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Stealthy HTPC: Two Cases To Hide Your Inner-Geek

Conclusion

HTPC-hopefuls can no longer easily justify delaying their builds simply because they don’t like the way any PC looks in their living rooms, thanks to atypical designs such as the Lian-Li PC-V351 and nMedia HTPC 8000. Both are capable of housing powerful hardware, while reducing noise to completely tolerable levels. Putting a complete system in either enclosure will result in huge functional advantages over the simple media players that many so-called “HTPC fanatics” advocate.

However, neither is a perfect solution for everyone. By hiding external drives on the side, Lian-Li made it a little harder to decide exactly where its PC-V351 might be tucked away in a room. Furthermore, its front-panel connector cables are just a little too short to be easily connected to some motherboards.

nMedia has a completely different set of compromises, such as an optical drive release button that doesn’t quite reach most optical drives, a DVD logo that appears out of place on a retro-radio device, easy-access connectors that are also quite visible front-and-center, and a simulated tuning dial that only functions as a power button. Being mostly wood, the HTPC 8000 lacks traditional EMI shielding, and the few metal parts it uses internally are of much lower quality than the wooden exterior. Anyone interested in neo-retro functionality probably won’t be disappointed by the unhidden front panel connections, but instead might be frustrated that the available digital display panel doesn't provide remote or front-panel media or audio controls.

The HTPC 8000’s most significant achievement may be that it’s the first to boast an acceptable wife approval factor in this author’s family room. Isn’t that why we choose alternative designs anyway?

  • 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