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Lian-Li Replacement Panel w/ Window

Written By:
Date Posted: May 10, 2002

Make no mistake. I'm about as good with a dremel as I am with the hootchies. I can do without the hassles of working for something, and if something gets me the same results faster and easier, I'll do it. Let's see, you can go to a club, meet someone, do the whole dating routine, and maybe get some action. Alternately, you can just rent some recreational videos and get the same end result.

When it comes to PCs, it is rewarding to do something by yourself. Be it cutting out some blowholes, adding some lights, or adding a case window. There's a sense of pride when you take something plain, and turn it into something, um, not so plain. Of course, there's always a danger that you can really mess something up, and you're stuck with either a busted case, or a butt-ugly one. Power tools aren't for the faint of heart, or the unskilled, and other than mucking your case up, you can lop off a finger if you're not careful.

This problem is magnified with aluminum cases. I'm sure it's ok if you accidently hack your 30$ beige tower in two, but what if the tower is a 200$ one? Worse still, what if it's your Mom's 200$ aluminum case? If that happens, you'll likely be banned from her PC and be forced to, *gasp*, get a job.

Ever since I got my first Lian-Li last year, it's been hard to go back to plain steel. Personally, I love the elegance of the Lian-Li, and the fact that they're light, and assists in the cooling scheme of things just add to the value. You pay for this though, and although they're not the most expensive aluminum cases, they are far from being the cheapest. One thing that's always been missing is the side-window. For months, I tried to build up the courage to hack my side panel, and to add a replacement window, but I never did it. The main reason, I paid good money for it, and if I screw up, well, that'd suck. Another reason though, was that I have yet to find a window kit that I liked. I have never been particulary fond of the rubber trim that comes standard with most kits, and always thought they'd clash with the brushed silver look of the PC60. I always preferred a more industrial look, and from my discussions with some of our readers in the forums and email, I know many of you feel much the same way about hacking aluminum cases.

Well, my prayers have been answered with Lian-Li's introduction of their replacement panel, which is equipped with a window. Despite the PC65 (a PC60 w/stock window) being available for quite some time, the replacement panel is something that came out separately quite a bit later. Thanks to , we got a chance to look at the replacement panel, and to see if you're better off with this, or making one yourself.

The Panel

Aluminum is a strong metal, but compared to steel, it's kind of wimpy. Certainly, if you keep your aluminum case under your desk, and you accidently kick it, you'll be in tears.

Thankfully, the replacement panel arrived in a sturdy cardboard box, although it was a little banged up. No matter, as they included enough bubble wrap to reinsulate my house.

Compared to many case windows I've seen, one of the first things that grabbed my attention was the size of the window. It's safe to say that it's huge. Measuring about 13"x11", it is actually made of acrylic, and not glass. The good thing about this is that acrylic is light, which would otherwise defeat the purpose of a low weight aluminum chassis. The bad thing though is I find the window tends to be very sticky from the static.

While peeling off the protective sticker, I can immediately see the dust screaming towards it. Using some "static-free" cleaner, I was able to clean this up, but it is a bit annoying. I don't think the static would be a major concern though, as when you work on your PC, you should ground yourself beforehand, and during.

Originally, I thought the window was bolted on, which isn't the case afterall. As you can see, the window itself is fitted within 4 folded sheets which are bolted in. The benefit? Well, the window is rock solid, so I wouldn't worry about it slipping out.

Final Words

You do pay more for the Lian-Li replacement window panel, than you would a Do-It-Yorself (DIY) window kit. Roughly double the cost, it isn't cheap. Where does the extra money go? Well, you're not getting just a window here, but rather, you're getting a complete side panel. It is made of aluminum afterall, and this contributes to the increase in price. The window is above average in size, and the build quality, being a Lian-Li, is excellent.

Obviously, this kit isn't for everyone. If you don't have a Lian-Li PC60 (HighSpeed PC has a ), this panel is obviously not for you. If you already modded your Lian-Li with a window, this kit isn't for you either. If you don't even understand why people bother with windows, well, I think I need to say no more.

On the flip side, if you're thinking of adding a window to your Lian-Li, feel free to go crazy and try a window kit. Should you mess it up, you can always fall back on the replacement panel. Then again, that brings up the whole "working for something" arguement we brought up at the beginning of the review. Go ahead and buy a window kit, then spend a couple hours cutting a hole and installing it. Don't forget to get some sandpaper to clean up the cutting. You'll probably have to spend some gas money to pick up some extra blades for the jigsaw, and nevermind the time it takes for you to do all this. Me? I'll just spend the one minute to unscrew the old panel, and put in the new one.

HighSpeed PC:

Pros: If you have hands, you can install it. Looks nice, well constructed, and light.

Cons: Pointless if you already have a window mod. Takes away from the DIY satisfaction.

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