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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  • monsoon - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - link


    i want my HTPC to be a full fledged double-core AMD PC capable of running everything, with double 5'25" front bays and silent.

    so, what'S out there today to realize such a project ?

    it's been almost a year since this shoot-out, and i would really love to see some commercial products ( already assembled or cases only ) to match these needs.

    120mm fans anyone ?
    passive cooling ( or should we wait for the coming laptop double-core CPU releases ) ?

    thanks for reading this,
  • rdunnill - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    Quote: "There isn't anything requiring these large cases except a gaming video card"

    To the contrary, I use a Holo3Dgraph-I deinterlacing card, which is full-height and thus requires a modestly-footprinted case like the NMediaPC.
  • rdunnill - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    I am considering the NMediaPC case due to its small footprint.

    Footprint barely received mention in the review, but it's important to me, because the space in my HT cabinet is small.
  • mindless1 - Thursday, December 30, 2004 - link

    JKing76, the distinction is not "just playing movies". There isn't anything requiring these large cases except a gaming video card, or to look at it another way, stuffing so many cards in that you can't get a riser to work and need a larger power supply too. Perhaps if you need more than 2 HDDs, that's an issue too... but most won't.

    Games <> Home Theater

    Some can't grasp that, and that's OK, there SHOULD be cases suitable for building living room gaming boxes, but that does not begin to mean HTPC cases per se, should be this large.
  • goku21 - Thursday, December 30, 2004 - link

    What about doing a project/review on a HTPC you build yourself? Go all out and instead of using a HTPC case use a SFF case or something. Be a little different about it.

    That's something I'd like to see. Perhaps something interactive where all the readers can vote on what types of components go into it and what not.

    Of course that's just my stupid opinion =)
  • PuravSanghani - Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - link

    We gave our Editor's Choice Award to the SilverStone LC10/M because it has a combination of great features (VFD Text display, room for expansion with more HDD mounting space, the ability to install a full ATX board and power supply, as well as an optional multimedia kit since MS Windows Media Center is not sold on store shelves just yet). Bias is not one of the reasons we chose the LC10.

    The HTPC100 is a great out-of-the-box solution if you want a simple barebones system. It performed well in our thermal and sound benchmarks. The case, however, does not have much room for expansion, only supports microATX boards, and does not have a text display. Although, for its performance in thermal and sound we believe it is a worthy competitor to the LC10.

    We hope this clears up some confusion in our regarding our conclusion of this roundup.

    Nintari, Mindless, mcveigh: We chose these components because many boxed Home Theater PCs come with hardware similar to our configuration. A media center PC, in our definition, is not just a PC with a TV Tuner slapped in it, but rather a fully functional PC with the ability to process home theater content.

    Definitions of the HTPC will vary by user and the purpose of the HTPC in their home theater setup.

    During our testing we do not install a TV Tuner card but we do process content like playing a DVD and video games to simulate operations during normal PC use with this "standard" hardware.

    #27: Feel free to let us know of any errors in the article and we will be more than happy to fix them. Thanks.

    Purav Sanghani
  • Clint - Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - link

    All three vendor links for the Silverstone case show a completely different case (though they all match one another). Reply
  • ElFenix - Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - link

    I've asked for years: please hire an english major to edit your articles. The sentence structure of this article is even worse than most of the articles around here. Reply
  • JKing76 - Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - link

    Sorry mindless, I don't buy your definition of HTPC. I consider an HTPC to be a computer you'd keep hooked up to a home theater system full time. You want a tiny, low-power PC just for playing movies, well, that's your choice. But there's no reason big screen, high-quality surround sound gaming support can't be part of a HTPC. Reply
  • geogecko - Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - link

    Personally...the best HTPC case money can buy...

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