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Ultra brand cases as HTPC?

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January 24, 2008 9:04:04 AM

For the people that have used cases from the company Ultra, what were some experiences as in building a PC with adequate cooling/ventilation?
(I am on a budget and also don't require a fancy case)

The reason I ask is, I want to build a quiet desktop/HTPC, and I think the Ultra cases in general, look ok in terms of ventilation alone. However, I'm not totally sold due to the fact that I'd want to run a passive cooled graphics card that runs fairly hot (Idle 60-63c, Load 74-78c).

I do notice that some models have the side meshed/honeycomb vent in the PCI slot area--how effective are they in intake/exhausting heat? Should it be ok, since there is also the rear 120mm exhaust fan?

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January 29, 2009 11:43:41 AM

I am currently selling a unit I built last year based on an Ultra MicroFly case, which I bought on eBay from a guy who has stopped selling Ultra products since then. Mine came with an Ultra brand Modular Power Supply, and had the single 120mm rear fan.

I'm not big on big add-on video cards, or gaming, but do have some things that I hope help you out. I'll start from the present and work back:

First, or lastly, I came across some pretty neat mods being shown on YouTube at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NX3YbhRrOvM

These guys took out the three acrylic slabs and used Dremel bits to mod their unit into a wacked Simpson's cartoon PC, even going as far as anodizing the frame! Lots of applications there, with more artsy stuff...

The case is very easy to break down, yet after a while, the slots in the sides start to bend under metal fatigue if you do this too frequently.

I'm still using mine, but you can see what I did on this local sales site by viewing my photos for my ad: http://bglistings.com/8082/photos/10363/

I made some graphics by going to my local commercial signmaker and giving him some Star Wars screensaver JPG's to make into, basically, removable stickers (not just static type, either). This turned out okay, but I still wish he'd had less opaque sticker film to work with.

About the handle--top notch, tested it before using it, and read reviews which rated the handle as heavy-duty before basing my purchase on this and the reassembly features.

I build HTPC's now, so I put a nice Gigabyte GA-MA69GM-S2H Blu-ray compatible mobo in mine, which does quite nicely temp-wise. The blue cathode lights stay very cool, and I run it all the time with them on. I used to have my Hauppauge HVR-1600 TV Tuner card in mine, too, but moved it to my own HTPC, a nicer Zalman HD135 case with full-function Media Center compatible remote.

Ultra slipped up with me a few months ago, when they got fairly nasty with me about a simple media card reader I had in the unit originally, which I bought locally at a ComputersPlus in my city in KY. The little card reader was very poorly built, a fire hazard, and with no help from me started shorting out. I opened it and found the USB connectors to be fried, and poorly reinforced with cheap, ancient tape-down cable holders. I had already gone online months before and given Ultra my personal info for the 'Extra 2 Year Warranty' they offer, just as I did my MicroFly case and P/S, and found them to be full of poop on that, dismissive, and basically, pretty pithy (but without the lisp--get it?). That online warranty on a $15 product was non-existent, and I had to take it to the store I bought it from and waited 2 months for an exchange while they dodged my phone calls...

Now, I went to eBay again and bought this...interesting little unit you can see in my photos, a Logisys FP808 (Front Panel Model 808) 5.25" media unit, which looks okay in the MicroFly too, and, I think you can see from the photos also, monitors my processor and system temps at well under 90 degrees fahrenheit! So, not too shabby...but notice in the photos, the MicroFly does have a recall issue that plagued early models, including my own--the front temp LCD is shoddy and flaky, sometimes shorting out and showing only half the temperature display, not helpful in any case--much less a Home Theater one--haha!

The power supply bay is seated just above any card slots you use, so be choosy, but realize the Hauppauge card I had in mine was full-height, and fit--barely.

Come to think of it, be aware also you'll have to minimize the amount of times you disassemble your MicroFly for another reason--eventually, the case screw mounting holes wear into larger and larger ones, and you'll have to locate big-bore case screws to keep it closed and 'non-rickety'.

Any micro ATX mobos will go nicely in the MicroFly, but with all the hardware visible, you may want to show off and budget another $20-$50 for unique fans, UV SATA and other drive cables, etc. to get the best effect with it if you want to make it into a gamer PC. I'm convinced that running SLI or CrossFire vid-cards in the unit would drive interior temps up another 10-20 degrees, but hey--I never even installed or used an interior front fan, which my unit also accepts! I always compensated by buying Home Theater boards when they came available on eBay (with multiple video outs).

Alas, my MicroFly was not truly a Home Theater case, after all, but just a precursor case I used to try out various cable-routing and air-channeling
techniques for my later full-scale HTPC cases. It worked marvelously, but I'm also glad I never contacted Ultra's service line for their case recall (for the LCD gauge)--they ticked me off just as marvelously, and so I'll never buy another Ultra product again.

Thermaltake makes some really cool cases for HTPC's, but their cheap-looking front icons (especially the Bach case line) makes their gamer cases stand out even more. I respect their entire line of products, and would love to see someone put out a YouTube video featuring their beautiful piano-black units with their 7-inch internal servo-touch screen LCD in it--but not harming the paint.

Antec's piano-black LAN Boxes also look pretty, just for the paint, too, though. And try not to laugh at the prospect of carrying around Thermaltake's LANBox complete with top-handle, which looks more like a (Natural) LANdBridge (Formation) to me--pretty tacky.

Thermaltake was selling their gamer cases on their website at their online store at this link: http://www.thermaltakestore.com/, and their other Clearance Sale link shows what you could do if you bought their other stuff to spruce up any case you buy from them--just watch out for some hi shipping fees (I think) on smaller items.

!