External Design

Keeping in tradition with both other HTPC cases in general and also Ahanix’s own line, the MCE601 has a very uncluttered, professional look to it, with the front only having five main areas of interest. Our particular test model came in a black finish, but there is the option to purchase the case in silver.


Click to enlarge.

First, in the upper left-hand corner, is the writing “D-Vine, Home Theater System” in a contrasting paint, letting you know right away what the purpose of a computer like this is. In the lower left are two push buttons labeled “power” and “reset”, and a single miniscule LED light letting you know when the machine is turned on.


Click to enlarge.

Slightly left from the center of the front is the vacuum fluorescent display, the focal point of any home theater component. Ahanix, at least with this particular case, is still choosing to use a parallel interface for communication with the display, but we’ll look into that more closely later.

On the right side of the unit, we find the slot for the optical drive and access to the front panel ports hidden behind a simple, hinged metal door. The eject button is labeled “OPEN” with the same contrasting paint as the logo in the top left corner.


Click to enlarge.

Pushing the metal door reveals the included front ports on the MCE601: two unlabeled 1/8” audio jacks, a firewire port, and two USB ports. While front access is always a nice addition to any case, it is imperative on a unit that is designed to stay more permanently in a home theater situation. Ahanix included a 3-1/2” multi-format card reader drive with our case, and in addition to the read/write LEDs and slots for various forms of flash media, there is another USB port.

Overall, we find the latest D-Vine to follow its predecessor’s paths perfectly, in that it has a front panel with a great look for an HTPC case. Let’s move on to examine this nice-looking case from some other angles.

Index External Design (cont'd)
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  • ImJacksAmygdala - Friday, May 06, 2005 - link

    Show me a single HTPC case that has two 120mm fans and a ATX power supply and I'll buy it. The first company that takes the Antec Sonata or SLK3700BQE design and flips it on its side with a horizontal DVD drive, HT component damper feet, and a clean HTPC face plate gets my money. Currently no such case exists on the market. Antec tried and failed with the Overture design due to the heat enthusiast systems now create, and for some reason they haven't thought about using the popular design of the Sonata and SLK3700BQE. If you go to the silentpcreview forums you can find tons of threads on these cases, and I am surprised no one has tried to mod one horizontal yet. Reply
  • araczynski - Friday, May 06, 2005 - link

    cheap, retro wannabe, thin aluminum crap. probably made in vietnam for $0.50.

    but all the more power to them if they can sell this pile of sh*t to idiots.
    Reply
  • Tamale - Friday, May 06, 2005 - link

    It was a tad akward perhaps, but that is what I meant to say.. the hard drive's local air isn't really getting pushed or pulled anywhere thus keeping that area warmer than it should be..

    as far as the power supply, yes it offers the 20 or 24 pin connections, but no i didn't notice any 6-pin VGA connectors.
    Reply
  • Spacecomber - Friday, May 06, 2005 - link

    While these cases (Ahanix) are nice to look at, I have to agree with the consensus that there just doesn't seem to be enough good about them to justify a $300 price tag.

    I thought that the review was well done. I'll add just one small suggestion: more information on the vpower supply would be helpful. Maybe a shot of the label, so the power capacity on the different rails would be available. Also, perhaps add a mention of whether it is a 20 or a 24 pin ATX power connector and whether it provides the new 6 pin PCI video card connectors.

    Finally, I think this sentence is mis-written, "It is a bit discouraging to see that the hard drive itself is not really any hotter than what we are used to seeing, but the warm air created from that component must not be moving much, as that area of the case is still quite warm. "

    Still, a good start and I look forward to other reviews.

    Space
    Reply
  • Tamale - Friday, May 06, 2005 - link

    Sorry about the broken images when the review first went up.. they should all be fixed now. This is my first review so things didn't all go quite as smoothly as I had hoped. I'm still trying to find the best ways to illuminate the cases before I shoot, but I feel the only real problem I had with most of these shots was a failure to manually set my white balance. Your feed back is highly valued though everyone.. thanks!

    -Joshua Buss
    Reply
  • Tamale - Friday, May 06, 2005 - link

    Reply
  • Zirconium - Thursday, May 05, 2005 - link

    I don't care how good this case is - for the almost $300 that it costs, I can get a Shuttle cube. Reply
  • ncage - Thursday, May 05, 2005 - link

    Cool looking case. Would definitly look like a piece for your home theater and wouldn't stick out like a normal case would but the cost is WAY WAY WAY WAY to high. If it was in the $100 range i would think about it but at this price no way. Im just going to get a super mini case from antec. Reply
  • Houdani - Thursday, May 05, 2005 - link

    Ditto the troubles with the thermal images. Win2K, IE6.

    The missing images are the ones which display the temperature readings -- the ones we really care about. The mouse-over images will disply fine when you put your mouse on the placeholders, but those are just the pictures of the case innards less the thermal scores. Zoinks.
    Reply
  • piasabird - Thursday, May 05, 2005 - link

    I think a slot loading notebook drive would be better for a case like this. Might help with the air flow. I think possibly the intel chipset for the mobile desktop motherboard might be better. A centrino setup might be nice. I cant see many designs that can cool off multiple hard drives in a case this size in an efficient manner. If you have a vent on the bottom where the hard drive rack goes a low rpm fan might help. If the hard drives sat verticle they might cool better. Sitting horizontal they block the air flow. Reply

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