Bringing something more is clearly what Silverstone had in mind, clearly putting a lot of effort into making a very high quality HTPC case. But do the details support the initial impressions?
Silverstone uses a single bay design for the motherboard tray. It supports ATX and Micro ATX boards, and has enough space for full-sized ATX boards like the Gigabyte GA-EP 35C -DS3R. The case uses inlayed hex nuts for installing the standoffs. This involves quite some attention to detail, as they push the part all the way through and then round it off, much like a rivet but threaded in the center and hexagonal in shape as you look down upon it. This gives it great strength and provides a truly professional finish. These are only located at the normal ATX locations.
Silverstone has found that most high-end HTPC cases use full ATX boards and that is the reasoning behind this design. The cost and time to install more of the inlayed hex nuts to match every possible board would also increase cost and delay production. You should be able to install any motherboard as they will share enough common holes. You would then use plastic offsets to provide additional support if needed. Silverstone does not include these in the box, however, so they really are counting on you using a board that matches the standard ATX holes.
Silverstone has not created cooling zones by separating areas of the case: there are no partitions between the PSU and the motherboard, and no sectioning off of the HDDs beyond their cage. This means a smaller overall case size with all the devices sharing the heat generated. To cool this system there are two intake fans under the HDD cage and two exit fans above the I/O area of the board. These are 80 mm by 25 mm fans that run a up to 2050 RPM; they are noise rated at 21 dBA. While these fans are fairly quiet, they are very noticeable under load, so I would recommend swapping them out with speed adjustable fans and tuning the system to the lowest possible fan speed. This will help keep noise to a minimum and temperatures under control in your environment.
The Power Supply
This is a premium case and does not include a power supply unit (PSU), so there will be no evaluation of the power supply in this review. Even though the PSU is not evaluated, it might be useful to know that the system build used a 550 watt unit with a 120 mm fan, again to keep noise levels down.
The HDD Cage
There is a removable hard drive cage that allows the installation of six hard drives. The cage has integrated sound dampening, which seems to be part of the cage itself. Overall it is very well thought, out as it dampens from below the cage, in the cage, and even between the screws and the cage.
The two 80 mm fans pull air in right below the drives, which should provide ideal airflow for multiple drive configurations.
The HDD cage will hold 6 drives with some full sized video cards, such as the MSI 8800GT used here, however when an EVGA 8800GTS was installed, one of the HDD spots could not be used. If you are going with 6 hard drives, then you will need to make sure your video card will fit.
Silverstone pays attention to the details: the HDD cage above holds 6 drives even when a long video card is installed. It is a tight fit but it does fit without trouble. They also include a place to store the touch pen for the LCD display.
Silverstone includes a set of high quality rack brackets for mounting the unit in A/V racks or maybe even a data rack.
Stay on the Cutting Edge
Join the experts who read Tom's Hardware for the inside track on enthusiast PC tech news — and have for over 25 years. We'll send breaking news and in-depth reviews of CPUs, GPUs, AI, maker hardware and more straight to your inbox.
It's a good review of a case, but it's a bit misleading to title page 5 "Making an HTPC". Making a good HTPC involves a lot more than slapping some good componenents inside a spiffy HTPC case. Readers interested in "Making an HTPC" would benefit from a discussion of video capture cards, cpu cooling fans, hard drives (cooler and quieter, and discrete pvr drives that are seperate from the OS hd), video cards (passive cooling!) and even pvr software, such as Windows Media Center, BeyondTV, Myth TV, or others.Reply
Maybe I didn't read carefully enough, but I didn't see what the street price of this case is. Also, are there competitive alternatives worth considering?
I'm not here to shoot this article down, but I was hoping to see some of these issues addressed after reading 7 pages.
For anyone building an HTPC with this case, they would probably want cooler, larger HDDs. The GP series from WD would be better for that.Reply
The CPU and GPU are probably overkill unless the person using this is an avid gamer.
You did not say much about the touchscreen and how it works with Vista's built-in Media Center software. You stated that the instructions say to set it up as the secondary display in an extended configuration. Does the touchscreen echo the information in Vista's MC? Or did you use iMedian?
I actually used Vista MC, iMedian and the HDMedian also. They all have their benefits and weaknesses. When connected to the big TV, I used Vista MC, it worked better for me with the remote, when connected to a local LCD the others worked better as they really like the use of the touch screen. Going back and forth was easy with the software, sorry I did not put more on that in the article but I wanted to keep it more about the case than software because that can be tweaked and changed. I can say when connected to my big TV, I really like the little LCD show one thing and maybe have something else on the TV. Kind of like Picture in a picture.Reply
As far as more on HTPC, check out Tom's other articles as there are several and this was just about this case. You can compare them there, same for the software as there are articles on that too. As for the cost of this case, they usually use the search engine to provide that but just google it and you will find prices running about $699. http://www.google.com/products?q=silverstone+CW03&rls=com.microsoft:*&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&um=1
I've been building MicroATX HTPC's, and find them just as quiet and operational, and a lot cheaper, even with adding a screen (and why would I even want that, as I've got a 56" 1080p HDTV?!)Reply
I have an Ahanix mce701 (not sure if they make them anymore) for my htpc. Very similar to the Silverstone, but not the same high level of quality. At less than half the price, I am extremely satisfied with the Ahanix. The touchscreen is wonderful for doing everything that the television isn't needed for, such as selecting and playing music, catching the latest weather forecast, or simply looping a slideshow of the kids while it's idle. The screen also adds a certain geek-cool touch to my entertainment center. I keep my components at eye-level, but if it were stacked below the tv, I could see the benefits of the little touchscreen greatly diminished.Reply
What CPU cooler did you use?Reply
While this article is fine for reveiwing the case itself, it really falls short on the build aspect. Tom's Hardware is far too long overdue for an updated HD HTPC build. It seems like they are focused just on gaming. With DVD recorders with built in HDD's pretty much banned in the U.S., HTPC's are really becoming popular.Reply
I have a Coolermaster CM Media 282, you can use 4 120mm fans in this case. Its not the most stylish, but with Noctua 120mm fans it is exceptionally silent (due to the position of the fans I run passive cooling on an EVGA 8600 gt GPU, & AM2 5200 CPU). Plus I built this system for probably the cost of the silverstone case... Not a power house system, it is only a PVR.Reply
boysdaddy: I used the stock cooler on the Q6600. I thought it was very quiet even under load and was impressed with it. It is not a highend cooler but I did not have time to do much more.Reply
niknik, I was going to do a Blu-Ray drive with some results of it but the Pioneer blu-ray software did not work, it said not a supported pioneer system and then the replacement did the same. I am investigating it further before I say any more but I think an HD HTPC system is a good idea.
I build a PVR on the KPC system like I reviewed, it works great, is quiet and I spent less than $400 on it
For $700 there should be no flaws. Ridiculous.Reply