Stealthy HTPC: Two Cases To Hide Your Inner-Geek

Lian-Li PC-V351

Also available in dazzling red and basic silver, the all-aluminum PC-V351 uses 2.0mm-thick face and side panels plus 1.2mm-thick formed components to provide the quality and durability for which Lian-Li is famous.

By putting its drive bays on the side and designing the case to be nearly cube-shaped, Lian-Li was able to make its PC-V351 appear to be something other than a PC. This author is reminded of mini-subwoofers so often tied to modern home-theater audio systems.

Reduced length and width compared to traditional home-theater cases is made possible by a two-level design, with the power supply and the drives mounted above the motherboard and its expansion cards. While limited to micro-ATX motherboards, there’s otherwise enough space for large components.

External drives can be mounted for right-side or left-side access. Though the PC-V351 appears to support up to four external drives, its 11" width prevents these from being installed back-to-back. A 3.5” to 5.25” drive bay adapter is pre-installed.

A slide-out motherboard tray is required because the case has limited motherboard access from the top.

Two 3.5” internal drives can be slipped in from the rear after removing an 80mm exhaust fan. Labeled as part number LI128025BE-4, the fan is rated at 0.1A, 1,200 RPM, 15 CFM, and 13 dBA.

Two slide-in 120mm intake fans feed air into the CPU and graphics card coolers. Listed as part number LI1221225SE-4, each is rated at 0.8A, 1,000 RPM, 44 CFM, and 19.8 dBA.

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  • siliconchampion
    Definitely a good article reviewing these cases. I particularly like the retro radio, but nothing tops the badass factor of my Xbox pc media pc.

    (C2D E7400, 4GB DDR2-800, 7200RPM 2.5 inch 320GB Hitachi, Wireless N, Earthwatts 380 watt psu, low profile 9800GT, all with a wireless adapter for 360 controllers inside it. Looks totally stock (except from the back) and is the sickest thing for streaming movies and TV from my i7 build upstairs.
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  • falchard
    I really like that nMedia HTCP, it makes me want to make one like the Thermaltake Mozart Cube did.
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  • neiroatopelcc
    I love that wood thing! Add a tv tuner and a logitech keyboard/remote thing and it's perfect!
    Suppose you'd just have to ask them which dvd drives are compatible when shopping for the internals!
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  • amnotanoobie
    The nMedia is nice, but it'd be good if you already had the wooden tv rack so it'd blend in. The Lian Li's side opening ODD tray might be a deal-breaker for some, but it is still sleek.
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  • r0x0r
    Old, unused amplifier + dremel = WIN!
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  • Crashman
    neiroatopelccI love that wood thing! Add a tv tuner and a logitech keyboard/remote thing and it's perfect! Suppose you'd just have to ask them which dvd drives are compatible when shopping for the internals!


    The button spacing is a fairly universal problem, since the case's button only has a little over 1/8" travel and the space is around 1/8" to the button of most drives. You can put something else between the two to fill the space, it doesn't have to be a cabinet door bumper.
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  • neiroatopelcc
    CrashmanThe button spacing is a fairly universal problem, since the case's button only has a little over 1/8" travel and the space is around 1/8" to the button of most drives. You can put something else between the two to fill the space, it doesn't have to be a cabinet door bumper.

    Yeah, but well. I've got my htpc running in a cylinder of what translate.google.com calls corrugated sheet metal. Looks like a metal bass tube on feet, and I don't expect to replace it. But I still love that wood chassis. The lian li doesn't look very attractive. Think the old aerocool m40 I gave my parents looks a lot better, and I don't consider lian li quality anyway. The lian li that hosts the 920 already has a broken lid that used to cover the top usb, and the power button appears to 'just be hanging there' instead of being fixed properly. Can't beat silverstone in anything really. It's merely expensive like thermaltake, but without distinguishing qualities.
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  • Crashman
    r0x0rOld, unused amplifier + dremel = WIN!


    Don't forget the 5x7 car stereo speakers.
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  • r0x0r
    CrashmanDon't forget the 5x7 car stereo speakers.


    Are you thinking of home theatre amps or car stereo amps?

    I'm thinking of a home theatre amp.
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  • Anonymous
    Forgive my ignorance but aren't those components overkill for an HTPC? What else would you be using it for beside playing movies?
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  • Fendulon
    That is one sweet wooden case. A very reasonable price as well. I would actually consider getting that if it did have that damn card reader there.
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  • JohnnyLucky
    I want the Lian Li cube.
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  • Anonymous
    I agree with the radio. The black box looks like a PC to me.
    If anything, it could look like a microwave, but definitely not a subwoofer!
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  • Regulas
    The nMedia is cool and it can be had at newegg for $99. Makes me want to start buying parts again. A mini ATX low power wireless server comes to mind.

    As far as the article goes, I quote,

    "The HTPC 8000 supports full ATX and micro-ATX motherboards, with barely enough room in front to support long graphics cards (such as the GeForce GTX 285)"

    But it does fit, my XFX GTX 285 barely fit into my Lian Li Mid tower case but it fit.
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  • mactruck
    the_stig13037Forgive my ignorance but aren't those components overkill for an HTPC? What else would you be using it for beside playing movies?


    I love gaming on my HTPC - it is insanely fun playing L4D on a 52" HDTV. No, it can't play Crysis but that's what my main rig is for.
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  • g00g13
    Tomshardware, could you please built us a similar wood casing HTPC with the option of where you can choose different size USB/Digital front panels for your self. (even better where the front panel works with Linux) Tomshardware used to do DIY projects like this before.
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  • Anonymous
    "The HTPC 8000’s most significant achievement may be that it’s the first to boast an acceptable wife approval factor in this author’s family room."

    Really? My wife would throw that thing out of the window. To each his own, but I find it hopelessly tacky. Not to generalize too much, but I think it will probably do better in the US than anywhere else.

    Our Silverstone case HTPC blends in pretty well. If you squint it looks like a power amp or something.
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  • g00g13
    @947816yoriqhfukdsjac, that thing doesn't look great, hence the reason why I asked, why can't Tomshardware build a better looking box with a custom front panel, that you can buy off the shell from "known companies". Perhaps even laminated wooden box. Or use cheap Pine or Meranti, or stains that perhaps make cheap pine look good. I think wood does help dampening fan noise/high pitch. IMHO
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  • neiroatopelcc
    the_stig13037Forgive my ignorance but aren't those components overkill for an HTPC? What else would you be using it for beside playing movies?

    Recording HD content, while playing a blueray movie, having a Monopoly game minimized and dc++ running in the background?

    As the intro said - some think of htpc as something that plays movies and music - and others think of something that pretty much makes the rest of the equipment obsolete. Combine the wood chassis with the motherboard with onboard 5.1 surround amplifier, a dvb tuner or two and a 4870/260 and you've got something you could replace everything with. Connect it to your projector or 40" monitor, and you don't need your dvd/ps3/blueray/wii/receiver/amplifier system anymore. Just imagine the cable mess that'd no longer be there?
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  • niknikktm
    Sorry man,

    While it's a nice review on these two particular HTPC cases, I absolutely cannot simply blow off the Blu-ray and HD aspects for ANY HTPC build and consider it legitimate. If an HTPC is incapable of recording in high definition and authoring (god forbid simply playing) Blu-ray, then it's not of much of a "Home Theatre" PC to me. This is almost 2010! Time to stop playing with the kiddies and pony up with the big boys.
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