MSI has long pushed the boundaries of invention with its ever-evolving range of laptops but it has now pulled off a world first with the new MSI Creative 17.
Lian Li PC-A12
- Light, sturdy aluminium design; looks stylish; 2 x 12cm fans.
- DVD drive was awkward to install, front ports aren't easy to access, its expansion slots may make it difficult to install some expansion cards.
This case has style, runs cool and quiet, and has enough size to cater to a high-end configuration. However, if you're constantly adding and removing components, this case isn't an ideal choice.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
This all-aluminium mid-tower case has an elegant exterior and can house an adequate amount of components comfortably. However, it does have a couple of quirks, and it's not a case you'd want to use if you're constantly adding and swapping components within your system.
We didn't have too many problems building up the case, but there were some awkward moments. The case isn't tool-less, so you have to use a screwdriver to affix all everything to the case, which turned out to be a hassle when we installed our DVD burner. The 5.25in drive bay doesn't have anything to hold up the drive as it's slid into place, so one hand has to be placed inside the case to hold it up as the screws are tightened. Meanwhile the top of the case (where the power supply sits) has an aluminium sheet, rather than a support bar, running from the rear to the front, which makes plugging in the DVD burner cables difficult as you can't see what you're doing.
A back-plate holds the power supply in place and this needs to be removed before the supply can be slid in from the rear. Again, the aluminium at the top of the case makes it hard to see all the cables and this can be awkward if a modular power supply is used.
A door, which is adorned by a blue LED on its front panel, opens up to reveal four 5.25in and two 3.5in externally accessible drive bays. The door has ventilation holes along its edge so that cool air can be fed to the front cooling fan even when the door is closed. Meanwhile, a rear-mounted 12cm fan is also present. Because both fans are large and don't spin too fast, they can move a large volume of air without making much noise.
One drive cage resides on the base of the case and it has room for up to three hard drives. If you want to add more hard drives, then you'll have to use the externally accessible bays. The hard drive cage faces inward, rather than outward, so drive installation is best done before the motherboard has been screwed in.
When installing the motherboard, RAM and expansion cards, we didn't notice any excessive flexing in the motherboard tray, and despite its all-aluminium construction, the overall build quality of the case is solid. The expansion slots can be a little awkward to work with. Each expansion slot is narrow near the top (where the screw in-point of the slot is), so if you're installing a digital TV-tuner card whose antenna port is also located close to the screw-in point, for example, then it will be difficult to manoeuvre it into place.
Because the case has a door on its front panel, connectivity ports have been placed on the right edge. Two USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire, microphone and headphone port are present, but their location can be difficult to get to if the case is placed on the floor. Likewise, if the case is to be placed on a desk or wall-unit with just enough space for the width of the case, then it will have to stick out a little so that these ports can be accessed.
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Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.
This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.
It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.
As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.
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