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ABOUT SFX12V POWER SUPPLIES
The US$55 ExoticPC-SilenX SFX 200W PSU meant to be used with the D.Vine5 is somewhat different from others we've encountered in the past. It uses a very quiet 60mm SilenX fan (like the ones supplied with the case). Other SFX PSUs have an 80mm fan on the side that usually faces the CPU. The 80mm fan PSU has the obvious advantage of being able to blow more air at the same noise level than one with a 60mm fan.
However, the D.Vine5 case appears to be designed specifically for the SilenX-200W SFX PSU. The 80mm fan SFX power supply simply does not fit properly, the protrusion for the 80mm fan being the main problem. It can be done with long screws, but it is not a good fit and may cause problems with fitting the motherboard in place. So unless you find a PSU with the same form factor, the Ahanix SilenX 200W PSU is recommended. It also also has an unusual 3-pin 2-wire connector (carrying 12V?) meant specifically to power the VFD. Here it is below, installed in the case. It is very quiet on startup but seems to get to a much higher speed at a modest load. Given the low airflow noted for these SilenX fans, it may be necessary. The noise emitted by this PSU is not the lowest encountered, but it is modest.
Behind the front panel, there is a small PCB for the switches on either side, with a drive bay in the center. A hard drive is meant to go on the top, an optical drive beneath it.
As the photo below shows, a series of intake slots is beneath the drive bay. These are the only intake vents for the case. There are 3 strips of 15 slots measuring 3/4" x 3/16". The total intave vent area comes to a little over 6 square inches, which is significantly less than the exhaust vent area of two 60mm fans (8 sq inches), plus a 60mm or 80mm fan in the PSU. For a system of hot components, or if you wsanto maximize airflow for minimum fan noise, cutting this intake grill open into a large square hole is probably not a bad idea. Because it is located on the bottom, and the feet are tall enough, there's probably room for some type of filter to keep dust out as well.
Because the VFD is quite shallow, for silent modders, there may be enough space beneath the optical drive bay to suspend a HDD. Alternative, there is space behind the power switch for some kind of HDD suspension setup.
The space behind the PC / HDTV switch is predrilled for installing something. One would expect this is part of the yet-unreleased EiOS HDTV tuner.
A bag of parts is supplied. This includes the matching aluminum cover replacement for the optical drive.
While an instruction sheet or manual is not supplied, the Ahanix web site has a detailed, illustrated on-line assembly manual. Very nicely done. It is probably worth printing up to have handy before starting system assembly.
ANALYSIS & CONCLUSIONS
So how suitable is the D.Vine5 for its intended role as a Home Theater PC case? It seems quite suitable.
- First and foremost, the D.Vine5 looks like it belongs in a high end audio / video system like no other PC case we've ever seen. Few could quibble with the looks of this case.
- The internal design is well set up for a Spartan complement of components, albeit with some very specialized accessories.
- The fit and finish of the case is excellent, although some of the cover mounting screws did not want to seat down all the way; perhaps they are too long.
- Some care should be taken if opting for a very high power CPU or many hot components like a hot VGA card, gobs of high speed RAM, a 10K RPM SCSI drive, lots of PCI cards, etc; while airflow potential does not seem inadequate, it is less than in a good mid-tower ATX case.
- The choice of an STX form factor PSU is somewhat limiting: They are not usually available with more than 200W capacity and tend to be a bit less efficient at evacuating hot case air. This case may only fit the 60mm fan 200W SilenX SFX PSU sold by ExoticPC.
- It's not inexpensive, but it's not vastly overpriced either. High end aluminum mid-tower cases cost in this ballpark, although they do tend to be more full-featured. It's the usual thing about competition and what the market will bear. There doesn't seem to be much serious competition to the D.Vine5 and perhaps the market is willing to bear the current price.
Final word: I'd like to keep it! :)
Our thanks to ExoticPC for sponsoring this Ahanix D.Vine5 sample. And congratulations in advance to the lucky winner of this prize in Silent PC Review's Summer 2003 Promotional Giveaway!
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