Silverstone GD01 and LC17 HTPC Cases

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We chose to install a system in just one of the two cases because they are so similar. The GD01 was chosen because...

1) it has the VFD, which could be tricky to set up
2) its front intakes appear to be worse, so if the HDD temperatures are OK in it, then the LC17 should be a bit better.
3) other than the first two items, the two cases are identical, so the thermal and acoustic performance should be very close.

A fairly hot system was put together, and Windows XP Pro SP2 was installed and fully updated. This is the same system used in the Moneual Moncaso case review, and very similar to that used in many of our previous HTPC case reviews. The components are:

ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard
One of the first for AM2, this is also a power hungry boards, thanks largely to the 32 full PCI Express lanes that it supports. The target market is high end gamers, so it's a bit of a mismatch for an HTPC system, but it does the job, and it's passively cooled to boot.

AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ processor
This was the hottest, fastest non-FX processor that AMD produced when the AM2 Socket was first launched, and it's still the hottest AMD chip we've used to date. The TDP is rated for 89W, and we believe it — practical measurements have showed that the difference in AC system power between idle and load is almost 90W!

Corsair XMS2 2 x 1024MB DDR2 matched dual channel memory.

Samsung Spinpoint SP2504C 250GB SATA 3.5" hard drive
One of the quietest 3.5" desktop drives we know of. At idle, it measures ~21 dBA@1m. The drive was used not for the OS but as a secondary data drive.

Seagate Momentus 7200.1 ST910021AS 100GB SATA notebook hard drive
The system drive. It's quieter than most 3.5" drives but noisier than most notebook drives due to the 7,200 RPM spindle speed.

LG GSA-H22N DVD±RW drive

Seasonic S12-430
One of our favorite quiet power supplies.

XFX GeForce GF6800XT 128 MB video card with Zalman VF900 VGA cooler at 5V. The SPL of this HSF at 5V measures 20 dBA@1m. It sounds a bit like a whispery rubbing of paper.

nMedia IceTank CPU Heatsink modified with a Nexus 92mm fan, controlled by the motherboard set to "Silent" Mode
There are better coolers than the IceTank, but its low profile has made it our de facto standard for testing HTPC cases, which often don't have room for the bigger, better heatsinks out there. The IceTank struggles with low airflow, so the motherboard will crank the Nexus fan up to full speed when the system is stressed.

> >> Keep in mind that with the 6.2" or 15.5cm internal height of these cases, a much taller heatsink can be accommodated. The list would include any cooler that's under ~140mm in height, perhaps a little taller if fins are bendable (such as on a Zalman 9700, for example).

Installation was relatively straightforward. The trickiest part was sorting the sequence of components to be installed. The basic sequence used was...

1) motherboard, with heatsink/fan pre-installed on the CPU
2) PSU, and insert power connectors on motherboard
3) optical drive cage
4) hard drive cage, with HDDs installed

Depending on the position of the connectors on the motherboard, you may have to plug in connectors sequentially as each component is installed. Although the cases are not small, they're a touch less deep (front to back) than some other cases, and this means that optical and hard drive connectors may interfere with motherboard components and connections. Remember, there are extra cables and adapters associated with the VFD. It's probably best not to put the drive cages back in (with drives mounted using screws) until after everything else has been done.

Not quite halfway through physical installation.

All done, except for the Samsung 3.5" HDD.
The notebook drive rests on foam; it could have been easily suspended in elastic.

Installation Differences between GD01 and LC17

Positioning the front of the optical drive in the GD01 is pretty simple, no different than most. The only tricky part is that it's not possible to adjust the depth of the optical drive while the cage is actually in place, so the procedure is to put the drive in the cage with just one screw, then position the cage in place and see if it lines up, make adjustments if necessary, check again, then screw the drive down tight before securing the cage. If you don't have a matched silver or black drive, so what? Most of the time, the front of the optical drive will be covered by by the door.

On the LC17, you have to deal with matching metal plates that must be secured to the front of the optical drive door. We've discussed this procedure on other case reviews before. It's always a bit of a pain. But a nice mechanism to adjust the position of the door open/close button makes it pretty compatible with a wide array of optical drives. Our advice: Avoid hassles, install just one optical drive, it's all you need anyway.

Double-sided tape is used to secure the matching black aluminum facia to the optical drive drawer.

Nicely adjustable mechanism for the door open mechanism.

The other big difference is related to the Vacuum Fluorescent Display in the GD01. This procedure is often a pain as well, but here, it added only two more connectors: One USB and one breakout ATX adapter cable for voltage. Still the latter is a big pain to tuck away.

We could get into details about the VFD / remote control operation and setup, but frankly, it's too tedious and not interesting enough for us to expend the time and energy. We're more interested in the thermal and acoustic aspects of the case. Suffice it to say...

  • The remote and VFD are SoundGraph iMon products, of which we have seen many variants.
  • The VFD looks nice and adds useful functionality in conjunction with the remote. It's also multi-lingual. It can display system information, check news and e-mail, and weather. It also has a graphic equalizer and indicators for audio functions such as speakers, etc.
  • Please check Silverstone's web site for more details.

The final build was a bit more cluttered than we'd like, but not bad. Airflow paths between intake vents and hot components were kept relatively unobstructed.

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