HTPC Cases With LCD Screens: Bringing Bling

Moneual 972: Specifications, Bundle, And Unique Features

Specifications

The Moneual 972 is priced at the lower end of the LCD touch-screen case spectrum and is just $30 more expensive than the Thermaltake DH102. For this price, the all-aluminum case comes with the most I/O options and the most room to work with compared to the other cases.

As for hard drive space, the Moneual is in the middle of the pack with four available 3 ¼” internal slots--one more than what the Thermaltake DH102 offers and two less than what is inside the Silverstone CW03. External options aren’t as impressive--like the Thermaltake DH102, the case only has space for a single 5 ¼” optical drive. The Silverstone CW03 is the only case in the roundup with up to three external-drive options.

There are only two case fans in the 972 and these 80 mm units are placed to exhaust air from the rear of the case. While the low number of fans keep the noise down, we think it might be more appropriate for a case in this price range to sport at least an intake fan for better airflow.

The Moneual 972 is the only case that comes from the factory with multimedia card readers such as MS Pro Duo, MMC/SD, CF/Microdrive, and SM. Along with this come headphone and microphone jacks, a FireWire jack, and a single USB port. Although the 972 has more I/O options than the competitors, we think a second USB port would have been nice.

Bundle

Moneual’s 972 bundle is fairly typical of the touch-screen LCD cases in our roundup with pin-to-molex adapters for the fans, screws, a manual, software installation CD, touch stylus, and the iMon remote and batteries. The included DVD drive cover and the high-quality Phillips screwdriver with a magnetic tip (to fish out any wayward screws) are unique to the 972. It’s funny how the thoughtful little extras like this add so much perceived value to a high-priced item like the Moneual 972.

Unique Features

The Moneual 972 has a number of attractive features, but what really stands out compared to the competition in this roundup is its dimensions. It is the deepest case by over an inch and was designed with size and accessibility in mind so that it is definitely the roomiest case in this roundup, a strength that we especially appreciated when installing the components. Of course, this might not be a positive feature if you don’t have a deep shelf on which to put it.

The 972 is also the only case in this roundup that is all-aluminum. This allows it to be one of the lightest cases, even if it is the largest. Other than that, the 972 isn’t especially unique in any particular way, other than its excellent build quality. Although it’s lighter than the SilverStone CW03, the details are there, materials are well made, and its structural rigidity is impressive.

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49 comments
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  • Nice Review, I agree with your take on cost but if i had the funds i would defiantly get one of these cases for an HTPC. the Moneual looks like the one I would get. This review was nice and balanced and took into all the different factors affecting the cases. noting that the screens were very similar and that the remotes were identical was something I was very happy to see as well as using the fan less psu as another control. A note of how the VGA cables get to the out side from the touch screen would have been a nice note but the pictures demonstrated it accurately showing that they have a pass through to the back video card area.

    A+ review in my book
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  • ... and we're supposed to put these "hub caps" on my car?

    Seriously, this looks so cheap. Who is going to put it on a rack with $20k worth of audio/video equipment.
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  • I like the rack mounting feature of the Silverstone. But I like the other case better. I think a rack would fit my sparse industrial theme.
    I have a fairly small space. Lots of Ikea furniture.
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  • The touchscreen to me seems a bit of a waste. I prefer to use a standard computer monitor and a HDTV connected to a video card setup in a way that creates a workstation in the front wall of my hometheater with a slide out shelf for keyboard mouse. That way it can be a workstation/gaming machine from chair and HTPC from armchair via remote. I use mce2005.
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  • Why would you want an expensive touch screen interface on HTPC? The whole point of having a HTPC is use can operate it remotely from your sofa. I would also like to have seen what motherboards these cases can support whether it be a micro ATX or full ATX motherboards.
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  • Yeah, I have to agree with you fellows and I tried to get that across in the review; any productive use for these screens is a bit of a stretch. The only thing I could come up with is using the frontview media player to access music if you didn't want to power up your screen; I have a projector with a limited bulb life and I don't want to turn it on to listen to my music library.

    But thanks for reading it anyway, I hope the info was useful to you guys.

    And thanks for the kind words, Hamsterabed!
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  • JeanLucI would also like to have seen what motherboards these cases can support whether it be a micro ATX or full ATX motherboards.


    I mentioned on the first page "All three offer full ATX compatibility", that includes MicroATX.
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  • I have been waiting a long while for an updated HTPC review. I was hoping to see what kind of components you gurus would use, but this case review was very helpful to me too (been thinking about using an AMD GPU with the HDMI, but was interested in seeing some overall system power requirements of running an HTPC. Don't want a huge jump in electric bills). I was mostly considering building an HTPC for my dad. He's old, and likes to listen to music. He streams internet radio, but sits in the uncomfortable computer chair. With one of these cases he could easily select music AND be able to play a movie using the same box, without a learning curve that would frustrate him. Thanks for the write-up, I hope you can do another one soon!
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  • nice review, I have the DH101 which is the same - the 7in touch LCD, but it does have the remote and small 2x5 in blue black lcd, that displays computer/media information, i didnt find that the case was flimsy at all, maybe a little without the cover, but once the cover is on it is like a rock. I have to agree with you on the touch LCD, another good idea on paper, but in real world it is an epic fail.
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  • I've thought about this issue in the past and there are times when I might want to use the small screen and not power up the big screen-
    1) to set the PC to record something, say I get up in the morning and remember I wanted to record a certain broadcast, I can do that from the small screen
    2) to take a quick look at the weather maybe
    Actually I've thought about this with respect to just having a large screen and a small screen beside it, sort of the next step beyond "picture in picture". So maybe the touch screen aspect isn't useful but the screen itself might be useful, and if a person didn't want to use the touchscreen in the front of the case, they could use a small monitor or tv setting with the equipment. Some people might want the HTPC to set in the furniture along with the BluRay player and TV tuner, but others might have a more extensive setup with a place to sit and work, video games, multiple screens, etc.
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  • cadder) to take a quick look at the weather maybe


    I probably should have stressed it more in the review, but the frontview player shows the weather, time, system properties (like CPU usage), and a news ticker.

    And in retrospect, the weather feature is the one I used the most. I might add a note about that in the review, cadder.
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  • The Silverstone has one additional feature that Don missed, because it has a 1080p screen it can duplex the video. This is a great feature as you can have simultaneous display at high resolution, 1080p, it is one of the few cases that has this feature.
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  • Well, I'm not sure if that's much of a feature, Bill. What's the advantage of simulaltaneously displaying interpolated video on a 7" screen at the same time as it's playing on your HDTV?

    If you're watching a movie on your TV, why would you want the same movie displayed on a 7" screen? Or am I missing something?
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  • While I'm glad that Tom's finally turned just a little of their attention to HTPC enthusiasts, and the reveiw on the cases was adequate, I do hope that it doesn't end here. Just another case reveiw is not what we need. I beleive a lot of us here would like to see an article about someone actually using one of these cases to build a state of the art HTPC. You know, with hardware and platform and the like???

    That sure would be nice for a change.
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  • I'll look into it. I'm not unually involved in the HTPC case system builder marathons and I'm not sure when the last one was.
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  • Thanks Cleeve. I beleive it's been nearly three years and much has changed since then. It's long overdue! I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope that the decision makers at Tom's give it a green light.
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  • niknikktmThanks Cleeve. I beleive it's been nearly three years and much has changed since then. It's long overdue! I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope that the decision makers at Tom's give it a green light.


    Here's some from May 2007:
    http://www.tomsguide.com/us/s/marathon/
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  • Well for those of you who don't want to upgrade their existing HTPC cases... here's an alternative: http://www.mimomonitors.com/products/mimo-740
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  • I stand corrected. Nearly two years (not three) since the last HTPC build. The point is still valid. A lot of new hardware has come out since then and a new build is long overdue. HD PVR recording and Blu-ray authoring are just a couple of key aspects that are now possible but weren't then. Also, the advances in graphics and video capture hardware is notable. There are many reasons to revisit an "HTPC" or "Media Center PC" marathon after two years.
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  • I wasn't calling you out Nik, just linking to the last HTPC build I could find. Like I said, I'm going to try to make this happen.
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