Introduction and First Impressions
A small enclosure that’s actually easy to use.
The Lian Li PC-Q33 is a mini-ITX enclosure with a cube-like appearance and a hinged construction that makes it easy to access the components within.
When a builder is contemplating a mini-ITX system the primary driver is going to be the size. It’s incredible that we've reached the point where we can have a powerful single-GPU system with minimal (if any) tradeoffs from the tiny mITX form-factor, but the components need to be housed in an appropriately small enclosure or the entire purpose is defeated. However working within small enclosures is often more difficult, unless the enclosure has been specifically designed to account for this. Certainly no slouch in the design department, Lian Li is no stranger to small, lightweight mini-ITX designs like this. The NCASE M1 (a personal favorite) was manufactured by the company after all, and in some ways the PC-Q33 is reminiscent of that design – in build quality and materials if nothing else. The Q33 features aluminum construction and is very light, and while compact the design of the enclosure allows for effortless component installation. The secret? A hinged design that allows the front of the enclosure to swing down providing full access to the interior.
This approach to accessibility with a small enclosure is a welcome one, and especially so considering the price of the PC-Q33, which retails for $95 on Newegg and can be found for around $105 on Amazon as well. This is still a high cost for many considering a small build and enters the premium price range for an enclosure, but remember the Q33 features an aluminum construction which typically carries a considerably higher cost than steel and plastic. Of course if the case is frustrating to use or has poor thermals than the materials used are meaningless, so in this review we’ll look at the build process and thermal results with the Q33 to see if it’s a good value. My initial impression is that the price is actually low, but that’s coming from someone who looks at a lot of cases and develops a familiarity with the average retail prices in each category.
First let’s take a look at the full specs from Lian Li:
Front bezel Material: Aluminum
Side Panel: Aluminum (Q33W with Window)
Body Material: Aluminum
HDD bay: 2.5” HDD x3, 3.5” HDD x2
Expansion Slot: 2
Motherboard: Mini-ITX, Mini-DTX
System Fan (Rear): 120mm x1
I/O Ports: USB 3.0 x2, HD Audio
VGA Card length: 220mm
PSU length: 200mm
CPU cooler height: 180mm
PSU support: ATX
Dimensions (WxHxD) 229mm x 328mm x 240mm (9” x 12.9” x 9.4”)
Net Weight: 2.18 kg (4.8 lbs)
Our thanks to Lian Li for providing the PC-Q33 enclosure for this review!
The PC-Q33 is a fairly small enclosure and it feels very light. There is a monolithic quality to it in this black color, and a silver finish is also available (as well as a windowed version).
Front I/O has the usual USB 3.0 and audio ports
Around back we see the horizontal orientation of the motherboard, which will sit above the power supply. Full-size ATX PSU’s are supported in depths of up to 200mm, which would allow most people to reuse an existing PSU with the Q33.
The case arrives with detailed build instructions and all necessary hardware.
The sides of the case are attached with a snap closure and are easy to remove. The same system was used with the NCASE M1 and it works equally well here.
The aluminum side panels of the PC-Q33 simply snap into place
Once open we see a lot of vertical space which allows for some massive tower air cooling if desired.
With both side panels removed (along with a couple of thumbscrews holding things in place) the case folds down easily and presents an ideal setup for the build with no obstructions.
Next we’ll look at the build process and see how the enclosure performed!