Lian Li A3-mATX Case

Peter_Brosdahl

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So this is the beginning of a new experiment which I've long wanted to do. While the ITX/mini-ITX community has incredulous accomplishments in cramming things into extremely small form factors it's always been a bit more than what I wanted to put myself through. Thankfully Lian Li partnered with DAN to make something just a bit larger at 26L which, with some planning can allow some really powerful hardware and cooling options.

Here's what's going into this case, assuming my calculations are all correct as every review I've watched or read has heavily emphasized its configuration options but how confusing it can be depending on what is going into it. Fingers crossed though, I've done my homework and it'll all work out.

Motherboard - MSI B550M PRO-VDH WiFi ProSeries
CPU - AMD 5800X3D
CPU Cooler - CoolerMaster MasterLiquid PL360 FLUX AIO
Memory - 32GB Corsair DDR4 3600MHz (2x16GB)
Storage - Samsung 980 PRO m.2 PCIe 4.0 1TB (W10 Pro 64bit) | Samsung 980 PRO m.2 PCIe 4.0 2TB (Games)
GPU - ZOTAC GAMING GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER AMP Extreme AIRO 16GB GDDR6X (3.5 slots, 355.5mm x 149.6mm x 72.1mm)
PSU - Thermaltake Toughpower SFX 1000W 80Plus Platinum ATX 3.1 Standard Power Supply

Here are some pics of the PSU, all I can say is wow, I've never seen one so small. I place an iPhone 13 next to it for comparison.

Thermaltake Toughpower SFX 1000W fan next to iphone 13.jpg

Thermaltake Toughpower SFX 1000W side next to iphone 13.jpg

Thermaltake Toughpower SFX 1000W ports next to iphone 13.jpg

The case should be delivered today and depending on when, I may get to move all the parts to it from the current case, a Coolermaster HAF X either today or tomorrow.
 
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Alrighty, so it did get delivered yesterday and I'm doing the build today but first off here are some pics of it with the Cooler Master HAF X where the parts are coming from. At this point I doubt most folks have ever seen one these hulking beasts in the wild so I've also included some comparison shots of the NZXT H7 Flow build which has many of the same parts.

lian-li-a3-matx-cooler-master-haf-x-side-angle.jpg


lian-li-a3-matx-cooler-master-haf-x-front.jpg
 
And here's the NZXT H7 Flow for comparison. Despite my wonky camera angles I can confirm that this LIAN LI A3 mATX is slight shorter and thinner but it's very clearly around 2/3 its height.

lian-li-a3-matx-NZXT H7 Flow-side-angle.jpg

lian-li-a3-matx-NZXT H7 Flow-front.jpg


lian-li-a3-matx-NZXT H7 Flow-front-width-comparison.jpg

Alrighty, so off to begin removing parts from the HAF X. I'm also going to post a couple of pics of that as well, especially some of the two PSUs because I'm still in complete shock of those size differences.
 
Yep, I've got a pair of Edifier's on the H7 Flow desk and it's just little taller and wider than them. The other pic with the cooler master is this experiment from 2018 that I'm still very happy with.

 
Stage 1 - disassemble and prep

The original case with the new PSU in it for comparison. Also not how dinged up the drive cage is. I had to get medieval with it to fit the GPU and also notice how, lol, it end up still holding the end of the GPU. Problem was that it was still at a tilt and that the best I could do and even took some extra hammering just to clear one of the GPU fans. Poor HAF X, it really didn't deserve that.

lian-li-a3-matx-haf-x-before-both-psus.jpg

lian-li-a3-matx-haf-x-bends-to-fit-gpu.jpg

and here's the GPU out of the case

lian-li-a3-project-gpu-closeup-1.jpg
lian-li-a3-project-gpu-closeup-2.jpg
and the motherboard. I forgot that I put 980 Pros in this
lian-li-a3-project-motherboard-closeup.jpg
 
Stage 2

The GPU. I know it seems strange to keep showing this thing but its because it really is the biggest graphics card I've ever owned, and I've owned a lot of them.


lian-li-a3-matx-project-gpu-for-scale.jpg


Here's one last PSU comparison shot. I'm still in awe to know that this SFX model is 1000W 80+ Platinum ATX 3.1.


lian-li-a3-matx-project-psu-comparisons.jpg

Alrighty, here's the Lian Li A3 maTX with all the covers over. Note, as one reviewer mentioned how to top is riveted and I agree with him that it would have made things easier to install if they'd used screws but it still wasn't bad.

lian-li-a3-matx=empty-covers-off.jpg
 
Stage 5 - Done!

lian-li-a3-matx-side-finished-on-stand.jpg

lian-li-a3-matx-front-finished-on-stand.jpg


Final thoughts:

I honestly had fun doing this even though I was pretty nervous about doing it. I'm giving myself a couple of pats on that back and getting ready to enjoy a well-deserved beer after this as I start gaming on it. All-in-all it took me ~90 minutes to complete and if I was bit more focused and hurried it a bit I probably could've done it in under an hour but I wanted to take my time.

Hardest parts, well I really, really hate dealing with thermal paste and fighting the block since the hoses are always putting up a lot of resistance. Mistakes, glad to say there were minimal, when I put the PSU in its shroud I installed it in such a way, on purpose because I wanted the fan facing inward (I'll get to why in the next part) but that put the main power plug right below one of the AIO tubes. Now while I could've still fit the plug that was not something I was comfortable with. Other mistake, lol, all those d**n cables for the AIO (3xrgb/3xfan) and their adapters. Seriously, probably the majority of cables that you still see. Last detail is that I forgot the rear fan has to be 120 mm max but luckily I had an unopened Corsair 2000 RPM, not PWM sitting around and it looks nice. Depending on how testing goes I may or may not order a black Noctua to replace but we'll just see how it goes.

Things I don't like about the case. Well not much but the front cover is solid plastic. It would be really nice if it was vented and better yet a mesh grill like the rest. That's the reason I was originally trying to mount the PSU with its fan facing inward but there's still ~10-30 mm around the shroud that some air should be able to be pulled in from the other 3 sides. Some extra cable management options would be nice but far, far, from a deal breaker. My only other complaint is about the case but about the CPU power cable. It's the standard length used with most PSUs but the problem here is that I was not able to hide it in the track above the motherboard and still reach the PSU at the front of the case. I had to run it across the motherboard and while that's not a dealbreaker either its a small bummer. The only other thing I'd recommend is a right-angle USB connector which would also make cable management a bit snazzier.

Things I like, well almost everything. Price is $69 and that's tough to be. Build quality is excellent and it really was fun to build in. I fit a 360 AIO plus that gigantic GPU but the trick which allowed that to happen was carefully reading the configuration options on the website, which is confusing and then picking the perfect PSU for the job. I deliberately went overkill with 1000W since I feel the less it has to work the cooler the whole rig will be. On that note, depending on if I need it I can re-install the optional side bracket and install at least one (maybe 2) Noctua NF-P14s Redux for intake. I just happen to have one laying around and I checked and it will clear the AIO tubes and the bracket would allow me to install right across from the CPU which coincidentally would have airflow also hitting the back of the actual GPU and then also the NVMe drives. However, I want to do testing to see if it's really needed, the other good news that there's fan jack easily accessible on the motherboard given the others are buried under the graphics card.

One of the things that many reviews mention, and it is mentioned in the specs and instructions, is that PSU size will play a major factor in what you can do with one of these. Graphics cards are an obvious elephant in the room but I proved with this experiment that I could fit one of the biggest around plus a 360 AIO and still have room for more fans. The bottom of the case allows more fans to be installed but I don't thing I need them. I also think a radiator could be installed in there as well.

I will say that I'm tempted to get 2 more of these and transfer my other 2 rigs into them but that might be a holiday project and really depends on size specs of the 5090 when it comes out. The instructions/site doesn't really emphasize it but I feel pretty confident I could fit the 360 AIO as is and then the 240 AIO of the liquid MSI RTX 4090 suprim X as well which is kind of mind-boggling. Hats off to Lian Li/DAN for making such an amazing case that with careful planning is capable of so much.
 
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Things I don't like about the case. Well not much but the front cover is solid plastic. It would be really nice if it was vented and better yet a mesh grill like the rest.
Oh shiiiiiat, there's no airflow through it at all?! Just solid plastic?! Yyeeaahh that's not cool!

Build quality is excellent and it really was fun to build in.
Good to hear man.

PSU size will play a major factor in what you can do with one of these
Yyeeaahh I am noticing that...
 
Problem was that it was still at a tilt and that the best I could do and even took some extra hammering just to clear one of the GPU fans. Poor HAF X, it really didn't deserve that.

lian-li-a3-matx-haf-x-before-both-psus.jpg
The bend on that card, good gawd! That's a scary pic dude!
 
Oh shiiiiiat, there's no airflow through it at all?! Just solid plastic?! Yyeeaahh that's not cool!


Good to hear man.


Yyeeaahh I am noticing that...
Yep, one thing about most of the reviews is that they slapped an ATX PSU and worked with smaller cards and called it a day. I'm so happy I didn't do that.
 
First round of gaming testing. Just working towards finishing HFW at 4K 60 Hz using max settings and DLSS Quality.

Bottom line is that I can't perceive much of a difference between it and the HAF X which is . . .amazing! Giving up all that space is that is means it has to breathe and it does. Moving the GPU to the bottom of the case and then moving the PSU to the front was a stroke a genious by Lian Li / DAN. I only took it a step further by making sure to use a PSU strong enough to not break a sweat with the components being used. At the moment I'm seeing the CPU 4450 MHz (same as all the rigs I've had a 5800X3D in) @ 55-58c and the 4080 SUPER at 2895/2910 MHz, again 55-58 c. I didn't notice the fans ramp up any more than they did in the HAF X. It was awesome!

I played for about 2 hours like this but obviously have much more testing to do but its a great start. I also downloaded the Hogwarts update at ~gigabit speed (100+ MB/s) while also doing some updates. I did hear the AIO ramp up a little bit but again no more than I've heard with the HAF X.
 
Alrighty so just a little update and nothing but good news to report.

I was in the mood for a little Crysis Remastered yesterday and played for a few hours at 4K. Using DLSS quality along with many settings at "Can it play Crysis" this rig was managing 70-100+ FPS and it was a wow experience. That being said the house AC is set at 72°F and the cave typically will get a few degrees higher since the thermostat is in the living room. Well, GPU temps never got above 66°C (2880-2895 MHz) and the CPU hung ~58°C keeping at 4400-4450 MHz. Since this game is notably hard on CPUs, plus with RT effects it can punish GPUs as well, it seemed like a good test. I'm almost in the mood to get back to CP2077 and will report when that happens because that game can easliy punish both as well.

Otherwise, this case has passed every test so far and noise levels are pretty much the same as my old HAF X case. I'd estimate they range from 20-30 dB at max and honestly I can't hear them most of the time except for when major loading is happening which causes the CPU AIO to ramp up briefly.

The hardest part now as this and the new TV in the living room, plus some other things that we gifted to me, have brought on a whole lot of new changes and are inspiring more. I'm very much thinking about having the C9 65", that's now in the cave, wall mounted which would completely free up the desk area in there and in turn would allow a hybrid desktop experience but I can then also game from the couch when I want. If I do that then the rig in our bedroom becomes totally unnecessary.

If the above happens I'm very much thinking of ordering another one of these cases and putting bedroom rig's motherboard and parts, replacing the hybrid 3090 Ti with the liquid 4090 Suprim and replacing that Vetroo AIO with the CoolerMaster AIO. I feel very confident that both will fit and it would look amazing in the living room while still performing as expected. More work and insanity but I really am at a point in my life where I don't like all the clutter in each space and really want to get down to 2 rigs, and possibly even one, in the next 2 years or so.

The really nice thing about these cases is that they really are fairly easy to carry from room to room, at least compared to everything else I've ever had, so after a bit I no longer have a need to have a rig in each room. Between glass, size, and weight it was just too much to deal with before but, pun intended, that is no longer the case.
 
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