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  • wsaenotsock - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    As much as I appreciate the whole full-silent chassis by Streacom here, and others such as Zalman- who made a high end one a few years back... I don't understand why there aren't more cases that are designed like this while also incorporating low-volume air cooling with a large sized, high quality fan, slightly undervolted. Widely tested & recommended fans (such as on the SPCR website) are barely detectable and add enough airflow to keep the temperatures manageable, so that you can actually use performance components, not just end up cornered into low wattage HTPC stuff, and still not worry about reducing lifespan of parts with heat.

    I want to see more cases that are intelligently designed instead of just fully passive or the opposite extreme with 5 - 8 120mm fan cutouts.
  • snuuggles - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    Took the words out of my mouth. I wonder if it's that HT stuff simply "should" be under a certain heat envelope so they play nice with all the other components they are stacked up with traditionally?

    I mean, there's a reason most stereo stuff doesn't come with a fan of any kind.

    PS did you see the new type of "bellows" fan being developd
  • Menty - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    Absolutely. Fully passive cases just make too many compromises when one or two very very slow fans will make everything just that much happier. Reply
  • LauRoman - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    Problem is, very slow fans get dust clogged and louder as time goes on. On a machine that will barely be touched by fingers, let alone opened-up that's not a very good thing. Reply
  • Olaf van der Spek - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    Isn't that why dust filters were invented? Reply
  • EnzoFX - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    Still requires maintenance. Reply
  • Hrel - Sunday, December 23, 2012 - link

    you sound like a horrible person. You can't be bothered to clean your PC once/year? Slob. Reply
  • Samus - Monday, December 24, 2012 - link

    yep. coolest thing about passive cooling is you can open it up 3 years later and it still looks brand new inside without a spec of dust! Reply
  • mike8675309 - Thursday, December 27, 2012 - link

    Someone hasn't opened up his T.V., or stereo, or cable box lately. Reply
  • kmmatney - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    I bought my Kenwood receiver (still used with my TV) in 1989, and cleaned it out for the first time about 2 years ago. So yeah, you have to clean it out, but only every 20 years or so. That said, I'd prefer a slow moving fan in an HTPC case. Reply
  • brakteat - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    LauRoman is right. Last year I built four fanless computers for our office, using HD-Plex H3.S chassis. Since then they run fast (Core i3-2105+SSD), completely silently (no moving parts) and still very cool (under load, all components are usually below 55 C). Also, after one year there is no visible dust inside the chassis so there is no need for physical maintenance.

    Of course, if you want to play games at high resolution then HD 4000 is certainly not enough (and my HD 3000 even less so). I always play my games at 2560x1600 and built myself an inaudible gaming computer in a Coolermaster HAF-X. This works great thanks to seven large fans running at low speed. The graphics card is ony cooled by a 200 mm fan. The fans do collect a lot of dust though, even if the case has dust filters. Without maintenance the dust would eventually stop the computer from working.
  • EnzoFX - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    TRUE. The single best reason to go for passive is no dust. Can't argue against someone wanting zero maintenance. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    I have an HTPC with one fan that serves double duty as the cpu heatsink fan and the case fan (I cut a large hole above into the case above the heatsink so the fan could get fresh air), I also have a dust cover just above it that works with magnets. Every time my wife or I vacuum the living room, we just take it off, vacuum it as well and put it back on. nearly zero maintenance and much more powerful if I wanted to. Also, silent in the current setup. I would never go with a fanless case.
    But I do see that for some people/situations, adding fans does not bring anything to the table because they just don't need the power or cooler running components. :)
  • EnzoFX - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    Yes exactly. Some people really want zero maintenance, and aren't going to be gaming on it =P. I myself am drawn to such a setup, but I've never been able to commit, and probably never will. So it does go to show that it's impractical for more hands-on users, seeing as with just a little work, you get much more in return. Reply
  • colonelciller - Sunday, December 23, 2012 - link

    this case is perfect for playing 1080 P video streamed from a home media server (in another room).

    looks like a ZERO compromise machine to people who want silence.
    For those who want a do-it-all noise maker next to there TV there are other cases.
  • ryccoh - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    Check out Silverstone cases. They like to mount two slow 180mm fans on the buttom blowing air out the top of the case with the motherboard turned 90 degrees. Reply
  • colonelciller - Sunday, December 23, 2012 - link

    No no no absolutely NOT

    The whole point of this case is silence with a capital 'S'.
    The case is perfect as is. Even the quietest fans are not silent which is a complete FAIL for those seeking true Silence from the HTPC.

    Couple this case with an efficient cpu with integrated graphics and a small SSD for OS only and you've got perfection.

    Store all your media on a home server where it belongs. As soon as you try to turn a HTPC into a do-it-all machine you start making compromises.
  • CaioRearte - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    Hello, please evaluate how this build would turn out powered by one of AMD Trinity's APUs. They have 65W parts that can be passively-cooled and it might be interesting to see how the IGP performs, especially since Intel's integrated graphics don't perform at all. Reply
  • kyuu - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    +1 Reply
  • random2 - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    Yes, but the i3-3225 sure performs. The integrated graphics on these APUs get their butts handed to them on a platter by the lowly 640 GPU used here. Added to that is the fact that CPUs do make a difference in times for individual frame rendering and in game frame rates.
  • colonelciller - Sunday, December 23, 2012 - link

    Does the i3-3225 support 23.976 playback? Reply
  • Aikouka - Sunday, December 23, 2012 - link

    Last I recall, Intel's drivers do have a "24 FPS" setting, but it is not true 23.976. However, my information may be out of date! Reply
  • casteve - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the review, but what are the units of time in the graphs? seconds, minutes, mayan long count? Reply
  • ganeshts - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    Apologize for the oversight. The time unit is in (s). The first graph is not very clear (I had actually let our power logger script run for 100 minutes = 6000s). For the loading temperature graphs, I had indicated in the text that the burn-in testing was run for 12 hours (=43200s). Reply
  • kyuu - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    First paragraph on page 3:

    "There was a toss up between building a Trinity-based testbed and a Ivy Bridge-based testbed. In the end, the fact that Trinity emerged as being a capable madVR candidate (with software based decoding), and the fact that madVR recently introduced DXVA scaling (an upside for Intel since its offerings weren't fully madVR capable earlier, and something that we wanted to test out) persuaded us to go for an Intel-based testbed."

    Am I missing something or is this messed up? You describe (what I assume are) positive aspects of Trinity, then use that as the justification for using Ivy Bridge? Huh?
  • ElvenLemming - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    The way I interpreted that was that because the madVR support is newer and less-tested for Intel, they decided to go with an Intel build here so they could use the same machine for future madVR testing.

    The paragraph wasn't worded very clearly, but that's what I got out of it.
  • ganeshts - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    Yes, I could have conveyed that in a better manner, but ElvenLemming's interpretation is right. In our Trinity and Ivy Bridge reviews, we found that 720p60 H.264 streams gave trouble to HD 4000. Recently, madVR introducied DXVA scaling, and I have it from very reliable sources that Mathias (madVR developer) is working closely with Intel. So, we wanted to have the right platform to evaluate these developments. Reply
  • kyuu - Sunday, December 23, 2012 - link

    Ah got it. Thanks for the clarification. Reply
  • Schafdog - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    What's the idle power of the system? Reply
  • ganeshts - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    That is coming in Part 2 of the review :) As a sneak peek, I can say it is around 28 W. Power measurement during Blu-ray playback and other workloads will be dealt with in detail in the next series installment. Reply
  • Hardcore69 - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    I built myself an Antec ISK HTPC, then promptly replaced with a WD Live Gen 3 less than 3 months later, which plays back 99% of whatever else you need played back. No mess and no fuss. The reason companies barely focus on anything HTPC is that it is only for the hardest of the hardcore geeks and also completely unnecessary. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    So, your WD Live Gen 3 plays games as well? Great, hit me a link and I'll buy one! Reply
  • Gigaplex - Sunday, December 23, 2012 - link

    You want a media player that does games too? Try a console like a PS3. Reply
  • Sivar - Tuesday, January 01, 2013 - link

    PS3s and X-Boxes are nearly useless as media players because they don't play MKV files.
    The formats the consoles do play do not support subtitles so those subtitles need to be stored as a completely separate file, kept in the same folder as the video file, and make a bit of a mess. Lack of MKV support is an instant cross-off when even $40 Android-based media players support it.
  • Cardio - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    Even with the discount from the MSRP of $430. If you add some necessary add-on's the price is $511.50 + shipping. That is really absurd as far as I am concerned. The size is also just too large for somethiing you intended to use as an mini ITX HTPC or even a mATX. What is the attraction here? Silent is just not that hard to achieve. Cooling doesn't have to be passive either. Have made a number of HTPC's that are inaudable and run much cooler that this thing. Reply
  • ganeshts - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    It is all a matter of perspective and styling. What is silent to me and you needn't be silent to someone with very sensitive ears. The size of the FC10 is no different from any other A/V component in the rack (say, an AV receiver) Reply
  • colonelciller - Sunday, December 23, 2012 - link

    I agree completely on the case size... there is a new case in the pipeline from Streacom that is way smaller while still being passively cooled. I'm waiting on that one :) Reply
  • Aikouka - Sunday, December 23, 2012 - link

    Streacom already has a smaller and silent case called the FC8 Evo. I know because I own one! ;) Reply
  • bse8128 - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    Could you please add a version of the image with temperature in Celsius which at least 90% of the world population uses? Thanks! Reply
  • ganeshts - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    Sure, will do that in the second part of the series. Reply
  • sheh - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    I think most of the visitors here are US-based. Though yes, C would be better. :) Reply
  • Jaaap - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    On the Thermal Performance page, at the rop you say:
    ... because it is quite common for improperly designed thermal solutions to *not* prevent processors from reaching their maximum permissible junction temperature.

    not prevent?
  • sheh - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    AKA, let CPUs overheat and start throttling. Reply
  • sheh - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    ...the woes of double negative. :) Reply
  • ganeshts - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    Yes, it conveys that bad thermal solutions allow the processor to reach Tjmax. Throttling results and there is a loss in performance. Reply
  • mobutu - Sunday, December 23, 2012 - link

    I hope you'll do a full stress test on the CPU and GPU simultaneous because it is not enough if the 150W picoPSU holds this setup only on idle and low-stress.

    Also please find out from Streacom when the 180W and particularly the 250W will be available for purchase.
    Interested in a i5/i7 + 7770 setup powered by that internal 250W max PSU.

    Thanks for the review!
  • Subyman - Sunday, December 23, 2012 - link

    I was interested until I saw the price. I know people will pay a premium for silence, but $430 seems somewhat excessive. Reply
  • agentsmithitaly - Sunday, December 23, 2012 - link

    I know it has been already already debated, but measurement units are quite inconsistent in Anandtech's articles.
    Sometimes they report both Celsius and Fahrenheit for temperatures, as well as inches and millimeters for length measurements, in this case we see only metric units for the case weight, dimensions, celsius degrees for the ambient temperature, and only imperial units for case temperatures.

    Is it possible to have International system of units on all articles? Not only for the international visitors I'm sure Anandtech has, but also because this is technology website, which I think it could be considered as science. And scientists use metrical units, including NASA ones. You remember what happened to the Mars Climate Orbiter, right?

    Apart this, keep up the good work guys!
  • Landiepete - Monday, December 24, 2012 - link

    I have a FC8 Evo case waiting for a build, and I'm going to try and build a HTPC with an AMD A10 on a mini-itx board. The A10-5700 has a 65W TDP AND 7660D graphics on board, and performane should be quite sufficient for HTPC. In a pinch I could try the 5800, but the 100W TDP might be just OTT;

    Incidentally, streacom does a nice infrared remote kit to go with their cases.
  • cerietke - Monday, December 24, 2012 - link

    I don't know about the FC8, but for my FC5 the mini-ITX options available would not work due to something being in the way of the heatpipes (if you haven't you may want to check on that). Streacom told me they tried 95 W TDP processors for the FC5, but can only recommend them in areas with considerable airflow. My A10-5700 is already getting near 80 C, though so far I haven't been able to confirm or deny whether the case is to blame. Reply
  • Dux - Monday, December 24, 2012 - link

    I'm not a shill first off. The one thing I learned over an entire week is that unless u gots money to burn prepare for lots of compromise. My build Nmedia case (matches my amplifier in size; accomodates full size GPUs), Pentium G620, midrange biostar board (I had a spare courtesy of Amazon last year), HD 5450 passive and 4 WD EcoGreen 2TB HDDs. The loudest components in order: HDDs (even with only 1 "awake"), the CPU fan (stock, slowed to 1000RPM), old silverstone 120mm blowing across the HDDs and then its a toss up between the el cheapo 120mm that came with the case and the 2 60mm fans that came with the case. Yes, the el cheapos were the most quiet lol! The issue? The HD 5450 gets too hot and is slowly coming undone. After light testing with temps never going above 70c the clock speed control is lost and the temp sensor has disappeared. Why am I not using the HD3000 GPU? There is a CLEAR difference in image quality vs my GTX 260 or the HD5450. Trust me. On a 135 in projector screen u can tell: color, grainyness, pixelization etc etc even on BR rips. U can keep Intel graphics...

    FYI: the G620 is boss. If u lock it in at 1.6ghz it will use only 3.88W under load. Temps never went above 130 under any conditions. Most of the time it used less than 1 watt during normal HTPC operations. I would say u could expect temps around 120F with the stock cooler. The HD5450 operated at around 150 most of the time. I understand it cant run at idle speeds (157mhz) while rendering vid. But I couldnt lock it in at 400mhz. Even rendering low quality Xvid would cause it to jump to 650mhz. The temps would theoretically climb to no end I imagine. HDDs operated at around 108F and never went above 120F. Chipset temps hovered around 110. Besides the GPU none of these temps are an issue. But I still need a CPU fan and at least some air going across my GPU heat sink.

    Bottom line: u cant go passive using traditional set ups like mine. If I had it to do all over again (and I didnt have a spare socket 1155 mobo sitting around) I would have gotten a low end Trinity and bought an aftermarket 120mm CPU fan and then just slowed it down to around 1000rpm
  • Dux - Monday, December 24, 2012 - link

    Additional insights: If you HAVE to go with a discrete passive GPU know this: my CPU uses 3.88W and still requires some air (yes, I tried a case mounted 120mm on top of it and couldnt get the temps stabilized). If you think a 19W HD5450 is truly passive you are being mislead. There has to be some air going over it (I dont have that option with my HTPC case). Buy the card with the BIGGEST heatsink possible. No, newegg doesnt carry a 5450 with anything other than the ones with a heatsink the size of a credit card and about as thick as a Mr Goodbar. No bueno (eventually). Oh well, it was a $25 card.

    Oh, the audio via HDMI on my GPU also pooped the bed. Thats how I know the temps are screwing with it.

    Go Nvidia (need special drivers for sound via HDMI). Riva tuner is quite reliable at slowing down the GPU fan and is quite stable. My 9500GT and GTX 260 were near silent with the fans at 25%. Plus Riva tuner does a good job at underclocking (which only dropped temps 3 degrees F against stock speeds in case ur wondering).

    BEWARE OF FAN CONTROLLERS!!! The bigger the fan the more voltage it requires to..."turn over". So if u have a fan controller that turns the fans completely off u wont be able to set the control knob and leave it be. Each and every time u wake the HTPC or boot it you will have to ensure your fans are spinning. If not you could get a nasty surprise. Also, some fan controllers (no way of telling I guess) will create a nasty buzzing sound on some types of fans. Hint: Logisys.... Some fans sounded like they were getting castrated. Others were barely audible. But I could tell and thats all that matters. Best $22 spent. Ever....

    Newer model Corsair TX series power supplies are useful if passive Power supplies scare you (thats me). They spin up and shut down until they reach 40% load or temps get high. When running they are still near silent anyways so...

    Speedfan kept "pinging" my HDDs when taking a SMART reading causing 2-3 sec "lockups" even with SMART disabled thru the BIOS. But speedfan in the only show in town from what I hear.
  • Dux - Monday, December 24, 2012 - link

    Last comment: after all this experimenting and tweaking and drilling and testing and benchmarking and screwing around.... I finally set everything up, disconnected the HTPC from my monitor and connected it to my projector. Then I turned the projector on. Then I realized the bastard is far louder than any computer made since the Pentium 4 dual cores. Think about that if you have a projector and are thinking of plunking down some solid coin on a "silent" HTPC. Not worth it friends. Reply
  • randinspace - Thursday, December 27, 2012 - link

    LOL. I feel your pain. It's winter here, and the very moment I'd finished ordering up the remaining parts for a "silent" build the heat came on and I was reminded just how noisy the central air is in the dump I live in. Reply
  • cerietke - Monday, December 24, 2012 - link

    AMD's Trinity processors get considerably hotter than Intel's in a comparable setup. If you would want to test this passive case's ability to keep the CPU cool it might be a much bigger challenge for it if you use a Trinity processor.

    I have an FC5-EVO case myself with an A10-5700 inside that gets quite hot (nearly 80 C). Streacom has sent a replacement heatsink and heatpipes (after a lot of e-mails), but so far I am not seeing improvements. Of course possibly I made a mistake in the building process or another component of the system could perhaps be to blame, but the fact is that these do get hotter and will therefore be a better test of the passive cooling.
  • ypsylon - Monday, December 24, 2012 - link

    I consider any case (or LCD, scanner, etc...) which requires external PSU in todays day and age absolute disgrace. There is no excuse for that, it is not like there are no passive PSUs available around. Reply
  • cjs150 - Monday, December 24, 2012 - link

    If not playing new games, there is little need for a discrete GPU for an HTPC.

    Personally I would prefer the passive cases had a slow running fan on top with dust filters, but having built a passive HTPC, they do work very well without fans. My i7-3770T spends most of its time at 40-45C (room temp is 22C), it would almost certainly be less if took off the IHS and replaced the shoddy Intel thermal grease. Even if I run Prime for 30mins max temperatures is 90C which is well under thermal specs, and you are unlikely to be at 100% load on an HTPC. I picked the i7-3770T because whilst expensive it has the lowest TDP of CPUs with Intel 4000 graphics

    One thing which none of the passive case makers get right is the ODD cage. No one includes some proper anti-vibration dampening. It would make a massive difference.

    Nice to see Ganesh also stores all his media on a separate NAS. Shame Microsoft has made the decision that Windows 8 will not support separate NAS (unless part of active domain and a truly horrible fudge) at least not as far as the libraries function is concerned..

    Microsoft has basically abandoned the HTPC market (Windows 8 has no support for TV Tuner cards, no native DVD or Blu Ray playback, libraries is an issue if using a NAS) even though Windows 8 interface works very well on an HTPC and Linux not ready to pick it up. When Linux gets ability to play commercial Blu Rays then XBMC and Linux will be the way to go.

    Despite all the problems I am very happy with the HTPC I built (Hdplex case)
  • MadMan007 - Monday, December 24, 2012 - link

    I don't like that sooo many cases like this come with slim optical drive mounts, and on top of that they are often slot-loading $$$. There is space even in a case like this for a full-size optical which gives you a ton of choices and much better prices, especially versus slot-loading. I know that optical is on its way out for PCs (even though I and lots of others still rip their media) but in a large HTPC case where it's possible - unlike the ultra-SFF HTPC cases -an optical is needed even more than a desktop or laptop because of bluray. Reply
  • mr_tawan - Friday, December 28, 2012 - link

    Great review!. I'm now interested to build a PC with this case. Still don't know if I can find one in my country.

    My only suggestion - please use only one unit for a thing, eg. using only either Farenheit, Kelvin, or Celcius for temperature measurement.

  • drbo - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    I have a Streacom FC5, running a trinity system of A8 3870-k and Asus F1-A75-M Pro and an 240GB Intel 520 SSD. Has been run running perfect for over one year, Windows 7 64 MCE, streaming 1080p Movies and HD TV from the server in the basement, using MyMovies and DVBLink. No problems with temperatures getting to hot.

    Streacom fan less cabinets are absolute fabolous, BUT their remote option is junk and mot MCE compatible, so I advice all to stay away from that one, and rather pick up an old windows MCE remote, especially if you are using the TV option of the HTPC.
  • Sivar - Tuesday, January 01, 2013 - link

    Much cheaper, more configurable, but unfortunately much taller fanless PC:
  • thodo - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - link

    That would be an excellent option if both myself and my wife were blind. But yes, would be nice if the Streacom were half the price... Reply
  • thodo - Tuesday, January 08, 2013 - link

    I have recently built a HTPC around the new FC9 chassis and an A10-5800k (underclocked to A10-5700 speeds as I couldnt' find a 5700 to buy). Am really interested to see whether the blu-ray drive you've chosen runs quietly in the FC10. I've used a Sony BC-5800S and it is ridiculously loud even by ODD drive standards. Its clearly audible over even moderately loud audio playback... I notice Streacom have now released their own badged blu-ray ODD so will be interesting to see if that is any quieter also. Reply

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