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Thread: Minimalist mATX chassis for HTPC

  1. #1
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    Default Minimalist mATX chassis for HTPC

    I'm finally getting around to building a HTPC and would like to go the SFF route with the new AMD E350 integrated motherboards. The problem I've always had is finding a suitably attractive chassis for the thing at a reasonable price.
    I'm a big fan of Origen AE and specifically the chassis in that link, but I'm way too fond of having both kidneys to consider going that route.
    Lian Li do the cube chassis that can be picked up for around R700, which I'm considering, though they would need to stand next to the TV stand as it doesn't have space for anything quite that high. I can't hide it away behind one of the doors in the stand either, as ventilation and heat would become serious issues then.

    So my question: does anyone know of a decent, affordable HTPC mATX chassis that isn't ugly as hell?

    Regards

  2. #2

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    The E350 motherboards that I have seen in the press have had a mITX form factor. If this applies to the board you have selected then you can go for an even smaller chassis than a mATX - always a help when trying to fit it in on a TV stand. Prophecy have a lot of them listed if you want to browse. Go to Computer cases > mini-ITX / ..

    Link: <http://www.prophecy.co.za/computer-cases-miniitx-microatx-cases-c-10_1414.html>

    There a couple of nice Antec cases which are very small due to having external power supplies. They will only accept low profile optical drives however. There is a Thermaltake with an internal power supply to keep things tidy and it looks like it takes an ordinary optical drive. Also nice stuff from Lian Li and Coolermaster. All of these cases are smaller than the Origen AE that you were looking at.

    If you really want a mATX case then I have had very good experiences with the Antec NSK 2400 / 2480 for HTPC use.

  3. #3
    Super Grandmaster TJ99's Avatar
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    Lian Li stuff is way overpriced, as usual. Also they normally don't have power supplies built in so you'll need to find one that fits.

    Here are a few options, just click on the price column to sort them from cheapest to insane.
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    Was considering this but I honestly don't require the expansion slots. I'd like to stick to a big brand when it comes to the motherboard though and these can be had for around R1200. If you guys have mITX suggestions, that would be good too. The only issue I have with the mITX chassis is heating issues that seemingly arise with them.

  5. #5
    Super Grandmaster TJ99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Messugga View Post
    Was considering this but I honestly don't require the expansion slots. I'd like to stick to a big brand when it comes to the motherboard though and these can be had for around R1200. If you guys have mITX suggestions, that would be good too. The only issue I have with the mITX chassis is heating issues that seemingly arise with them.
    Sapphire Pure Fusion Mini E350, it's about R1500. That's if you really want to go the AMD route. Reviews say they're not that much faster than the Atoms, which cost less than half the price, so it depends what you want.
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    Well, there's a big difference between an Atom and an Ion setup. I wouldn't mind going Ion either. In fact, NVidia has vastly superior Linux driver support, so I'd even say I'd prefer it. I just don't want to get a Zotac. Price wise, the ones I've seen are also R1500+.

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    Super Grandmaster TJ99's Avatar
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    Technically, the ION's are still Atom CPU's just with better graphics chips, but I get your point.

    Here's a much cheaper E350 mini ITX board:

    http://rebeltech.co.za/index.php?mai...oducts_id=7320

    Only R 1063
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJ99 View Post
    Technically, the ION's are still Atom CPU's just with better graphics chips, but I get your point.

    Here's a much cheaper E350 mini ITX board:

    http://rebeltech.co.za/index.php?mai...oducts_id=7320

    Only R 1063
    Ah, great stuff. Spotted that one on Jump.co.za. It doesn't seem like the boards are really available in SA yet though?

  9. #9

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    Looked at an Atom based system for my last HTPC build - the idea of a small mITX case was appealing. I first tried out using a netbook (Intel graphics) plugged into a full HD TV to see how well the idea would work. This netbook was running Ubuntu. With software like XBMC and Boxee it was obvious that the platform was very close to the edge on SD movies and impossible with HD. An Ion based motherboard or the E350 should be better, but it will probably be only a limited time before you outgrow one of these. If you can get access to a netbook this is a worthwhile experiment just to see how you like it. Another drawback of the Atom is that the motherboards normally have two SATA ports - not enough for an HTPC.

    I finally went for an i3 based system using the integrated graphics and was happy to have made the choice. The new i3-2100T will however push up your system cost by almost R1 000 compared to what you are currently thinking of. The power consumption should not be an issue though, the new i3 has an overall efficiency similar to the Atom / E350 <http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/core-i3-2100t_11.html>

    Finally getting back to the case. A mATX desktop case will have a major impact on your AV rack. They are bigger than any home theater amp and very deep. You particularly need to check the latter dimension to see if it will fit. If you can live with a tower case next to the rack this could be a better idea - I am thinking of going back to this layout.

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