If you want to build yourself a Home
Theatre PC (HTPC), there are a couple of routes to go. You can use a
regular desktop computer and add a few components to support TV and High
Definition output, or a Small Form Factor (SFF) barebones system and
build a miniature computer inside of it, or pick up a media center chassis which resembles
a big DVD or VCR player. The latter choice fits in nicely with other home theatre components. SFF PC cases are great in most situations, but if you want to integrate the HTPC in with your HD television and other DVD and stereo equipment then a toaster-sized box is the wrong shape. Media center cases have another advantage over SFF boxes, they work with microATX motherboards and full sized videocards.
As with regular desktop cases, there are a lot of HTPC style cases out there, unfortunately a lot of them are tacky. I don't know about you, but I certainly don't want an "eye catching" machine distracting me from watching a movie or playing games on my LCD TV. Fortunately there are a few companies out there with a sense of style who manufacture some nice HTPC cases.
Compared to most other manufacturers, GlacialTech is a relative newcomer to the computer industry and it's doing all the little things right. From its heatsinks to power supplies and of course computer cases, GlacialTech has been able to deliver decent products that are not chock-full of useless features.
At first glance the all-aluminum GlacialTech Altair A380 HTPC case reminds us of the
IBM desktop-style cases of yesteryear, except it's silver in colour. The styling
of the case will fit in just fine with the rest of your home entertainment
hardware, and on its own the Altair A380 blends into the background quite
nicely. The case supports ATX and m-ATX style motherboards, has an open 5.25"
drive bay and two hidden 3.5" HDD bays. GlacialTech also includes a small 270 W
power supply with the case, the only downside is that expansion slots are
horizontal, rather than half-height vertical.
if you're looking to build a high end HTPC system the Altair A380 is pretty swanky, and comes with a few features that make it very convenient too.
|GlacialTech Altair A380 Case
Instructions and necessary mounting
hardware, remote, batteries, optical drive bay cover, irDA sensor and card, media
card reader, 270W power supply.
Physically the aluminum GlacialTech Altair A380 case is 430 x 100 x 380mm in size. While the case is not very tall, it still has quite a large footprint. The case comes in either silver or black, so you can pick the colour that matches the rest your home entertainment hardware. The front panel is milled out of thick aluminum, while the remainder of the body is thinner aluminum sheet metal.
The Altair A380 is compatible with full size ATX motherboards, although it'll be a tight fit. Because of the chassis design, expansion options are placed horizontal and will require 90 degree riser card (not included), which can be difficult to track down.
There are two blue LED illuminated 60mm fans on either side of the case to exhaust out warm air, and plenty of venting on all other surface. There isn't room to add additional fans. Of course, being that the case is essentially 3U, large CPU coolers will not be compatible with the Altair A380 case. Stock AMD and Intel heatsinks will work just fine though.
As mentioned earlier there is a single open 5.25" drive
bay, and two internal 3.5" bays for HDDs. The lack of space shouldn't be an
issue, again the GlacialTech Altair A380 is designed to be a low profile
computer. You'll need tools to access the case and install the drives but that's
how it is with the majority of the cases.
Despite the exposed USB ports
and card reader, the front of the case looks clean and simple.
Edges are rather sharp in places, so take a little extra care when you're working inside the GlacialTech Altair A380. It's even sharp on the front of the case where you access the card reader and USB ports. With that said the USB and front audio ports connect to the motherboard via the available headers. The card "52 in 1" card reader (MS, SD, MMC, CF, MD, XM, SM, etc) also connects to the motherboard through an internal USB header, however a cable is not included with the package.