Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Acribb, as you've noticed, there are a lot of choices for building an HTPC with a Fusion case. I built my HTPC using the antec NSK2400. I thought about the fusion case, but in the end, couldn't justify the increased price for what is essentially a prettier front fascia. I have had previous cases with VFDs and find them to be useless. Unless you have the eyes of an eagle, or are sitting pretty close to the case, the VFD is unreadable.
I built my HTPC using the Intel D965GOT motherboard and 6300 C2D CPU. The intel motherboard is great because it is stable, and has built-in optical output and does Dolby Digital Live. It also has integrated Gigabit ethernet, and video if you want to use it. It has a passive heatsink on the northbridge so it is silent. I also use the stock Intel HSF for the CPU. Initially I decided to use the stock HSF temporarily while I figure out what aftermarket one to use, but found it so quiet that I decided against an aftermarket heatsink.
If your media is stored on another computer, then you don't need a big and fast hard drive. I have a Samsung Spinpoint because it was cheap and it rated pretty highly on SilentPCReview. You can get a passively-cooled Nvidia 7600Gt I believe, which should fit in the case. Someone tried a 7950 passive cooled card, but wouldn't fit unless you modify the case.
As for IR receivers, the USB-UIRT is a bit expensive, but has the most flexibility. One advantage is that it can wake the computer from sleep, PROVIDED that the USB port is powered when sleeping. Unfortunately, the Intel motherboard doesn't. I am sure you could do some wiring and provide the USB-UIRT with +5V constant power, and it might work. Getting computers to S3 and back is problematic, especially trying to wake using USB devices. IRMan used to be another IR receiver, but it uses the serial port, which is pretty rare these days. I don't even know if it is sold anymore.