Miika's DIY Silent Aluminum-frame HTPC

Do-It-Yourself Systems
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By Miika Hyvönen, Finland
miika . hyvonen at gmail . com

Miika's monolithic HTPC is the result of classic old-time DIY ingenuity and savvy, which seem in decline in silent computing as quiet off-the-shelf solutions proliferate. DIY initiative can still vye with all the gleaming new high efficiency computer technology today.

- Mike Chin, Editor

In the spring of 2008 there was a lot of talk about home theater computers and one of my friends bought a Silverstone LC17B case for that purpose. I began to wonder if I could make my own case for a HTPC. That's how it all got started.

I started with a number of drawings and sketches, and a lot of measurements of different components and parts. After a couple of months of planning, the picture had become quite clear. The objective was to build a case that would look good in the living room and fit under my Harman/Kardon amplifier. So it should have its front panel the same size as the amp. It should be capable of playing/displaying full HD movies on my television and most importantly, it should be quieter than a whisper.

Photo of Miika's finished DIY HTPC with H/K AV receiver on top.

Next I had to figure out which materials to use and how I could make my HTPC more silent than factory-made one. I decided to use aluminum profile as the framework for the case. I could easily work with aluminum at home and I thought it would give the case a nice slightly industrial look. For the covering panels I decided to use polycarbonate which wasn't too expensive to get and it had the looks.

Then there was the most important thing. How to minimize the noise? From the beginning it was clear to me that there should be only one or two big fans rotating slowly, and that I would love to have a passive PSU, but didn't know how to keep it cool. It didn't take long for me to realize the solution. The passive PSU had to be taken out of the case. At this point it was time to start select the components to be used. They were of course selected with HD video capability, low heat, and low noise in mind

The components chosen were:

  • Asus M3A motherboard with AMD770 chipset
  • AMD Athlon 64 X2 4850E AM2 (45W)
  • Club3D HD3650 PCI-E 512MB Passive VGA
  • Kingston 2x 1GB 800MHZ DDR2
  • Antec Phantom 500W Semi-Passive PSU
  • Samsung 500GB SATA HD502IJ

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