3R Mstation HT-1100

The first HTPC case that we’re going to look at is from a relatively obscure case manufacturer named 3R System. These first shots of the case already have a system installed in them.


Click to enlarge.

Right away, we have mixed feelings about the looks of the HT-1100. The display is a typical glossy glass black, which looks very nice, and along with the rest of the clean front bezel, this is for the most part the makings of a very attractive case. However, to stealthily concealing the optical drive, the system simply needs more work.

Despite trying a couple of different drives, we couldn’t get the included CD-drive bezel to line up properly. The design is simple; an included aluminum plate with double-sided tape is supposed to be placed on the front of the drive instead of the default tray cover, and then an eject button is held in place from inside the case after the drive is slid in from behind.

It fails, however, if any of the following conditions hold true:
  • The tray height does not exactly correspond with the tray opening in the front of the case.
  • The tray cover of the CD/DVD drive is permanently attached to the tray.
  • The eject button of the drive itself is permanently attached.
  • The eject button doesn’t exactly correspond with the button opening in the front.
  • The user decides to forego the use of an optical drive at all. (There’s no clean way to secure the tray cover without a drive installed.)


Click to enlarge.

Normally we wouldn’t dwell on one particular design flaw to such a degree at the very beginning of a product’s inspection, but it is crucial in a HTPC that the front panel looks as nice as possible. Unless one chooses the same CD/DVD drive that 3R chose when designing this bezel, there’s a high probability that the front of your case will not look particularly right, as is the true for the pictures of the front of the case as we've taken them. In this shot, the cover has been applied, but as installed here, it didn't fit properly in the 5¼” drive bay.

This is not to discourage everyone from considering this case at all, however, because if one does have a proper optical drive or at least a black one that will look OK installed without the included tray cover, the front of the case will still look nice otherwise.


Click to enlarge.

A magnetically latched flip-down front panel covers the port cluster on the left side, and flash memory card reader bays on the right. Labels for the ports and bays have been painted over the brushed finish and look particularly nice.


Click to enlarge.


Index 3R Mstation HT-1100 (cont’d)
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  • 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

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