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Thermaltake DH102: Appearance, Fit And Finish, And User Experience

HTPC Cases With LCD Screens: Bringing Bling
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Appearance, Fit, and Finish

The DH102 is certainly a very attractive home theater case and is somewhat muted in design as a good HTPC case should be. It looks quite comfortable and slick next to black-colored home entertainment equipment such as stereos or televisions.

Thermaltake chose a single color option for the DH102: a glossy black with a dark gray stripe on the bottom. It looks good and goes with pretty much anything, but if you’re buying an HTPC to fit in with an existing silver home-theater setup, you might want to consider the Moneual or SilverStone offerings, which come in both black or silver.

As far as fit and finish go, the DH102 is cheaper than the competition for a reason: it’s not a terrible case with which to work, but there is a bit more flex to it than you'd find with the Moneual 972 or SilverStone CW03. Having said that, I’m not bothered by flexibility with this style of a flat-sitting HTPC case as much as I would be with a tower case .

User Experience

The DH102 was surprisingly easy to work with during the first part of the installation process, as the top cover wraps around the case, as did classic-style desktop cases from the 1990s. With the cover removed, we had full access to the bottom and sides of the case, which made it very easy to get to everything.

The case has a crossbar above the CPU, which we assume is for structural purposes. There is a hole in the crossbar that appears to be for a CPU duct, but no duct is included.

While the DH102 is a bit small, it’s not difficult to put the components in their place as long as you remember to insert the drives first. Drive installation is tool-less for the most part, and we didn’t encounter anything that would hamper an installation.

Properly re-installing the cover after everything is done is a minor annoyance as it takes a bit of fiddling to get it to fit properly. For example, guide rails on the side and top of the case must align in order to achieve a good seal.

Our only pet peeve was the tool-less expansion card retainer, which is made of plastic and broke after we tried to use it. On the positive side, the tool-less retainer isn’t necessary, since expansion cards can still be fitted with regular screws if desired.

The case is relatively quiet, although it wasn’t the quietest in the roundup. It put out 42 decibels at 4" from the front of the case. When using it in a home theater, the Thermaltake DH102 certainly wasn’t loud enough to notice.

In summary, the DH102 is a fine touch-screen LCD HTPC case compared to the other cases, and if compact size is a priority, then we can recommend it without reservation. However, if size isn’t as much of an issue, then the Moneual 972 offers more space and multimedia-card connectivity for a few dollars more.

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