Lian Li EX-10 I/O Extender review

Introduction
Ever since we did a review of the FrontX computer ports extender a year ago, many cheap imitations of the device started to appear. While we've seen some rather nice ones and some which we thought just wouldn't work, I have to admit the new Lian Li EX-10 ports are really something different. As with their cases, the Lian Li EX-10 I/O Adapter is made out of aluminum and is finished with an attractive brushed finish. Complete with everything you'll need to move your ports up front, let's find out how well the Lian Li EX-10 works!

Lian Li's latest aluminum innovation!

The EX-10 front unit
The Lian Li EX-10 front unit or the central hub contains a wide variety of connectors including some really unique ones such as a IEEE 1394 Firewire port and a PS/2 mouse port! Aside from those, there's the usual variety of the sound card inputs/outputs and of course, two (not one but two) USB connectors. The entire unit was very well built and the ports are definitely high in quality, they were very sturdily mounted on the unit and wouldn't wobble up and down.

Pick one and plug something in

What really sets the EX-10 apart from the rest of the competition is how it gets to all the connectors at the back of your system. Unlike other port extenders which use individual cables for every single port on the unit, the EX-10 makes use of one high quality interface cable that closely resembles a wide SCSI cable. This one cable will carry all the USB, Firewire, PS/2 and sound card signals. If you have a really messy case, this might just be the solution for you, the single cable that runs from the unit to the back of the system hardly disturbs the case airflow and can be easily managed unlike a huge tangle of cables which can be a real pain to clean and re-organize.

SCSI? Nope, it's the interface port

Getting around
The Lian Li EX-10 has two interface cables. One cable (the SCSI like cable) connects to the rear of the front unit and goes to the back of the case and screws onto a mounting bracket. From the outside, a female end of the second cable gets connected to the cable on mounting bracket and then all the ends of the second cable goes into the respective ports. Simple yet brilliant!

Interface cables

I'll take the FrontX ports for comparison with the EX-10 and to start off, the FrontX design requires me to run a total of 6 cables all the way to the back of the PC, one for every port. Needless to say, this coupled with my Digital Doc 5 cables makes for a very messy cable maze in my case. With the EX-10, I was able to cut down on 5 thick cables and replace them all with only one black cable which you can see in the picture below (click to enlarge, the arrows are in the enlarged version to indicate the cable).
 

Single cable run

Connecting to the back
As mentioned earlier in the review, the Lian Li EX-10 incorporates all the connectors into one single cable which appears to be very well made and the connectors all felt very solid. The only gripe we have here is that the USB cables were a little too short to reach to the USB ports on the motherboard. Many will install the cable mounting bracket "exit" on the second or last expansion slot and the cable is just off by half an inch or so for a perfect connection.

All cables plugged in

In Use
In use, all the cables worked exactly the way they were supposed to work. I generally evalute how well these extension cables are by listening to an audio signal sent through the cable into my pair of Grado SR60 headphones. Since the SR60s are very sensitive headphones, I can hear even the slightest change of sound character or hear if any noise was injected into the signal stream (indication of poor shielding). With the EX-10, there were absolutely no problems, even the plug in front was solid and tight fitting providing excellent contact between any connector.

I also evaluted how the reduced cable bundle affected the overall system temperature and the temp probe below the graphics card showed a 2 degrees celcius decrease in readings. This was due to the FrontX cables blocking the airflow path of the front intake fans of our Cooler Master ATC-201 case. With the single cable of the EX-10, I was able to push the cable to the side of the case and the airflow to the graphics card and all the other extension cards were free. If that wasn't enough, I don't have to worry about dust getting caught in between a bundle of cables anymore as all I have to do now is just to clean one single cable. Thumbs up to Lian Li for such an innovative "routing" system!

Conclusion
As with all Lian Li products, I am again impressed by the build quality of the EX-10 as well as the beautiful appearance of the unit. It blended in perfectly with the front bezels of our Lian Li PC-60 and Cooler Master ATC-201 aluminum cases and all aluminum case owners should seriously consider adding this unit to their systems. Lian Li also took the trouble to include a IEEE 1394 Firewire port for future expandibility or for you lucky ones who have an Audigy sound card with a FireWire port. Definitely worth checking out!

Feature Report
Pros
- Excellent build quality
- Good quality cables/connectors
- Innovative single cable design
- Firewire port extension included
- Doesn't compromise system temperature

Cons
- USB Cable slightly too short
- Aluminum bezel might only look good on cases with aluminum bezels

 

Report Card
 

EXHardware Rating
Lian Li EX-10 I/O Extender
Features
9/10
Documentation
N/A
Software / Drivers
N/A
Performance
8/10
Quality
9/10
Overall Score
8/10

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Copyright © 2002 Øyvind Haugland
Sist endret:  25 mars 2017
 

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