Ahanix MCE701 (built in touch screen) mini review - AVS Forum
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Old 08-07-2006, 03:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Perhaps some of you have seen this new HTPC enclosure from Ahanix with a built-in touch screen:

Ahanix MCE701

The price was right (much cheaper than the Silverstone LC18), my old HTPC (in a Digitalis home theater case) had died, and the missus approved a full new purchase. So I got one, set it up over the weekend, and am now enjoying the results.

Overall, it's a great case, made mostly from machined aluminum. You can get it in black or silver, I got the silver. It looks very nice in the home theater rack, and the touchscreen rocks! A great way to nav through MCE if you don't want to have your hdtv on all the time you use it.

A couple of notes:

* Setting up this enclosure is not for the inexperienced homebrew PC maker. The documentation is sparse to the point of ridiculous, three slender pages of highlevel pictures and about 50 words max. There is no information whatsoever about the touchscreen, or about the front panel connectors. Compounding this is the fact that the USB and firewire connections are the "we broke out each pin individually so have fun" variety. The ASUS Qconnector system that comes with ASUS motherboards and gives you a little labelled brick was very helpful in doing this.

* The touchscreen driver CD they include is painfully out of date, like four generations old. It wouldn't even recognize the panel. I sleuthed out a new set of drivers at
this site

which worked great.

* At least for my Pioneer DVR-109 DVD burner, the cutout for the DVD slot is too low (or the burner tray too high) to use the included aluminum replacement slot cover.

* In general there is lots of room in the case, and very good airflow, with two 80mm rear fans right where they should be. One oddity is the vertical drive bay right behind the touch panel. By this I mean that the drives get mounted vertically.

* Sliding the enclosure lid on is harder than it should be.

* The screen is surprisingly good, and highly usable with the 10ft interface. Although it will accept a 1280x720 signal, I am running it at 960x600 so that Windows itself is viewable - at 720p it's just too tiny to see. Touch screen with MCE is good, but could use some interface tweaking for touchscreen use. I understand this is coming with Vista Media Center.

* There are some bizarro unexplained buttons below the touchscreen. The only useful one is the auto correct screen position.

* What's inside:

AMD X2 4600 AM2 slot
ASUS M2N-SLI
2 gigs DDR2/800 RAM
400 gigs of HD space
NVIDIA 6800 (had to economize somewhere)
Auzentech Xplosion 7.1
HDTV Wonder
Theater Pro 550

Happy to post any pictures if anyone wants to see.

wn
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Old 08-07-2006, 05:25 PM
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Yes, pic plz.

Can you take a couple shots with screen on? A 7" touch screen case for $350 that's more affordable compare to LC18.

btw, what's the cpu/case temp when watching movie?

thanks,
~joy
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Old 08-07-2006, 06:30 PM
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Thanks for the mini-review! Found out about it a month ago, but I was skeptical of the quality at that price. You've convinced me otherwise.
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Old 08-07-2006, 07:03 PM
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So you are running the touchscreen in a different resolution then your TV right? Then do you have it extended, it can't be cloned if the resolutions are different right?
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Old 08-07-2006, 09:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpHeRe31459 View Post

So you are running the touchscreen in a different resolution then your TV right? Then do you have it extended, it can't be cloned if the resolutions are different right?

So it's not connected at all to my TV right now - I need to get a VGA splitter. Once I do, I'll set the whole thing to 1280x720 - the touchscreen accepts it, even though it's not the native res. So I'll go 720p to both which should be fine.

I'm using the lower res because the PC itself is still burning in and I'm tweaking settings, so I need to see the non-10ft text
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Old 08-08-2006, 08:27 AM - Thread Starter
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So here are some (admittedly poor) pictures. You will note that the thing that's really evident is that the DVD drive doesn't have the matching aluminum slot cover, so it looks unfinished. I'm trying to figure out whether the Pio drive is just different from other drives, or whether I'm doing it wrong, or whether the slot cover is just not made right. The total lack of instructions doesn't help .

Still very happy. My wife loves the constantly running My Pictures slideshow on the touch screen - so does my kid.

Also, for the person who asked - core temps are 36-41, including when playing DVD video. A whole lot cooler than my barton 2500, which basically heated the house.

Will
LL
LL
LL
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Old 08-08-2006, 11:53 AM
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I bought this case as well. Everything is just as you said.
But I hit one problem that I cannot solve at all. The LCD resolution seems to be restricted at 640x480. I am using a NVidia 7600GS graphics card. From the NVidia Display properties, the highest resolution is 640x480. I cannot go any higher. The LCD driver being used by Windows is the default plug-n-play display driver. I even tried to force Windows to use Digital Flat Panel (1280x1024) driver and but when I select the 1280x1024 resolution, the LCD can only display part of the Windows only (which indicates the LCD is still running in 640x480).

wnpublic,
Were you able to get that 960x600 resolution out of the box without tweaking any Windows or Graphics card's driver?
Thanks.
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Old 08-08-2006, 12:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyheha View Post

wnpublic,
Were you able to get that 960x600 resolution out of the box without tweaking any Windows or Graphics card's driver?
Thanks.

So I seem to recall this being a problem at first as well. You need to go to the Display Properties-Settings-Advanced-Monitor tab and uncheck "Hide modes that this monitor cannot display." Click ok and then reopen the properties box again. That gave me all the choices, and everything I tried worked. I have an NVIDIA 6800, so it should work for your better 7600 card.

Maybe you can help me. Does the DVD slot cover fit correctly on your dvd drive? If so, which model DVD are you using?

Thanks
WN
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Old 08-08-2006, 10:00 PM
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I just got this case, and can't get the system to POST at all - just tried two different MBs, all new hardware. The power wire has a little dongle on it - does that go anywhere or just hang there? If that does nothing, I think I'll try another PS next.

I tried the latest NEC optical, and it did not fit as posted. Voodoo PC uses this case (actually the Orgin AE version with the chrome feet) in one of their systems and they use the latest Pioneer (DVR-710), so I just got one of those to try. I don't know if it fits yet, I want to nail this POST problem before going there.
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Old 08-08-2006, 11:42 PM - Thread Starter
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The little dongle of which you speak does nothing (at least in my system it doesn't). I think you likely have a PS problem - thats' always been my issue with no POST. Do you have another PC you can test the case switch with?

Thanks for the info re the optical drive. Do let me know whether the new PIO fits.

Interesting that it's the same case as the Origen (which costs way more). Wonder if their documentation is better. The Voodoo pricing is ridiculous.

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Old 08-09-2006, 06:03 AM
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Yes I agree a PS is likely now, and I'll have the at least tested and ruled out tonight when I try another known good unit. I suspect a MB before a PS because I've had more of those bad out of the box than a PS, but I certainly have had my share of bad PS units as well, no shock.

The primary difference between the brands is the inclusion of an iR module on the Origin for remote on/off of the system. And the feet.
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Old 08-09-2006, 06:05 AM
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Oh something else I noticed last night while reading through the (yes better) Origin docs - you need to remove the stock door panel off your optical drive, it looks like no stockers are going to fit - the Anhanix does not mention this, at least in my 2 page 'instruction booklet' for the case. I know my NEC was bumpig by less than 1/16", so removing the door will certainly clear it. I'll try the pioneer anyway, to see if it's any quieter - it has some more advanced features specifically for sound deadening anyway.
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Old 08-09-2006, 11:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaelaria View Post

Oh something else I noticed last night while reading through the (yes better) Origin docs - you need to remove the stock door panel off your optical drive, it looks like no stockers are going to fit - the Anhanix does not mention this, at least in my 2 page 'instruction booklet' for the case. I know my NEC was bumpig by less than 1/16", so removing the door will certainly clear it. I'll try the pioneer anyway, to see if it's any quieter - it has some more advanced features specifically for sound deadening anyway.

Thanks Kaelaria. The Origin docs are much more useful. I had already gotten the door off - my Ahanix "manual" somewhat fracturedly mentions it at least. The issue for me was that the little aluminum cover that needs to be stuck on with the double sided tape seems misaligned. So it didn't sit flush with the case with the drive closed.

I did solve it this a.m., however. I needed to pull out the little black plastic feet that are inserted into the slots on the inside of the cover. I was then able to stick it on nicely. Looks good!

WN
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Old 08-09-2006, 12:24 PM
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This is not the same case as the Origen. The Origen front is machined out one thick piece of aluminum. This case is an assemlby of thinner parts. Albiet they look great. So that could account for some of the price difference.
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Old 08-09-2006, 10:05 PM
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well this is frustrating - no joy on the post with the known good ps either - that only leaves the CPU. I have never had a bad CPU out of the box before. It'll be Friday before I can test with another one.
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Old 08-11-2006, 09:43 PM
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Update - virtually the same thing with the new CPU (tried a 4200 this time). I think it's back to my first hunch, a PS issue. this known good PS I last tried was from a P4 system, I am betting it's just not up to snuff (Thermaltake TR2 430) for this new build. I'll get a new PS Tuesday and try again with the 3800 (I want to use it as it's the new low power version). I did not test fit the new Pioneer yet but I'm sure there's no issue now that I know the stock panel has to come off no matter what you put in there. I'm sure the NEC is fine if you do that as well.
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Old 08-12-2006, 12:18 AM
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AS stated above, this is not even close to the same case as the OrigenAE X15 case that Voodoo uses. We also use the X15E case at PCalchemy for our HD.150 system. This is a competely different case! AS for the people having the problem with only being able to use the the 640 x 480 resolution hopefully this gets worked out. Let me know if you have any suggestions to try, we will be working on testing this case next week and ahve another customer having the same problem (could be the same person).
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Old 08-12-2006, 11:37 AM
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I just ordered this case in black. I should have a build and review by next weekend....
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Old 08-12-2006, 01:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgallup04 View Post

AS stated above, this is not even close to the same case as the OrigenAE X15 case that Voodoo uses. We also use the X15E case at PCalchemy for our HD.150 system. This is a competely different case! AS for the people having the problem with only being able to use the the 640 x 480 resolution hopefully this gets worked out. Let me know if you have any suggestions to try, we will be working on testing this case next week and ahve another customer having the same problem (could be the same person).


Not sure I'm on board with "not even close." They are at a minimum cousins - the ahanix, uneed, dign, d.Vine brands all share the same lineage, at least originally, and all are of Korean design and manufacture, though it now appears that all the uneed brands will be called Origen, and Ahanix is doing its own thing. They both have a pretty standard xenarc/egalax touchscreen controller with very similar wiring, both there and the front panel. The better guess is that they are both spins off the same reference design. Certainly the build quality should be higher with the X15 (better be for $300 more). But completely different? nah.

BTW, the 640x480 is easily solved, see above.

wn
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Old 08-12-2006, 02:15 PM
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I agree 100% they are VERY close. I sure don't see the differences being worth $50 let alone $300 - the Ahanix is an excellent product, without a doubt. Solid as a rock, excellent finish, very refined material. Both have the same layout, both have the same size screen, same functions with it - same dual fans, sale slot design, same front door, same dvd slot, same front control inputs...besides the top on the Ahanix sliding off to the rear, and the Origen screwing off from the top, they are almost indistinguishable as far as construction - and the top makes no difference to the product performance at all.

Yes I was wrong, they are not the same - but they are 90% of the way there, at least. And besides the iR controller, there is no functional difference between the two - so that's a waste of $300 IMO to go with the Origen.
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Old 08-13-2006, 05:06 PM
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I have worked with both the MCE701 and X15e, and other than the fact that they both have 7" touchscreens and the front panels are laid out similarly there is little else in common. Comparing these two cases is like comparing a VW Beetle (MCE701) to a Porsche 911 (X15e). Lots of similarities between the VW and Porsche, 4 wheels, rear engine, etc., but quality and type of construction is very different.

The MCE701 is not manufactured or designed by the same people that design OrigenAE or for that matter any other Ahanix HTPC cases. This would be very obvious if you had the cases side by side.

The main concern with me is that with exactly the same components in the MCE701 and the X15e, everything in the MCE701 ran significantly hotter than in the X15e. I believe the main reason is because of the limited intake vents on the MCE701.

Some consider the the VW Beetle a great car, you simply need to decide whether you want to drive a VW or a Porsche.
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Old 08-13-2006, 05:44 PM
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I wonder why some people are trying to push the Oregin so much...maybe they are just trying to convince themselves?

The vents are in the same location and almost the same size, certainly no major difference between the two whatsoever - slots both right under the screen, and in front of the PS.

So where is the data for your supposed 'significantly hotter' conclusion? Or perhaps you just pulled it out of your assUMPTION hat?

So what else is different - please, enlighten all of us with the details, I'm curious.

Here's pics:
LL
LL
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Old 08-13-2006, 06:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaelaria View Post

I wonder why some people are trying to push the Oregin so much...maybe they are just trying to convince themselves?

The vents are in the same location and almost the same size, certainly no major difference between the two whatsoever - slots both right under the screen, and in front of the PS.

So where is the data for your supposed 'significantly hotter' conclusion? Or perhaps you just pulled it out of your assUMPTION hat?

So what else is different - please, enlighten all of us with the details, I'm curious.

Here's pics:

I do not believe that anyone is trying to convince themselves, at least I'm not. Myself and at least 4 other people that have actually seen and built in both the MCE701 and X15e all concluded the same thing, while the MCE701 might be a great "budget" touchscreen case it simply does not compare to the X15e or for that matter the Silverstone SST-LC18, just opinions. I could use your logic and wonder why people are trying to convince themselves that the MCE701 is as good of case as the X15e.

No assUMPTION hat (as you put it), as stated, I had exactly the same components in the two cases. The 4200+ X2 ran 4 degrees C hotter (38 to 42C, idle) in the MCE701. The hard drives were 6 degrees C hotter at idle. I attribute most of the temperature increases to the way the hard drives are oriented, the basically divide the case in half in the MCE701 and run parallel to the front panel in the X15e. The X15e also has an 80mm fan under the hard drives creating positive air flow (BTW, this fan was at 7 volts for our tests, and virtually silent). Plus the MCE701 has a circuit board under the drives that the X15e does not.

If I have time in the near future I'll replicate the tests and take additional temp readings and report them here.

When I'm in the office tomorrow, I'll put the cases side by side and provide a list of the differences.

BTW, the drawing you have of the X15e is over a year old, the case internals were redesigned July 2005. The vents are different, the hard drives are mounted differently and the vent under the hard drives has an 80mm fan on it. I have no idea why OrigenAE does not update their photos or drawings.
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Old 08-13-2006, 07:06 PM
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Well then I look forward to the current pics, because based on everything on the web, including Origen (that is stupid if they do not update the specs) the differences are minor.

Your correlation of the cooling differences though I do not agree with. If the Oregin had a fan at the front, obviously this was the additional factor, not the vents as you stated. You could easily add a fan to the Ahanix if 4-6 deg. is significant enough to someone that it needs correction.

I am not trying to convince anyone of anything, I'm just looking for facts. So far the facts do not explain the price difference to me, and it's mearly a curiosity to find out.

As for the silverstone, that is clearly different. Different front panel, material, layout, location of buttons, location of components - that is clearly not even a kissing cousin, as the Ahanix and Origen are.
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Old 08-13-2006, 07:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leox View Post

Some consider the the VW Beetle a great car, you simply need to decide whether you want to drive a VW or a Porsche.

This comparison makes me laugh when comparing a $600 and a $350 PC CASE - both are absurd indulgences that must be hidden from a wife. In any event the analogy may be apt for a reason you didn't intend: only an idiot would buy a Porsche when there is a VW that offers equivalent performance in all the areas one cares about. I could easily afford either (the case or the cars); here I chose the "VW" case.

In any event I have no doubt the Origen case is superior in all sorts of ways which you will enlighten us about.
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Old 08-13-2006, 07:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaelaria View Post

Well then I look forward to the current pics, because based on everything on the web, including Origen (that is stupid if they do not update the specs) the differences are minor.

Your correlation of the cooling differences though I do not agree with. If the Oregin had a fan at the front, obviously this was the additional factor, not the vents as you stated. You could easily add a fan to the Ahanix if 4-6 deg. is significant enough to someone that it needs correction.

I am not trying to convince anyone of anything, I'm just looking for facts. So far the facts do not explain the price difference to me, and it's mearly a curiosity to find out.

As for the silverstone, that is clearly different. Different front panel, material, layout, location of buttons, location of components - that is clearly not even a kissing cousin, as the Ahanix and Origen are.

According to the picture you posted earlier, how could you "easily add a fan to the ahanix? It seems like th circuit boad covering the vents would cause a problem doing this....
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Old 08-13-2006, 07:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaelaria View Post

Well then I look forward to the current pics, because based on everything on the web, including Origen (that is stupid if they do not update the specs) the differences are minor.

Your correlation of the cooling differences though I do not agree with. If the Oregin had a fan at the front, obviously this was the additional factor, not the vents as you stated. You could easily add a fan to the Ahanix if 4-6 deg. is significant enough to someone that it needs correction.

I am not trying to convince anyone of anything, I'm just looking for facts. So far the facts do not explain the price difference to me, and it's mearly a curiosity to find out.

As for the silverstone, that is clearly different. Different front panel, material, layout, location of buttons, location of components - that is clearly not even a kissing cousin, as the Ahanix and Origen are.

It is stupid that OrigenAE has not updated the specs, the differences are actually major. I believe that they did not update them because European distributors had major stock of the V1 cases when the V2 case was released. The V2 case was available in the US 8 months before it was in Europe.

It would be very difficult if not impossible to mount a fan under the drives on the MCE701, the circuit board is there. If my memory serves me, you would also have to drill vents in the bottom drive mount since it is solid. Also, the orientation of the hard drives in the MCE701 lends to the heat increase, as they basically divide the case in half, contributing to poor ventalation (BTW, the SST-LC18 has the same orientation problem, though it does have a mount for fan(s) under the drives).

As far as the MCE701 and the X15e being kissing cousins, to anyone that has actually seen an X15e and an MCE701 next to each other, the MCE701 looks like a cheap clone, as I said earlier the only real similarity is the layout of the front panel. With exception of the 2 optical drives on the SST-LC18 the MCE701 is closer in construction and design to the SST-LC18 rather than the X15e, hard drives are mounted similarly, both use extruded aluminum for the front panel (the X15e is machined 8mm solid aluminum), no built-in IR, to name a few things.

I'm basing my conclusions from a direct side by side comparison, actual heat measurements, ventalation tests, and other concrete measurements, most everyone else here is basing their conclusions on assUMPTIONS.

I would have loved to use the less expensive MCE701, it just does not measure up to the X15e, just my two cents.
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Old 08-13-2006, 09:49 PM
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Yes, that is right, it would be very difficult indeed to put a front fan in to work with the Ahanix ports, good points. For the record, the board does not cover the vents, but the drive bays are in the way.

That's still not worth $300 though

I just want to know specifically what makes the Origen almost twice as expensive - so far I just don't see it whatsoever.
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Old 08-14-2006, 11:30 AM
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We all know that Ahanix priced this case well. I did some searching and found that a 7" touch screen module like a Lilliput 619GL-70NP/C/T 7" runs about $250.

The question that should be asked is how is Ahanix able to make any money on this case priced at $350. The price of the touch screen alone only leaves only about $100 for the case.

Both the silverstone and origen case are priced the same, and they appear to be higher end products. Perhaps Ahanix's price will put competitive pressure on those prices. Time will tell.

I got to admit the origen case looks better, plus it has an IR module and a VGA cable built into the back. Why all the complaining about the price anyway don't we want our media pcs to look their best?

I would buy the origen over the Ahanix if it were priced about $450.
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Old 08-14-2006, 07:19 PM
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I also am anxiously awainting a MCE 701 case. I have been building PC's for over 15 years and could not resisit buying this case for the price. I am a moder by heart and currently have a Ahanix Divine 4 which I have moded to death (Installed two filtered intakes on the top of the case, and cut a viewing window in the flip down door for veiwing of a second FVD) for better cooling. I find that the main culprit to high heat is the hard drives. To solve this problem, I would recommend using an external HD container (Atech makes an absolutely fabulous case that holds 4 HD's) and going with a SATA Multilane solution. I also found a case that has it's own power supply and holds 4 X 5.25 devices (I.E. LIS 2 Premium VFD, Multimedia card reader, and 3 extra hard drives if needed. I plan on stripping the stock 80MM fans and installing Zalman OP-1 Fans (14.5 MM Deep) and also using velcro to attach a filter to the intake slot located were the HD were supposed to be. I will also be installing a Zalman 8000 low profile CPU cooler and Zalman Northbridge aluminum heatsink. I hope that the other companies will take notice and lower there prices accordingly. I know that the Origen and Silverstone are more quality products but at 600.00 a pop TWF is not worth the money (sleeping on the couch ain't my thing). I will be receiving the case 15 August and will post a down to earth status including temp readings, ease of installation, and any problems I run into. BTW thanks to the gentleman for providing the newest update to the Touch screen driver much appreciated. I will also be posting pics of my setup to give people ideas on how to "modulize" there HTPC (Audiophile still runs in by blood, long live seperates!!!!) AKA as far as the IR module goes, you can order the same module that goes in the Origen at xoxide and install it yourself (works great in my experience).My system to date:

Intel 975BX Motherboard
Intel Pentium D 3.4 GH processor
4 GB 667MHZ RAM
ATI Radeon 1600
L.I.S. 2 Premium VFD (X2)
ATI Theater Elite Capture Card
Rocket Raid 2310 SATA Caqrd
Atech 4X SATA Multilane HD case
4X5.25 rack mount (minus the handles) case
Turtle Beach Montegro DDL Sound Card (output set to 96KHZ via fiber optic output)
Plextor SATA DL DVD Burner
Enermax 650 Watt Moduler Power Supply

And for you Audiophiles:

B&K Reference 50 S2 Preamp
B&K 200.7 Power amp
Dennon 5310 DVD Player
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