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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I will be doing some rack consolidation in the coming weeks and wanted some "intel" from the field on what to move the HTPC into. First off - here is what I am running:


  • CPU: Intel i3-3225
  • Motherboard: ASUS P8H77-M
  • GPU: Intel HD4000
  • Memory: Kingston Hyper-X Genesis (2x4GB)
  • HDD: Crucial M4 64GB
  • Case: Silverstone GD06B
  • PSU: PC Power-Cooling Silencer MK III
  • OS: Windows 7 Professional 64Bit SP1
The unit runs very quiet and uses no attached storage. It runs J.River Media Center v20 and handles all our music and movies (which sit on the home server).

Ideally I want to rackmount this thing and dump the Silverstone - which due to it's form factor is sitting on a 4U shelf and generally taking up a lot of space for no good purpose. So I would like a recommendation on a 2U (3U?) rackmount case that will accommodate all the existing components while keeping the PC cool and quiet.

If I can find a nice quiet option - I may grab another as I am planning on moving our home server into the rack as well...but I need a case to accommodate at least 4-5 drives while being cool and quiet as well.

Appreciate any tips from the field :)

Cheers,

VP
 

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I will be doing some rack consolidation in the coming weeks and wanted some "intel" from the field on what to move the HTPC into. First off - here is what I am running:


  • CPU: Intel i3-3225
  • Motherboard: ASUS P8H77-M
  • GPU: Intel HD4000
  • Memory: Kingston Hyper-X Genesis (2x4GB)
  • HDD: Crucial M4 64GB
  • Case: Silverstone GD06B
  • PSU: PC Power-Cooling Silencer MK III
  • OS: Windows 7 Professional 64Bit SP1
The unit runs very quiet and uses no attached storage. It runs J.River Media Center v20 and handles all our music and movies (which sit on the home server).

Ideally I want to rackmount this thing and dump the Silverstone - which due to it's form factor is sitting on a 4U shelf and generally taking up a lot of space for no good purpose. So I would like a recommendation on a 2U (3U?) rackmount case that will accommodate all the existing components while keeping the PC cool and quiet.

If I can find a nice quiet option - I may grab another as I am planning on moving our home server into the rack as well...but I need a case to accommodate at least 4-5 drives while being cool and quiet as well.

Appreciate any tips from the field :)

Cheers,

VP
You're going to have a rackmount next to your home theater?
 

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Naturally, your layout may be different, but noise and intrusiveness would keep me from generally considering a rackmount in my home theater. Rackmount cases and their backplanes are usually full of smaller, high RPM fans that tend to make a lot of noise. The cases are usually vented well to allow better airflow and more noise, too. Tough to really make it blend in with a theater environment, too, although I guess you could put it in a closet which would solve most of the problems.

It's just not something I would have considered.
 

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Naturally, your layout may be different, but noise and intrusiveness would keep me from generally considering a rackmount in my home theater. Rackmount cases and their backplanes are usually full of smaller, high RPM fans that tend to make a lot of noise. The cases are usually vented well to allow better airflow and more noise, too. Tough to really make it blend in with a theater environment, too, although I guess you could put it in a closet which would solve most of the problems.

It's just not something I would have considered.
+1. My chenbro 4Y rack sounded like a vacuum cleaner with the installed fans on the backplane!
For sure it will need some noise countermeasures work if sitting in the same room as where you are watching content stored on it.
Perhaps rackounts these days are engineered to be whisper quiet, but I doubt it since server rooms are remote and self contained and they likely dont care how many db's the machines put out.
 

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I did a HTPC "rackmount" using a mucisians 14U case, and a 2U case from Newegg (sorry, PITA to look for who made this one)


The second generation chip you are running isn't going to put out much heat, assuming you're not using it to transcode. The OEM fan with it is very quite as well. Yeah, it's a $100 buck experiment if I'm full of it, but you may not need case fans at all, or at worst wire them to run on a lower voltage
 

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That sounds simple enough, google for a case that has the footprint necessary to accommodate that motherboard, that will be your width and depth and any "rack" 17" wide case should accommodate a full size ATX mobo. Height wise 2U will accommodate a max of 2 expansion cards with risers or half-height cards without risers, and whether 2U or 3U depends what kind of cpu cooler you intend to put in there. If the need for actual rack-ears, that will bump you into the industrial$$$ side of things.

If you want a guaranteed silent, zero decibel, passive, thin (1U/2U) solution, Streacom and HD-Plex would be my choices but you pay.
 

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You could start out with something cheap like this. It's 2U, and it takes a standard (aka you can use a quiet power supply) PSU, it will fit your mATX board, and has a couple of 80mm cooling fans that could easily be replaced with quieter ones if necessary. It looks decent, and has decent reviews.

If you aren't doing anything exotic with your system you could do fine with that one or any number of other sub-$100 2U cases. I'd recommend looking at ones that are mATX specifically because they can typically use a standard (aka relatively quiet) PSU, where the ATX either move the PSU inside the chassis, or use some expensive (and loud) hotswap redundant job.
 

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For the HTPC, you want a minimum of 2U. Why? Because even though a 1U will be perfectly fine in your scenario (no dedicated GPU), the 1U power supplies and any midplane fans are NEVER quiet. You can spend and spend on making a 1U quiet, it's just not gonna happen. For an ideal 2U HTPC case, I consider the following factors important:

- Must take a standard ATX power supply.
- Must have the horizontal riser slot layout vs low profile slot layout. Why? You get severely limited by the low profile card limitation.
- Must use standard 80mm fans - Easy to find quiet options.
- If it's gonna be visible in the home theater, a minimum of front LEDs
- A 5.25 bay for ODD, although this has become less important lately.
- Support for atleast one to two 2.5" disks. Let's face it, most HTPCs will use an SSD, which comes in the 2.5" form factor (not including the mSATA etc mini drives) and if you have to jury rig it, it takes away the fun.
- Built reasonably well. The problem with the typical cheap rackmount case is that it "resonates", because the sheet metal is ultra thin. Any vibrations (HDD, fans etc) get amplified a fair bit.Take a Supermicro/Intel/Dell/etc OEM chassis and compare it to the typical cheap case and you'll see what I'm talking about.
- The rails should be reasonably cheap. I hate cases which cost $100 and the rails are $50. WHAT?? :)

Take this case for e.g. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811128060

It is one of the few "convertible" slot layout cases, where you can either convert the slots to a low profile layout, or riser based. Perfect. Takes a standard PSU, the airflow is excellent, standard 80mm fans. The downside is no support for 2.5" drives, which sucks. Well, jury rig time, but other than that it's a good case.

This is just one example, but something to think about.
 

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I want a rack mount HTPC case. For now I just have my regular HTPC case on a rack shelf. When I finish my basement and add a true home theater I'll have a rack mounted HTPC for it. Noise won't matter because it'll be off in its own closet and not exposed to the home theater. Right now my HTPC is in the basement powering a TV in the first floor living room with a 50' HDMI cable (and RF and IP remotes).
 

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I want a rack mount HTPC case. For now I just have my regular HTPC case on a rack shelf. When I finish my basement and add a true home theater I'll have a rack mounted HTPC for it. Noise won't matter because it'll be off in its own closet and not exposed to the home theater. Right now my HTPC is in the basement powering a TV in the first floor living room with a 50' HDMI cable (and RF and IP remotes).
:)

 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
For the HTPC, you want a minimum of 2U. Why? Because even though a 1U will be perfectly fine in your scenario (no dedicated GPU), the 1U power supplies and any midplane fans are NEVER quiet. You can spend and spend on making a 1U quiet, it's just not gonna happen. For an ideal 2U HTPC case, I consider the following factors important:

- Must take a standard ATX power supply.
- Must have the horizontal riser slot layout vs low profile slot layout. Why? You get severely limited by the low profile card limitation.
- Must use standard 80mm fans - Easy to find quiet options.
- If it's gonna be visible in the home theater, a minimum of front LEDs
- A 5.25 bay for ODD, although this has become less important lately.
- Support for atleast one to two 2.5" disks. Let's face it, most HTPCs will use an SSD, which comes in the 2.5" form factor (not including the mSATA etc mini drives) and if you have to jury rig it, it takes away the fun.
- Built reasonably well. The problem with the typical cheap rackmount case is that it "resonates", because the sheet metal is ultra thin. Any vibrations (HDD, fans etc) get amplified a fair bit.Take a Supermicro/Intel/Dell/etc OEM chassis and compare it to the typical cheap case and you'll see what I'm talking about.
- The rails should be reasonably cheap. I hate cases which cost $100 and the rails are $50. WHAT?? :)

Take this case for e.g. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811128060

It is one of the few "convertible" slot layout cases, where you can either convert the slots to a low profile layout, or riser based. Perfect. Takes a standard PSU, the airflow is excellent, standard 80mm fans. The downside is no support for 2.5" drives, which sucks. Well, jury rig time, but other than that it's a good case.

This is just one example, but something to think about.
Awesome guidelines! Thank you. As I mentioned - my build will never run any hard disk - a single SSD is all it will ever have as the media sits elsewhere.

This specific case is not the one since it has no native 2.5 drive support and it seems a bit on the cheapo side...but it's a good place to start.

Cheers!

VP
 

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Check out the Newegg "Open Box" server chassis section once in a while. Sometimes they will have amazing prices there.

I have bought 2U cases from them (One of them is in the picture above) "Open box" (with nothing wrong with them) for as low as $40 shipped. :)
 

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After a lot of browsing I bought this 15" deep 3u case from Newegg yesterday. 3u was needed for normal reference height gpus for a madvr based htpc. Edit: I forgot about the top pci-e cables. I need a 4u case.

For 2u though, I liked this 15" deep one for an integrated gpu or half-height htpc. However, if using ATX psu in this case, it seems necessary to use one without a bottom 120mm fan due to no clearance on the bottom.

Both seemed to have nice direct air flow when not using 3.5" HDDs in playback htpcs, length and width for gpus (but not height for taller than normal cards), and depths that fit in an enclosed 20" deep rack. Those were my criteria.
 
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