A friend of mine needs help building a HTPC but we are stuck on what to go for in terms of the case.
Looking for something small, quiet and stylish without breaking the bank. As if that wasn't difficult enough, adequate cooling (ie. 1 x ~80mm fan and ~40mm room for a CPU cooler or similar) and at least some upgrade room. Just 1-2 extra HDD slots and 1-2 expansion slots would be great.
Pricewise I'm looking at the £300-400 mark.
In terms of performance, I was looking at something like this:
2x2GB 1600Mhz RAM
Cheap A55/A75 motherboard (so long as it has SATA 3, USB 3 and fits in the case, it's fine.)
60/64GB Intel 330/Samsung 830/Crucial M4 (depending which is cheapest at the time. Will probably lean towards the Samsung.)
That brings us to around £200-220 or so.
I'm just left to decide the case and PSU, would prefer to keep it under £100-150 for both.
Here are the options I have considered and my thoughts on them:
Lian Li PC-Q09 (version w/ 110W external PSU) - ~£90
Great price, small, good build quality, cooling looks OK. My only gripe is the lack of any kind of upgradability at all. I don't mind too much about the lack of hard drive space but the fact that it has the room for an expansion slot but then doesn't actually use it is quite annoying. 110W PSU would limit me somewhat but I could live with it since it's silent. I have heard it is quite inefficient though. Mini ITX is slightly limiting so mATX would be ideal but again, I could live with mini ITX if I could actually keep the expansion slot.
Silverstone Milo ML03 - ~£55
Again, this is good for the price and has fantastic upgrade room while maintaining good cooling and decent build quality. Possibly slightly too big though, I don't think a full sized optical drive and ATX PSU are really necessary. Also I'm a bit concerned about the plastic construction, I would much prefer aluminium.
Streacom F1C Evo - ~£70
This looks excellent, is very small and looks very well built. I could live with the lack of upgrade room here since it's so small and great looking. We really like the look and size of this case. I'm just a bit concerned about the cooling and it starts to work out quite expensive once you consider we will need a PicoPSU and a specific type of optical drive. Will also need an ultra low profile CPU cooler immediately.
Have a look at this Mini-ITX chassis from http://alkeronhardware.com/. It is modern and stylish alright, however it rather minimalist and designed for low power boards (AMD Fusion, Intel Atom and alike). It may be not exactly what you are looking for but I personally like it a lot :-)