So you’re planning on building a home theater PC? Here’s everything you need to know about the best HTPC cases available.
When it comes to home theater PCs (HTPC’s) the ideal case isn’t like your typical gaming PC case. Instead of bulky and flashy designs, your chassis must be big enough to house your components. At the same time, small enough to fit in any corner.
Granted, there are many atx htpc cases in the market but here
We only choose the best for you. And, if you want our detailed review, let’s jump right into it!
SilverStone GD10 – Grade: 9.7/10
Make no mistake, this case may be small, but you can pack a lot into it! The SilverStone GD10 is the latest in the company’s Grandia series. It is a culmination of its manufacturers’ decade-long experience in HTPC case design and manufacturing into a product that every PC builder can enjoy – The innovative way in which it uses the available space results in a case that is near in size to Micro-ATX cases, yet capable of fitting most important full-size standard components including wider ATX motherboards. This nifty little case can support expansion cards up to 12.2 inches.
SilverStone is arguably the industry leader in HTPC cases. This particular case has a really nice simple look, and it’s sure to fit anywhere in your entertainment center! One thing that’s easily noticeable right out of the box is that it feels really nice and sturdy. We really like how customizable this case is for its size! It has the capability to be mounted on a rack, it has removable feet, and it has drive cages with multi-purpose mounts to eliminate the need for adapters.
Great quality material
Nice stock I/O ports
Efficient use of space
Supports ATX motherboards
Interior of case lacks paint/coating
Cleaning filters can be difficult
Thermaltake Core V21 – Grade: 9.5/10
The Thermaltake Core V21 is the latest in the Core V series of PC Cases. It supports microATX and mini-ITX motherboards and has been designed to support both vertical or horizontal installation of the motherboard. It has three 3.5″ or 2.5″ internal bays and 2 USB 3.0, one headphone and one mic front ports. It comes with a pre-installed 200m fan on the front panel.
The Core V21 offers plenty of customizability to create the space you need for your components.
This case is very appealing to the eye. We like the square style that increases airflow, allows more room and looks incredible.
Oh, did we mention this case is specifically designed to work as module pieces that can be combined? – This means you can buy two of these cases and turn them into one awesome super-case!
For less than $65, this case is an amazing deal! You probably won’t find another case close to this price point comparable to the Thermaltake Core V21’s quality.
Super Quiet 200mm fan comes stock
No removable dust filter
Lacks sound absorbing material
NanoXia Project S – Grade: 9.3/10
NanoXia is a premier, German computer component company that makes some really high-quality cases. Their specialty seems to be extra quiet fans coupled with a ton of cool, unordinary features.
The Project S model is an ATX HTPC case that comes equipped with many practical features, such as fully modular HDD brackets, some cool magnetic dust filters, scratch-resistant top, tempered glass, and the opportunity to install several radiators. One unique feature of the Project S is that it can be used in an upright position as a midi tower in addition to being used on its side.
The Project S has some handy drawers that can be pulled out to install hardware or clean components. The drawers can even be pulled out when the computer is in use.
What we love about the NanoXia Project S is that every feature, component, and design seems to be very intentional and well thought out. The quality of material on this case ranks the highest of all the cases on our list. The only downsides of this case are the weight and the fact that the pre-installed fan is on the small side for what you can fit into the case.
Magnetic dust filters
The stock fan is small for the size of the case
Cooler Master HAF XB EVO – Grade: 9.3/10
The Cooler Master HAF XB EVO takes the famous High Air Flow series (HAF) to a whole new level! With a removable horizontal motherboard tray and large mesh front and top panels, coupled with the two stock 120mm XtraFlo fans in the front you’ll find that, true to the series name, airflow won’t be a problem. This ATX HTPC case is able to hold VGA cards up to 13.1 inches. It can support up to four HDDs or SSDs with the removable HDD cages.
The way that the fan system and case are designed creates a strong front to back air current that keeps the case cool while not being overly loud. There is also a ton of space inside this case to fit all of your hardware into!
One thing we find a little subpar on this case is its material – It’s made of mostly polymer with steel and even a little mesh. When you first pull it out of the box, it feels a little fragile which you wouldn’t expect with its bulky, rigid appearance. But all in all, considering the great airflow and functionality, this is still a top HTPC case.
Two 120mm front end stock fans
Removable motherboard tray
Cheaper feeling material
Bulky external design
No side or top filters
Apevia X-Master – Grade: 9.1/10
Similar to the SilverStone GD10, The Apevia X-Master is a perfect combo of being a spacious tower, and yet still small enough to be snugly stored away in your entertainment center. Housed inside are slots for two 5.25’’ drives, and two 3.5’’ drives. The motherboard tray supports ATX boards (or smaller if needed). It has seven expansion slots on the backplate for any extra upgrades you want to add externally. It can be positioned horizontally as a tower, or vertically like a traditional desktop tower. There is enough room for four fans to be installed if needed, so there is plenty of options for cooling and how you want to position your system.
The installed 500W power supply is more than enough to handle most standard HTPC system needs. There are even three color choices (black, blue, and silver) available to add some fun and spice to your home theater set up.
Along the edge of the case, you’ll find a convenient steel handle that you can comfortably grip to move your computer easily without putting pressure where it is unwanted.
The stock fans are louder than we’d like. Due to the positioning, they create a type of wind tunnel within the case. The case itself is pretty plain, without any curves or elegant features it’s a little boring to look at. There are also some annoying red and blue LEDs that shine out of the front and back. But if that doesn’t bother you this is a great crossover between a full tower and a micro design.
Good stock power supply
Can stand it horizontally or vertically
Annoying LED lights
Louder fan system
Comes in multiple colors
Fractal Design Node 202
Alright, let’s wrap up our reviews with a case that’s been trending for a while now – the Fractal Design Node 202. The thing with PC cases is they’re mostly bulky – this holds true even for cases with Carry Handles. But the Node 202 dares to shift from the status quo.
The Node 202 is among the sleekest and slimmest PC Cases you will find this year. The questions that should run through your mind once you see it will bother on how it dissipates heat and handles cooling. And the type of motherboards or GPU length it can accommodate.
Firstly, the Node 202 can accommodate Mini-ITX and Micro-ATX motherboards. Don’t buy it if your motherboard is ATX or bigger [E-ATX]. For GPUs, it can house graphics cards not longer than 310mm.
With that out of the way, let’s now look at what the Fractal Node 202 can do as HTPC case.
The footprint of the Node 202 is really small. Looking at the dimensions, the case measures just 5.7 inches wide and 13 inches deep. But in length it can stand at 18 inches. So you can either set it horizontally [to look like a gaming console] – or stand it up vertically. So this case wins plenty of good points for aesthetics.
Inside the case, we were impressed with how the motherboard, GPU and drive trays were strategically positioned. They were set in such a way to create enough space inside to allow heat to dissipate easily. Then there are dust filters inside to trap dust and keep your components clean.
For I/O ports you get a USB 3.0 port and an Audio port – not much but you can make do with that for your home theatre.
Coming at a price-point of less than $100, the Fractal Node 202 one elegant HTPC case you should seriously consider.
Lightweight – no fans required
Well-positioned dust filters
Poor cable management
How To Pick The Right HTPC Case
Anyone of the five cases we’ve featured in this article can be an excellent case for your HTPC!
Maybe you’re looking for something that catches the eye, looks amazing and still has a lot of room to work with inside. If so, the NanoXia Project S or the Thermaltake Core V21 will suit you well.
Here are some things to keep in mind when picking out an HTPC case – First, the best cases will have plenty of air flow. The ability to keep other components safe and cool is the most important attribute a home theater computer can have.
Second, a good HTPC case should not have bling! Like we mentioned earlier, lights and noises from your PC will only distract its viewers from the screen. The HTPC cases that landed atop our lists are simple and sleek in design.
Third, you’ll want it to have plenty of spots for HDMI and USB ports alike. The best home theaters have wireless everything! Multiple gaming controllers, wireless keyboard and mouse and the option to host multiple displays.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an HTPC? HTPC stands for home theater personal computer. Its purpose is to play movies and media (such as video, audio, photos), creating a movie theater-like experience within your own home.
What CPU should I use? With an HTPC you should usually use a CPU that generates the least amount of heat (TDP) while still providing the processing power you need. Having a faster and more powerful CPU is not always beneficial. If you install a more powerful CPU, it will generate more heat and the fans will run louder.
What size case do I need? Make sure that you choose a case that will fit your motherboard. Also be mindful of the PSU size that you need. Many cases come with a built-in PSU, but if you plan on adding your own, it needs to be able to fit in the designated area. You want to choose a case that will fit well in the location you want to use it as well.
Should I replace the stock fans and heatsink? It may be necessary to upgrade your cases cooling system. But there’s no need to jump the gun and replace it with an overkill system before you know that anything needs to be replaced. We recommend that you go with the stock fans to start, and if it seems to be loud or run hot, then you can begin upgrading as needed.
Now it’s time for you to pick a case that works for you and begin the exciting process of building your new HTPC! There are certainly cases available that are much more expensive than the ones we’ve listed here. Our selection is based on what the average PC builder would want for their HTPC case.
Now that you know how much a good case for your HTPC matters, what are you going to do? It’s up to you.
Now go out there with that newfound confidence and have fun putting your new computer together!