Apr 15, 2013


After a long time of silence I like to introduce the redesigned C4-SFX. The name comes from the German envelope norm for A4 papers so it is the big brother of the A4-SFX.

This case is the fusion of a traditional hardware layout and the sandwich layout. The list of features is long – 280mm radiator support, big air cooler up to 130mm, indirect GPU cooling, ITX, DTX, flip able design, 3 slot full length GPU, two hardware layouts, SFX & SFX-L Power Supply support, PCB based riser s.o. All this is packed in an elegant enclosure under 12L made by Lian Li. In terms of hardware support there are nearly no limits.


In this chapter I like to present the main hardware/cooling configurations.

The traditional hardware layouts allows for 3U sized tower heatsinks like the Noctua U9S or very big top blow heatsinks like the Noctua C14S. For these configurations it is possible to mount the power supply 90° rotated. With the radiator bracket it is possible to install 120, 140, 240 or 280mm radiators with 25mm thick fans for the best cooling results. For the traditional layout you can install 3 slot GPUs with a length up to 320mm. Two 120 or 140mm fan mount points at the bottom of the case allows for indirect GPU cooling if you remove the preinstalled GPU fans.


With the sandwich layout the focus is shifted to GPU cooling. GPUs up to 3 Slot and a length of 320mm can be installed in the PCB based riser. A 240 or 280mm radiator with 25mm height fans installed at the bottom of the case takes care of the CPU.


Just Flip it

It is possible to flip the case 180°. Rotate the front, mount the case feets on the opposite side and flip the side panels. This configuration enables advanced cooling for GPUs in the traditional layout or the radiator in the sandwich layout.


Case Dimensions (H x W x D): 241 x 151 x 329mm, 11.98L
Overall Dimensions: 257 x 151 x 332 (including case feets)
Weight: ??? Kg

Traditional Layout
Graphic cards support: 3 Slot GPU up to 315mm length
Motherboard support: Mini-ITX, DTX
Power Supply support: SFX, SFX-L
CPU Heatsink support: Up to 130mm in height.
Case Fans: 2x 80mm fan at the back, or 1x92mm at the back, 2x120mm or 2x140mm at the bottom
Water cooling support: up to 280mm radiator with 140x140x25mm fans

Sandwich Layout
Graphic cards support: 3 Slot GPU up to 320mm length (only I/O port at the first and second upper slot are useable)
Motherboard support: Mini-ITX
Power Supply support: SFX, SFX-L
Water cooling support: up to 280mm radiator with 140x140x25mm fans

Max configuration Sandwich: 315x140x30 + 140x140x25 fans
Max Pump height Sandwich: 60mm
Max configuration Classic: 320x140x40 + 140x140x25 fans
Max Pump height Classic: 68mm

Drives: up to 1 x 2.5" HDD/SSD

Power button: Premium-grade button

Material: 1,5mm aluminum (outer panels), 1.5mm aluminum (inner parts & top panel)
Side panels: Easily clipp able with LianLi Push Pin technology
Colors: Anodized black(maybe dark grey) or silver exterior, matte black painted interior

Risercard: PCIe 16x gen4 pcb based riser

Price tag: 180-225€

GPU Compatibility:





Next Steps

  • Make a Prototype = done
  • Create the manual
  • Production Guide = done
  • Cartons and Label = done
  • Test the prototype
  • Reviews
  • Update media material
  • CE-Validation
  • Release (no release date)

Special Thanks

This case has a feature (aio bracket) first used and invented by Necere in the Ncase M1. I like to honor him for this idea and like for the A4-SFX he will be also named in the special thanks section in the manual.

Thank you for reading and your support. Please let me know what you think!
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Apr 15, 2013
Prototype Gallery

Sandwich Mode:

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Classic Mode:

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y4jZu67.jpg JvGaAXw.jpg O9LsAfK.jpg

UPDATE - Thermal Review - C4-SFX 2021
1. Preamble:

After a week of working with the first prototype I am now done with the thermal test of the C4-SFX 2021. It was a lot of work because of the many possibilities with the case. I learned a lot about what configuration does work and what configuration will result in higher temperatures. At first, I like to talk about some basics so everyone is on the same level to understand this thermal review.

2. How does modern hardware works:

Modern hardware is very intelligent when it comes to fan speed, power consumption and clocks. This is valid for modern NVIDIA and AMD GPUs and also for Intel and AMD CPUs. These components try to clock as high as possible until they reached clock, temp or power limits. This means if the components are not cooled proper, they will increase in the first step the fan speed. If this does not help, they will lower clocks. If temps are low enough the components will clock as high as possible until they reached the power or turbo clock limit. Every review that only show the temps without the clocks and fan speed is not made thoroughly.

3. Basic principles what affect temperatures:

There are a few principles that needs to be known to understand how components can be cooled more efficient or how components affect each other.

3.1 Fan distance to flat surface:

A fan that is close to a flat solid surface like a table will not get enough air or can’t exhaust enough air to work on 100% performance. A case where the GPU is on the bottom needs higher case feet’s so the GPU fan will get enough air. This is why a radiator on the bottom of the case with slim case feet’s is very sub optimal. This is also valid for a situation where cables or other internal components are close to the intake zone of a fan. A basic min. distance rule is fan height. For the C4 I used 15mm feets in height. This is a nice balance of performance an aesthetics.

3.2 Fan distance to vented surface:

A fan that is very close to a vented surface will recycle less air from the inner surrounding. For example, in a sandwich case that has support 3 Slot GPU, a axial fan GPU with 2 Slot will work much worse than in a sandwich case that is made for only 2 Slot cards. It is easier for the GPU to pull the surrounded air. This has to do with the restrict level of the vent hole surface. For example, a mesh is much more restrictive than some bigger vent holes because it will work like a filter/more solid surface. For the C4 you can use the side mounted bracket in sandwich mode to attach two 140mm fans to provide enough air for a 2 slot gpu.

3.3 Heat origin and routing:

A heat location that is close to a vent panel, with fans on it that moves air outside the case, will result in much better overall temperatures. On many configurations I see a radiator for CPU cooling at the front, side or top of the case with fans setup to intake. These will result in hot air moving inside the case. This hot air will be recycled by the GPU. While it is easy to eliminate this situation for the CPU with an AIO it is more complex for the GPU where the fans are setup for intake. Only a de-shrouded GPU fan with custom fans will solve this problem. So, for every case the biggest rival is hot air inside, that will be recycled by components.

3.4 Recycled hot air:

A component its intake and exhaust are not ducted to an outer vented surface of the case will recycle hot air from itself or other components. In worse case it is easier for the component to suck in hot than fresh air through a restricted vent hole panel. This will happen in an ITX cases where a 2 Slot GPU is installed in a possible 3 Slot area. This problem is prominent for axial fan GPUs. Another solution could be a case fan under the GPU in the unused area that will work like a duct for intake and push hot exhaust air away from the intake (because case fans are bigger as the GPU itself).

Another problem of recycled hot air is a buildup thermal situation. For short loads this is not a problem but under constant load the heat will increase and increase so it will take very long for the system to have a balanced temperature that will be much higher. So, uncover this effect it is important to run thermal test very long.

3.5 Not balanced loads:

Fan speeds are not controlled by a single component. This means if a GPU is under heavy load the CPU fan will not crank up. This can result in a situation where under heavy combined load the overall temperature can be better as on single constant load if one component pushes hot air into the case. For example, while gaming the GPU is under heavy load and force hot air into the case. Depending on the game the CPU has a much lower load and the fan speed on the radiator is lower. These fans will move less air outside the case and the GPU will recycle much more hot air. So sometimes it could be better to have a CPU fan profile that increases the speed also medium temperatures. I know for Ryzen this is not so easy because if its idle temp peaks.

3.6: Fan size and speed:

In some situation it could be better to user slimmer fans that requires less intake zones for pull air for 100% performance. All of the explained points can be even worse if the fan spin on a slower level because vent holes or heatsink surface become more restrictive.

3.7: The perfect world

In a perfect world all fans are working against a very less restrictive surface, heat will be moved away so it cannot be recycled by other components and no fan is close to solid surfaces.

4. Test scenario

For all tests inside the case I used a combined test of Valley Benchmark in 4k and Cinebench R20 Multithread. I used Cinebench because the load is extreme but less enough to give some performance for the GPU to run Valley. A too hard CPU test would result in less GPU load in Valley Benchmark. Valley benchmark is good because it requires less CPU load running in 4K mode (it does not work very well on lower resolutions). There are scenarios where maybe one or the other component could be a bit hotter but not in combined load. Making a thermal test only for one or the other component will not show a balanced temperature. Furthermore, it is important to disable VSYNC because otherwise a FPS cap will lower GPU load. Every test run was made with a room temperature of 22°C and the duration was as long it reached a level where the thermals not changed for 10min.

For the monitoring part I record the CPU/GPU Temp (not hotspot), the CPU/GPU fan speed and the CPU/GPU Clock. I used the newest version of GPU-Z and CoreTemp.

For testing I used the following hardware:

  • Ryzen 9 3900X (more heat than 3950X because of worse binning) (145W TDP)
  • 32 GB DDR4
  • Gigabyte X570I Aorus Pro
  • Nvidia RTX 3080 FE or RTX 3090 FE
  • Corsair SF600 Platinum

  • EKWB 280 AIO + 2x Noctua A12x25 with Noctua 120 to 140 adapter or 2x Noctua R14S
  • Noctua U9S + 2x A9-PWM

I ran every hardware in default configuration so no undervolting or disabled Turbo.

I made no changes to the GPU fan profile. The CPU fan profile was setup in this way, that between 60-80°C the fan speed is increased from 30% to 100%. As long the CPU does stay under 80°C this does have the nice affect that the fans will balance itself between best RPM for CPU temp. For the AIO The AIO pump fan profile was setup in this way, that between 60-80°C the speed is increased from 70% to 100%. So in idle and light load the system was inaudible.

Here are the relevant test scenarios I picked out for the review. I did a lot of more testing but I do not thing these are relevant and will make the results even harder to read:

  • Classis-Layout – 180° flipped – 280AIO (pull out) 2xR14S /RTX 3080 FE
  • Classis-Layout – 180° flipped – 280AIO (pull in) 2xR14S /RTX 3080 FE
  • Classis-Layout – default – 280AIO (pull out) A12x25 with 120-140 adapter /RTX 3080 FE
  • Classis-Layout – default – 280AIO (pull in) A12x25 with 120-140 adapter /RTX 3080 FE
  • Classis-Layout – 180° flipped – 280AIO (pull out) A12x25 with 120-140 adapter /RTX 3080 FE
  • Classis-Layout – 180° flipped – 280AIO (pull in) A12x25 with 120-140 adapter /RTX 3080 FE
  • Classis-Layout – default – U9S Dual FAN, R14S push out /RTX 3080 FE
  • Classis-Layout – 180° flipped – U9S Dual FAN, R14S push out /RTX 3080 FE

  • Sandwich Layout – default – 280AIO (pull out) A12x25 with 120-140 adapter /RTX 3090 FE
  • Sandwich Layout –180° flipped – 280AIO (pull out) A12x25 with 120-140 adapter /RTX 3090 FE
  • Sandwich Layout – default – 280AIO (pull in) A12x25 with 120-140 adapter /RTX 3090 FE
  • Sandwich Layout –180° flipped – 280AIO (pull in) A12x25 with 120-140 adapter /RTX 3090 FE

5: Test results

The test results are separated by classic and sandwich ordered by the overall temperature (CPU + GPU) starting with the lowest.


6. Review of the configurations:

6.1 Classis-Layout – 280AIO

The classic layout with AIO is an easy basic configuration that result in very good temps. The A12x25 does perform better than the R14S Redux fans. This does show the power of these well designed 120mm fans. If the fans are configured to pull in you will get higher internal temperatures duo the fact of sourcing fresh air on all heat exchangers you will get the best temperatures on CPU and GPU. If the radiator fans are setup to pull out the CPU and GPU temps will be very similar and you will get lower internal temps.

6.2 Classis-Layout – default – U9S

This configuration is the weakest inside the C4-SFX but on the other side it surprised me a lot. I setup it in this way the U9S pull fresh air from the back of the case. On a board with not covered I/O area you can even improve this by adding a 92mm fan at the back of the case. The U9S and the back fan of the RTX 3080FE release a lot of hot air near the front of the case where a side mounted 140mm fan move it outside the case. The results are very impressive for such a small air cooler.

6.3 Sandwich Layout –280 AIO

This is maybe the easiest well-balanced configuration without deshrouding the GPU. But even this is possible with two fans attached to the AIO bracket with a different GPU. The GPU sources fresh air from the side and the AIO sources fresh air from outside the case. If you use this in 180° rotation the temperatures will be even better.
You have to know that it is impossible to mount default 140mm fans in this configuration because it will collide with the side panel clips. This is why I used the very powerful A12x25 with the very genius Noctua SFMA1 Adapter on the 280 radiator.

Extra Notes: I did some tests with a EKWB 240AIO and A12x25. It performs 5°C worse than the 280AIO and also have higher fans speeds.

7. Final Thought:

That it is. Product validation is done and I am very happy with the results. We are now leaving the prototype stage and moving forward to prepare production state.
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Feb 7, 2021
I had been looking forward to the release of the Lian Li A4-H2O in April I think, but this looks like it is a lot more flexible with configuration options and gen4 PCIE riser out of the gate. When would this be available?


Supreme [H]ardness
Aug 8, 2008
First of all, huge thank you for posting this to [H]! Looking forward to getting discussion going.

I'll be ordering this to replace the ZS A4 V3 I have, which ended up being too compact and thus too hard to keep quiet for my tastes.
  • Do you know how the Noctua C14s performs in this case?
My plan is to upgrade from the Alpenfoehn Black Ridge to the C14s, together with a modded mounting bracket so that I can use to mount the cooler facing down similar to this. Rather than 3D printing a new bracket, my plan is to drill a pair of holes into the existing bracket the cooler comes with, which seems a much easier way to accomplish the same solution. This GamesNexus video and this Legit Reviews article seem to suggest, contrary to Noctua recommendation, that the effect of orientation in PC cooling setting is minimal. So, provided that modding the mounting bracket is not difficult, this setup seems viable even if a bit unorthodox.
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