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Build It: Half-Height Gaming PCs For The Living Room

Conclusion: Half-Height, Full Gaming

We originally set out to see just how tiny we could make a gaming PC outfitted with PowerColor’s half-height Radeon HD 5750. In the end, space and power restrictions prevented us from putting this card in something as small as an Xbox 360 slim.

All was not lost though, and we still managed to build a couple of fairly useful configurations. In-Win’s Wavy case is close to the size of the Xbox 360 slim, and when combined with Asus’ M4A88T-I Deluxe mini-ITX motherboard and a half-height Radeon HD 5570, can handle respectable frame rates at 720p in some fairly demanding titles. This PC might take up a little more space than a nettop, but it’s still a very small package. Thanks to the desktop-class Phenom II X3 705e CPU, 750 GB Western Digital Black hard disk, 4 GB of Mushkin RAM, and Radeon HD 5570 graphics card, it performed much faster than any nettop available.

After a little searching, we were also able to find a suitable home for the half-height PowerColor Radeon HD 5750 in the Moneual MonCaso 312 case, a slick enclosure with a classic home theater appearance and a bundled remote. Equipped with an Athlon II X4 645 CPU and complemented by PowerColor’s half-height Radeon HD 5750, this system handles 1080p gaming, no problem. What more could you ask for from an entertainment-oriented HTPC?

We know that there are far more powerful gaming PCs that make use of the flexible cube form factor, often enabling powerful SLI and CrossFire configurations. But while the cube offers the most powerful mix of diminutive size and gaming performance, half-height systems offer an alternative that are almost certainly a better fit in the living room. As our builds both demonstrate, a half-height form factor can be configured to bring high-definition gaming to your television, in addition to the exceptional HD media playback we already expect from HTPCs.