Silent HTPC Build Is An Art Piece For The Livingroom


This sexy beast is [DeFex’s] new silent home theater PC. To give you an idea of scale, that motherboard is a Mini ITX form factor. Mounted below it is the solid state drive which is an SLC version chosen because they tend to last longer than the MLC variety. This distinction comes with a price tag that is $100 more expensive.

But we digress. It’s the custom case that really caught our eye with this build. The frame is made of a huge aluminum heat sink. It measures about 7″ by 10″ and sets the final foot print for the computer. An aluminum puck was added to transmit heat from the processor to the heat sink. Holes were drilled and tapped into the heat sink to accept the brass stand offs which hold the motherboard in place.

The near side of the case is a sheet of acrylic. It connects to the rest of the case using 3D printed brackets at each corner. There is an additional bracket on the bottom to hold the hard drive in place. The sides of the case are filled in with bicycle spokes which also find a home in the corner brackets. Now the hard part will be figuring out which orientation looks the best for displaying his fine craftsmanship.

[via Reddit]

29 thoughts on “Silent HTPC Build Is An Art Piece For The Livingroom

        1. Ah, passive… I had to look at it for a minute, but I see now… Even though I get frustrated when people use “your” as a contraction for “you are”, etc., this is being just a little too critical, IMO….

    1. These things don’t put out a load of heat, I build a similar passive system in an antec ISK110 case with the heat-syncs within the enclosure. it has never gone past being a little warm on sustained full load.

      The main thing is having something that looks good in your living room that the wife will find acceptable. aesthetics are a bigger factor than optimal heat dissipation outside of the mancave.

    2. While the emissivity is much lower for polished AL, only a small portion of the cooling will happen by radiation regardless of emissivity. The majority of the cooling will happen by conduction and convection, which is why we put fans on heatsinks instead of anodizing them black.

  1. It’s a media-centre, not a data-centre. Why the heck would you waste $100 on an SLC harddisk in a system which won’t continuously thrash the drive? With most aggressive failure estimates an MLC drive in his scenario will outlive most of the other components in the system. Not to mention in a typical usage like this it’ll outlive a spinny magnetic drive too.

    Otherwise very nice build.

  2. This is a very nice build.
    I was not aware that you could get itx motherboards with a LGA1155 socket or with a onboard PSU (Just connect 19v and your good to go). So thanks for that info.
    But what is the purpose of this HTPC? The SSD is too small to accommodate more than a few movies, there is no tuner card and it also lacks an optical drive, so all it can be used for is to stream movies from a NAS-drive. Could a ATOM-motherboard not have done the same ?

    1. He could have done it with an atom based processor like I did.
      But the problem is that you need a “powerful” graphics card – so your only combination that you can use is an ION-based motherboard. And with something like Windows 7 plus appropriate software on it the atomn is at it’s limit and won’t be that much of a use.

      I’m currently thinking of a similiar build because all my movies are stored on a NAS or fed to the HTPC via BD-Disks and the atom can handle it fine but is a bit sluggish and has a few hickups from time to time. With a low power i3 or i5 the problem would be gone and I could throw hardware-acceleration with DXVA out of the window because the CPU could handle the stuff just fine.

      So it’s just a different approach. The SSD is just a waste of money and a regular SSD would have done just fine but what the heck – everyone what he can afford, right?


  3. I like this. One thing I would change to help performance is to put a thermoelectric peltier in between the CPU and heat sink to cool the CPU better and maybe allow for some good overclocking with a passive system.

    I know they sap energy like crazy but a low power system like this won’t be pulling enough amps to dim New York anyways.

    1. Peltiers are next to useless for cooling anything that dissipates anything but a tiny amount of power
      irreplaceable for keeping a laser at constant temperature or cooling a ccd

      but for a CPU, no, it just triples the problem and moves it a few millimeters

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