Just completed my latest HTPC, about #10 I guess. Thought I might share some opinions and experiences.
First off this computer serves a lot of purposes as it is located on a boat : general use, runs marine navigation software, boat function monitoring and some gaming, mainly flight simulators and F1 racing syms and media functions. I see no reason why one computer can't fill several demanding roles and still be very quiet.Case
: Moneual 972 in silver.
Have used a couple of Antec Fusions previously and found them to be quite good overall but space limited. This time I wanted to use a full size ATX MB rather than an M-ATX. Pervious build was using Asus P8P67-M Pro which was very good, only lacking in expansion slots and crowded. The Monial case has a lot of room and I hoped it would fill the bill. The 7" LCD on the front looks cool and I thought it might be useful somehow, more on this later.MB
: Asus P8Z68 Deluxe
It has a ton of features.CPU
: Sandybridge 2600K CPU
Personal choice of available, 2500K might be about as good.PS
: Corsair 1200AX (modular)
Originally had HX750 but external controllers needed more 12V.
Never had a problem with a Corsair PS and it doesn't make a sound.OD
: Pioneer Blu-Ray 206MBK DVD
First BD I've had...works perfectlyBoot Drive
: "OCZ Vertex 3" 2x120g Raid 0 (OS and App software)
: 2 Hitachi K73000 Raid 0 (Data storage)
These are 7200 rpm Drives.
OK so far, but little hesitant on 3TB drives as they are running about 55c with lots of air circulation.
There are 2 additional external eSata drives containing GPS and Navigation data and some external controllers and swithing gear./HeatSinkFan
: Ended up using Noctua NH-C14
Wanted to use a Corsair water cooled unit but none of the 3 would really fit.
1st Noctua product and amazing quality. This thing is a work of art. It also fit even with those 2 huge fans. It is silent.Video Cards
: 2 MSI 560ti Frozen in SLI. (I can hear the groans) but It is totally silent and will do anything asked. First tried with MSI 460 GTS which was ok, but not up to the task. These things will fly and do not make any more noise, none actually unless the fans are above 90%, which they never reach. Video output is to 2 computer monitors and several Panasonic Commerical Plasma monitors all HDMI.Case Fans
: 2 70mm Enlobal magnetic bearing fans.....Silent !
2 90 mm Enlobal Silent
The case comes with 2 unknown 70mm rear fans that are, if not loud, certainly not quiet. The 70mm Enlobals fixed that.
This case has 4 90 mm fan mounts. One is taken by the sideways mounted PS and one is too close to the last PCIE Slot if it is used and almost too crowded anyway because of USB, Audio, and various other cables including 2 that must be routed out the back of the case. You could use it but it would be covered with wires.TV Tuners
: 3 internal PCIe Dual ATSC Avermedia (6 Tuners)
2 external HDHR Duals for a total of 10 ATSC turners
1 Avermedia PCI NTSC single tuner
1 satellite receiver for FTA and Sat weather
Would like it to control Dishnetwork reception and playback but not really practical at this time.
It was necessary for me to fabricate a different HD mount due to the location of the 2 that came with the case and were to mount on the case floor. I just used a dual HD mount from another case and mounted it atop the DVD Drive. There are a pair of SSD mounted on top of that. Cable management is a real pain with so many components and I am still working on it.
The pictures were taken with an early single video card setup and a couple of different items that ended up being changed and alot of stuff not installed. I dropped my camera.
One problem: the CPU cooler is pretty close to the top of the case. It is directly under the vents on the case top but is a lot larger than the vent. This is not a problem for cooling as the idle temp is in the low 30~35c range. Load temps are only 40~50c max on prime 95. This is with a CPU clock of 4.8GHZ. (This cpu will actually reach 5.0 ghz stable but I have backed it down a bit.)
The problem is fan noise due to turbulence caused by the upper CPU fan only being about3/4" from the top of the case. It you remove the lid or just prop it up a additional inch you cannot hear the fan. It is virtually silent. Adjusting the fan speed does not change the sound as it is strickly related to proximity to the case. It is not loud but you can hear it. I may try to enlarge or change the shape of the cooling vent but am not sure I want to get into that due to looks. I may cut a very large area of the top and cover it with black screen if I can do it neatly enough. I may be able to use a digitally controlled plasma cutter at a friends shop, if I can learn to use it !
Anyway there it is. I am pleased with it's performance. It is actually hardly audiable but I am fanatical in that respect.The Front LCD and Monial, and Soundgraph
: (maker of the LCD and software)
Soundgraph: The nicest thing I can say about them would be....not much.
The software for the LCD is about AWFUL. Trying is figure out how to install and use it....worse. The latest instructions were written in 2008 and really don't even cover the present version of software. There is really no way to determine which version to use how to install it or use the stuff. Take a look at their website and see the tons of software versions. I understand several of their forum users have committed suicide. Read some of their product literature....what language is that? Say what?
It is working, sorta of, and does look nice, I guess, but it is just too much trouble. I have spent ages to get it to this point and it just isn't that useful. If I could get it to display a radar image it might be worth it.
Monial: Uh, are they almost not there. I don't think they have any US presence, direct from Korea. Communication is more than difficult, What there is of it. Nice case construction and very hansome.
It is not in the boat yet but everything seems to be working. I will never build something this complicated again. There is about 1/2 a TB of software and getting it all to work together is a royal pain. Media center with a lot of add-on is pretty neat and works well. The latest version of "Tuner Salad" will let you install 12 tuners. To record and play back multiple streams really does require a lot of horse power. If you haven't ever tries HDMI splitters don't, if you don't have too. Ah, go ahead and build one. The challange will do you good.