Lian Li has been in the spotlight for the last few years, primarily due to the O11, which masterfully balances tempered glass and airflow. However, the company has other impressive chassis, like the compact Q58, the transforming O11D Evo and the Lancool line, most recently represented by the Lancool III.
But the company’s latest case, the Lian Li Lancool 216, still manages to stand out in a field of successful sibling cases, with two 160mm fans, a rotatable PCIe bracket and a GPU fan mount. Since this case has so many unique features, I expected the price to be higher than most. But the base model Lancool 216 is only $100, with RGB variants just $15 extra. Even though it’s affordable, there are innumerable other cases in this price range. Let’s dig in, check out the test results and see if the Lancool 216 earns Lian Li yet another spot on our Best PC Cases list. First though, here’s the full specs list from Lian Li.
Specifications of the Lian Li Lancool 216
|Motherboard||Mini-ITX, Micro ATX, ATX, E-ATX|
|Dimensions (HxWxD)||19.4 x 9.25 x 19 inches|
|Max GPU Length||15.4 inches|
|CPU Cooler Height||7.1 inches|
|Internal Bays||6x 2.5 inch or 2x 3.5 inch|
|Front I/O||USB Type-C (10Gbps), 2x USB 3.0 Type A (5Gbps), power, reset and audio|
|Other||External fan mount|
|Front Fans||2x 160mm fans|
|Rear Fans||1x 120mm fan|
Features of the Lian Li Lancool 216
The Lian Li Lancool 216 is a mid-tower chassis that takes some inspiration from the Lancool III we looked at earlier this year. In fact, at first glance, it looks nearly identical to that case. But there are significant differences, like the front fans. The Lancool 216 comes with two big 160mm fans – the only other case on the market that sports these spinners is the Fractal Torrent, which was arguably one of the best-received cases of 2021. The Lancool 216’s unconventional cooling approach doesn’t stop with the front fans, as this case comes with a PCIe fan bracket for directing airflow at your GPU. More on that soon.
Like all airflow-focused cases on the market, the Lancool 2016’s front is almost entirely mesh. One of the issues I had with the Lancool III was its underwhelming thermal performance. However, as we’ll see in testing, the 216 is nothing like the Lancool III when it comes to cooling, despite being part of the same case family.
The new Lian Li case features a decent IO: You get power, a reset button, two USB 3.0 Type-A ports and , One USB Type-C, plus an audio combo jack. And, in a design nod to the O11D Evo, the IO can be moved to the lower left corner of the case, which makes room for the RGB controller. Yeah, the only way you can adjust the RGB on the 160mm fans is via the RGB controller, which costs $15 extra. I get that Lian Li wanted to hit the appealing $100 price point. But asking $15 extra for an RGB controller box feels like the company is dangling a key feature of the case in front of you like a carrot on a stick. At least you also get two extra USB-A ports if you opt for the controller. But of course then your motherboard will need two spare headers.
While there’s plenty to praise, one gripe I have with the Lancool 216 is the motherboard installation process. The standoffs come pre-installed like most other cases, but they need to be unscrewed and moved up in order for the motherboard to sit high enough so you can connect the PCIe / GPU fan without issues with wire clearance. To take advantage of the GPU cooling feature, you’ll have to move the standoffs and flip a piece that goes around the IO shield. While it’s annoying to do this, it’s worth it– trust me.
I’ve seen case companies dabble with a rotatable motherboard tray, but never a rotatable PCIe bracket. The PCIe bracket on the Lancool 216 can be rotated to accommodate a vertical GPU layout, without smushing it up against the glass. Don’t worry; even if the GPU is vertical, you’ll still be able to utilize the PCIe fan feature.
Courtesy of Lian Li
Now, on to the main event: the GPU bracket fan mount. The Lancool 216 comes with a 120mm fan mount that screws on to the back of the PCIe bracket. The idea of the bracket is simple: slap a fan to the PCIe bracket below the graphics card to pull hot air from the GPU. While it’s uncommon to see them on the market in 2022, this feature greatly impacts folks running with blower-style GPUs.
The idea of the GPU fan mount is interesting, but it also blocks access to any PCI cards below the GPU, as you can see in the image below. While that’s bad if you have a dedicated sound card or USB expansion card, the vast majority of people – especially people shopping for a $100 case – probably just have a GPU installed.
Since I had a couple of them on hand, I installed one of the new be quiet! Silent Wings 4 fans in the PCIe slot, and with its maximum RPM of 2,500, it seemed right at home. Since graphics cards are becoming more powerful (and power-hungry), I love having a large fan that can help move the GPU-warmed air out of the case.
The Lancool 216 stands at 19.4 x 9.25 x 19 inches (HWD), which is pretty large for a mid-tower, but a tad shorter than the Lancool III.
The top panel on the Lancool 216 is easily removable thanks to a couple of screws, which made connecting the EPS-12V cable much easier for me.
Behind the motherboard tray you’ll find metal tabs to keep your cables in line and an RGB/fan hub. The hub is nothing special, but I noticed one of the male RGB connectors was bending outward, which is concerning. The metal tabs for holding cables are an interesting choice, but they work well enough.
Hard drives are housed where they should be: underneath the PSU shroud in a cage. The cage can store two 2.5- or 3.5-inch drives. If you don’t use hard drives, then this case can hold six total 2.5-inch drives, with two sleds behind the motherboard tray.
If you’re planning on using a big air cooler, the Lancool 216 can support up to 180mm (7.1 inches), which is more than enough for the tallest of towers. The same applies to GPUs, as this chassis can fit cards up to 392mm (15.4 inches).
While the main feature of this case is its big front 160mm fans and the PCIe fan bracket, Lian Li included mounts for a more traditional orientation. The front fans can be removed in place of 3x 120 or 2x 140mm spinners to accommodate radiators. The top of the case can house the same configuration. Like the Lancool III, the 216 has room for two 120 or 140mm fans on the PSU shroud. Lastly, the rear exhaust can fit a 120 or 140mm fan.
Our testing hardware uses Intel’s 12th Gen Alder Lake platform. We’re using a Core i7-12700KF, cooled by a Noctua U12s air cooler. Our graphics card is a Gigabyte RTX 3070 Ti Gaming OC and our motherboard is the MSI Pro Z690-A WIFI.
Acoustic Results for the Lian Li Lancool 216
Our acoustic test consists of three scenarios: We run the CPU at full load, the CPU and GPU at full load, and an optimized mode. The CPU full load test runs the CPU and case fans at their maximum speed. For the CPU and GPU full load acoustic test, we also stress the Gigabyte RTX 3070 Ti Gaming OC and set the fans at 75% speed, because in gaming, the fans never run at 100 percent and are far too loud when they do.
For the optimized mode, we run the GPU fan speed at 30% and the CPU and included case fans at the lowest speed they will spin.
It should be noted that when running our acoustic tests, we did not have the PCIe fan running, since it doesn’t come with this fan and acoustics would differ based on what fan you install there. We did, however, install and run the Silent Wings 4 fan in this spot for our Thermal tests, since this is a key feature of the case. Like its older sibling, the Lancool III, the 216 is a loud case. However, I’m not bothered because the fans are bigger than usual. Don’t get me wrong, this case isn’t quiet, but the thermals make up for the noise,as we’re about to see.
Thermal Results for the Lian Li Lancool 216
For the thermal tests, all case and CPU fan speeds are set to 100%. The Core i7-12700K is set at a 4.7GHz clock at 1.3v on all performance cores, to ensure consistent power consumption across test scenarios. Letting the GPU run at 75% fan speed enables it to maintain its power target while sticking to one set reasonable fan speed, so the temperature is the only variable.
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Because they’re the only two major-brand cases on the market that feature 160mm fans, I directly compared the Fractal Design Torrent Compact and the Lian Li Lancool 216. The difference in CPU thermals is within margin of error, but the 10-degree difference in GPU teps clearly indicates that the PCIe fan is legit.
After comparing the Lancool 216 to the best-performing cases from this year, it’s safe to say that this case is worth strong consideration, especially if you want impressive GPU thermals.
Over the past year or so, the most popular cases on the market have been airflow-focused instead, rather than focusing on glass and RGB. With that said, many of those cases are starting to look the same, and so feeling a bit boring. That doesn’t apply to the Lian Li Lancool 216, because the company brought some of the defining features of the Lancool III and O11D Evo, and added a helpful PCIe fan with its latest case.
Let’s not forget the Lancool 216 is also only $100 (plus $15 if you want to add the nice RGB controller), which makes it extremely competitive in at a price point where the market is overflowing with options. With so many high-priced cases debuting this year (we’re looking at you, Cooler Master) It’s nice to see you don’t need to spend a lot on a case to get fantastic performance and quality. With that in mind, I’m willing to forgive the subtle issues I had with the 216 because it’s without a doubt, one of the best cases I’ve seen in a long time.
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