There’s no doubting the tiny PC-Q21A and its Lian Li pedigree, the case offers a fantastic build quality and craftsmanship that very few manufacturers can even come close to. The silver brushed aluminium panels and overall styling of the case offer an elegant, almost timeless aesthetic that is certainly pleasing on the eye and certain to fit in with any environment.
Once inside the high quality continues and we find the MITX case offers a surprising range of features. The Lian Li PC-Q21A supports use of a slimline slot loaded ODD, up to four 2.5″ or two 3.5″ storage devices, a single 120mm fan and a removable motherboard tray to help installation of your chosen hardware. Admittedly when compared to most other cases the support list may seem a little on the light side, but none of them measure in at a minuscule 149mm(W) x 257mm(H) x 224mm(D). However the small stature of the case does have some drawbacks. The compact nature of the PC-Q21A means there are also a few hardware limitations in play; maximum GPU length of 170mm, maximum CPU cooler height 60mm, maximum PSU length 170mm (SFX & SFX L only). Which does shorten your compatible components list somewhat, but with the constant rise in popularity of SFF cases that hardware list is slowly growing.
The bad news however is that despite these features Lian Li offers with the case, they don’t all work in unison which means the PC-Q21A isn’t quite as flexible as it first seems. In order to install a GPU and allow a flow of cool air, the lower storage mounts are no longer viable leaving the 5.25″ tray and front mount for your chosen storage devices. Which sadly also doesn’t quite work out as planned as the ODD tray 2.5″ mount is unusable in the way intended as is the CPU cooler cut-out on the motherboard tray.
In the areas of thermal performance the PC-Q21A also proves to be a bit of a mixed bag. The R9 NANO was kept well under its 85C throttle limit certainly making the case viable for a powerful little gaming rig. Yet the CPU cooling performance wasn’t quite as good as hoped even at stock speeds. This can be attributed to the positioning and close proximity to the PSU and the lack of fans also shows why having adequate airflow is so important.
Overall I can’t help myself from liking the Lian Li PC-Q21A. Sure not all of the innovative features work together within the case, but it is still impressive what you can actually squeeze inside the case nonetheless. Priced at approximately £60, some might even say the PC-Q21A is ‘small in form, big on price’, but this modest little case is certainly unique in what it offers yet with the same assured build quality and luxury materials as that of its far larger Lian Li siblings.
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