Discrete HTPC idea


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Jun 5, 2002
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My friend and I were setting up an HTPC to drive my new home cinema the other day when we hit upon a rather unique idea for keeping it quiet and mostly out of sight: take it apart and stick it in/on top of the wardrobe!

This works because my projector is suspended on a platform just above the wardrobe, so the HTPC motherboard rests on top of the wardrobe, with power and data cables going into the wardrobe through a hole cut into the back. Inside are the hard drive, PSU, and DVD drive!

If my explanation doesn't make much sense, check out the pics at http://halogensunlight.co.uk/~duncan/pics/htpc and see what you think. :)

BTW, the computer was originally a Dell Dimension XPS-T600 which had a funky way of cooling the CPU - a plastic duct over the CPU/heatsink was connected to a 92mm case fan. I've retained the duct and case fan for cooling, only the direction of flow has been reversed - it now blows air over the CPU/heatsink, which I would imagine makes more sense in a free-air situation.

And this baby runs quiet! The fan cooling the CPU is a QuietPC 92mm which is nearly silent, and the noisiest bits (the surprisingly quiet PSU, and the rather whiny IBM Deskstar 34GB hard drive) are in the wardrobe! :D

By far the noisiest element is the projector... it's a Hitachi XGA business projector which looks great but makes a fair racket - something like 37dB. :( Maybe I'll figure out some sort of hush box for it in the future, but for now I'm happy to just put up with it (it is tucked away rather nicely and the noise isn't really too annoying during films).

What do you think of the setup?

LOL, not the prettiest of designs...... seems fine enough, make sure you have lots of pressurised air to blow the dust off! Thats the only problem I could forsee is the amount of dust it will collect.
Hehe, yeah, "pretty" wasn't one of my design goals... :p More like "quiet and out of the way". And yes I am aware of the dust problem... thought I might drape a piece of clear plastic over the mobo, or something like that? Not sure if that would impede airflow tho... We'll see.

Certainly an interesting setup.

The price of standalone DVD players now does make me wonder why you didn't just opt for a standalone for this setup. OK you may have had computer parts spare but an easier option would have been to flog off the computer parts and by a cheap £70 standalone. There are players available at this price or a little more that even have component output for ultimate picture quality which would be preferable to any other connection.

I certainly would not recommend draping clear plastic over this setup. Although it may be in an open environment which helps heat disappation. CPU heat and heat from the various chips on the other components (ie. graphics processor) get very hot. Melted plastic over your setup would not be ideal!!!

I'm not quite sure why you couldn't just leave the components in their original case and put the case in the wardrobe out of the way? Maybe it was space restriction?

I had a Sony 735 DVD player, which is a very decent player, but I sold it in preference of the HTPC - fed directly to the PJ via the VGA connector in native XGA resolution the picture quality of the HTPC is a million squillion times better than the standalone player (which does have component outs, but no progressive scan). I might consider a high-end PAL progressive DVD player in the distant future when I feel rich again (not likely to be anytime soon...) but the picture quality I get from the HTPC is as good as any I've seen, and I can't imagine even a top-end progscan DVD player would do much better (not saying it wouldn't be better, just saying it wouldn't nearly be worth the extra expenditure).

Plus, this way I can use a TV card and get beautifully-scaled and deinterlaced television images on the PJ via dScaler without having to buy a deinterlacer/scaler. And (even better!) I can play PC games on the big screen! \o/

The reason I didn't put the whole box in the wardrobe is, as you guessed, a space constraint. The wardrobe is a lot more cramped than the one in my old flat and it's currently *stuffed* full of clothes. I wanted to take up as little space in the wardrobe, and the Dell case, though not huge, would take up a lot more space than the DVD, hdd & PSU on their own.

Actually, the main reason it occured to us to set it up this way was the fact that there weren't any handy nearby places to put the Dell box and I would've had to find a really long monitor cable that might have suffered interference (which would have been especially noticeable on an 8-foot screen...)

Mm, good point about the melting plastic... silly me. :p I'm sure I can come up with some kind of dustcover..? Though IME dust buildup in computers is inevitable and never seems to cause any major problems... (famous last words..:rolleyes:)

You could look at getting a server rackmount case.

Or just build one out of wood :)

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