I've had an Ahanix D.Vine 5 box under my TV for the best part of 5 years and its served me well but the Mrs has even approved a new one as ours has become a bit slow and noisy.
So, why not.
Stage 1 is scoping out the best case. So does anyone have any great recommendations for an HTPC case?
Obviously there are caveats as to what makes something great for one person is not great for another. Understood. But if you could build one from scratch and you've some information about the best box that you could use. Let me know.
Tell us more about the physical requirements (full ATX mobo, mini, micro, etc. etc. and PSU size), and whether you will be putting the HTPC inside a cabinet or out in the air. Also will you be doing any heavy load stuff like transcoding? Which OS/software platform?
I was a big fan of Antec cases at one time. Like all steel cases, they tend to be heavy. These days I like Fractal and Lian Li aluminum cases better. Weight can be an major issue for large HTPC cases housed in a component cabinet.
The first Antec HTPC case I purchased was an absolute disaster. It had a power supply with a reversed fan that blew hot air exhaust into the case. That overheated components and made all the other fans run at full speed. I ended up junking it after a couple of months. Their newer cases are better but it shows the pitfalls of relying on brand alone for making choices. Just like anything else, case makers can make good and bad products.
I've used cases similar to the Inwin BP655. (Previous models with same specs and interior layout.) While it's not a bad solution, there are better cases for use in an AV cabinet. The Inwin BP655 is narrower and deeper than the AV component standard. The Inwin cases are good for a budget build.
The other issue is the PSU. It's 200w so some care must be taken to keep CPU power moderate and avoid using a separate video card. It's also not 80+ rated. Replacement PSUs are available but an 80+ rated PSU will cost as much as the original case and PSU.
Also using an IN-WIN for my HTPC, the BK623 micro-ATX. Inexpensive ($75 including a 300 W power supply) and functional if your CPU load is low. Doing anything demanding makes it annoyingly loud as the fans spin up though (the CPU fan is ducted to the top and doubles as the main air intake).
Agreed. The ATX spec has not changed much in 5 years. Things like PSUs, drives and CPUs have improved a lot but will still fit in that case. I would be tempted replace the inside components with newer ones and keep the case.