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Stealthy HTPC: Two Cases To Hide Your Inner-Geek

Test Hardware

For some, an HTPC is nothing more than a media player, while others will load them up with multiple tuner cards to record television programs. However, the most capable HTPC will also be able to serve as a gaming console. While we'll leave the Blue-ray playback and media organization topics for explorations of the hardware, specifically, we'll certainly load up on the components that'll help evaluate the thermal and acoustical characteristics of each case.

Building a gaming powerhouse requires a solid processor, which we got by overclocking our Core i7-920 to 3.33 GHz on the Asus Rampage II Gene. The motherboard proved itself extremely capable in its review, surpassing the stability and performance of many full-sized competitors.

Cooling is the reason for such a modest overclock on a solid motherboard like Asus'. Because our LGA 1366-compatible performance coolers were all over 6” tall, Intel’s standard unit was forced to take the heat.

Gigabyte’s 2GB GeForce GTX 285 assures adequate gaming power while remaining quiet at low loads, such as movie viewing, when you’d want it to be unobtrusive.

Enormous storage capacity is the most basic requirement of a video-archiving machine, so we threw in two 1TB Western Digital Caviar Black hard drives.

Corsair’s CMPSU-850HX is a little overkill for a single graphics card, yet its 80 PLUS Gold efficiency rating and ultra-low operating noise at medium loads made it a good choice for our specific configuration.

  • 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