I’ve recently severed ties with Cable TV and I use a PC to watch Hulu and Netflix to get my daily fix of TV shows. Even live programs like CNN could not keep me from going “web” and so far, I really like it. I’m currently using a Cooler Master Wave my Home Theater PC case, but when I got a chance to look at the Lian Li PC-V351, I went ahead and built another home theater PC prototype.
The Lian-Li PC-V351 is made of aluminum with a black matte finish. It is larger than I thought it would be when I saw it on a shopping site (14.7×10.3×11″) but it turned out to be just enough to build a powerful PC without having the components sit too tight in there, and it leave some room for expansion. When it is empty, the case is feels very light, much lighter than the Wave.
The PC-V351 has been designed to support a micro-ATX motherboard (“mobo”) and that’s largely enough, given how integrated things are these days. If you opt for a motherboard with integrated graphics, you won’t even have to insert a PCI card (I removed the TV Tuner, obviously). If you want to go “high-end”, you can add a PCI-E graphics card and a PCI TV (dual?) Tuner. Make sure that you check the graphics card size and PCI bus type for your tuner. I also recommend using a fan-less graphics card if you can – it’s awesome.
The installation was easy. There’s a tray that slides-out completely to let one work comfortably with the motherboard on a desk or table, then you can insert the add-on cards and slide the whole thing in the case. I recommend using a low-profile CPU fan because height is limited. In my case, I went for the generic CPU heatsink with a 80mm fan. Depending on your configuration, it’s probably good enough. I’m using only one fan in the front to reduce the noise to almost nothing. In the back, the power supply fan evacuates the hot air. That makes sure that things don’t overheat, but for me, it works great.
I chose to put only one HDD (a Velociraptor 10krpm) and one Blu-Ray drive. Not using all the storage slots makes cable management much easier. In my case, there’s so much room that I could afford to be sloppy. Note that both HDD and optical drives come with special slide-in attachments and don’t need to be secured with a screw from the side. It’s very convenient.
For the power-supply, you can use a standard-size one. I would recommend getting one that has the modular power cables, as that will avoid having unused power cables hanging around.
Having drive bays located on the sides doesn’t really help the day to day use. If anything, it might be annoying if you put the PC next to a piece of furniture or in a cozy TV cabinet. However, it makes it possible to have a case that has a much shorter depth than a standard PC ATX case (here, my Cooler Master wave).
Once everything is closed, I found that it looks great, less like a PC and more like an audio appliance or something like that. Most people think that it’s a subwoofer if it is on the floor.
There you go, you have seen the Lian Li PC-V351 in real “world action” and I’ll let you decide for yourself if that’s what you want for your living room. I’m sure that you can build/buy something much smaller (look at the Acer Revo), but mini-ITX computers feel a little sluggish with web pages and so on. I think that from your couch, you would want something that is fast and reactive.
If you have additional questions, drop a comment and I’ll try to reply while I still have the case handy.