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Temperatures

Silverstone Crown CW03 HTPC Case
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Temperatures

So far it looks like the Crown CW03 is performing well as a HTPC. To test the functionality of the case, I installed SpeedFan and Prime95. The Prime95 program places the system under full load to create as much heat as possible, while SpeedFan monitors the temperatures and voltages of the system.

For the first stage of testing, I connected the system to an LCD panel to simulate a student at college using the system as a computer and home theater. The high/low readings are included, as are the average readings; see the table below for the results. (All temperatures in the tables are in Celsius/Fahrenheit.)

Open air testing

Table 2: Temperature (c/F) Testing Results for 100% CPU load
Component Low High Average
CPU 30/86 53.0/127.4 51.0/123.8
System 41/105.8 44/111.2 42.4/108.3
Northbridge 29/84 56/133 49.8/121.6

Table 3: Temperature Testing Results during TV Watching/Recording
Component Low High Average
CPU 25/77 29/84.2 28.6/83.5
System 41/105.8 43/109.4 42.8/109.0
Northbridge 27/80.6 28/82.4 27.3/81.1

This testing was completed with the stock cooler and was a total of 60 data points taken in groups of 20 after a cold boot. Each data set covered one hour of testing under various conditions, such as 100% CPU load created by Prime 95, or watching TV and recording a show to increase load and simulate HTPC usage.

Installed in a Home Theater

The most demanding test I undertook was to install the HTPC in an enclosed home theater system: a solid oak cabinet next to a 65" HDTV.

silverstone cw03

I installed the HTPC on one side as to isolate it from the other components testing with Prime95. Connecting the system to the TV was simple using the DVI connector. A quick check of the TV owner’s manual provided the proper configuration of display resolution. Be very careful when configuring the resolution: an incorrect setting can cause damage to some TVs. Once installed and configured, the system worked well with no noticeable problems.

I then ran Prime95 for 4 hours to create as much heat as possible. In the enclosed area, the CPU temperatures never rose above 70ºC (158ºF) under full load. While this temperature is high compared to open-air testing temperatures, they are not unexpected in a closed environment.

Also noticeable under full load was the sound of the fans, because they are 80 mm units running at over 2000 RPM when under full load. The motherboard will not throttle them down until temperatures are lower, and that won’t happen until Prime95 is stopped and the load on the system reduced. The fan noise was not noticeable when the door to the cabinet was closed, the movie was playing and we were 15 feet away. However, if you open the door, mute the TV or stand closer, and you can clearly hear the fans during 100% CPU usage. During normal operations the fans were not noticeable unless you were very close to the case with the door open.

Having a closed cabinet is an extreme situation that should be avoided: it would most likely lead to early hardware failure, so please provide proper ventilation.

Overall, it was clear to us that the Silverstone case provides good airflow, and the Intel platform proves to be stable under warm conditions.

Remote and IR receiver

The CW03 includes an iMon remote that proved to work quite well.

silverstone cw03

The remote was responsive and worked quite well at changing channels and controlling the system when used. The IR receiver is on the far left of the case so you will need to ensure that it is not blocked. I did not experience any issues using this remote, other than having to learn which buttons activated which features. The buttons are programmable with the iMon software, but the defaults are very usable.

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  • 1 Hide
    Jakt , May 13, 2008 2:11 PM
    It's a good review of a case, but it's a bit misleading to title page 5 "Making an HTPC". Making a good HTPC involves a lot more than slapping some good componenents inside a spiffy HTPC case. Readers interested in "Making an HTPC" would benefit from a discussion of video capture cards, cpu cooling fans, hard drives (cooler and quieter, and discrete pvr drives that are seperate from the OS hd), video cards (passive cooling!) and even pvr software, such as Windows Media Center, BeyondTV, Myth TV, or others.

    Maybe I didn't read carefully enough, but I didn't see what the street price of this case is. Also, are there competitive alternatives worth considering?

    I'm not here to shoot this article down, but I was hoping to see some of these issues addressed after reading 7 pages.



    Th
  • 0 Hide
    TeraMedia , May 13, 2008 2:14 PM
    For anyone building an HTPC with this case, they would probably want cooler, larger HDDs. The GP series from WD would be better for that.

    The CPU and GPU are probably overkill unless the person using this is an avid gamer.

    You did not say much about the touchscreen and how it works with Vista's built-in Media Center software. You stated that the instructions say to set it up as the secondary display in an extended configuration. Does the touchscreen echo the information in Vista's MC? Or did you use iMedian?
  • 0 Hide
    BillLake , May 13, 2008 3:42 PM
    I actually used Vista MC, iMedian and the HDMedian also. They all have their benefits and weaknesses. When connected to the big TV, I used Vista MC, it worked better for me with the remote, when connected to a local LCD the others worked better as they really like the use of the touch screen. Going back and forth was easy with the software, sorry I did not put more on that in the article but I wanted to keep it more about the case than software because that can be tweaked and changed. I can say when connected to my big TV, I really like the little LCD show one thing and maybe have something else on the TV. Kind of like Picture in a picture.

    As far as more on HTPC, check out Tom's other articles as there are several and this was just about this case. You can compare them there, same for the software as there are articles on that too. As for the cost of this case, they usually use the search engine to provide that but just google it and you will find prices running about $699. http://www.google.com/products?q=silverstone+CW03&rls=com.microsoft:*&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&um=1
  • 0 Hide
    resonance451 , May 13, 2008 6:29 PM
    I've been building MicroATX HTPC's, and find them just as quiet and operational, and a lot cheaper, even with adding a screen (and why would I even want that, as I've got a 56" 1080p HDTV?!)
  • 0 Hide
    Jakt , May 13, 2008 7:31 PM
    I have an Ahanix mce701 (not sure if they make them anymore) for my htpc. Very similar to the Silverstone, but not the same high level of quality. At less than half the price, I am extremely satisfied with the Ahanix. The touchscreen is wonderful for doing everything that the television isn't needed for, such as selecting and playing music, catching the latest weather forecast, or simply looping a slideshow of the kids while it's idle. The screen also adds a certain geek-cool touch to my entertainment center. I keep my components at eye-level, but if it were stacked below the tv, I could see the benefits of the little touchscreen greatly diminished.
  • 0 Hide
    boysdaddy , May 13, 2008 7:52 PM
    What CPU cooler did you use?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 13, 2008 8:12 PM
    While this article is fine for reveiwing the case itself, it really falls short on the build aspect. Tom's Hardware is far too long overdue for an updated HD HTPC build. It seems like they are focused just on gaming. With DVD recorders with built in HDD's pretty much banned in the U.S., HTPC's are really becoming popular.
  • 0 Hide
    wcrank , May 13, 2008 8:52 PM
    I have a Coolermaster CM Media 282, you can use 4 120mm fans in this case. Its not the most stylish, but with Noctua 120mm fans it is exceptionally silent (due to the position of the fans I run passive cooling on an EVGA 8600 gt GPU, & AM2 5200 CPU). Plus I built this system for probably the cost of the silverstone case... Not a power house system, it is only a PVR.
  • 1 Hide
    BillLake , May 14, 2008 2:11 AM
    boysdaddy: I used the stock cooler on the Q6600. I thought it was very quiet even under load and was impressed with it. It is not a highend cooler but I did not have time to do much more.

    niknik, I was going to do a Blu-Ray drive with some results of it but the Pioneer blu-ray software did not work, it said not a supported pioneer system and then the replacement did the same. I am investigating it further before I say any more but I think an HD HTPC system is a good idea.

    I build a PVR on the KPC system like I reviewed, it works great, is quiet and I spent less than $400 on it
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 14, 2008 8:45 PM
    For $700 there should be no flaws. Ridiculous.
  • 0 Hide
    shadow2get , May 15, 2008 5:16 AM
    I wonder if anyone heard of this HDD model:

    "Seagate WD5000AAKS"

    Looks like a typo error here.
    Located here: Page 5 - Making an HTPC, Table 1: System Components
  • 0 Hide
    BillLake , May 15, 2008 4:06 PM
    Should have been Western Digital not Seagate
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 17, 2008 8:41 AM
    Just a short note, you stated you used a Seagate harddrive with partnumber WD5000AAKS. Of course, this is not a Seagate drive but a Western Digital Caviar SE16.
  • -1 Hide
    BillLake , May 19, 2008 12:40 AM
    yes it was a Western Digital hard drive and I used a standard 7200 RPM HDD becuase eventually I want to do mirroring of this system and the GP drives do not work for any RAID duties. WD even says this and I would assume that this is due to the variable speed causing the data to get out of sync. This is supported by reports from users who have tried to use the GP drives in RAID configurations. I would recommend a large GP drive if you want to save energy and perhaps soon Toms will do a test of the energy saving in the motherboard and HDD that claim energy savings
  • 0 Hide
    TeraMedia , May 19, 2008 2:29 PM
    Bill, you might be interested in the WD7500AYPS at http://www.wdc.com/en/products/Products.asp?DriveID=384. It has RAID-specific TLER and is part of the GP family. I'd love to see where they say not to use it in RAID arrays, because I was about to buy two for that purpose.
  • 0 Hide
    BillLake , May 20, 2008 12:57 AM
    The RE2 version of the drives do support RAID with TLER and RAFF but the AACS and EACS models do not support these features. Sorry again for the miss information.
  • 0 Hide
    TeraMedia , May 20, 2008 1:17 PM
    Thanks for the clarif.
  • 0 Hide
    retro77 , May 22, 2008 9:28 PM
    I bet a good portion of the cost is in that LCD screen. All and all that's a pretty sweet case. I too would be curious on a HD HTPC build, maybe even a couple of different affordability levels.
  • 0 Hide
    BillLake , May 31, 2008 11:32 PM
    For anyone interested I installed a Blu-Ray drive to watch Blu-Ray movies, the small LCD would play the movies without any problem but I ran into trouble with the Pioneer software it does not support being installed on the secondary SATA controller from Gigabyte. Then I learned that my about a year old Sony LCD TV is not HDCP enable so I can not watch the Blu-Ray movies on my 42" TV which really sucks. So the moral to this story is make sure your TV will support PC Blu-Ray before you build a HTPC like this or you might be wishing you did not waste the money on a Blu-Ray drive.
  • 0 Hide
    BillLake , May 31, 2008 11:35 PM
    Forgot to say my TV is KDF-E42A10 and it plays DVD great, same with TV or recorded TV just not Blu-Ray movies. I have contacted Sony but no answer on how to fix it.
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