When the time to choose an HTPC case, many boxes are proposed and the question of which one is the most suited to your needs arise.What size? What brand? What color and what options?
It is sometimes difficult to browse. Follow this Guide:
The aesthetic? Personal or family choice
There are several materials used in HTPC enclosures. This important decision will be primarily based on your aesthetic preferences.
Boxes of metal (steel) and plastic: These boxes are not necessarily the most aesthetic, but they have a good value for money.
Housings with a brushed aluminum front panel, can enjoy a beautiful front, design, suitable for a Home Theater environment for a competitive price.
Finally come the boxes made entirely of brushed aluminum. In addition to a refined design and high-end, the material dissipates heat which reduces the anoying noise.
Regarding colors, there are the standards Black or Silver. The choice is made based solely on user preferences and the environment in which the Media Center will be built in. Gold Boxes can be exceptionally great and more recently acrylic boxes or multiple colors can then be presented (White, red …)
Many shapes and sizes of boxes are available.
The most common case is the horizontal (or Desktop) which is usually a format Hi-Fi with a wide frontage of about 40cm which is adapted to furniture like home theater.
There are also very thin and compact boxes to make micro Media Centers or, conversely, the most impressive to include many components or certain forms cubic or vertical.
At this point all depends on your needs, your space and your aesthetic.
The different cases:
Looking for a discreet box with basic functionality?
If you are looking for a discreet box that will fit a small space like a bedroom or kitchen while providing basic functionality, then the boxes called “nano” with their light weight, a compact format motherboard ( Mini ITX) will suit you perfectly.
These boxes can have all the features that Media Center can offer like watch TV, videos, listen to music, browse the Internet … Because of their small size, they are easy to integrate or to conceal.
However, their small size creates some limitations especially in terms of the evolution of features. Generally, these boxes will allow you to add a single optional component (expansion card). Moreover, these boxes are not suitable for gaming and storage capacity is more limited.
In some cases we also note the presence of smaller fans running faster resulting in more noise.
These boxes are suitable for basic use but remain limited in their evolution.
Looking for a compact and scalable?
If you want to purchase a compact HTPC case but can still achieve a change in features, mini boxes cases supports a Micro ATX motherboard as you wish.
These cases get god reviews from the users because they are most suitable for common uses of a Media Center and has a good quality/price line.
These boxes will accommodate versatile storage space (hard drives) and significant expansion cards, TV tuner, sound card, WIFI etc. to meet most needs and uses.
Looking for a case with maximum versatility?
If you plan to assemble a highly scalable media center by involving the most powerful components, the most impressive HTPC enclosures in general, supporting an ATX format motherboard may be the best option you have.
These enclosures are high enough to accommodate many sizes of major components. Note particularly that these boxes generally welcome a dedicated video card that will provide more power to the Media Center to the smoothly play the latest video games.
Because the volume available, these cases allow you to plug the most powerful components while enjoying a dissipation and ventilation capacity preserving the noise pollution.
What options for confort?
Most cases come with a remote control for ease of use.
You can choose to have a simple case with a screenless front but there are cases with LCD or VFD (multimedia design and hi-fi) which gives the users the ease of reading, and allows for example to know the music song title that is playing without looking into the Media center.
Some enclosures include a touch screen allowing optimal use. No need to switch on your TV every time, you can navigate your media center directly through the cases’s touch screen.
Most cases offer the front connectors most commonly used like USB, Firewire and audio/video or card reader. This allows easy access. These connectors may be visible on conventional cases or hidden behind a trap door on the higher-end boxes.
Some cases come equipped with optical drives, more or less hidden by level range.
For easy access, navigation buttons (play, pause, volume …) are integrated into the front according to the models of boxes.