HTPC cases have been on the market for some time now. We generally referred to them as desktop cases instead of home theater PC cases. The design of each is just about the same - it's the features that set an HTPC apart from a desktop case.

Some of these features include simple hardware such as a smaller power supply or smaller case fans. Many desktop cases are smaller than mid-tower chassis, so hardware with smaller footprints must be used. Other features, which carry functions of a media center PC such as an integrated text display and infrared receiver, are some of the things that make an HTPC just that, an HTPC.

Our first look at the HTPC case was with the D.Vine 4 from Ahanix. We took the case apart and analyzed each feature. We were not trying to review a chassis, but instead point out what was needed to have a successful HTPC chassis.

We then had our first look at a new HTPC chassis from SilverStone Technology, the Lascala 10M. We applied some of the things that we had discovered in our HTPC introduction to this LC10/M and compared it to what we thought should be the standard. We knew, however, that we could not really compare a single case to a set standard and so we come to this.

We managed to get our hands on a new model from Ahanix, the D.Vine 5, a desktop/HTPC chassis from CoolerMaster, the Cavalier 2, and an HTPC chassis from NMediaPC, a company which specializes in bringing the home theater experience to the PC, called the HTPC 100. We compare these models to the SilverStone Lascala 10M to find the best of the pack.

Ahanix D.Vine 5


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  • matthewfoley - Monday, December 27, 2004 - link

    Great article! I'd love to see more on the HTPC area, including a processor article.

    I agree, benk. How could you choose the SilverStone over the NMedia? It runs hotter, louder, is more expensive and doesn't look as good.

    Another thing I'd like to see in all of the cases is more room for hard drives. If you're going to store anything recorded in Media Center 2005, you're going to need tons of space, and the average user isn't going to want to have a separate file server. Then again, your average user isn't going to build a HTPC...
  • benk - Monday, December 27, 2004 - link

    As noted, please fix pics in thermal section.

    That aside, great review. The pictures are extremely helpful. I would love to see added to them a comparative shot of all of the cases, or failing that a single chart that lists all of their dimensions.

    My personal choice would probably go to the NMedia...if the temperatures are within normal operating ranges, and you're not overclocking (overclocking seems unnecessary in the HTPC arena), noise plays a much more defining factor in my purchase than thermal management.
  • Locut0s - Monday, December 27, 2004 - link

    Ahh now these are what I'm talking about when I mean some nicer looking cases, even if I'm not in the market for an HTPC. Reply
  • mcveigh - Monday, December 27, 2004 - link

    fix rollover pics on testing section :)

    great article! I love my htpc but am looking for a newer case I wish you had tested Ahanix D.Vine 5 with 2 siletX fans installed.

    actually how about changing testing to include using identical fans for all systems. I know it's more work but this way you could see how casese compared based on design alone.

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