Silverstone LaScala LC-04 HTPC Case

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Add-in Cards: The LC-04 isn't tall enough to handle full size AGP and PCI cards mounted normally. Silverstone includes a selection three different AGP and PCI riser cards that let you mount the cards at a 90° angle. The maximum number of cards that can be accommodated at the same time is two. Depending on the layout of your particular motherboard, you may or may not be able to use both an AGP card and a PCI card at the same time. This is an important consideration to address before committing to this case. Silverstone's website has an illustrated guide that shows what motherboards will work in each different type of AGP/PCI configuration. Read this guide before ordering the case.

LC-04 accessory pack includes risers, power cord, extension, standoffs and screws.

Hard Drive Mounting: The hard drive mounts over on the left hand side of the case, and is oriented at 90° from the typical flat configuration. This is perfectly acceptable and saves space in this layout. It puts the HDD right in front of the intake grill which can help to cool it. The hard drive bolts to the case floor and to a steel bracket screwed into the case wall. While this certainly allows the case to act as a giant heatsink, it also hard-couples the drive directly to the case and permits drive noise to be transmitted into and amplified by the case.

HDD screws into the bracket and case floor and sits in front of the side vent. An 80mm fan can be mounted in the remaining opening.

HDD mounted in the case. Also note the AGP card on it's riser and the 80mm case fan that I added.

Custom Power Supply: The Silverstone 240W power supply comes with four 4-pin Molex connectors, a standard 20-pin ATX and 4-pin 12V ATX P4 power connector. The power supply does not include any Serial ATA/150 power connectors, and no SATA adapters are included. The short length of the power leads makes it difficult to reach any hardware mounted on the left side of the case. Silverstone has included one 8" power extension which I used, but I needed another one in order to reach the HDD.

The PSU is cooled by an internal 80mm x 15mm fan. This fan is not thermally controlled so it runs at a fixed speed and is actually reasonably quiet. This fan also acts as the only exhaust fan for the chassis. It sits right next to the CPU socket, so it sucks in a lot of the heat from the CPU, as well as from the rest of the case. Fortunately, there is the provision to mount a full size 80mm x 25mm fan on the case wall opposite the PSU. This fan can be used as an intake fan to help boost the airflow through the case.

Here's a view of the TFX PSU, the included ATX shield and the rear vents.

I/O Cables & Connectors: Emerging from behind the front bezel is a plethora of connecting wires. You've got the usual Power, Power LED and HDD Activity connectors plus a group of wires that includes the two USB 2.0 connectors, a single Firewire male plug and the Audio In+Out connectors. The USB connectors are the individual wire type which means that the user will have to check their motherboard manual carefully so each wire can be plugged into the correct terminal on the USB headers. The Firewire connector is a bit of a puzzle as it is terminated with an external 6 pin male connector on it, as opposed to using an internal connector that would allow it to be plugged directly into the motherboard Firewire header. With the included external connector the user is forced to run the connector outside the rear of the case (even though there is no dedicated opening) and then plug it into the external female jack on the motherboard's I/O panel or a Firewire PCI card. This is a rather awkward arrangement.

Here's a close-up of the front I/O ports. From left to right: Audio I/O, USB and Firewire ports.

While I'm picking nits, let me mention the Power connector: It is configured in a nonstandard spacing. The two wires are inserted into each end of a three pin connector body, leaving an empty hole in the middle. The majority of the motherboards that I've ever worked with have their Power pins positioned right next to each other. With this one, you'll either need to reposition the wires in the connector body so they're right next to each other, or use a 3-pin-to-2-pin adapter plug. Another small nit, is the lack of a Reset button on the front bezel. I suspect this was left off for aesthetic reasons. It's not a big issue because the vast majority of motherboards can be shut down by holding the Power Switch in for over four seconds. This is usually the default setting in the BIOS.

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