HTPC 4-Way Roundup

by Joshua Buss on 11/22/2005 12:00 AM EST
POST A COMMENT

26 Comments

Back to Article

  • warped6 - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    I purchased one of these back in the late spring. I too tried putting the DVD in the bottom position and it didn't fit. I then found out that it wasn't meant to hold an optical drive. It's meant to hold a VFD display so you can have the extra little door open to see the display. You can see this on there web site.Unless there is a short optical drive that I haven't found yet.

    I also replaced all of the fans with quieter ones. That helped quite a bit as far as noise.

    I've been very happy with the box, now if I could just get the software to work the way I want it too and so the wife can deal with it, I could move it into the living room. :-)
    Reply
  • bearxor - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    I know a lot of people are complaining because you reviewed some fairly low-end HTPC cases, but these are all in the price range that I'm looking at, which is 90-130. I was settled on a Cooler Master case, but after reading what you guys wrote about the Tenor, I might just go with it. I had decided against it because of the blue LED lights, but like you said, I could just disconnect them.

    Not all of us are willing to spend 200-300 dollars on just a case for our HTPC, this review was for us.
    Reply
  • bschuler2004 - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    I still contend the best HTPC is a HTPC out of sight controlled via RF remote. Why even have a pc in the living room? Your cable company doesn't put it's Video On Demand servers in your living room.. why would you? It just doesn't make sense. Plus, then you can use any case, can be as loud as you want.. cuz nothing in the living room is as quiet as an Svideo,Rca, etc cable.. You save money, space, and alot of headaches. Reply
  • BigLan - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    I agree, to a point. My HTPC is a generic mid-tower which has similar dimensions to my sub. It doesn't really look too out of place except fot the blue LED in the power supply.

    I've been thinking more and more that the ideal setup would be a non-descript PC box on the floor or hidden, with an external usb DVD drive (or two) and the remote control receiver placed near the amp/receiver.

    Most of the current htpc cases seem to appeal to the bling factor, which I learned the hard way meant loud fans and inadequate cooling.
    Reply
  • PDubya - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    On page 5, the "removable cap" looks to be recessed, so I'm guessing you could place some filtration medium in that capped area. Just my two cents. Reply
  • Tamale - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    but that's the exhaust.. I'm still not sure what good putting a filter on the exhaust side of the power supply would do... Reply
  • bldckstark - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    I agree that putting a filter on the exhaust side would be useless, but the cover is there for some reason. I have several machines here at work that have covers very similar to this that are used for air intake filters. Was the PSU checked for air flow direction? Maybe they reversed it in this application. Reply
  • bldckstark - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    The users manual states in the cooling section that you should not "block the air intake vents on the top panel, the front left side (at the filter) or the back (ventilated PCI slot covers." They are calling it an intake. This is the EC manual, not the US version. They are quite different, and there is no mention of the cover in the US version.

    http://www.antec.com/us/support_productInfo_detail...">EC users manual in English - pdf
    Check page 6 under "Important Notes On Cooling"
    Reply
  • UrQuan3 - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    I understand that this review is geared more towards gaming rigs in the livingroom than for video recording/playback machines, still I'd like to know about some of those systems as well. I've been looking at picking up either an ATX P4 or a mini-ITX Pentium M machine from http://www.hushtechnologies.net/">Hush. Just wondering if anyone has tried one. Reply
  • OrSin - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    500 is the low end of those case. They you pay extra for stuff like a reset buttom.
    Crazy over priced. I could see going as high $ or even alittle more if you want the front display, but $500+ ?. I guess if I spent $10,000 on Theathe systems it would not too bad. But $500 you could just hide a regular systems in the wall or something.
    Reply
  • BigandSlimey - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    These guys http://www.atechfabrication.com/products/HTPC_case...">http://www.atechfabrication.com/products/HTPC_case... have been designing their cases in conjunction with the HTPC guru's at avsforum. I'd suggest anyone planning to build a HTPC to go to http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forumdisplay.php?f=...">http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forumdisplay.php?f=... and do some reading, there's a lot to consider.

    I'm also surprised at your omission of the Ahanix cases http://www.ahanix.com/ahanix_product_list.asp?cid=...">http://www.ahanix.com/ahanix_product_list.asp?cid=... which IMO look a lot better than any of the options on your article.

    See also: http://www.origenae.com/products_htpc.htm">http://www.origenae.com/products_htpc.htm
    http://www.silverstonetek.com/product-case.htm">http://www.silverstonetek.com/product-case.htm
    Reply
  • ceefka - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    Those Origenae look very nice. I meant the X15 in my earlier comment. This one will cost around 500 bucks. Expensive, but very pretty. Reply
  • lukecon - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    All well and good on the review love AnandTech's review but I think you guys forgot something - The TV tuner in your system - I mean it is a Home Theater PC.
    Reply
  • Tamale - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    The tuner shouldn't really pose any additional problems with a particular case, and the 6600GT we use gets as hot or even hotter than most video cards with built-in tuners.

    Perhaps the cooling in an HTPC would be changed dramatically though if another expansion card is also in the system.. hmm.. I'll have to think about that one. Thanks for the comment.
    Reply
  • BigLan - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    Actually, tuners can get pretty toasty, maybe not as hot as a video card, but they don't have active cooling on them. An MCE-500 dual tuner stuck in the last slot with no airflow could be a problem.

    If you are adding a soundcard as well, it can also impede airflow which exacerbates the problem.
    Reply
  • tkr2099 - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    Very nice review! I'm planning on building a HTPC this holiday season, so this review could not have come at a better time. Thank you, Anandtech, for another extremely well written and helpful review! Reply
  • tayhimself - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    IMO Silverstone especially and less so Ahanix are specialized HTPC vendors. Either you didnt know this, didnt bother to do research, or didnt get a free sample from them. None of which is a terribly good thing.
    AFAIK no 3R systems cases have been available in North America since about 3 years ago when newegg carried a few. Theyre a Korean manufacturer of quality cases that are quite popular in Australia (I'm in Canada FYI).

    Also, why the POS power supply along with the lousy thermaltake heatsink with a hot P4 system? Not too many people are building HTPCs with P4s, and they tend to use better components than Mad Dog and ThermalTake (no offense to the *bling* obsessed).

    The measurements dont jive with the subjective measurements as a 9 dB difference between the loudest and quietest is almost twice as loud.

    A poor review, that doesnt belong on AT. I could probably write a better review and I've never done one before.
    Reply
  • MPE - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    I could probably write a better review and I've never done one before.

    Cop out - not to mention inconsequential, immature, ad hominem, and probably false.
    Reply
  • tayhimself - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    ad hominem? Go to http://dictionary.com">dictionary.com Reply
  • ceefka - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    Isn't that just perfect? If you can get these temperature numbers with P4, you know that a 90nm s939 is going to do just fine.

    There are so many cases to chose from. Even with built in LCD screens (not cheap btw). Maybe AT can inlcude HTPC's in their entry/mid-range/high-end reviews and builds. On the other hand, this could be a totally different category by itself. You'd also have the opportunity to chose platform.

    This brings forth the next question: How long before Apple makes a Home-Pod, HTPC based on Mac ingrediënts. They should be able to make/develop one by now.
    Reply
  • Tamale - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    The 'POS' power supply happens to deliver steadier voltages to the highest-end gear I've gotten my hands on (and no, the P4 test bed isn't the most powerful thing I've tested it in) than anything else that's passed through my hands, and that includes over a dozen power supplies by high-end manufacturers. I'm no reviewer of power supplies yet, as we're still working on that, but I guarantee you that this is a fine unit, especially for the area of case reviews, because in quiet mode it does a fantastic job of staying silent enough to hear the case fans and still provides rock-solid voltages to a stressed-out system. It also gets warm when in quiet mode in the cases that don't ventilate the power supply well enough, which is another good measure of a case. Perhaps most important however is the modular nature of the unit, and even though I've tried other modular units none were as quiet as the MadDog.

    Secondly, the thermaltake golden orb II at full voltage is quieter than any of zalman's coolers at full voltage. While I understand that the zalman will probably get lower temperatures, It is absolutely essential that the CPU cooler in my test bed make as little noise as possible, and the golden orb II does just that.

    The recurring theme in your post seems to me to be that you want 'the perfect HTPC', but the whole idea of a case review is to isolate everything but the case as much as possible, and sometimes hotter components do a better job of illustrating the deficiencies of units than the latest and greatest.

    Trust me on this one, if we used the absolute best gear available the comparisons would be much muddier.

    As for the subjective comment, my scale of 1-10 can be thought of as a scale of tolerance.. with 5 basically being the threshold... anything higher than that really is 'too loud for the given application' and anything lower than 4 is 'acceptable'. It's not meant to be a numerically accurate scale of any sort. I felt very comfortable with the final subject ratings I gave these cases, because the Tenor and PC-800B just barely passed my personal threshold test, and I believe most users will agree.
    Reply
  • tayhimself - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    I hope you realize other PSUs are likely quieter and more efficient than "Mad Dog". Sure the may be quiet to your ears, but thats too subjective to really mean anything. Sadly, you rate the modular nature as being an important issue when it is not. The PSU getting warm in quiet mode may be a sign of a PSU not getting enough airflow.

    And you say "its silent enough to hear case fans". While that can be true, the PSU and Tt golden orb noise signatures can drown out subtler differences between the cases in terms of noise of the case fans. This is almost obvious from your review as you dont perceive the difference of 9 dB to be significant. Its better to use quality quiet components so you can tell what the case is contributing to the noise spectrum. Since this is about making case buying decisions, the other factors are best isolated.
    Reply
  • Avalon - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    Get crackin'. Reply
  • mrgq912 - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    to tired to read the article but first post.

    Reply
  • mrgq912 - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    okay now that I have that out of my system. How come you guys never review stuff from alienware or voodoopc. Those guys make HTPC's aswell. I never every heard of the players in this review making HTPC's untill today. Well nice to know i have options.

    Would buy one if i could, untill then i will live with my ati tv wonder elite.

    Reply
  • ksherman - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    uh, cuz Alienware and Voodoo are over priced peices of DooDoo... and because this site is more geared around people that build their own machines... Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now