The choice of HTPC cases today is quite broad with all the major players in this industry offering several options. After looking at five of the newest wave of HTPC cases that varied in size, price and features, we are able to draw a few conclusions.
First we feel it is best to look for a HTPC case that doesn't use a low-profile power supply such as the Antec MicroFusion or GlacialTech Altair A381. While these power supplies save room, they are generally lacking in performance and once they expire can be difficult and costly to replace.
Furthermore, Lian-Li proved right here that it is possible to cram a huge 700-watt power supply into a case the size of the GlacialTech Altair A381. This will work to your advantage when you go out to pick your hardware and can also improve case temperatures.
The Antec MicroFusion is still a decent quality unit that saves space, being the thinnest case in this roundup. With aesthetics however came the sacrifice of operating volumes where the MicroFusion had a lot of trouble keeping the unit cool and quiet. The GlacialTech Altair A381 was next in line for the noisiest case, though we felt that the volume was acceptable. The Silverstone, Lian-Li, and Thermaltake cases all operated at near silent levels, which was impressive given that they all performed very well.
As far as big HTPC cases go, we feel the Silverstone is the cream of the crop, offering great cooling performance, an affordable price, and loads of expansion.
This is where the Thermaltake DH104 drops a heap of points, its level of expansion is poor given its huge size. The DH104 does on the other hand offer some cool features, like the 7 LCD touch screen, should you require it. Yet the DH104 is not going to be a practical option for many given the steep $500 price tag, which again has us coming back to the Silverstone LC13B-E.
Overall, the two cases that impressed us the most are the Lian-Li PC-C37 and the Silverstone LC13B-E. The Lian-Li PC-C37 is by far the best slim line case, while the Silverstone LC13B-E is the best full size ATX case. Interestingly, neither case is heavy on features, and neither can really be clearly certified as HTPC cases given the lack of a remote control. Although I personally do not like a remote with my HTPC, I do understand that this is an essential item for many users, and this might be a problem for the PC-C37 and LC13B-E.