Not exactly a TARDIS
Opening up the case is a delicate affair and the usual rules of case functionality are again disregarded in favour of a good aesthetic. Rather than the usual system of detaching and yanking the side panels off the back of the case, the V350 has six small screws on each side and they all have to be removed in order to get to the innards.
The same is true for the back of the case too, where there is a HDD cage fan to remove with four thumbscrews, the motherboard tray to detach with another four thumb screws and the PSU, which is also held in by the normal four thumbscrews. That means in order to take all the sides off the case and expose its guts I needed to remove 24 screws, which is a lot of unscrewing to do when you have to be so careful about not scratching the excellent finish.
In other words: you’d better appreciate these photographs.
Inside, the V350 is impressively cramped. You’d expect a case of these dimensions to be pretty small, but the V350 shocked even me with how little space there is. I suppose it’s the price to pay when you have four side-mounted 5.25” and twin front mounted 120mm fans (which run at 1,500 RPM).
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Thankfully, the V350 has a removable motherboard tray which is mounted on the base of the case and is simply pulled out of the back. This means that the entire motherboard can be mounted separately from the rest of the chassis – a major, major
headache saver. The tray rails are excellently made and the tray just effortlessly slides in and out without any of that teeth-shattering screeching which you might expect from a non-Lian.
The top of the case is where everything else goes (specific, aren’t I?) This includes the four optical drives (two bays on each side, though the case is only wide enough to take two drives total), two hard drives and the PSU. The HDD mounting system is the same as seen in the B25; rubber-ringed screws lock in on a slide-in rail system and are held securely. The rubber prevents any rattling and the design of the rail stops them bouncing out easily.
Obviously, being limited to two drives may be a problem for some – but I’m guessing that if you wanted to get a true array of hard drives going on then you’d be smart enough not to do it in a case this size anyway. It’s small, remember?
It was immediately obvious to us when we opened the V350 that cable management was going to be a bit of a problem. The case itself only comes with the typically inadequate tools – two small cable ties and a single large adhesive clip. There are a few places where the cables already in the case are clipped down, but you really should expect to have to invest in some more cable ties.
Cable management is further limited by the removable motherboard tray, which because of its design prevents cables and wires from being held underneath it. The HDD and optical drive cages too have a fairly closed off design too so it could be a problem to force cables in these spaces too. Still, we’ll get to all that in the testing section.
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Rummaging through the remaining extras, we found a drive adapter shell for a 5.25” bay, meaning that you can adapt one of the side drive spaces to hold a small LCD panel or a floppy disk drive if you wanted. In this day and age of USB keys, 3.5” disk drives are falling out of use and I may be the only person I know who would insist on having on any PC I build, but the option to put one in the V350 is still very much appreciated.
If USB is definitely more your thing though then the V350 still has you covered, with two USB ports, a headphone and microphone port and a firewire connector all on one side panel. The connections are all easily reachable and positioned near the front of the case. True, it may have been easier on the user to have them positioned on the front or top of the case depending on where you want to store your PC, but it’s yet more proof of Lian-Li putting style first in every case.
Next, let’s look at how we built and tested out the V350 and see if the case can perform anywhere near as good as it looks.