If there's a few things we can count on when it comes to ATX cases is that the power supply will always be on the top rear of the case and access to the motherboard will be from the left side of the tower. There are a number of other things, but those two items are a mainstay. BTX will change how we assemble and cool PCs, which will eventually become necessary as PC components get faster and hotter. Right now however, all consumer based motherboards still follow the ATX specification as do most PC enclosures.
Until BTX becomes a standard, we can still expect to see ATX for the foreseeable future. Some companies are going "hybrid" though, offering ATX and BTX options within the same case, whereas others are remaining ATX while using some BTX design theories in their cases. The Lian-Li PC-V1000 is an example of the latter. The heart of the case is still ATX, but by flipping the "insides" upside down, we end up with a quasi-BTX case. The question is, does this work? Let's find out.
The Lian-Li PC-V1000, like all of Lian-Li's cases, is an aluminum based chassis. It is extremely light, and surprisingly sturdy. It shares some of the aesthetics as Apple's Power Mac G5, so if Apple's latest appeals to you, you can at least mimic the look slightly with the V1000. The overall look of the case is rather sleek and rounded giving somewhat of an aerodynamic feel to it.
There are five 5.25" external drive bays, where one of them also doubles as a 3.5" external floppy bay. The 3.5" external bay features a floppy cutout to mask any miscoloured floppy drive you may choose to use. You can also remove the 3.5" cutout and replace it with a 3.5" device (such as a fanbus) if you choose. There is also a CDROM face plate pre-installed to hide a mismatched drive as well. No extra faceplates are included, so if you're looking for solid faceplates to replace the two custom ones (should you not use any external drives for whatever strange reason), you're out of luck.
On the lower half of the front bezel, we have the power button, power and hard drive LEDs. There isn't any reset button, which we think was a poor decision as there are times when a reset is required when the OS is unresponsive. You can simply hold down the power button and cold reboot it, but a reset button would have been quicker.
Near the bottom of the bezel is the multimedia I/O which is composed of an IEEE 1394 port, two USB 2.0, one MIC and one speaker/headphone.
One thing you'll notice about the front bezel is that it's perforated throughout with small holes. The idea behind this is to allow airflow through the case though the downside of all this is increased noise (no solid metal to muffle fan noise) as well as more dust as there is no air filter behind the ventilation.
The V1000 is essentially tooless, and removal of the side panels require a simple twist on the thumbscrew and unlatching the locking mechanism. The screw and lock are not removable so no worries about accidentally misplacing them as is often the case with myself. Once the lock is disengaged, the side panel(s) are removed by pulling them straight down.
Personally, I find castors on cases kind of ugly, but in anycase, the V1000 has them. It does make rolling the case forward and back easier, but not side to side. The wheels are rubber coated, and once they are locked into place, the V1000 does not move around very much. Overall, the case is not as immobile as one without castors as even with the lock in place, I found that the V1000 would still roll about half an inch in either direction, which got to be fairly annoying whenever I pushed in a USB flash drive in the front or rear.
Aluminum on the outside, aluminum on the inside. As you've probably noticed, the V1000 opens up from the opposite side to what most of us are probably used to. There is no removable motherboard tray, which is a surprise as previous Lian-Li cases had this feature, but there is plenty of clearance to access the interior so none is really needed. As we can see, the interior is essentially split into three areas; PSU and HDDs, 5.25" devices, and the main motherboard area. One thing I did like about the V1000 is the motherboard tray does not use those annoying clip standoffs Lian-Li has relied on in the past (they tend to bend and warp after repeated removal), but rather, it uses the conventional screw-on standoffs we prefer.
While most ATX cases house the power supply on the top, the V1000 places this on the bottom in its own PSU chamber. The idea behind this is the PSU is isolated from the rest of the system and thus the heat generated stays away from everything else. The PSU is installed in a conventional manner, meaning, the PSU's interior fan (typically located on the bottom) faces the bottom of the V1000. This area is perforated, allowing the PSU to draw air from outside the system and through the unit and out the rear. There are some interior cutouts for cable management and the PSU's cabling can be routed through these cutouts.
There are six hard drive bays available for expansion. The V1000 uses a unique "rail-like" system for drive installation which we'll explain later on in the review. The hard drive area is in the same segmented portion of the case as the PSU and has a dedicated 120mm fan (included) to cool the drives during operation. There are cutouts here as well to route cables from the drives to the motherboards though I should mention that the V1000 is not very IDE friendly. We found 18" IDE cables very difficult to use as they were not long enough to reach our test board's IDE connections when the drive was in the lower area of the HDD racks. SATA cables did not have this same problem.
The 5.25" internal bays are not tooless, and require small screws to secure any devices you choose to install. Just a note, the lower 5.25" internal bay is unusable unless you remove the cable clip and move the case cabling out of the way.
There is an additional 120mm fan (included) located on the lower rear of the case. Given that the motherboard is upside down, the location should not cause any installation issues. Not pictured is a fan shroud on the exterior, opposite of the fan. This shroud directs air flow and noise exiting the V1000 downwards and away from the user and is fairly effective of masking the noise from the fan.
The image to the above right is just a shot of one of the cable cutouts we've mentioned a couple times earlier. Since the last thing we need is metal chopping up our cables, Lian-Li has placed plastic coverings around any sharp edges to keep from cutting both cables and fingers.