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Editor: Julio Franco

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Over the last decade we've seen computers evolve to the level where they are powerful and flexible enough to leave our desks and venture out into other rooms of our homes.

Although laptops can be easily moved around and are well suited to many tasks, they still lack the capacity and flexibility of a desktop computer to fulfill the role of a home theater personal computer, or HTPC for short.

The HTPC came about to combine many or all components of a home theater setup into a single box. As a convergence device, the HTPC combines the functions of a personal computer and a digital video recorder. Effectively a HTPC can replace DVD/Blu-ray players, CD players, recording devices and various other multimedia entertainment devices.

While not everyone has a HTPC yet, their influence has grown significantly and today you would be hard pressed to find a new TV that doesn't include a PC mode supported via HDMI or VGA. Personally, I set up a HTPC years ago and today I wouldn't know what I would do without it. Though as much as I am in awe of my HTPC, it has taken countless revisions to get it to where it is today.

One of the greatest challenges a HTPC faces is fitting in with the rest of your living room equipment, and this burden is placed at large on the case. Besides good looks, the case must operate at a reasonable volume and for a HTPC that volume is near silent. And while the volume issue can easily be solved by lowering fan speeds, this usually creates another potentially worse problem, heat!

Thankfully there is now a greater range of HTPC hardware and because users can mix and match hardware in traditional PC fashion, the possibilities are practically endless. Today we are going to look at some new HTPC cases that range in size, price, and features.

These HTPC cases include the Antec MicroFusion Remote 350, Silverstone LC13B-E, Lian-Li PC-C37, Thermaltake DH104, and GlacialTech Altair A381. This roundup will see these cases closely compared to determine which offers the best value, feature set, and performance.

The Antec Fusion and Lian-Li PC-C37 cases are limited to Micro-ATX motherboard support, while the Silverstone LC13B-E, Thermaltake DH104, and GlacialTech Altair A381 can all take standard ATX as well as Micro-ATX motherboards.

We will explore each one of these HTPC cases in overwhelming detail over the next few pages...