Lian Li EX-10 I/O Extender review
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
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!
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
All cables plugged in
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
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!
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!
- Excellent build quality
- Good quality cables/connectors
- Innovative single cable design
- Firewire port extension included
- Doesn't compromise system temperature
- USB Cable slightly too short
- Aluminum bezel might only look good on cases with aluminum bezels
Lian Li EX-10 I/O Extender
|Software / Drivers