HTPC Cases With LCD Screens: Bringing Bling

Moneual 972: Appearance, Fit And Finish, And User Experience

Appearance, Fit, and Finish

The Moneual 972 definitely has the look of a high-quality home theater component. Aesthetics are clean and attractive on our brushed metal test unit, and for those buyers who have the other color of home theater components, there is a black version as well.

All of the case buttons have a satisfying "click" to them that instills confidence about their longevity. The cover of the case is aluminum and is thick enough to be rigid but light enough to be pleasant to work with. Sliding it into place is effortless and speaks to how well-built the 972 really is.

The case also features flush-mounted nuts, instead of simply tapped holes with which to attach mounting hardware, and is thus much nicer to work with.The flush-mounted nuts also add to the case's rigidity.

User Experience

The Moneual 972's installation is not tool-fee, but it is not exceptionally difficult, either. The extra space compared to its competitors was greatly appreciated and the installation experience felt closer to that of a spacious tower than a cramped HTPC case.

The external optical drive installation is unique, as Moneual chose to include a metal cover for the drive door instead of a full drive bay cover. This metal-door cover is attached by adhesive tape. While the adhesive tape does the job, it makes things complicated for a future swap. While Moneual’s method looks attractive, for practical reasons we much prefer the SilverStone and Thermaltake method of completely covering the drive bay with a soft-touch opening door integrated into the case itself.

Other than this one critique, installation was fine. We did have a slight concern afterward when we tried to fit the 972 into a home-entertainment system enclosure, as it stuck out a bit more than we liked. While the 972’s depth is a blessing during the setup, it can be a problem if your space is limited.

However, these are merely points to consider before you make your purchasing decision. Overall, we were impressed at the high level of build quality Moneual offers for the relatively low price, and  we really did appreciate the case's attributes during the setup.

  • Hamsterabed
    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
  • cruiseoveride
    ... 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.
  • average joe
    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.
  • DiscoDuck
    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.
  • JeanLuc
    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.
  • cleeve
    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!
  • cleeve
    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.
  • 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!
  • neodawg
    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.
  • cadder
    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.