Help with small HTPC case

Enclosures, modding, blowholes, and the power needed to run it all.

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Help with small HTPC case

Postposted on Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:45 am

Dear TRs,

My son is growing (which is good) but that also means that he can reach higher up (which is good as well, but also bad for whatever fragile object he gets his hands on). So I want to move my HTPC/file server/Web server higher up because I got some critical stuff running on there and can't have him bother with that machine. In order to do that, I would really like to shrink the case from what is currently a big and airy Silverstone. But I haven't found the perfect replacement yet, so I thought I'd ask you folks for help.

What's important is that I need 1x2.5" (SSD) and 2x3.5" (redundant storage) bays, no more, no less (meaning no optical drive). The current board is microATX and the CPU an undervolted dual-core Sandy Bridge. I use a picoPSU for silence and efficiency. So I'm looking for the smallest case I can fit that hardware into and cool it silently (full system power at load is < 70W on the outlet). If anybody has an idea, it would be highly appreciated.

cheers!
esterhasz
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Re: Help with small HTPC case

Postposted on Fri Feb 17, 2012 1:39 pm

please provide a link to your current silverstone case so we can scale down from there. Also, a link to the picoPSU you're using would be helpful.

One more thing, are you stuck on the microATX board? grabbing a miniITX would save space as far as case sizes.
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DPete27
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Re: Help with small HTPC case

Postposted on Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:04 pm

Q1) What expansion cards are you using, if any?
Q2) Is it connected with ethernet or WiFi?
Q3) How ventilated is the area around the case? Is it an open shelf, or something more restricted like a book case?

Here's another thing to consider during placement. I thought I had done a good job (a) placing a home server up high, (b) protecting the outlets, and (c) avoiding dangling cords that could be yanked down. But the UPS wasn't tucked away quite far enough, and my son crawled over and hit its power button. It was a brightly illuminated orange button that compelled him to pursue it.
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Re: Help with small HTPC case

Postposted on Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:52 am

Hey guys, thanks for taking the time!

Current case is an LC 17 - http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.p ... 82&area=en - it doesn't get much bigger I guess.

The picoPSU is basically just and adapter for an external power brick - http://www.silentpcreview.com/article601-page1.html - that can go in any case for sure.

I have no expansion cards, and the machine is connected by Ethernet.

For the area around the case, that depends how small I can get it. Perfect thing would be to get it into an Ikea "Billy" shelf and put the cables on the backside.

Finally, yes, I'd consider changing motherboards for miniITX - but nearly all of the ITX cases I've looked at can't handle the three drives...

cheers!
esterhasz
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Re: Help with small HTPC case

Postposted on Sat Feb 18, 2012 9:23 am

esterhasz wrote:I'd consider changing motherboards for miniITX - but nearly all of the ITX cases I've looked at can't handle the three drives.
There's the Lian-Li PC-Q08, but it's a giant for mini-ITX. Here's a review: http://www.silentpcreview.com/article1074-page1.html

I believe that you're better off with micro-ATX. Do you like a chunky cube like the Silverstone SG02 or a slim-line desktop like the In-Win BL631 ?
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Re: Help with small HTPC case

Postposted on Sat Feb 18, 2012 10:08 am

I've built with one of these cases before. It holds a full ATX mobo, standard ATX PSU, and has room for your 3 drives if you purchase a couple of these to put your 3.5" hdd's in. And it has a 120mm fan for low noise. I got mine for $40 and free shipping.

If you're up for a miniITX conversion, I would recommend this case which has two 3.5" bays as well as two 2.5" bays along with front panel USB 3.0 (your mobo will need to have an internal USB 3.0 header) and a nice big 140mm fan. It is a bit on the pricey side, but I do like the understated appearance. Without knowing your budget, Lian Li and Silverstone are by far the best small form factor case makers, but you definetly pay for it.
i5-3570K, ASRock Z77 Pro4-m, Asus GTX660 TOP, 120 GB Vertex 3 Max IOPS, 2 TB Samsung EcoGreen F4, 8GB G-Skill @1.25V, Silverstone PS07B
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Re: Help with small HTPC case

Postposted on Sun Feb 19, 2012 1:23 am

esterhasz wrote:Hey guys, thanks for taking the time!

I absolutely love your forum nickname... Did you by chance take it from an Aloysius Pendergast based novel by Lincoln Child & Douglas Preston?
thegleek
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Re: Help with small HTPC case

Postposted on Sun Feb 19, 2012 2:51 am

Thanks for the suggestions!

The SG02 looks like the rational choice, I could easily get all my old hardware in there and as I would not be using the PSU space, even the cooler should be fine. But hell, the PC-Q11B looks really awfully nice!

I also stumbled over http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811112222&Tpk=351b which would be good for shelf fitting, but already on the big side again.

I absolutely love your forum nickname... Did you by chance take it from an Aloysius Pendergast based novel by Lincoln Child & Douglas Preston?


Tnx! No, I just love how Hungarian names sound ,-)

Edit: Just found out that I can't go Mini-ITX - 4x4GB Ram (the machine does heavy SQL crunching, hence the RAM). Had completely forgotten that detail...
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Re: Help with small HTPC case

Postposted on Mon Feb 20, 2012 10:29 pm

I second DPete27's suggestion! If you don't mind getting an ITX board, the PC-Q11B would be a great choice. I have it in the living room right now, unboxed. It is awfully nice, and you could fit an ATX PSU in there if you don't want to mess with the external power brick (perhaps a fanless one)! I was planning on getting a Llano system for it (HTPC) but at the last moment I decided that I'd just wait until Trinity and Ivy Bridge are out so it'll hopefully do even better with casual games at 1080p (come onnnnn Steam, get that Big Picture mode done already!).

Anyway, it's well-built, will hold your drives, has USB 3.0 on the front, has rubber grommet thingies for the hard drive mounts, and is smaller than your current case. How much smaller? Convert some inches to mms here:

425 mm (W) x 170 mm (H) x 425 mm (D) (yours)
200 mm (W) x 326 mm (H) x 260 mm (D) (Q11B)

.031 m3
.017 m3

0.014 m3 difference, or half a cubic foot or so, depending on which you can visualize. Make sure it's not too tall (it's much taller than your current box).

/edit: I just checked, and Newegg has the height wrong (12.4" — it's actually 325 mm, LL say 326 — either way, Newegg's almost half an inch short).

/edit 2: after looking around, I see that people are saying some of the versions came ONLY with an internal USB 3.0 motherboard connector as opposed to external pass-through connectors with a optional internal Y-adapter. Mine came with pass-through connectors and a Y-cable that terminates in a 20-pin USB 3.0 motherboard connector. WEIRDLY, when I go to Newegg (where I bought it from) to look, their product image shows that it comes with a Y-cable converting to a 2x5-pin USB 2.0 mobo connector.

Could it be that LL has shipped two different kinds of Y-cables with this product, and none at all?

:-?

/edit 3: Newegg sells a white version of that case, too, the PC-Q11A. In those photos it actually appears slightly off-white, like some beige got mixed in. Haha! If that's not an artifact of their lighting setup, that's got a funny retro vibe to it! I wonder if that was intentional? The Lian-Li site for the product doesn't have the beige tint... hm. Oh well.

/edit 4: oh god, I need to go for a run. Newegg is also apparently using the wrong code for the white version of this case. PC-Q11A should be the unpainted one (aluminium) whereas the white should be PC-Q11W. It's a possibility that they are actually selling the aluminium model and they're using the wrong images, but those look like staff shots, so I'll wager they're just using the wrong code.

/edit 5: would you look at that? Newegg lists the PC-Q11W as discontinued and refers to it as the "Silver Aluminum" model. Haha! Oh, retail.

/edit 6: and you can't use it anyway. Ah well! You could get 2x8GB but... it looks like the cheapest one is $109 (it's 10-10-10-28 1600).
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Re: Help with small HTPC case

Postposted on Tue Feb 21, 2012 2:45 am

This old thread may prove helpful:
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=69599
i7-4770K, H70, Gryphon Z87, 16 GiB, R9-290, SSD, 2 HD, Blu-ray, SB ZX, TJ08-E, SS-660XP², 3007WFP+2001FP, RK-9000BR, MX518
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Re: Help with small HTPC case

Postposted on Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:54 pm

HEAD'S UP, that Lian Li PC-V351B case is scheduled for newegg's shell shocker at 3:00PM PST today.
i5-3570K, ASRock Z77 Pro4-m, Asus GTX660 TOP, 120 GB Vertex 3 Max IOPS, 2 TB Samsung EcoGreen F4, 8GB G-Skill @1.25V, Silverstone PS07B
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