Say this for the Pitstop PC-T1: It turns heads. Lian Li is known for its clean, all-aluminum chassis, which range from the budget to the exorbitant—mostly the latter. This time, it has spawned an all-aluminum Mini-ITX case that just happens to look like a spider. Practical? No. Ridiculous? Yes. Usable? Eh.
The Pitstop T1 comes flat-packed, like an Ikea desk. It has four two-piece legs, a main body piece, a motherboard tray, and two PSU brackets that hang from the rear and accommodate one standard ATX PSU. Given the three-segment body (spiders only have two) and four legs (spiders have eight), it’s not anatomically correct. Then again, most spiders aren’t Mini-ITX rigs, either.
Why does a 6.7-inch square motherboard need a case with a 20x20-inch footprint?
To build a system into the T1, you first install a 3.5-inch drive (or 2.5-inch with an adapter) into the motherboard tray. The case accommodates one slimline optical drive, which attaches to a tray that then attaches to the underside of the mobo tray. The mobo tray attaches to the front of the main chassis body using four thumbscrews; the PSU brackets attach to the rear of the body using four more thumbscrews. The four legs, which attach to the corners of the main body, are secured using the same two-thumbscrew system at each of their two joints, although the leg segments themselves are attached to each other and to the body with a screw-and-bar mechanism.
The big problem with using thumbscrews as load-bearing mechanisms, of course, is that that’s not what thumbscrews are for. The Pitstop has enough trouble trying to stand firmly on its own legs without any components attached; with a heavy PSU, hard drive, and motherboard on it, the case feels likely to collapse at any moment.
Though the T1 is billed as a test bench, removing any component other than the motherboard requires some disassembly of the rig. The hard drive bracket is directly beneath the motherboard, and swapping hard drives or optical drives requires removing the motherboard tray from the rest of the chassis and removing the motherboard itself. Because the motherboard sits atop the creature’s head, there is no method of securing a PCI-E card, so you’d better hope your Mini-ITX board has onboard graphics. Even worse, the PSU brackets don’t work for many PSUs, as they require 3/8-inch clearance on the left edge of the PSU’s rear face, as well as half an inch of clearance on the upper left. We had to go through several PSUs before we found one that fit.
Of course, there’s one even bigger issue with the PC-T1: Its footprint is huge—it can stretch 22 inches from leg tip to leg tip. That gives this mini-ITX rig a bigger footprint than last month’s Dream Machine, for cryin’ out loud.
We admire Lian Li for going all-out with the design, but as a working chassis, the PC-T1 will please almost no one. Between the PSU bracket that doesn’t work with most PSUs, slimline-only optical support, one HDD slot, no support for PCI-E expansion cards, a colossal footprint, and wobbly legs, this arachnid couldn’t hurt a fly.