Introduction

Home Theater PCs - what was once a basement experiment for those seeking to bring video to their televisions has turned into a major breakthrough in home computing and entertainment. We recall the days when DVD decoder cards like Sigma Designs' Hollywood Plus were the furthest that one could get in bringing digitized video to their home theater systems.

Then came DVI output, which brought the urge to further develop the idea of a home theater PC. Various products exist today which boast full home theater capabilities/compatibility such as Microsoft's Windows XP Media Center Edition, which we had a chance to look at a few weeks ago, as well as third party software packages from SnapStream (BeyondTV) and even open source Linux based solutions such as MythTV, which we also checked out last month. With this new software came hardware requirements that were very specific and limited, but now, the software are expanding to support various types of hardware from a longer list of manufacturers.

What many fail to look into is how their home theater PC will look when placed...in their home theater! We are so occupied in the hardware and software side of things that we tend to forget about what we will house the equipment in when we are finished building the system.

This is where the HTPC case comes into play. Like the mid-tower cases that we have been reviewing for a while now, we need to run thermal and sound benchmarks in order to find out whether the particular chassis will be a best fit for our home theater setup. Sound is especially important in choosing the right HTPC chassis, since no one likes the hum of a fan to accommodate their surround sound setup.

When it comes to cases, it is much easier to mix and match them with hardware, since they are just housings for standardized equipment and only differ by various features, which add functionality to the HTPC experience. In this first HTPC case review, we will be looking at the D.Vine 4 HTPC chassis from Ahanix to get a feel of the standard layout and features that an HTPC case should have. So, let's get started.

More information is available on the D.Vine 4 at Ahanix's website.

Checklist – What to look for
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  • Zim - Sunday, October 10, 2004 - link

    You don't need to spend $300 on a HTPC case. Just get yourself a nice desktop or mini-tower AT case for $100 or less. Personally I built my HTPC for about $400 using spare bits and pieces and some kit from NewEgg. Reply

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