So far it looks like the Crown CW03 is performing well as a HTPC. To test the functionality of the case, I installed SpeedFan and Prime95. The Prime95 program places the system under full load to create as much heat as possible, while SpeedFan monitors the temperatures and voltages of the system.
For the first stage of testing, I connected the system to an LCD panel to simulate a student at college using the system as a computer and home theater. The high/low readings are included, as are the average readings; see the table below for the results. (All temperatures in the tables are in Celsius/Fahrenheit.)
Open air testing
This testing was completed with the stock cooler and was a total of 60 data points taken in groups of 20 after a cold boot. Each data set covered one hour of testing under various conditions, such as 100% CPU load created by Prime 95, or watching TV and recording a show to increase load and simulate HTPC usage.
Installed in a Home Theater
The most demanding test I undertook was to install the HTPC in an enclosed home theater system: a solid oak cabinet next to a 65" HDTV.
I installed the HTPC on one side as to isolate it from the other components testing with Prime95. Connecting the system to the TV was simple using the DVI connector. A quick check of the TV owner’s manual provided the proper configuration of display resolution. Be very careful when configuring the resolution: an incorrect setting can cause damage to some TVs. Once installed and configured, the system worked well with no noticeable problems.
I then ran Prime95 for 4 hours to create as much heat as possible. In the enclosed area, the CPU temperatures never rose above 70ºC (158ºF) under full load. While this temperature is high compared to open-air testing temperatures, they are not unexpected in a closed environment.
Also noticeable under full load was the sound of the fans, because they are 80 mm units running at over 2000 RPM when under full load. The motherboard will not throttle them down until temperatures are lower, and that won’t happen until Prime95 is stopped and the load on the system reduced. The fan noise was not noticeable when the door to the cabinet was closed, the movie was playing and we were 15 feet away. However, if you open the door, mute the TV or stand closer, and you can clearly hear the fans during 100% CPU usage. During normal operations the fans were not noticeable unless you were very close to the case with the door open.
Having a closed cabinet is an extreme situation that should be avoided: it would most likely lead to early hardware failure, so please provide proper ventilation.
Overall, it was clear to us that the Silverstone case provides good airflow, and the Intel platform proves to be stable under warm conditions.
Remote and IR receiver
The CW03 includes an iMon remote that proved to work quite well.
The remote was responsive and worked quite well at changing channels and controlling the system when used. The IR receiver is on the far left of the case so you will need to ensure that it is not blocked. I did not experience any issues using this remote, other than having to learn which buttons activated which features. The buttons are programmable with the iMon software, but the defaults are very usable.
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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