Home / Component / Cases / Lian Li PC-X2000FN Chassis Review (w/ dual Xeon)

Lian Li PC-X2000FN Chassis Review (w/ dual Xeon)

Rating: 10.0.

I have reviewed many thousands of tech goodies over the last decade and only a handful of these have left a long lasting impact. These are the products that you get a ‘warm fuzzy glow’ about inside when you think back … I can still remember playing Tomb Raider at 640×480 with my 3DFX / Matrox Millennium system for instance. Apple’s first iPad was an iconic product. When i first listened to STAX 009 headphones, that was a life changing experience.

Lets be honest, computer chassis are not the sexiest products. They don’t target the Endorphins – we review hundreds of cases every year and very few create any kind of lasting impact with me. There is a reason for this – they are generally built to a budget price point to target the largest possible audience. There are only two cases that I would take with me into the next life – the Silverstone Raven 02 and the Lian Li X2000. Today we are looking at the latest revision to the X2000 – the X2000FN.

I got my hands on the PC X2000F in March 2011 and at the time I was incredibly impressed with the overall design and build quality. Lian Li are without question one of the finest chassis manufacturing companies on the planet and the attention to detail was apparent on every panel. I actually still use this case today, 18 months later.

The X2000FN has received a handful of changes since we last had the opportunity to put it through our labs. We hope that Lian Li haven’t made any changes for the worse, as we know sometimes this can happen.

The Lian Li PC-X2000FN ships in a very tall box with some fantastic imagery on the front, highlighting many of the features.

Inside, the case is protected underneath plastic wrap and thick foam side panels. The company include some colour leaflets on other products and accessories.

The bundle is extensive, with various mounting plates, screws and adapters supplied. There are also eight extra long sata cables included, which are used for connection to the internal drive bays, but more on this later.

Lian Li also include a handy little plastic case to store all the left over screws and bolts, not needed in the specific system build.

The case is monolithic by design, almost ‘compressed’. Not as long as many super tower cases, but taller. It measures 544mm x 768mm x 302 mm (WxHxD). The weight is 12.8KG – hand crafted from light,  quality aluminum. The engineering standards are first rate, with all corners carefully rounded for safety and appearance.

The front of the X2000FN is free from any gaudy glowing lights or ugly mesh covers. A simple smooth aluminum front panel curves upwards and across into the top panel.

The image above left highlights the curve, designed from a single piece of aluminum. Beautiful.

The side of the case is also free from any holes, lights or fan positions. There are only two recessed drive bay covers, for optical drives.

Underneath the top flap are four USB 3.0 ports, an eSATA port and a headphone and microphone connector. The first version of this case had USB 2.0 ports here instead.

The other side of the case has no window or fan mounts either, just a couple of drive positions and a single locking screw in the middle of the panel, at the very back.

Both side panels have a long double row of vents, which are used to intake cool air into the chassis. We will look at this in more detail when we open the X2000FN later in the review.

We used a high intensity flash gun to highlight the curved aluminum on the underside of the front panel.

The underside of the case is home to four large feet and a single dust filtered fan vent for the power supply.

The rear of the case is home to two large fans, which are connected to a fan controller as shown in the image above.

The lower fan is offset underneath two watercooling holes, as shown above. Next to this is the position for the motherboard I/O panel.

There are ten expansion bays available on the back of the X2000FN.

The power supply mounts to the very bottom of the X2000FN chassis.

The side panels have been changed. The last ‘F’ version had a ‘screw and pull system’, but the latest version locks in place with a series of ‘pins’. This design is screwless and surprisingly secure.

The inside of the case is completely black, and flawless. This is finished to the highest possible standards and we couldn’t find a single area which wasn’t immaculately painted.

The X2000FN is designed with three individual ‘zones’ in mind.

The upper Zone 1 is the optical and hard drive section. There is also a 2.5 inch cage in this section.

Zone 2 is the main motherboard section, taking up two thirds of the overall physical space.

Zone 3 is at the bottom, and is for the power supply and additional drive mounting.

The X2000FN is a high cost chassis, so Lian Li have not skimped on the quality of fans they have included. They have included three 140mm fans at the front for cool air intake, and another 140mm and 120mm fan at the rear for exhaust duties.

This panel can be used as a two 3.5 inch HDD mount system, or for a single 3.5 inch drive and 2.5 inch drive. I removed this for the installation phase of the build.

The other side panel has a single thumbscrew holding it firmly in place. This side panel uses the same ‘locking pin’ style system, which requires a ‘tug’ on all corners to remove it. Theoretically this panel won’t be removed very often, so the adoption of an additional locking screw for additional security is a good idea.

Both lower and upper drive bays use molex connectors for power. There is actually no need to use SATA cables in this case, unless you connect your drives directly, rather than using the bays as shown. There is a PCB next to the upper most fan which can control the speed of a variety of fans. You can omit this completely if you want the motherboard to control the speeds.

The cable from the top panel run down this side of the case, out of sight from the system build on the other side of the case. There are plenty of routing holes, all of which are rubber mounted to improve appearance and to protect the cables against fraying. A huge section of the motherboard tray has been removed to accommodate the largest backplate heatsink coolers.

The front of the case has a removable, washable dust filter, which can be slid out from position easily. Each of the three 140mm fans at the front of the case can be removed without screws, lifted out of the sockets. Each of these fans has an removable molex connector, or they can be connected directly into suitable 3 pin fan headers on the motherboard.

One of the aspects of the X2000FN which I find so appealing is that you can remove almost all of the cages and partitions if you wish. I decided to build a high end server system into this case today so I adjusted the case to suit.

I absolutely love the expansion slot locking mechanism. Other companies have copied this in recent years, but they never make them as well. The X2000FN locking levers are made from metal and they feel incredibly strong. I have been building system into the X2000F now for 18 months and they still show no signs of weakening. This tool less method of locking heavy graphics cards is class leading. Lian Li have also incorporated a new graphics card holder mechanism into the new case, which you can see above.

A flagship Seasonic 1000W Platinum Power supply – installed easily within a matter of minutes. A power supply measuring up to 230mm in length can be installed, or larger if you remove the lower drive bay. You can read our full indepth analysis of this power supply over here. Thanks again to Seasonic for supplying another power supply just for this review.

It is important to note that the flip side of the case has enough space for routing, but you need to ensure that the cabling isn’t gathered in one place, or the side panel will not lock right. A little time is required to ensure that the cabling is spaced out enough.

We installed an ASUS Z9 PE-D8 WS for an upcoming review, with two Corsair H80 liquid coolers. This required a little planning for routing, especially as this motherboard takes two 8 pin CPU power connectors on either side of the board. We decided to run the cables along with the main motherboard cable. We used the top section of the X2000FN to install two Corsair 240GB Neutron Solid State drives. I don’t install optical drives anymore in my systems, opting for an external USB/Bluray drive.

The X2000FN can accept an EATX, ATX or MicroATX motherboard. CPU coolers up to 180mm tall and graphics cards up to 340mm in length can be installed.

The final system build. We removed the lower Lian Li fan from the front of the case, and installed the first Corsair H80 radiator in an intake position. We deliberately angled the radiator by around 15 degrees to force some cool air in from the front of the case over the components. The cable configuration could be cleaned up if we were keeping this as a final system build, but as we are ripping the system apart shortly for another review its irrelevant.

The other Corsair H80 radiator was installed with only a single fan in an exhaust position to allow easy access to the far memory slots. It is possible to install two fans on this rear mounted radiator, however we aren’t overclocking and I already know from previous experience that this case offers a high level of cooling.

On this page we present some super high resolution images of the product taken with the 24.5MP Nikon D3X camera and 24-70mm ED lens. These will take much longer to open due to the dimensions, especially on slower connections. If you use these pictures on another site or publication, please credit Kitguru.net as the owner/source.

Today, to fully utilise this case, we are installing an ASUS Z9 Pe-D8 WS motherboard with two Xeon 287W processors. This is a fairly complex build although it shows the potential of the X2000FN Chassis.

Processors: Dual Xeon 2687W
Coolers: Corsair H80 x 2. (one radiator with dual fan mounted as front intake – angled 15% to create more airflow upwards) Other radiator rear mounted as exhaust
Memory: 64GB of Corsair Memory
Graphics: ASUS GTX690
Power Supply: Seasonic 1000W Platinum
SSD: Two Corsair 240GB Neutron GTX
Motherboard: ASUS Z9 PE-D8 WS
Operating System: Windows 7 64 bit Enterprise.

Thermal Diodes
Raytek Laser Temp Gun 3i LSRC/MT4 Mini Temp
Digital Sound Level Noise Decibel Meter Style 2

Firstly let us have a look at the chassis design and airflow.

The Lian Li X2000FN airflow is very powerful, with three 140mm fans pulling in cool air from the front of the case in the ‘out of the box’ configuration. All these fans are supplied. As we stated earlier in the review, we removed the bottom 140mm fan and fitted the dual fan Corsair H80 radiator at a slight angle to push cool air upwards over the components. At the rear are two other fans – a single 120mm fan and a single 140mm fan. We removed the lower fan and installed the other Corsair H80 radiator in an exhaust position.

We have placed thermal diodes in 5 case positions – 1; top optical drive bay position. 2; fan intake position. 3; hard drive area. 4; CPU (1) area. 5; Power supply/GPU zone. Ambient room temperatures were maintained at 24c throughout.

We load both processors with a Cinema 4D render, for 45 minutes at 100% demand on all cores. We connect all the fans to the ASUS Z9 PE-D8 WS motherboard for direct control.

Fantastic results, with the processor cores being held at 70c or less under load. All other temperatures are held well, with the motherboard peaking at 41c under extended load.

We take the issue of noise very seriously at KitGuru and this is why we have built a special home brew system as a reference point when we test noise levels of various components. Why do this? Well this means we can eliminate secondary noise pollution in the test room and concentrate on components we are testing. It also brings us slightly closer to industry standards, such as DIN 45635.

Today to test the chassis we have taken it into our acoustics room environment and have set our Digital Sound Level Noise Decibel Meter Style 2 one meter away from the case. The room rates as 21dBa before powering on the system (air conditioning unit in the far corner of the room causes this).

As this can be a little confusing for people, here are various dBa ratings in with real world situations to help describe the various levels.

KitGuru noise guide
10dBA – Normal Breathing/Rustling Leaves
20-25dBA – Whisper
30dBA – High Quality Computer fan
40dBA – A Bubbling Brook, or a Refridgerator
50dBA – Normal Conversation
60dBA – Laughter
70dBA – Vacuum Cleaner or Hairdryer
80dBA – City Traffic or a Garbage Disposal
90dBA – Motorcycle or Lawnmower
100dBA – MP3 player at maximum output
110dBA – Orchestra
120dBA – Front row rock concert/Jet Engine
130dBA – Threshold of Pain
140dBA – Military Jet takeoff/Gunshot (close range)
160dBA – Instant Perforation of eardrum

For this test we want to negate as many of the other fans as possible. We disable all fans on the Corsair H80 coolers when the system is idle. The Lian Li X2000FN is configured to its default state, which includes 3 x 140mm front intake fans, and 1x 120mm and 1x 140mm exhaust fans at the rear. The Seasonic power supply was set to ‘Hybrid’ mode for this specific test.

The chassis is very quiet when the fans are at their lowest setting. When turned to their highest point they are clearly audible although not intrusive. We would use this case with the fans in their lowest position as the airflow is still substantial and noise levels are reduced considerably.

Lian Li’s X2000 chassis has been one of my favourite technology products of all time. It takes the top spot in my ‘all time chassis’ designs. Obviously some people will disagree with my personal taste, but I have many reasons for justifying this opinion.

I have owned all of the X2000 iterations, and still have all versions of this case in our lab. The X2000F which I reviewed in March last year has been used almost every week and has completed roughly 30 system rebuilds over the last 18 months. Not a single part of the case has snapped, came loose, or ‘dropped off’ with heavy use. This is rare, believe me.

The build quality is without reproach, all of the edges are smoothed and the sleek smooth aluminum is the highest grade. Lian Li have received some criticism in recent years, with a select audience claiming they are retreading old ground and their designs are nothing out of ordinary.

I couldn’t argue more on this point.

Firstly, the X2000FN has been excruciatingly engineered both inside and out. Every part of the design appears to have underwent careful analysis by people who actually build systems. They don’t just add silly lighting gimmicks or unnecessary, gaudy plastic panels to attract the eye of an experienced user. Their focus is on high quality materials and useful features.

Their tool-less expansion bay locking system is inspired. Since Lian Li pioneered it many companies have copied it, often with disastrous results.

The Lian Li version is still the best, as they have constructed the locking mechanism from heavy duty materials. When you secure a heavy graphics card with the metal levers, you feel confident that it will be held in place without breaking next time you replace the graphics card. The last Thermaltake case I reviewed had a similar locking system, but incorporated low grade plastic. Three of the locking levers snapped within the third system build.

Lian Li have always adopted high grade, low noise fans in their cases. The X2000FN ships with three 140mm fans in the front of the case as intake and another 140mm and 120mm fan in the rear, configured as exhaust. The 120mm exhaust fan has been sized intentionally so it can be easily substituted with a fan/radiator from the array of ‘all in one’ liquid coolers available today from Corsair, Antec and Coolit. Additionally all of these fans can be speed adjusted via the control PCB and dedicated rear panel.

Lian Li have designed the X2000FN to utilise three separate ‘zones’. The clever, removable dust filtering system sucks in air from the front/side of the case, without ruining the monolithic appearance of the case with various fan mounts and mesh panels.

The X2000FN also offers a variety of choices to the user. You can remove almost all of the internal bays and panels, to expose as much physical space as possible. As we highlighted today, you can easily build a system using a very large motherboard with multiple processors and radiators. The new graphics card holder will also be a useful addition for some of the audience.

We installed the EEB form factor ASUS Z9PED8 motherboard which measures 30.5cm by 33 cm. We also installed two Corsair liquid coolers and a GTX690 to round out the system build. There was still plenty of space to work inside the case and when it came to complete the build the X2000FN didn’t throw up any fitting issues or engineering concerns.

The ‘FN’ is the latest, and best revision of the X2000 series. The new side panels are locked into place with metal holder ‘pins’ which require no tools for removal. Just to be thorough however, the company have added a single thumbscrew to the reverse side of the case, just for extra strength when moving the case.

As far as I am concerned, this is the perfect case. The only problem is the asking price, which will be around £400. Overclockers are stocking the previous version for £399.98 inc vat.

If you are building a high end enthusiast gaming or Xeon Workstation system, then this definitely needs serious consideration.

Pros:

  • Beautiful build quality.
  • over engineered.
  • high grade aluminum used throughout.
  • quiet.
  • high level of airflow.
  • variable fan speeds.
  • five high grade fans supplied.
  • expansion bay locking mechanism is the market leader.
  • the ‘narrow’ chassis design takes up less floor space, its very tall.
  • almost all of the internal zones have removable sections.
  • The last X2000 has been in our labs for 18 months, 30 system builds. It still looks new and nothing has broken.

Cons:

  • You need to dig deep into your wallet for this one.

Kitguru says: The X2000FN is my favourite case of all time.

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