Introduction: The HTPC Slims Down

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There are many reasons to consider a home theater PC (HTPC) these days, and aside from the full functionality of a personal computer an HTPC can provide unlimited access to digital content from various sources. “Cord-cutting”, the term adopted for cancelling one’s cable or satellite TV service in favor of streaming content online, is gaining steam. Of course there are great self-contained solutions for streaming like the Roku and Apple TV, and one doesn't have to be a cord-cutter to use an HTPC for TV content, as CableCard users will probably tell you. But for those of us who want more control over our entertainment experience the limitless options provided by a custom build makes HTPC compelling. Small form-factor (SFF) computing is easier than ever with the maturation of the Mini-ITX form factor and decreasing component costs.

The Case for HTPC

For many prospective HTPC builders the case is a major consideration rather than an afterthought (it certainly is for me, anyway). This computer build is not only going into the most visible room in many homes, but the level of noise generated by the system is of concern as well. Clearly, searching for the perfect enclosure for the living room can be a major undertaking depending on your needs and personal style. And as SFF computing has gained popularity in the marketplace there are a growing number of enclosures being introduced by various manufacturers, which can only help in the search for the perfect case.

A manufacturer new on the HTPC enclosure scene is a company called Perfect Home Theater, a distributor of high-end home theater components. The enclosures from P.H.T. are slick looking aluminum designs supporting the gamut of form-factors from ATX all the way down to thin mini-ITX. The owner of Perfect Home Theater, Zygmunt Wojewoda, is also the designer of the ultra low-profile enclosure we’re looking at today, the T-ITX-6.

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As you can see it is a wide enclosure, built to match the width of standard components. And it’s really thin. Only 40mm tall, or 48mm total including the feet. Naturally this introduces more tradeoffs for the end user, as the build is strictly limited to thin mini-ITX motherboards. Though the enclosure is wide enough to theoretically house an ATX motherboard, the extremely low height would prevent it.

Continue reading our review of the P.H.T. Ultra Slim Aluminum HTPC enclosure!!

Manufacturer: SilverStone

Introduction and Features

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Earlier this year, SilverStone released two brand new enclosures designed for HTPC enthusiasts, the Grandia Series GD07 and GD08.  The two cases are nearly identical except for the front panel and some differences in the internal drive cage layout.  The GD07 sports a stealthy clean look with a lockable front door for security that conceals all the drives and I/O functions while the GD08 comes with a traditional exposed front and classic black anodized aluminum front panel. Both enclosures have been completely re-engineered and include the latest features like oversized motherboard and expansion card support, USB 3.0 ports, and excellent case cooling while being less expensive than some of SilverStone’s premium HTPC enclosures (the GD07 is currently selling for $139.99 and the GD08 is selling for $149.99 USD). We are taking a detailed look at the SilverStone GD07 HTPC case in this review.

SilverStone Technology was one of the original manufacturers to enter the HTPC case market and they continue to offer one of the largest selections of HTPC enclosures available today.  SilverStone currently offers 18 different HTPC enclosures spanning three different series including the Crown, Grandia and Lascala lines.  In addition to designing premium HTPC enclosures, SilverStone has a long-standing reputation among PC enthusiasts for providing a full line of high quality computer chassis, power supplies, cooling components, and accessories. 

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SilverStone Grandia Series GD07 HTPC Chassis Key Features:

• Full-size HTPC enclosure
• Positive air pressure design for excellent cooling with minimal noise
• Quick-access air filters helps prevent dust buildup
• Lockable front door and power button ensure system security
• Supports Micro-ATX, ATX and Extended-ATX motherboards
• Supports extended length graphic cards up to 13.6” long
• Four external 5.25" optical drive bays behind front door
• Five internal 3.5" and two internal 2.5” drive bays
• Excellent case ventilation with multiple dedicated vents
• Three 120mm cooling fans included
• USB 3.0 ports

Continue reading our review of the SilverStone Grandia Series GD07 HTPC case!

A snazzy alumnium box from Wesena to hide your HTPC

Subject: Systems | July 17, 2012 - 04:46 PM |
Tagged: htpc, HTPC case, Wesena ITX5

Good looking, functional HTPC cases tend to be expensive, especially if they are designed to blend in with other stereo or TV components.  Wesena found a way to deliver a good looking ITX sized HTPC enclosure for under $100 with their new ITX7.  Part of the price drop is the removal of an optical drive bay, which makes a great deal of sense when you are trying to cut the cost and size of a box.  The aluminium exterior with a brushed black finish is quite attractive and the system that Missing Remote fit inside the case included a Core i5-2400S, 4GB DDR3 and an SSD and HDD.  They also verified the fit of two TV Tuner cards, the Ceton InfiniTV 4 and  AVerMedia M780 as well as a GT430 and HD5550 though you won't be fitting a passively cooled GTX680 in here.  Check this case out if you have been suffering sticker shock from other HTPC case manufacturers.

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"Boasting clean lines, the right look, and solid construction for Mini-ITX based systems the Wesena ITX5 all-aluminum enclosure offers capabilities very similar to the ITX7; by removing optical drive support in a slightly lower cost ($80) package. Building a name for quality takes time and attention to feedback, so it was fantastic to examine the generational differences between the two small form-factor (SFF) home theater PC (HTPC) chassis from Wesena. As a refinement on the previous iteration we hope to see the niggles around fit-and-finish addressed."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Introduction and Features

SilverStone Technology was one of the original manufacturers to enter the HTPC case market and they continue to offer one of the largest selections of HTPC enclosures available today. SilverStone currently offers 18 different HTPC enclosures spanning three different series including the Crown, Grandia and Lascala series. In addition to designing premium HTPC enclosures, SilverStone has a long-standing reputation among PC enthusiasts for providing a full line of high quality computer chassis, power supplies, cooling components, and accessories.

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(Courtesy of SilverStone)

The Crown Series CW02 HTPC chassis that we will be taking an in depth look at in this review is a beautiful enclosure capable of housing a full, high-end gaming system or media server and provides internal storage for up to six HDDs and comes with a built-in multifunction LCD display and remote control. The all aluminum alloy CW02 features elegant styling and is available with either a black or silver (clear) anodized finish, which is sure to blend in and compliment your other high-end, audio-video equipment.

Over the past several months I have received several inquiries from readers asking about a HTPC enclosure that is capable of housing a high-end gaming system or multi-media server. As one reader wrote; "I'm looking for a large, high quality HTPC case that will let me install my dual purpose gaming system and media server. It needs to have plenty of room for a full size ATX mobo, dual graphic cards, a large PSU, good case cooling and at least 5 internal 3.5" drive bays (four HDDs and one SSD)." At first glance it appears the CW02 may be just what this reader is looking for. Later on, we are going to install a high-end gaming system (water-cooled Intel i7 CPU, dual GTX680 graphics cards, 1000W PSU, and 12 Terabytes of storage space) into the CW02 enclosure; this should be fun.

Continue reading our review of the SilverStone Crown Series CW02 HTPC case!