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Review: Alternative HTPC Case
May 8, 2005
Author: Geno Manufacturer: Athenatech
Department: HTPC-SFF Model: A601BS.Q350
Article Type: Review Time Spent: 6 weeks
 
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Introduction




With the explosion in Home Theater PC’s, the prevalent trend has been to stuff them into ever smaller, ever hotter home electronics look alike cases. Recently, a friend asked me to build an HTPC. When I showed him his choices in cases, he asked, “Does it have to go in one of those puny things?” Right then it occurred to me that it really didn’t. A compact mid tower with a complimentary color scheme would be better in many ways. With a standard PSU, more room for expansion and air flow, and prices more in line with reality, we are looking at a case that fits the bill nicely from Athenatech.

Today we are going to examine the case itself. In a follow up article on building a quality HTPC, we will cover parts selection and the actual building of our machine. It will also focus on stability, OS selection, sound levels, and a few other key aspects.
Specifications
 
Brand
Athenatech
Model
A601BS.Q350
Type
ATX Mid Tower
Color
Black/Silver
Case Material
Steel
Power Supply
350W
Motherboard Compatibility
ATX
Side Panel Window
No
External 5.25" Drive Bays
4
External 3.5" Drive Bays
2
Internal 3.5" Drive Bays
3
Expansion Slots
7
Front Ports
USB, Audio
Fans
1 X 120mm
Dimensions
7" x 16.3" x 17.5" (WxHxD)
 
Packaging and Box Contents


Our case arrived from Newegg unscathed and securely packaged in a thick walled plain brown cardboard box. Inside was our case securely held in place by foam and wrapped in plastic. There was also a power cord, feet, and assorted screws and clips, etc. Also included was a little speaker that plugs into the motherboard in lieu of a traditional and bulky speaker.


The Case Front


As you can see, the case is mostly black with a bit of silver for accent. The paint quality is good overall and not so flashy as to detract from the subdued aesthetic we want for a living room. Starting at the top, we have four external 5.25 inch optical drive bays. Below those are two 3.5 inch floppy bays. Next up are the power and reset buttons. Surrounding the power button is a clear plastic bezel that lights up to indicate the power is on. It is bright enough to see, but not so bright as to be annoying in a darkened room.

Below the power and reset button, we find a louvered and screened air vent for which there is no fan included. If you choose to install one, select a quiet fan. Rounding out the front at the bottom is a small hinged plastic door that hides a pair of USB ports and an auxiliary set of sound plugs if your motherboard or sound card supports them. The door is plastic, but is sturdy enough to last a long time. It also closes securely.


 
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For me, an HTPC case should be:
A stylish mid tower is fine.
It has to look like other home electronics equipment.
Looks? Big deal, it is all about performance.
Small, unobtrusive.
 
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