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Stealthy HTPC: Two Cases To Hide Your Inner-Geek

nMedia PC HTPC 8000

nMedia is the first company to deliver a mass-produced wooden case to our labs. A mechanically-distressed finish adds to the HTPC 8000's nostalgic radio look, with reduced production costs allowing for a mass-market-friendly $120 Web price.

A short 14.4” depth allows the unit to sit on narrower shelves and tables compared to a standard hi-fi-style case and its dimensions accurately replicate the scale of the old radios it resembles. Likewise, its 19.7” width and 11.0” height make it completely unsuitable for hi-fi-style component racks.

Simulated speaker holes at the front offer intake ventilation, while a simulated radio-tuning indicator hides a mount for a digital-display panel, such as the nMedia part sold here. The simulated knob is nothing more than a power button.

Casual glances may not reveal the DVD cover or button, but there’s nothing retro about the case’s memory card reader or front panel USB, eSATA, and FireWire ports. Front-panel microphone and headphone mini-jacks are also of the handy, non-retro variety.

Anyone who does not get close enough to the front panel to notice the modern conveniences probably won’t notice the decidedly non-retro Phillips #3 top screws, which detract slightly from an otherwise stylish panel.

A 140mm low-speed fan draws warm air out the back. Reportedly manufactured by Dong Guan Hengli Hongsheng Electronics Factory (UL E225507), this 0.20A 140mm fan is unlisted at the manufacturer’s site and its A14025L12S part number isn’t carried by other suppliers.

A rack six inches above the motherboard supports four 3.5” hard drives and one 5.25” optical drive. There’s enough room beneath it for most CPU coolers, except for 120mm tower-design coolers.

A card reader and front port connectors reside under the drive rack.

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) in six of its seven expansion slots.

  • 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.
    Reply
  • falchard
    I really like that nMedia HTCP, it makes me want to make one like the Thermaltake Mozart Cube did.
    Reply
  • 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!
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • r0x0r
    Old, unused amplifier + dremel = WIN!
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    r0x0rOld, unused amplifier + dremel = WIN!
    Don't forget the 5x7 car stereo speakers.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • Forgive my ignorance but aren't those components overkill for an HTPC? What else would you be using it for beside playing movies?
    Reply