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nMedia System HTPC 180 & 280 Enclosures E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cases
Written by Olin Coles   
Friday, 15 September 2006
Table of Contents: Page Index
nMedia System HTPC 180 & 280 Enclosures
Closer Look: HTPC 180SA Exterior
Closer Look: HTPC 180SA Interior
Closer Look: HTPC 280BA Exterior
Closer Look: HTPC 280BA Interior
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

nMedia HTPC Case Introduction

The term HTPC may not be familiar to most readers or even be common place in computer and technology discussions, yet it is something which most everyone wants without even knowing it. HTPC, or Home Theater Personal Computer, is the professional name for personal computers which have but one very specific duty: enrich the home theater environment. Gamers, movie buffs, music lovers, and couch potatoes all stand to enjoy themselves a little more through the refined enclosures designed to help your PC blend in and be part of the team resting near the entertainment center.

If you already play video games, watch movies, listen to music, or record television on your personal computer, then your computer is just one step away from looking the way it acts. This is where the HTPC enclosure market has taken keen note and met the needs of the home theater and computer enthusiast with a variety of stylish computer cases. Now, with many of the most current enclosures being build with IR remote compatibility and Media Center components in mind, it makes perfect sense to build it yourself.nMedia System Logo

There is a company out there that is thinking of you, and they have built a line of enclosures that will have you replacing your DVD player, DVR, and stereo, all for a stylish HTPC. This company is nMedia System. Like most emerging companies that have made a success in the enthusiast market, nMedia System originate from overseas. With offices in Hong Kong and GunagZhou, China, as well as a stateside presence in Fremont, California, nMedia System offers a wealth of research and development for their enthusiast line of products.

In this review, I will reveal the new nMedia System HTPC 180SA and the slightly larger HTPC 280BA enclosures for Home Theater Personal Computers. You can expect that the quality and craftsmanship of these cases will receive thorough testing, and the optional features such as the IR remote integration and cooling fan noise control will demand close inspection. In addition, I have paired these two cases with similar HTPC components, and put them all into action using the new Windows Vista (RC1) Ultimate Edition's Media Center functionality.
Features and Specifications:

nMedia System HTPC-280SA

HTPC 180 Specifications:

Models: HTPC 180BA (Black) and HTPC 180SA (Silver)
Dimensions: 15.5"(W) x 5.4"(H) x 15"(D)
Material: Aluminum & Steel Construction
Form Factor Support: Micro-ATX (9.6" x 9.6")
Power Supply Support: Includes NMEDIAPC 300W Super Silent Micro-ATX (20+4 pins/90mm fan)
Drive Bays: (1) 5.25" for Optical Drive, (3) 3.5" for Hard Disks
Expansion Bays: 4 Slots - Full Size
Cooling: 60mm Silent Case Fan at rear, CPU Air Duct on top panel
Front I/O Ports: All-in-1 Card Reader (Internal USB), IEEE 1394, (2) USB 2.0, Audio Mini-Jacks,
Non-programmable backlit LCD display with fan speed controller (CPU Temp & Fan RPM)

HTPC 180 Special Features:

• MCE Receiver rack with internal USB adapter (receiver not included)
• S/PDIF Output Jack
• CPU Overheat and fan out-of-order alarm functions
• Fan speed control

nMedia System HTPC-180SA

HTPC 280 Specifications:

Models: HTPC 280BA (Black) and HTPC 280SA (Silver)
Dimensions: 17"(W) x 5.25"(H) x 16"(D)
Material: Aluminum & Steel Construction
Form Factor Support: Micro-ATX (9.6" x 9.6")
Power Supply Support: ATX 2.0 Standard
Drive Bays: (1) 5.25" for Optical Drive, (3) 3.5" for Hard Disks
Expansion Bays: 4 Slots - Full Size
Cooling: (2) 60mm Silent Case Fans at rear, 80mm HDD fan, CPU Air Duct on top panel
Front I/O Ports: All-in-1 Card Reader (Internal USB), IEEE 1394, (2) USB 2.0, Audio Mini-Jacks,
Non-programmable backlit LCD display with fan speed controller (CPU Temp & Fan RPM), AV Capture Component & S-Video (RCA), Audio (RCA) Inputs
20 x 2 VL System Media Center Edition (MCE) Programmable VFD with Internal USB Connector (Optional)

HTPC 180 Special Features:

• MCE Receiver rack with internal USB adapter (receiver not included)
• S/PDIF Output Jack
• CPU Overheat and fan out-of-order alarm functions
• Fan speed control
From these specifications you can see that both enclosures are suited for Micro-ATX form factor motherboards, and both have MCE-ready IR receiver racks. In addition, both have an eye-catching backlit LCD display, which reads the CPU temp via a wired temperature probe and monitors the CPU cooling fan speed along with a fan speed control dial. Only the HTPC 280 offers hard drive cooling and an optional VFD (Vacuum Formed Display), and allows room for a full-size ATX power supply unit.

Component Compatibility

Motherboard Selection
Form Factor:
• HTPC 100, 180, 200 & 280 -- Micro ATX
• HTPC 300 & 400 -- Full ATX
Onboard (Internal) USB Connector:
• Suggest minimum 2 10xpins Headers that support 4 USB Ports
• The 4 USB ports can serve the two front USB ports, 9-in-1 Card Reader, IR Receiver and VFD/LCD module
Onboard (Internal) IEEE 1394 Firewire Connector:
• Suggest minimum 1 for the front IEEE 1394 Firewire port

Motherboard list that supports HTPC 100, 180 200 & 280
Intel Socket LGA775
• Intel D945GTP Executive Series
• Intel D945GTPLR Media Series
• Intel D945GTPLKR Media Series
• Intel D925XBCLK Media Series
• Intel BLKDG965SSCK
• Intel BOXDG965SSCK
• Intel BOXDQ965GFEKR
• ASUS P5L-VM 1394
• ASUS P5B-VM
• GIGABYTE GA-8I945GMF
• Gigabyte GA-8I945GMH-RH
• ABIT LG-80
• Foxconn 945G7MA-8EKRS2
• Foxconn 945G7MA-8EKRS2H
• Foxconn 915M03-G-8EKRS2
• ECS 945G-M3 (1.0b)
Intel Socket 479 (Mobile CPU)
• Aopen i915GMm-HFS
• AOpen i945GTm-VHL
• ASUS N4L-VM DH
AMD64 Socket 754
• ASUS K8V-MX
• DFI K8M800-MLVF
• ECS C51G-M754
• MSI RS480M-IL
• GIGABYTE GA-K8N51GMF
AMD64 Socket 939
• DFI RS482 INFINITY
• Foxconn NF4K8MC-EKRS
• Foxconn 6150K8MA-8EKRS
• ECS RS480M V1.0
• ECS RS482-M (1.0A)
• GIGABYTE GA--K8N51GMF-9
• MSI RS482M4-ILD
• MSI K8NGM2-FID
• ECS RS480-M V1.0
• ASUS A8N-VM CSM
• eVGA 131-K8-NF44-AX
AMD64 Socket AM2
• ASUS M2NPV-VM
• Gigabyte GA-M51GM-S2G
• MSI K9NGM2-FID

The thing that makes a difference in selecting the motherboard for HTPC 100, 180, 200 & 280 is the IEEE 1394 Firewire port. It is very fast external bus standard that supports data transfer rates of up to 400Mbps (in 1394a). One of the most use application in a HTPC system is to connect the digital camcorder so that you can capture video file directly to hard disk in real time without using the A/V cables.

For example, let say you are planning to use LGA Socket 775 Intel CPU processor, there are only 4 boards on the Intel official website that support an onboard IEEE 1394a port. (allow you to connect the front 1394 port internally to the motherboard) If you don't plan to use the IEEE 1394 port, you will have more than 50 choices of Micro-ATX motherboard.



 

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