So I've had my Moncaso 312 for a few months now and overall I am very happy with it. I thought I'd discuss my experience with the case here so people can make an informed decision...
Firstly, the reason I bought the case is because it is the only
case that is the correct size for my media cabinet. But only just... If you are looking for a petite, good looking case, then the Moncaso 312 definitley fits the bill.What I liked:
What I didn't like:
- Good build quality - really nice case!
- Runs quiet and cool (under normal load as an HTPC)
- Looks like a piece of high-end AV gear and NOT a computer.
- Volume Knob/IR can sometimes stop working (very rare, and easy to fix by unplugging the power for a few seconds - a minor gripe)
- Supplied IR is useless! It's so weak that it just didn't trigger properly at all and I had to keep hitting the buttons multiple times for them to work. I ditched it for a bluetooth remote.
- Had to void the warranty on my new PSU to get it in the case.
Here is my set-up...MoBo:
ASUS P5N7A-VM mATX - built in HDMI & digital 5.1 sound, great for an HTPCCPU:
Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 3.16GHZ - overkill for an HTPC but I want to use XBMC for 1080p content, so I thought it best to go highHDD1:
Kingston SSDNow V Series 64GB - for the OS so everything starts up super quickHDD2:
Evergreen 1TB SATA - to store my mediaDVD:
LG GH22NS50 Black 22X SATA DVD Writer OEM - I have a PS3 so I didn't need Blu-ray (plus I didn't fancy trying to get it working on Ubuntu) I chose this drive because it is about 1cm shorter than most and fits nicely.Memory:
2x2GB of Standard Corsair memory - the MoBo didn't like the first set of memory I used, so I had to get some from the QVL list.CPU cooler:
I started off with a Scythe Shuriken 3, but this wouldn't fit on the motherboard! In the end I went for the Nexus LOW-7000 which fits perfectly in the case (with the small DVD drive).PSU:
again, I started with an old 400w fanless PSU but it got too hot and blew! More on that later... I ended up with OCZ ModXStream Pro 600W ATX. This worked out for the best because it's quiet and modular - there is not a lot of space for spare cables in this box! I wanted a Corsair PSU but these ones use the same fans and are just as good.
So... how did the build go?
Well apart from the memory not working with the motherboard, the original CPU cooler not fitting and the PSU blowing... pretty good!
Here is what I learnt...
1) Because of the grill across the bottom of the PSU area I had to open up my PSU and remove it's fan cover to get it to fit properly. I wasn't best pleased about invalidating the warranty on a new CPU, but it turned out OK so far (touch wood).
2) Get a modular PSU as there really isn't any spare space in the case. You need all the airflow you can get and cables will just bung things up.
3) The Nexus LOW-7000 works really well, provided you hace a short DVD drive like the LG GH22NS50.
4) Put your PC in a well ventilated space! My original setup, with the silent PSU ran super hot - 70°c at idle - you could barely touch the case! When I swapped the PSU for a modular, active cooling solution, I drilled a few ventilation holes in my cabinet and the temperature dropped to a much more reasonable 45°c. The PC ran cool & quiet even through a 1080p movie.
5) Remote and volume knob are detected perfectly in Ubuntu out of the box. A few keys don't work, but nothing major.
6) The remote control is %$&*!$@ awful. Yes it's small, yes it looks nice, but NO IT JUST DOESN'T WORK! At a range of 3m it doesn't have the power to reliably hit the receiver. A big dissapointment.
All in all I'm very pleased with the case. Once I got a modular PSU, proper ventilation and didtched the remote, everything was good and the case looks damned fine.
Here are some pictures of the build (apologies for bluriness):
The empty case, with all the wiring taped down to run under the MoBo. You can see the PSU grill on the right...
MoBo in place...
USB headers fill up pretty quick with the media card drive, IR receiver and volume knob...
The original set-up (Passive PSU + Scythe) minus the HDDs...
New Nexus Low-7000 CPU cooler. Still the old, non-modualr PSU though. Notice the cables jammed in every nook and cranny!
Close-up of the CPU cooler and DVD drive - the fan sits almost perfectly under the case's vent
The final box, ready to rock in my media cabinet! Can you spot the PC?