HTPC in a 1U or 2U case ? - my first build... - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 6 Old 07-02-2012, 10:49 AM - Thread Starter
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I have been following the AVS forum for ages, but only decided to post now! Thanks to everybody for so much good advice...

I am going to build my first HTPC w/ XBMC and am going to use a i3 SandyBridge CPU setup that ASSASSIN has suggested (I'm following his advice and build list)

I have a rack with all my AV gear in it, so I want to build a HTCP to fit in the rack. I also have a 6TB NAS, so I dont really need any storage inside the HTCP.

Has anybody build a HTCP using a 1U or 2U case? Any suggestions if I go this route?


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post #2 of 6 Old 07-02-2012, 11:23 AM
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I'll speak from my extensive research into this same topic. At 1u, you have to start looking at third party coolers for the CPU, as even the stock cooler will be too tall, I believe. Some types of memory are also too tall (think the ripjaws series with the passive cooling attached). Also, you typically will have to sacrifice expansion (PCI-e) slots. At 2U, you'll start seeing cases that will have 1 low profile PCI-e slot that requires the use of a riser card. This really is only a consideration if you plan on using a tuner card or dedicated graphics card (if you use sandy bridge or better, I suggest saving the slot for your tuner card). The only other consideration is that a smaller form factor means smaller fans. Smaller fans mean more noise with less airflow. If you have your rack in a closet or something like that, it won't be an issue. Otherwise you *might* be able to get away with a passively cooled 1U build, depending on the operating temp of the equipment in your rack.

If I had to build a 1U system:

micro/mini itx motherboard of your choosing
i3 2100 or T
third party cooler - something like this:
128GB (at least) SSD.

In a 2U:
Same as above, but you can keep the stock CPU fan
optional: Ceton Infinitv or other tuner card
1 large capacity hard drive (I know you said you have a nas but sometimes it's nice to have local storage).
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post #3 of 6 Old 07-03-2012, 09:22 AM
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I have my HTPC in a 2u case. Stock CPU cooler (i3-2100), full size ATX psu, microATX board, low profile gt 430 (no riser), SSD, 2.5" hdd, and a Blu-ray drive all fit fine with no problems. I can actually fit four 3.5 hdds instead of the 2.5" ones and still not have any issues. Though the one thing I'd recommend is getting a modular PSU. I didn't have one on hand and didn't feel like buying one, so there are a lot of wires stuffed under the Blu-ray drive that I'm not using.

Another thing to keep in mind is the sound on these cases. Most of them were made to be in server rooms. So if you're rack is in your theater, you're probably going to have to swap out the stock fans. In my case they sounded like a tornado. My rack is 30 ft from my theater, but I still had to swap the fans out because it was generally annoying.
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post #4 of 6 Old 07-03-2012, 09:50 AM
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Note that the Dynatron fan is very noisy, I got one a few years back for any older processor and it quickly got moved to my unusable junk box. If your 1U will be in a closet with good sound-proofing, then it may work. As scl23enn4m3 stated, the case fans on a rack server will also be loud. The PSU fan will most likely be loud too, although you can switch it out for a PicoPSU instead... From my server experience, the smaller the server case, the louder the fans are inorder to move the same amount of air...
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post #5 of 6 Old 07-04-2012, 10:45 AM
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I had my HTPC in a 1U rack mount case for a while... used a passive dynatron 1U heatsink... perfectly silent....
of course the little 40mm fans they use to cool the 1U case sounded like a jet powered lawn mower... but you need the airflow to cool the passive heatsink...

NOTE: As one wise professional something once stated, I am ignorant & childish, with a mindset comparable to 9/11 troofers and wackjob conspiracy theorists. so don't take anything I say as advice...
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post #6 of 6 Old 07-04-2012, 08:05 PM
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2u is pretty easy. 1u has a lot of compromises. I have rack space, so I'm actually planning a 4u build with a shallow case.
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