patented by Lian Li.
The bottom and the top of the case share an essential characteristic: the build of the fan slots. Unlike other manufacturers LanCool has a metallic grid which looks more like a sun screen window on an old house than the typical bee wax cake look. The bottom fan also has a dust filter which is great since it will keep dust from the floor on the outside.
The front connectors are located at the top of the case in the middle of the power and reset buttons. The connectors are two USB ports, one mic and one audio out. Take a look at the images below to check it out.
LANCOOL PC-K58 IN DETAIL, THE INTERIOR
When I removed the side panels I was surprised by their rigidity, they are really thick and heavy. Not a bad thing I suppose. LanCool hasn’t bothered with painting the back or the interior of the case which has the traditional grey metallic color.
The first thing I noticed was the fact that this case has a cable management system. There’s also a hollow in the motherboard back plate for the CPU. Another detail I noticed what the LanCool has already fastened the separator (between the motherboard and the motherboard back plate). The bottom of the case is mostly occupied by the space for the PSU. As you can see LanCool has placed a rubber vibration dampener for the PSU.
Another one of the great details that this box incorporates is the tool free installation of the expansion slot cards. The system that LanCool uses with this case is very easy to work with and provides a safe anchorage for the expansion cards. In the upper part of the back there’s a 120mm fan with a 1000rpm rotation speed which naturally makes it produce very little noise.
In the “ceiling” of the case are two places where you can install 120mm or 140mm fans. As you know, hot air wants to rise so these fans would be turned to blow air out of the case. The inside front of the case is divided in two clear zones. The lower zone is dedicated to the installation of hard disks and the upper part houses the optical units or other systems that use the 5.25″ expansion bays.
The rack for the 3.5″ units holds a maximum of four drives, both 3.5″ and 2.5″. LanCool has a great solution for the installation of the hard drives. You just put the drive in the tray; snap the plastic adapters tight and the push the tray into place. The trays are held by rubber fasteners so no vibration will be transferred to the case.
If at all present, most manufacturers have a 120mm fan in the front. LanCool has chosen to place a 140mm fan in the front and this is great because it manages to cool the hard drive trays perfectly as you can see from the images above.
From the other side of the case there is not much to talk about except maybe the cable management system. The problem of dust seems to be very hard to completely avoid no matter which case you try. I believe that the best way to avoid it is the use of dust filters in one form or another. In this case, LanCool has really taken it to another level by placing dustfilters on all the air intakes of the case. The front of the case actually has a double dust filter, one which is removable and can thus be easily cleaned.
INSTALLING HARDWARE IN BOX LANCOOL PC-K58
I began with the optical unit, which was easily installed thanks to the tool free system. The installation of the hard disks was no mystery either, I just pulled out a tray, inserted the hard drive and made sure it was secured and then I just put the tray with the hard drive installed back in place in the rack. No screw driver needed.
The installation of the power supply was also easy thanks to the unique anchorage system. You just place the PSU on top of the rubber feet and snap the anchorage arm in place. It holds the PSU firmly in place without any risk of it gliding to either side.
The case is very spacious and I am glad to report that it does support expansion slot cards with a length up to 290 mm which means that it does supports all graphics cards on the market except the Radeon HD 5970 cards. The fans that LanCool has chosen for this case are very quiet, mainly thanks to their large sizes and low rotation speeds.
This was actually my first experience with the LanCool brand/series of products and I must say that I am very impressed. If I had to choose one thing about this case that I really appreciated, it has to be the fact that the installation procedure is entirely “tool free”.
In my opinion there are two things that LanCool can improve with this case. First they need to paint the inside and back of the case and secondly why no add an eSATA port amongst the front connectors? Of course, as always the more extra features we ask for the more expensive the product becomes.
In all other aspects I can do nothing but praise the work of the LanCool designers. All in all the PC-K58 is a high quality case with great features such as: super easy installation; nice finish and good looking design. Maybe the best thing of all is its price at around $80.