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Stealthy HTPC: Two Cases To Hide Your Inner-Geek

PC-V351 Component Installation

Several packs contain separate screws and standoffs for each component, and Lian-Li includes exactly one spare screw of each type.

With 300mm clearance between the intake fan and rear mounting surface, the PC-V351 supports modern graphics cards of nearly any length. Difficult connector access for some motherboard and expansion card combinations requires the tray to be slid partway out for cable installation.

Rubber vibration dampeners prevent hard drive noise from being transmitted into the PC-V351’s panels, but the optical drive’s slide-screws lack this feature.

Each drive slides into place, with security screws mandated on external bays and optional for internal drives. Adding the security screws to hard drives defeats the purpose of their rubber dampeners but prevents the drives from falling out when the case is turned upside-down, such as during shipping. Though Lian-Li includes thumb screws for installing optical drives, we used standard screws to provide additional room behind the power supply.

We frequently criticize motherboard manufacturers for putting any front panel connections on a motherboard’s bottom-rear corner, and here’s photographic confirmation of the problem: the PC-V351’s front-panel audio cable was too short to pass around the front of the motherboard, so that installation required pulling it around the memory slots and under the graphics card just forward of the card’s slot. Remaining expansion slots were thereby blocked by the cable.

It would be easy for us to blame case manufacturers for making cables too short, but with so many cases providing front-panel connections at or above the motherboard’s center line, we’d rather have the motherboard’s cable connector in a more convenient location.

The PC-V351 has space for huge graphics cards, but power supply space is a little tight with oversized units. At 7.1” installation depth, our 850W unit is about 1/2” too long to install easily.

Several hours of cable nightmares rewarded us with a beautiful running system. If we were going to build another LGA 1366 system in this case, we’d instead choose EVGA's X58 SLI Micro motherboard for its audio connector placement, and find a shorter mounting-depth power supply.

  • 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