DIY HD HTPC Extravaganza - Part 1: The Cases

Too Many Choices?

The last time we took a crack at building a Home Theatre PC (HTPC), we opted for a slimline case from Hiper. However, this resulted in many problems with hardware installation and heat dissipation inside the case. Since then, numerous other vendors have introduced new cases designed specifically for Home Theatre PC (HTPC) use, so we thought it was time to build another HTPC!

As before, we want to create a quiet Windows Media center-based HTPC suitable for living room use that can play back a wide variety of video and audio formats. Our HTPC should also be able to record and play back HDTV content and play standard DVDs. This PC must also support a wireless remote control or a wireless keyboard that can easily handle all Windows and multimedia functions without having to jump through too many hoops. Finally, we want the selected hardware components to integrate into the HTPC easily with a minimum of unpleasant surprises during assembly and testing.

In this first part of a multi-part series, we'll take a look at the latest crop of HTPC cases.

Black and silver are undoubtedly the dominant colours for HTPC cases which are constructed similarly to normal "tower" cases using steel, aluminium and plastic as the dominant materials. A new trend for front panel doors seems to be the use of aluminium instead of plastic, which improves the general look and feel of the cases.

Some of our contenders also include a front-panel display, which is used to display information about the system or its files, and sometimes includes an IR receiver for a multifunction remote control.