Lian Li PC-CK101 “Train” M-ITX Chassis Review

Lian Li have created something truly special and unique with the PC-CK101 and from all my experience working with chassis over the last few years I really haven’t seen anything quite like it before, apart from a real steam train of course, but even those are not exactly something I see very often.

When it comes to reviewing a Lian Li chassis I always expect a little crazy tweak or twist that I haven’t seen in another product. They love to innovate and do things differently than most other manufacturers, for better or for worse, although their intentions are to always create something unique and beautiful. This is backed up by their choice of materials and like any other Lian Li chassis, the CK101 is mostly made from Aluminum, which means it is incredibly strong and lightweight. Any plastics that have been used are pristine finished and don’t break away from the design, such as the wheels, windows and power button.

Overall build quality is flawless and true to Lian Li style the whole thing is beautifully crafted down to the finest detail, not a scratch, rough edge or unfinished section in sight and every panel fitting perfectly together. Of course this is backed up by the impressive design and you can see the bolts and screws that have been used to join the panels together, making the case feel even more industrial and unique. I especially like that this is every bit a model steam train as it is a PC chassis, something that an enthusiast of either trains or computers can enjoy just as much as the other, this is even more so true for the remote control edition with six lengths of track that turns it into something more in common with a model railway.

It’s not a perfect chassis though and I immediately missed having a PCI expansion slot, even a small one would have been nice to play around with as I can’t help but enjoy fitting powerful graphics cards to every system I build. The USB 3.0 cable could do with being a tiny bit longer and the cable routing holes can be incredibly awkward to fit together neatly towards the final stages of the build process. The biggest reason why you may not buy this chassis is the price, it’s far from cheap and while the price does vary from model to model and from different retailers, you can expect to pay up anything from £200-400, which is to say the least, a lot of money.

While the price may put many off, this isn’t a mass market product, this is a special event of sorts and a great way for Lian Li to show what they can do. The price is high, but it is more than justified by the use of high quality materials, an impressive design and faultless build quality that Lian Li have becoming known for, but the best reason for spending money on the PC-CK101 is simple, you only have to be in its presence to want to own one, it looks incredible and in this case, looks are everything.

Pros

  • Incredible design
  • Functional model train
  • Excellent presentation
  • High quality aluminum construction

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • No expansion slot
  • Dust filter can be tricky to remove

eTeknix says: “There really is nothing quite like this on the chassis market and while it may not be to everyone’s taste, it is hard to deny that this chassis is cool. While it may not be the best model train ever or the best chassis ever, it’s a pleasure to work with and own, easily the most fun chassis we’ve ever seen.”

Lian Li PC-CK101 “Train” M-ITX Chassis Review

Thanks to Lian Li for providing this sample.