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Silverstone Crown CW03 HTPC Case

Making an HTPC

Making a HTPC

A case is only the start of a home theater system, of course — you must add system components to make it a full HTPC. Here are the details of the system components we used for this system build.

ComponentManufacturerPart
MotherboardGigabyteGA-EP 35C -DS3R
CPUIntel Quad CoreQ6600
VideoMSINX8800GT 512M OC
MemoryCorsair DDR3TWIN3X2048-1333C9DHX
HDDSeagateWD5000AAKS
Blu-Ray DVD+/-RWPioneerBDC-202BK
TunerHauppaugeWinTV-HVR-1800
Expansion CardPPA USB2.0 + 1394 ComboPCI Card Model 1509

Your build, of course, will depend on your individual system requirements.

Board and CPU installed

The Intel Quad Core CPU is a 105 W unit ; you can select a lower-wattage unit to further lower power consumption and heat. The advantage of lower power consumption CPUs is that they also create less heat ; this in turn lowers the speed of the fans and system noise. These parts only fill the case, so to complete this build Windows Vista Ultimate was loaded. Again this is preference, but Vista Ultimate provides a one stop OS and PVR application package.

To complete the install, a few special connections are required. The LCD requires a VGA, power and USB connection to function correctly ; the video is completed off the back of the case using the secondary video connection of your video card. It uses VGA and not DVI, which means you have to use a DVI to VGA adaptor with this case. This allows the case to support video cards with dual DVI or one DVI and one VGA. The power connection uses a Molex to DC connection for the LCD. The USB connection takes up both sides of one of your motherboard USB headers.

Special cable show with accessories

The IR receiver also uses power, but this is pulled via a special 24-pin cable. that diverts a few power leads from the standard 24 pin connection to run the IR receiver. The IR receiver takes up another USB header on the motherboard, which will leave most motherboards without an available USB header for adding any dual port USB device. This would include many media readers, even Silverstone’s own product, that have USB ports. This is a shame because these would go very well with this case.

This motherboard only has only two headers, so you might prefer to route the cable out the back of the case and connect it to a rear USB port to save one header. You could do this with a USB cable with an A connector on both ends, or rework the supplied cables so that they use only a single header and leave one open. This would be an upgrade that Silverstone could add to the next generation of the case.

Crown CW03 Specific Features

The case is meant to be the shell of a premier HTPC, which is why we installed Windows Vista Ultimate Edition. This went without incident using only the 7" display, and was the most fun I have had installing any version of Windows in a long time. Just watching how well the LCD performed and figuring out what works when was cool. Installing the additional software would have to wait, as the manual indicated that you should install the iMon OEM Touch LCD software after you configure the display as the secondary display, and specifying that you are extending Windows onto it. The manual also indicates that you need to run the display at 800x600 pixels, which is not the default resolution of the screen (it’s 800x480).

The software allows you to select the interface to use and allows you to feed data, such as email, news and more, to your LCD display.

Display interface

While watching TV or playing music, you can see the graphic equalizer or show/song information.

Watching TV
  • Jakt
    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.

    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.



    Th
    Reply
  • TeraMedia
    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.

    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?
    Reply
  • BillLake
    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.

    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
    Reply
  • resonance451
    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
  • Jakt
    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.
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  • boysdaddy
    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
  • wcrank
    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.
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  • BillLake
    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.

    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
    Reply
  • For $700 there should be no flaws. Ridiculous.
    Reply