HTPC: Zalman HD160xt cases and GTX 200 series Nvidia - tight fit?

Discussion in 'Home Entertainment Computers' started by Digittt, Feb 8, 2009.

  1. Digittt

    Digittt
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    Hi All,

    Does anyone have any experience with Zalman HD160XT cases and the GTX 200 series Nvidia cards?

    I'm looking to go high-spec, but worried the latest version, the GTX295 wouldn't fit in the case. It's an MSI Eclipse mobo, but that's ATX so I assume it will fit as the case caters for that. Just a little worried on potential height or even length fit issues with the graphics card.

    Thanks,

    Digittt
     
  2. chum_2000_uk

    chum_2000_uk
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    Hi,

    I have that case but not the graphics card as I built the PC a year ago. I was worried about the height as at the time I bought a 8800GTS and a thermalright HR-03 heatsink.

    My worries were kind of right as well, as the lid of the case just touches the heatsink, in fact I have to push the corners of the lid down about a millimetre to put the screws in.... but thank god it wasn't any higher. To be honest though, I cant see the dimensions of the GTX295 being higher than my 8800GTS with HR-03 installed!? There are two ways that the HR-03 can be fitted as well (e.g. wrapped around the top of the card, or sticking straight out from it), and I may be wrong in saying this (can't quite remember) but I'm sure the way I had to fit it (wrapped around the card IIRC) it was higher than fitting it the other way. As I say, don't quote me on that, but I think that was the case.

    Either way, the card with the HR03 installed in pretty damn tall. If you can get the dimensions of the GTX295 somehow, I can certainly measure inside my case for you to give you an idea of height and depth you have to play with if it will help? I had to just order the parts and prey that they would fit, so I know what a PITA it is to try and get dimensions for this case as not many people seem to have it - cheapskates! :rolleyes:

    I will admit though, as nice as it is I wish I had bought a cheaper case as IMO its a waste of money once the novelty wears off! I do use the 7" screen a fair bit for temperature readouts using a samurize desktop I created though - which gets temperatures from a T-Ban Balancer electronic fan controller I bought (very cool!). I also use it for displaying iTunes or Foobar on when I dont want my main monitor (LCD TV) on when listening to music late at night.

    Have you bought the case yet btw?

    Just to add.... looking at the card I am pretty sure height wise you will be fine! Depending on the MOBO I wouldn't have thought length of the card would be a problem either tbh.... I may open my case and have a little lookie to see what my graphics card runs down towards, to see what could potentially cause an obstruction for a long card.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2009
  3. Digittt

    Digittt
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    Hi there,

    Thanks for your reply and the offer of help...sounds like I may have something to be nervous about, although I presume without the heatsink, I should be good.

    The dimensions of the card off the EVGA site are:

    ·Height: 4.376in - 111.15mm

    ·Length: 10.5in - 266.7mm

    No doubt that will include the connectors at the bottom of the board though, but it gives you an idea...actually, just realised I can go get the dimensions of your card as well, that should give me some comfort. My concern on length was where the PCIe slots sit on the MSI Eclipse mobo and where the internal drive brackets sit inside the case...although I presume I have some flexibility (intentionally designed, or through manual alterations!) with the location of the drive brackets.

    I haven't bought the case yet - still on the hunt for a decent black, second hand, HD160XT+...I've chased a few on eBay, but not that many seem to appear, so it's taking an infinite amount of patience. I'm trying to do this under the radar as if the wife found out the full retail of the case, she'd start claiming spending rights on things that no man should have to spend money on. Your comments about it though do make me think a little, although I've been committed to getting one of these for a while.

    My primary reason for wanting that model with the touch screen (besides the nolvelty factor!) is because of flexibility around set-up. I am going to have 2 monitors connected (LCD and then a PC monitor about 30 feet away on a different floor of the house). The machine is going to be used as a HTPC, but also a workhorse to edit HD video footage, thanks to the HD-cam I bought a while back. I will also remote desktop into it.

    I've never managed to get to a multi-monitor solution that hasn't given me the odd BSOD. With all of the above potential access points, and the multi-multi (if you include the 7 inch LCD on the case) solution, I'm figuring I need a convenient option for accessing settings and generally playing...without climbing a flight of stairs or turning on the main LCD. But your iTunes suggestion also sounds like another great excuse to need it :D... I do also intend to overclock so will lock into easy display of temp settings at some point, but that is likely to only be in a couple of months...once I've got the wife used to it in it's first form!

    Many thanks for the input!

    Regards,

    Digittt
     
  4. chum_2000_uk

    chum_2000_uk
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    Right then! I opened my case for you, and took a few measurements.... the height of the card seriously isn't going to be a problem as you'll have around 3.5cm clearance at the top of a stock card (e.g. no aftermarket heatsink like mine).

    However, there is some bad news... the HDD bay is what the GFX card is running down towards, and the GTX295 is about 4.5cm longer than my card! You may very well be able to fit the card, but if the power connector is at the rear of the card (like it is on my 8800GTS) then I severly doubt you would have enough room left to actually plug that connector in. If the power connector is elsewhere you may well be in luck imo.

    I've had a look at the limited images of the GTX295 via google image search, but I cant find any pics that show where that connector is located I'm afraid. Maybe you can find some info?

    I guess even if the connector is located at the back of the card, maybe you could find an ultra slim T shaped plug. By my reckoning you have about 28cm to play with and the GTX295 is supposed to be 26.5cm!
     
  5. Digittt

    Digittt
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    Many thanks for the effort!

    I think I'm in luck - I've found one picture which seems to imply that the power connectors (2 of them) are on the top of the card.

    Legit Reviews - EVGA GeForce GTX 295 SLI Video Card Review - A Closer Look At The EVGA GeForce GTX 295

    It may be a tight squeeze, but I'm hopeful it's still going to work!

    Reading the spec though off that site, it did tell me I need to beef up my power supply...I thought I would be comfortable with a 600w PSU, but I think I need to up it....there's a new Zalman 770W one out which seems to hit the spot. Not quite sure why I'm becoming such a staunch Zalman fan (excuse the pun) :).

    Digittt
     
  6. chum_2000_uk

    chum_2000_uk
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    If the 26.6cm includes the connector then you are laughing. I have a feeling it doesn't though... but I could be wrong. However, if as you say you are flexible with the drive bay and it did turn out to be in the way slightly, I reckon as long as you put the HDD at the bottom of the bay you could drill a hole in the bay for the cable and connector to go through. It would be a slight PITA to connect and disconnect the card then, but it would at least certainly fit if you have your heart set on the card.

    I managed to find my case for a decent price brand new of some dodgy technology company I'd never heard of... I can find the price and company for you at some point if you like? I mean it wasn't dirt cheap, but it was comparable to what they were going for on eBay secondhand at the time (tbh buyers on eBay I find often pay over the odds for things in short supply - often near enough retail and sometimes more!).

    I'll dig out the receipt when I get a chance!

    I notice the GFX card has 3 outputs (HDMI + 2 DVI) does that mean it can output to all three at once? Mine obviously only has 2 DVI's and I have had a few BSODs but I think that was mainly down to some faulty Crucial Ballistix that were in there. Changed to Corsair now and all seems well enough touch wood.

    I Highly recommend the Tban Balancer fan controller that I bought as well... its the only dedicated electronic fan controller I could find at the time, but it turned out to be awesome! I have paired it with the quietest fans I could find (Again I can get models for you if you like) and with the fans at about 50% the system temp is nice and I can go to sleep with the PC on generally no worries. I am a pretty light sleeper as well, any noises tend to keep me awake or wake me up.

    I hear you on the wife front.... I had to make sure my GF didn't see any of the receipts for the expensive stuff I overspent on! She wanted a holiday and I wanted a high spec HTPC! :D

    One other thing I will say about the 7" screen... if you are thinking of using it as a proper monitor to do basic desktop things, the desktop is miniscule so you will have to be right up to it. I find the software supplied with the case poor and has very little functionality (forget what the software is called, but I never use it anymore). I would say the screen has to be at eye level preferably as bending down to try and see whats on the desktop is bad news... and I'm only 26 and fairly fit so its not as if I am an old creeky man! :D
     
  7. chum_2000_uk

    chum_2000_uk
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    Yeah with the power connector being on the top I cant forsee any problems really tbh. The cables may touch the lid but who cares?

    I almost went for the lower power version of the Zalman PSU you linked to, but decided on the Corsair HX520 (almost went for the HX620 but though 520w would be fine in my system - which I think it has been). IIRC the Zalmans were coming out a touch noisier in the reviews, but again dont quote me on that as my memory is horrid! One thing I will say, the Zalman fans that came supplied with the case were described as "silent" on the site? I think? Anyway, basically they are not.... they are fairly loud on full chat and hardly "silent" even when turned down. Dont get me wrong, they aren't loud by any means but I think "silent" or even whisper quiet is a bit off the mark tbh!

    I looked through my receipts.... what a horror story! Case was not that cheap at all - I lied sorry! :eek: £356 delivered from DCS (Discount Computers Direct - how dodgy does that company sound eh!?). But I remember the service was good, and delivery was quick and touch wood my case has been superb since now so I havent had to sample the delights of their after sales service!

    Fans wise... I bought mainly Noctua NF-R8 80mm and a couple of Nexus Real Silent 92mm fans. All of which seem brialliantly quiet at around 50% tbh... doubt you could get fans any quieter unless someone has done something insane in the last year that I haven't heard about. Was going to go external water cooled, but thought I'd spent enough and tbh most of the fans on the external water cooler units aren't particularly silent.

    Well.... I hope that helps and gives you some food for thought. Let me know if there is any other info you need and I'll try my best to let you know my thoughts!

    :smashin:
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2009
  8. Digittt

    Digittt
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    Thanks - yeah, I wasn't sure how silent the Zalman fans would be, but I like the idea of having a project I can slowly work on. May look to the same solution you've got, but probably after a month or two when I start looking to overclock. First step is to get everything up and running - I've bought components from a variety of locations, so I'm expecting the odd gripe. I've never used Vista before, so that will lead to some wailing and gnashing of teeth, I'm sure - before I move onto the Windows 7 Beta. I thought about a water solution...but I think the pump is is going to take up too much space and I know my plumbing skills, and despite there alegedly not being a major risk of leakage, I'm sure I'd find a way.

    The card has 3 connectors, but I'm not sure it means it can output to 3 displays, although I'd be happy if it did. I don't need 3 monitors at once, I just need it to be able to see all 3 connected so I can change the settings on which monitor to pair with the 7" on the Zalman.

    On the screen size, I know it's not huge, I just need it to navigate and click on the odd launcher, but you will know better than me how much of a gimmick it is.

    PS : Discount Computer Supplies - I started laughing and then checked - they're still around and have the case for a fairly decent price still :D

    Digittt
     
  9. chum_2000_uk

    chum_2000_uk
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    Haven't heard anything about the Windows 7 BETA! Since I made my HTPC a year ago I have just been relieved to not be spending hours and hours looking at reviews and forums trying to get opinions on hardware!

    Overall I have been really really happy with the possibilities building a HTPC has opened, and I use it every single day for recording freeview channels, surfing the net, playing online poker and very occasionally playing PC games. In a way I am sorry I built such a high spec system though, as I could do without playing PC games and thats the only time I am putting the GFX card (which was nearly £200 at the time) to good use. But you are going to be using yours for video editing and the like you mentioned, so a high spec system I would guess is going to be pretty essential I'd have thought?

    Windows 7 looks pretty interesting.... may think about upgrading when the full release is out. You mentioned that you will install Vista, then maybe switch to the 7 BETA... I noticed on the Windows site that they mention they are coming to the end of the BETA testing, so by the time you build your PC you may be able to just go right for Windows 7? I personally haven't had a lot of problems with Vista, it's been pretty good overall - certainly better than XP was. Yes it is a bit memory hungry and can be a little slow sometimes when I consider the spec of my system, but the slowness is probably in part due to the sheer amount of software I have found myself installing on it. If Windows 7 improves on the speed side of things, and sorts out a few other niggles then it could well be worth a look over Vista IMO.

    One thing about Windows 7 that looks like it could be very cool from our perspective is this:

    http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/whats-new-possibilities.aspx

    Check out the "Windows Touch" tab. If we could get that working with the 7" touch screen it would be very cool, especially in things like media centre where the icons are nice and big and easily selectable. I think Media Centre would be a lovely interface to use a touch screen. Having said that though, I'm too lazy to get up and go to the HTPC, so tbh I would just end up using the Media Center Remote. Oh thats another cool thing about the Zalman case, it works with the Windows remotes - the case has a built in IR sensor. It does also come with its own remote, but its terrible so I never use it. You can also use the Media Center remote to turn the PC on, even if its been shut down properly (e.g. it doesn't have to be in sleep/hibernate states). As long as the PC has power at the mains plug, the on button with the remote will power it up!

    Its little things like that which make me love my HTPC setup! I also installed an LG Blu-Ray Reader/Writer, which makes the system a very good Blu-Ray player/recorder. The quality of Blu-Ray playback is superb - just as good if not better than the PS3. I reckon with the right playback software and with the right settings tweaks it would surpass the PS3 IMO. The only thing I will say though is it can sometimes be a PITA getting things like correct codecs and software updates to make sure the latest Blu-Rays will play. I am using the previous version of Cyberlink Power DVD for HD, which was bundled with the LG drive. Had a few problems with it previously, and was tempted to buy the full new version of Cyberlink but it seems to be working fine at the moment for recent Blu-Rays I've watched so I'll leave it be for now. One other thing to note about the drive is although it is pretty quiet for Blu-Rays for standard DVD's it is very very loud. IIRC it will also play HD-DVD's if you have any lying around or wanted to pick up some cheap!
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2009
  10. Digittt

    Digittt
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    This is the first major tecchie project I've done in around 4 years, so am in a child-like excited state :clap:. I have patiently been doing the research for 4 months now - so very glad to be buying everything finally (mobo arrived this morning, LG blu-ray reader / writer arrives tomorrow with the hard-drives).

    Still looking out for my case and trying to track down the GTX 295 for a less than insane price. I have someone coming over from the US in the next 2 weeks, that would save me £100, but if there are issues with the card, returning would be hell and I willl get no support from EVGA this side. May just have to bite the bullet and accept the extra £100 for peace of mind. I'm getting old, the less risky approach was never my forte.

    My ultimate plan is to buy a SSD when the prices come down to the real world, and have the OS installed on this, with it being big enough for spooling movies off (no need for TB's of data here, just something nifty to temporarily hold the latest movies I want to watch). This would cut down on heat and noise - in theory, although if the first set-up is as good as I hope it is, it may all be unnecessary.

    I have Windows 7 downloaded already. Have the 32bit version sitting on an old laptop and it's surviving - Vista wouldn't have come close to working on that. I'm quite happy with it and so far no problems, although I haven't done anything with it other than Ooh and Aah. The 64bit version is waiting to be installed once the machine is finally pieced together and I've got the Vista install up and running. Only issue I think may be with activation, although I am told it should still work, even if it's after the download period.

    Will definitely be getting a better remote and am excited by the possibilities with the touch screen. Now to find a good deal on the case! I was partially justifying the case expenditure being offset by me selling my MVIX media box on eBay. I paid £350 for it 1.5 years ago. Just looked on eBay and if I get £50 for it I will be lucky - the standard foils of being an early adopter!

    I will let you know the good news when I have everything and the beast finally breathes (without making too much fan noise :D) Thanks for all the help.
     
  11. Digittt

    Digittt
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    It's taken a while, but I've secured my HD160XT...a PLUS even. All going well, from next week-end I will start the build.
     
  12. chum_2000_uk

    chum_2000_uk
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    Thats great news! Hope your build goes according to plan! Let us know when its finished! :thumbsup:
     
  13. Digittt

    Digittt
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    :arty:

    Very happy at the moment, going through the install motions winding my way up to the latest Windows 7 build, but it lives and breathes. It breathes a lot as a matter of fact!

    Starting to think about getting a fan controller as there is a lot of headroom with the fan speed with the base settings which is leading to a wee amount of huffing and puffing - which is I'm sure what you went through. Which is the controller you were referring to? Also, what fans did you end up with?

    Found this electronic controller, but it was the first one that google spat out, so it's yet to go through my due diligence: HFX 113 T-Balancer BigNG Cooling Controller

    All good fun for the moment...running out of internal USB points on the mobo with the touchscreen connected etc - never had to think of this before, but is there such a thing as an internal USB hub? It feels like a dumb question but I've survived so far in my life on those!

    Cheers,

    Digittt
     
  14. Digittt

    Digittt
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    Oh, and btw, there's acres of space...OK, not quite acres, but wasn't left with any worries on the graphics card dimensions.
     
  15. chum_2000_uk

    chum_2000_uk
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    Hi mate, glad the build has gone well so far! Good to hear you have had plenty of room to work in thus far... its certainly not a small HTPC case is it!?

    The fan controller you linked to is indeed the one I went for. When I was shopping around it seemed like pretty much the only (decent?) electronic fan controller on the market - not sure if thats still the case? Bit pricey too, but with a certain amount of setting up and getting used to the software it now works like a charm - very impressed with it. I mounted this at the top of the internal drive bay - you can mount it in one of the expansion card slots, but this was not an option for me because of where my GFX card and TV tuner card were located. You could potentially mount it to one of the inside walls of the case too, but as you probably know, there is a lack of flat surfaces that would be large enough to mount the unit - I literally found my only otion was to mount it where I did.

    One thing I will say about the fan controller is you do get a hell of a lot more cables inside the case using it. Obviously I have four fans plugged into it, four analogue sensors going to various components and two digital sensors. The digital sensors (which I have monitoring the GFX card and processor temperatures) act as calibraters for the analogue sensors. What you are meant to do is put two of the analogue sensors right by the two digital sensors (so that they are reading exactly the same component temperature) and calibrate the analogue sensor to give near enough the same reading as the accurate digital sensors within the T-ban software that comes with the controller. Think I got mine to within 1 degree C. The analogue sensors are a fair bit smaller and easier to work with (basically just thin cable) so are better for running to other components such as ram and northbridge etc., or whatever you like tbh.

    Think I mentioned what fans I used in a previous post... lets have a look, here you go "Noctua NF-R8 80mm and a couple of Nexus Real Silent 92mm fans". Because the fan controller can only control four fans, I made it control the two rear fans as one (using a spitter from one of the BigNG's four fan power plugs iirc), the processor heatsink fan, the GFX card heatsink fan (remember I am not using the stock GFX card fan/heatsink, I am using the thermalright HR-03) and lastly the right side fan. It seemed to be no problem splitting the power for the two rear fans to control them as one. The fan on the floor of the case I simply plugged into one of the motherboard fan power supplies. By not plugging the CPU fan into the motherboard, you will probably get warnings on boot that no CPU fan is connected, or CPU fan error etc., so just be sure to set this to ignore in the bios (but be sure the fan is actually running from the fan controller obviously!!!).

    Now, the noisiest things in my HTPC are the internal and external hard disks :D

    Thats everything I can think of right now..... let me know if you have any other questions, or anything else you need a hand with just give me a shout and I'll do my best to answer them :smashin:
     
  16. yoghurt

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  17. chum_2000_uk

    chum_2000_uk
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    Hi, I went for this instead - the Ninja Mini:

    Scythe Mini Ninja Socket 478/775/754/939/940/AM2 Heatpipe Cooler - Ebuyer

    even this unit isn't a massive distance from the roof of the case. Having cracked the top of the case off and measured it for you, I would say it would be too tight to fit the Ninja II. It would certainly be close, but I reckon it would just be over the roof line of the case.

    To be honest I am really happy with the Ninja Mini, I have clipped two noctua NF-R8 80mm fans to the unit (one which pushes air through the cooler then out to the exhaust fans, and another which faces away from the cooler and passes air over my GPU heatsink, which is a Thermalright HR-03) and I don't get any real issues with heat when the fans are turned up to a decent RPM.

    Hope this helps - I know how hard it is finding info on components that can fit in this case as very few people have them! Some of the components I ended up fitting I just had to do some measuring and then hope for the best! The thermalright HR-03 ONLY just fit.... e.g. it actually touches the top of the case when you put the lid on and actually bends the lid a millimetre or so. Any taller and I would have had to have had a rethink!

    Read through my previous posts to see some of the components I installed, if you have any other questions I will do my best to help you :smashin:
     
  18. yoghurt

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    Thats really helpful, many thanks :thumbsup:

    I am dead excited about the case 2nd hand which I got over a week ago but not had a chance to open the box yet

    Not looking forward to seeing the Missus' reaction when she sees it though! (or the question about how much it cost!)

    Do you think the thermalright HR-03 is good? I want a cooler that could cope with possible overclocking but also want it as quiet as possible

    Also cannot decide whether to put Vista on or Windows 7-not sure if the latter would work with the software that comes with the case for the screen.

    Cheers

    Yoghurt
     
  19. chum_2000_uk

    chum_2000_uk
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    Yeah I really like the HR-03, seems very good quality and keeps the card pretty cool from what I can tell from the temps. Seem to remember it being a bit of a pain to fit - you have to take off the stock cooler for the GFX card, then fit heatsinks to all the chips on the board then fit the whole cooler onto the main GPU. It is worth it when its done though IMO.

    I haven't tried Windows 7, but I really want to at some point. I would suggest to you that the software for the touch screen is complete rubbish and very limited... I reckon Windows 7 touch screen support may well give you better options with what you can do. I use Samurize for custom temperature readouts to be displayed on the 7" screen... I reckon with proper OS touch screen support that windows 7 provides, you may be able to get some cool software on the go possibly? Certainly worth looking into and experimenting with :cool:
     
  20. yoghurt

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    Thank you

    I have read someone else saying a similar thing about the software which is the opposite to the favourable reviews out their.

    I understand there is another case after ours which does have better software but I think only works with the new case ?

    I want to use the Windows Media Center which I like as it it straightforward. Also have a Harmony One to use with it.

    My current case is an Elonex Artisan which is great but saw the Zalman and it was an impulse buy!

    Cheers

    Yoghurt
     
  21. yoghurt

    yoghurt
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    Have now built the system and installed XP and Windows 7 7600 (dual boot) but not had time to tinker at all

    One problem though-I installed all the supplied software on the XP but could not get the program working which controls the 4 internal fans

    The fans are not working so I wanted know if you need to get the program working to gain control and turn them on? If no it may be I have not correctly wired them from the fans to the 'control panel' in the case.

    Thank you

    Yoghurt
     
  22. chum_2000_uk

    chum_2000_uk
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    Hi mate, think you may have either a newer or older version of the case, I remember reading about an onboard fan controller but mine didn't have one (have a feeling you have the older version as I bought mine a fair while after the reviews that I read were published). Not sure why they would have got rid of the fan controller, but I was gutted when I found out mine didn't have it.

    This is why I bought the T-Ban electronic fan controller. Sorry I can't be of any help, but what I have found with the software that came with my case is it was rubbish. I really like the case for looks and the cool 2nd screen, but I think its more novelty value than actual usability. Although having said that it is handy being able to have case temperatures and fan speed displayed on the second screen - especially when we get a bit of warm weather as I generally turn the fans up a bit to keep temps down.
     
  23. yoghurt

    yoghurt
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    Thanks Chum 2000 UK-I am not sure if their is a built in controller or not

    The 4 case fans connect to the control panel above where the card reader is-they have not been on at all so I was wondering if you needed the software to control them.

    I will do a bit moer digging

    Cheers
     
  24. yoghurt

    yoghurt
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    Well got it working after checking all the wiring which was not all connected! Got the touchscreen to work amd M Play Zini software to work in XP AND Windows 7 using the driver disk from the Zalman website for version 2 of the case.
    I can now control the fans via the software although I could'nt via the touchscreen which just shows the current settings?

    I need to sit down and work out what I actually want the touchscreen for apart from the 'Wow factor'

    Not sure how to implement the Windows 7 touchscreen capabilities either

    Will stay in touch

    Cheers
     
  25. yoghurt

    yoghurt
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    Well i have been trying to get my HTPC to output in different res (low for the touchscreen) and high for mu projector and it seems you cannot do it-found other threads with the same problem

    I had a look at xmbc which someone had working with a touchscreen but but the Zalman which is a great shame as I love xbmc

    Also tried medoaportal where I did get the output on the touchscreen to work but it took an age to load

    Anyone using theirZalman HD160xt case happily (ie not using the supplied software!)

    Cheers

    Yoghurt
     

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