|Thermaltake DH101 HTPC ATX Case VF7001BNS|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cases|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Monday, 05 November 2007|
Page 7 of 7
Thermaltake has done a terrific job of producing the DH101 and engineering it into a well-featured HTPC case with compatibility to use standard ATX hardware. I have long awaited the opportunity to spend more than just the time it takes to watch a rented movie on my new Sharp AQUOS LC-52D62U 52" 1080P HDTV, so I'm very pleased to have built an very nice HTPC out of the VF7001BNS chassis. I'm sure that my better half will enjoy recording high definition broadcast programming on the Terabyte-sized drive array I included; but personally I am all for playing Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts and World in Conflict on a giant HDTV joined via HDMI to a sound system boasting eight channels.
To me, that's what HTPC's are all about. If it can't fit a top-end video card and the motherboard I want, it can't fit my needs. So until Blu-Ray Disc and HD-DVD can finish their hopeless struggle for world dominance, I am going to enjoy the finer things in life without them. But on the other hand, it shouldn't take long before SATA-based hybrid optical drives make it to market. Shortly after they do, they will make it to my HTPC.
Conclusion: Thermaltake VF7001BNS
Thermaltake should consider packaging the DH101 into a retail box with more substantial foam protection. While the package itself was quite appealing, and equally informative to the consumer, the bottom had fallen out and there was barely enough Styrofoam to protect the case from drop damage (something most shippers offer at no additional cost). Aside from the need for a closed-cell foam alternative, there was a very nice scratch-less cloth included and the entire VF7001BNS was bagged in a scratch-protective cloth bag.
Appearance is a key component in HTPC cases, since they are looked at more than any other piece of computer hardware (except the display of course). So it's only fitting that Thermaltake concentrated its efforts on the DH101 and fashioned an HTPC case truly deserving of the most spectacular home theater systems assembled. Although the finish is limited to piano-black only, I can't complain because it perfectly matches all of the other home theater equipment I own.
In regards to construction, it would be safe to claim that the VF7001BNS has been overbuilt. As I repeatedly emphasised, most HTPC's get moved as often as you move your TV. So when Thermaltake added reinforcing beams and strengthening bridges to the DH101, you are ultimately assured that this HTPC ATX case can withstand whatever handling it receives.
Having the ability to house standard ATX components, power supply and motherboard included, I was especially pleased to have room for all of the same expansion hardware I would normally use in my mid-tower computer. The MediaLAB functionality added to my media center experience, and the LCD display on the DH101 was very appealing. Although the VF7001BNS adds the volume control knob and ten user-programmable hot-keys, I would still say that the VF7000BNS would make for a great alternative without them, too.
But with the good, comes the bad. Consider everything you have seen up to this point, and ask yourself what it would be worth if you found it in a standard ATX mid-tower case. There are a lot of similarities, too many in fact, and the construction is not all that different. Aside from a very nice LCD, there isn't too much separating this HTPC from a nice desktop case. So when I learned that the VF7001BNS sold for $270 at its best, I was a little shocked by the sticker price. Thermaltake put a lot of research and development into the entire Digital Home series, but I don't see the value of this case matching the price.
In conclusion, there are a lot of positive things to be said for the Thermaltake DH101 HTPC ATX case, model VF7001BNS. With standard ATX compatibility, it is great for the hardware enthusiast, gamer, or do-it-yourself builder. However the price is higher than the value, and that hurts my recommendation. Thermaltake has done a solid job of building the DH101 HTPC ATX case, now they just have to make the VF7001BNS affordable.
+ MediaLAB LCD Programming
Final Score: 8.75 out of 10.
Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.
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