Lian Li is a brand anyone hunting for the best PC case will be familiar with. The company is known for exquisite style and phenomenal build quality, making any PC build stun. But some of the company's best comes with a price premium. It's probably not the first brand you're going to think of if you're trying to build a lower-budget gaming PC.
That's where the Lancool 205 Mesh comes in. It's towards the higher reaches of what you might consider mid-range, but it's still an affordable PC case. Better still, it's an affordable PC case packed with that premium Lian Li style.
This mid-tower PC case ticks so many boxes it's tough to know where to begin. Ultimately if you're looking for style, value, build quality and ease of use, it's going to have to be towards the top of your shortlist.
Bottom line: A stunning, high-quality, easy-to-build in PC case that should definitely be on your shortlist in the mid-range.
- Looks incredible
- Masses of drive bays
- Great cable management
- Integrated PSU shroud
- Three 120mm fans included
- Great airflow
- No 360mm radiator support
- Radiator bracket could use additional fixing points
- GPU support bracket for longer/heavier cards would be nice
Lian Li Lancool 205 Mesh: Price and availability
The Lian Li Lancool 205 Mesh is available now in Lian Li's supported markets through its network of partner resellers. Pricing is around $100 and it's available in either black or white.
Be careful not to confuse it with the cheaper Lancool 205, which doesn't come with the mesh front design and has fewer 120mm fans included as standard.
Lian Li Lancool 205 Mesh: Specifications
|Category||Lian Li Lancool 205 Mesh|
|I/O||2x USB-A 3.0|
|Expansion||7 horizontal PCI|
|Storage||4x 2.5-inch SSD|
2x 2.5-inch SSD + 2x 3.5-inch HDD
|Included fans||1 x 120mm w/RGB|
2 x 140mm w/RGB
|Top fans||2x 120mm|
|Rear fan||1x 120mm|
|Front fans||2x 120mm|
|Filters||Mesh front panel|
|Dimensions||205mm x 415mm x 485mm|
|Weight||18.73 pounds (8.5 kg)|
Lian Li Lancool 205 Mesh: Design and hardware
The Lancool 205 Mesh is a variation of Lian Li's existing Lancool 205, with the main difference being the introduction of a mesh panel on the front of the case. This improves airflow over the original dramatically, and the fine holes also seem to do a decent job at acting as a dust filter, too. In the space of a week of constant use, there's no sign of any significant dust intrusion into the case's interior.
As a piece of design, other than that mesh front, it's a fairly standard affair, yet somehow still quite striking. It's constructed entirely of steel, so it feels solid, but at the same time it isn't so heavy you'll need a concrete block to stand it on. The left side panel is all tempered glass, though only reaches about 75% of the way down the case.
The rest of that side is taken up by a PSU shroud that is integrated into the exterior of the case but is also removable for easy access to your power supply. It's held in by a single screw and simply slides out. Nothing fancy, but it's a seamless design integration that fits perfectly with the aesthetics of the case.
The right side panel is all metal and behind it you find your 2.5-inch SSD caddies, cable management points, and access to the 3.5-inch drive bays hidden just behind the front panel. If you don't want them, however, the entire thing can be removed leaving you with additional space to hide your power supply cables in.
The Lancool 205 Mesh takes up to an ATX motherboard and a whole bunch of cooling. The front can take a pair of 140mm fans or a 280mm radiator, the back is good for a 120mm exhaust fan and in the top, there's also space for another pair of 140mm fans or 280mm radiator. Of particular note is the radiator bracket built into the top of the case, which simply unscrews and slides out, making it so much easier to fix your cooling solution in place.
It's not a particularly hefty bracket, mind, and it does only fix in place with a single screw once slotted into position. It shouldn't move about, but there's still some definite chance of movement, so it would have been nice to have an additional screw to fix it in place at the other end as well. If you're planning to use a 360mm radiator, too, you're out of luck. 280mm is the maximum the Lancool 205 Mesh supports either at the top or in the front.
The construction is absolutely first-rate, and on the white one I have here there are no corners cut with the paint job. All of the interior is painted white, even the bits you can't see, leaving for a striking finish. Access is tool-free, too, with thumbscrews used on everything from the side panels to the drive bays. The only two places you need a screwdriver to access the case are removing the PSU shroud and the radiator bracket in the top.
Lian Li Lancool 205 Mesh: What it's like to build in
The best-looking, best-quality case in the world is no good if it's a nightmare to build in. So what about the Lancool 205 Mesh? For the purposes of this review, I've built a system that not only showcases its good looks, but that makes as much use as possible of the space inside. Here's a quick rundown of the main parts list:
- NZXT N7 Z590 ATX motherboard
- MSI RTX 2080 8GB GPU
- be quiet! Dark Power 12 750W PSU
- ID-Cooling 280mm AIO cooler
- Samsung 870 Evo 2.5-inch SSD
ATX is the maximum size motherboard the Lancool 205 Mesh will take, and you get a full complement of available PCIe expansion slots on the rear of the case as a companion. The NZXT N7 Z590 has a lot of important bits on the very bottom of the motherboard, but feeding cables to the right headers is simple thanks to the two sizeable, but still discreet-looking access holes in the bottom.
Likewise to the sides and top of the motherboard you're left with ample space to feed cables without the need for much swearing, and even with a radiator installed there's just enough clearance to get your fingers in to connect things up without having to remove it first. Out front it's a very clean, tidy design, and in the back, there are plenty of loops to attach cable ties and keep things neat.
Removing the 3.5-inch drive bays also makes the basement of this case a joy to work in. Ordinarily, when building a PC I'll attach the power supply cables before mounting it inside. But in the Lancool 205 Mesh without those drive bays installed you get so much space to work in that you can attach and tidy as you go. The Dark Power 12 isn't the smallest 750W power supply around, but this cavernous case gobbles it up with ease.
How about performance, though? With an Intel Core i5-11600K and an RTX 2080 installed, things have been nice and cool under idle and light workloads. The CPU sits around the 30C (86F) mark, while the GPU is usually also at around 30C (86F) when not called into action. The two included fans on the front of the case suck in a lot of air, and by mounting a radiator in the roof the heat from the CPU rises straight out.
Even when cranking up the loads, heat dissipation is superb, with the rear exhaust fan never struggling and rarely feeling like it's actually warm air coming out. Maximum CPU temperatures under a full stress test only ever reached the low 70s Celsius (158F) and the fully open top did a great job at venting the heat. You could expect similar results using a blower-style GPU as well, and if you're air cooling the amount of air that the front 140mm fans pull through, this means you're going to have no issues cooling even a warm CPU.
The included fans are whisper quiet, too, and as an added bonus Lian Li includes a fan controller in the rear of the case so you don't even have to worry about running cables all around your motherboard as it's good enough for up to five fans, as well as five RGB cables from those fans.
There's also enough room for some modest water cooling, though it's still a fairly compact case despite all the space inside to build in. If you're looking for a full water-cooled setup, you might be better served by something larger.
I'd also have liked some kind of GPU support integrated, though admittedly I'm really picking here. The case will easily accommodate today's hugest, heaviest graphics cards, but unless your motherboard has slots of steel you're probably going to fight some sag. Indeed, the heavy old RTX 2080 I've used here sags a little, and I've taken to using a white power brick to prop it up (and also not ruin the white aesthetics!) Obviously, if you're not using a giant GPU it won't be a problem, but something more elegant than my homemade solution would have been welcome.
Lian Li Lancool 205 Mesh: Competition
The mid-range PC case is packed with great choices right now, with Phanteks and Corsair, in particular, two of the main competitors with the P350X and 275R Airflow respectively.
The Phanteks P350X doesn't have a full mesh front, but still provides excellent airflow and like the Lancool 205 Mesh, accepts an ATX motherboard and boasts plenty of space inside to build. It's a quality PC case and costs a little less than the Lancool 205 Mesh, though admittedly doesn't look as good and comes with fewer included fans.
The Corsair 275R Airflow is also a little cheaper than the Lancool 205 Mesh and also has a front panel designed purely for drawing in as much air as possible. It's available in white, too, though takes a different approach to its PSU shroud and doesn't have the same all-white exterior you find from Lian Li. It does take a 360mm radiator though and it has a trio of 120mm fans included.
Lian Li Lancool 205 Mesh: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You want a high-quality, good-looking case that doesn't break the bank
- You're looking for plenty of interior space to easily build in
- You're looking for great airflow to keep your rig nice and frosty
You shouldn't buy this if ...
- You're building a full water-cooled setup
- You need to use a 360mm radiator
The Lian Li Lancool 205 Mesh is almost impossible to fault, offering a stunning design at a reasonable price that lends itself to a truly special-looking PC build.
Lian Li consistently makes outstanding PC cases and the Lancool 205 Mesh is no exception. I am a little nervous about the long-term dust factor of having a mesh front and no traditional dust filter, but at the same time, it's incredible how much air it pulls through and how cool everything is inside.
It's easily one of the simplest and most enjoyable cases I've ever built a PC in, and while it's a little more expensive than some of its competitors, the Lancool 205 Mesh is great value for it and well worth housing your next build.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine