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 Post subject: mCubed's HFX mini: Fanless HTPC "heatsink case"
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 1:06 am 
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mCubed's HFX mini: Fanless HTPC "heatsink case"

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 3:03 am 
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Really nice-looking system. If I had the resources, I'd build a similar setup, with the main heatsinks across the top, rather than the sides. This would mean a more difficult assembly procedure, but the heat-pipes would work better, and the top heatsinks would definately work better.

The ambient temps that were present when the testing was done, are somewhat unrealistic for most people. Even in the winter my house is about 21-22C, and in the summer with the AC running, I approach 29C frequently. What these temps would do to a fanless system is fairly obvious.

I'd also have a laptop drive for the OS.......

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 6:42 am 
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A nice system, i would definately consider that if i had any use for a HTPC :P



Btw why were the temps not displayed in rise above ambient? Because the sensors were not calibrated and its therefore impossible to compare the temps to anything else anyway?

What ambient temps are realistic obviously depends on where you are located, Its prety cool around here this time of the year.. Right now my room temp is 19c, but thats because i keep the window open and its 8-10c outside. With the window closed, it would rise to 21-22.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 8:31 am 
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Great article. Hard drive seeks only bother some. As long as the sound is muted and not overwhelming, I like to know when the harddrive is thrashing. It gives me a little peace of mind that my sytstem is still running and doing something. Otherwise, it gets eerily silent. However, on a HTPC you don't want to be able to hear it on the couch.

There is no mention of discrete video cards in this case. The intel integrated graphics is not the best solution for 1080i HD video. Purevideo and Avivo do a better job at deinterlacing and sharp scaling for use on a HDTV. A 7600GT is the HD video card of choice because it supports all the advanced purevideo algorithms. However, this case may be better suited for a 7300GS or 7600GS. Do they include a riser and heatpipes for a discrete video card to use the left side heatsink? It would be nice to see this in action.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 8:55 am 
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autoboy wrote:
There is no mention of discrete video cards in this case. The intel integrated graphics is not the best solution for 1080i HD video. Purevideo and Avivo do a better job at deinterlacing and sharp scaling for use on a HDTV. A 7600GT is the HD video card of choice because it supports all the advanced purevideo algorithms. However, this case may be better suited for a 7300GS or 7600GS. Do they include a riser and heatpipes for a discrete video card to use the left side heatsink? It would be nice to see this in action.


If you buy the riser card set (conveniently sold by mCubed), you can then add a PCIe 16x video card and a GPU heatpipe (also conveniently sold by mCubed), then you can have your tuner card, your sound card and your heatpipe-cooled video card.

Of course, it'll cost you another $200.00 over the cost of this system...

-Derek

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 9:48 am 
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I have to hand it to mCubed, it is a beautiful, beautiful case, and actually pretty reasonably priced compared to similarly-specced Hush PC's. Like others have noted, it would be nice to have the option of a notebook drive.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 11:49 am 
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Location: Bellevue, Nebraska
Case: $421
PSU: $187
VFD: $112
Riser Cards: $140

So in all, to get the case reviewed WITHOUT ANY actual computer parts:

Total: $860 + shipping

not all that cheep IMO.

also, $187 for that PSU is outlandish. 12v line can only handle 15a (180w). you can get delta 220w 18amp, 12v passive external PSU's for 30 bucks off ebay.

EDIT:

oh yeah, and if you want to put a video card in it, it'll cost you an extra $81 for the heatpipe cooler for that.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 12:21 pm 
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Correction made in the review: PSU is 280W model, E28, not E21 as first listed.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 2:19 pm 
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I'm guessing it is a real pain to assemble a system in this thing, and this may have been part of the reason that a fully assembled system was sent for review, rather than just the case.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 3:36 pm 
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First of all, thanks a lot for all your comments, I really appreciate the feedback! :)

Bluefront wrote:
The ambient temps that were present when the testing was done, are somewhat unrealistic for most people. Even in the winter my house is about 21-22C, and in the summer with the AC running, I approach 29C frequently. What these temps would do to a fanless system is fairly obvious.


nici wrote:
Btw why were the temps not displayed in rise above ambient? Because the sensors were not calibrated and its therefore impossible to compare the temps to anything else anyway?

What ambient temps are realistic obviously depends on where you are located, Its prety cool around here this time of the year.. Right now my room temp is 19c, but thats because i keep the window open and its 8-10c outside. With the window closed, it would rise to 21-22.

Well, first of all I can only comment on the temperatures within the environment that I've used a system in. Given that this is a room that doesn't get too much sunlight in summer (and even less during autumn and winter) the temperatures inside it tend to be on the lower side of things. But there's really not too many ways to simulate a higher ambient temperatures without an increased noise level. During the day (when temps. tend to be 3°C to 5°C higher than at night) the environment is significantly louder than at night. And if I had turned on the room heater then the sound experience would have been a different one.
With regards to talking about temperature in terms of an increase compared to ambient temps you're confronted with the problem that heatpipes tend to work better if the delta between one end of the pipe and the second one is relatively high. With normal heatsink/fan combinations you have a relatively liniear curve while more factors are involved when it comes to the effectiveness of heatpipes. I would therefore need a very controlled environment (e.g. professional temperature chamber) to really be able to influence all the relevant variables.

derekva wrote:
autoboy wrote:
There is no mention of discrete video cards in this case. The intel integrated graphics is not the best solution for 1080i HD video. Purevideo and Avivo do a better job at deinterlacing and sharp scaling for use on a HDTV. A 7600GT is the HD video card of choice because it supports all the advanced purevideo algorithms. However, this case may be better suited for a 7300GS or 7600GS. Do they include a riser and heatpipes for a discrete video card to use the left side heatsink? It would be nice to see this in action.


If you buy the riser card set (conveniently sold by mCubed), you can then add a PCIe 16x video card and a GPU heatpipe (also conveniently sold by mCubed), then you can have your tuner card, your sound card and your heatpipe-cooled video card.

Of course, it'll cost you another $200.00 over the cost of this system...

Thanks a lot for the information. As derekva has mentioned there's the possibility of using the Borg HGC to cool any additional cards (graphics, tv-tuner, physics, whatever) and mCubed also offers AGP and PCIe x16 risers to be used with the HFX mini. I've also received word that some users on the mCubed forums have worked with some spiced-up versions of the system and they report that: "It's no problem to get a 7600 GT card and a PVR 500 into the mini! Ive done it today, and it went well... "

Please do keep those comments coming and also don't hesitate to ask any questions, I'll forward all of them to mCubed and post their reply in here.

Cheers,
Christoph

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 12:21 pm 
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Killer looks! But too expensive. Costs ~950e around here. There's just no way I could justify the cost to myself.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 5:10 pm 
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Kinda offtopic.. can anyone shed some light on what keyboard it is? I'm looking for something small and handy just like that!


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2006 3:29 pm 
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puscifer wrote:
Kinda offtopic.. can anyone shed some light on what keyboard it is? I'm looking for something small and handy just like that!

I forwarded your question to mCubed and will post their reply once it comes back to me... :)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2006 4:14 pm 
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Thanks, it seems like a nice htpc keyboard if you dont mind the lack of a numpad and if you have a big tft tv and need something small to lug around the room.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2006 4:44 pm 
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I'm more thinking of placing the keyboard next to my bed, that would allow me to put on some decent (and loud!) music while I wake up... :D

With regards to the numpad, this is something that I hardly miss. In fact I almost exclusively use it for controlling Winamp these days.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 7:18 am 
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Just got a reply from mCubed:

The keyboard is from Sharkoon and it's called WIRELESS KEYBOARD RF. Here in Austria it costs around €60 which is quite a lot in my opinion...

Anyway, hope that helps,
Christoph

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 8:22 am 
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I agree, €60 is quite a bit.. I found these: http://www.speed-link.de/prod.php?lang= ... =1&pb_id=5

The Speed-Link Media Center is nice although alot bulkier. The ideal solution would be the Ultra Flat metal design without the numpad, i really like the low profile and i bet its silent as hell. Wireless and retro-illuminated preferably, but i guess that would take too much battery life to be viable :]


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 9:15 am 
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Mmm, that Media Center keyboard is certainly way too bulky for me... So I guess the quest for an affordable and small keyboard continues.

On the other hand I'm actually thinking of just getting a remote control because it's probably enough to address most of "remote controlling"-needs.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 9:50 am 
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Wireless keyboard when if ya got a 32''+ tv and you're surfing, remote (like the Imon ones) for watching films or listening to music. I'm either getting an Imon or just one of those asus P5V-VM DH boards and an Antec NSK2400 to put the E6300 when the new Quad come, the included remote seems good enough and it even powers on and off and standby.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 8:19 am 
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It'd be interesting to replace the HDDs by NAS. The noise from the HDDs would then be gone and the optical drive is only used sporadically.

Unfortunately booting from NAS doesn't appear to be easy (or even possible) with Windows.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:05 pm 
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You could go for somewhat of a hybrid solution by using a of 2.5" drive (or maybe two of them in RAID for performance) inside the enclosure and all other mass-storage being located somewhere else on a server, NAS, external enclosure, whatever...

Just a thought.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 4:16 pm 
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puscifer, I just saw that Logic Supply added a new wireless keyboard with trackbal to their online-store: ione Scorpius K3NTU Multimedia Trackball Keyboard for $35. (you can find a better photo of the unit at http://www.atacom.com who seems to be the original manufacturer.

while it doesn't look as good as the one from sharkoon it could actually fit the bill quite well... :)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 4:24 am 
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Beautiful case... definitely an eye-catcher. Personally I would install one W.D SATA-II 500GB HDD... they are unbelievably quiet. I've purchased two of them after reading their SPCR review.

i wonder if it's possible to stick one 120mm nexus fan in this case? :P :lol:

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 Post subject: mCubed's HFX mini: Fanless HTPC "heatsink case"
PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2006 1:08 pm 
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Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
I just bought one of these HFX mini's and am VERY disappointed with the finishing quality of the case. In real life it looks like it case is a hand-made prototype instead of the sleek quality that you would expect from looking at the pictures and for the price paid.

- There are dents in the silver frame
- The frame is obviously spray-painted by hand
- The keys appear worn out
- The connection between the acrylic front and the silver frame is corrugated

I complained with the supplier, but was informed that this is normal build quality for the HFX Mini; I should expect no better quality than this and if I want a higher quality case, I should exchange it for the regular HFX :shock: .

I then called the manufacturer mCubed and spoke to someone in sales who confirmed that what my supplier told me is correct. In fact there appears to be a "quality expectations" document that he promised to send me (but has not to date).

I am surprised that the reviewer has made no mention of this. I have based my purchase on photoshopped pictures and a raving review, but would have been interested to know in forehand what it is that I amreally getting for my money. I am confident that that is true for most of SPCR's audience.

Cheers,
Barry


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 Post subject: Re: mCubed's HFX mini: Fanless HTPC "heatsink case"
PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2006 4:40 pm 
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Barlow wrote:
I am surprised that the reviewer has made no mention of this. I have based my purchase on photoshopped pictures and a raving review, but would have been interested to know in forehand what it is that I amreally getting for my money. I am confident that that is true for most of SPCR's audience.

Barry, I'm very sorry to hear about your bad experience with the enclosure. But to suggest that I photoshopped the pictures and whatnot does take the thing a bit too far. As a reviewer I can only report on my findings with the sample I received and that one was certainly of top-notch quality and didn't have any of the flaws that you're mentioning. Also while I visited the mCubed office for my previous interview with them I looked at countless enclosures and polycarbonate covers and all of them appeared to be flawless.

Regards,
Christoph

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 Post subject: Re: mCubed's HFX mini: Fanless HTPC "heatsink case"
PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2006 11:23 pm 
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Quote:
to suggest that I photoshopped the pictures and whatnot does take the thing a bit too far.


I agree, it was incorrect to make that suggestion; I apologize Christoph :oops: .

When I wrote this, in my mind I was referring to the product pictures on the manufacturer and reseller sites that suggest impacible build quility, but reading back, I pointed directly at you. Again, this was not my intention and an apology is in place.

I am surpised that your case looks so much better than mine...particularly given the "expectation" discussions I have had with the manufacturer and reseller...

I shall try to post some pictures later today so that you can judge for yourself.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2006 12:00 am 
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Perhaps SPCR could exchange their test unit with Barlow?


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 Post subject: Re: mCubed's HFX mini: Fanless HTPC "heatsink case"
PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2006 1:51 am 
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Found a site that will host some of my pictures for free until December 3, 2006. I am not an experienced photographer and its not easy to get the "prototype quality" detailed in the picture :wink:
Anyway, I am interested to get your perspective...

Image

Image

Image


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2006 9:17 am 
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Hi Barry,

you must have received one of the first lids, which were meant for technical evaluations of the system only (for system integrators). Please get in contact with sales@mcubed-tech.com to get a free replacement.

I also made a shot of how the lid should look like:
Image

This is one, which I grapped out of the todays stock.

Maik


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2006 12:52 pm 
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It sounds to me like there is cause for a good whipping (from both the customer and manufacturer) of the supplier!
1. For selling off their "Free Samples", which is almost certainly illegal :?
2. For telling the customer to buy the expensive case instead, because the cheap versions are all crappy :x

Nice service from mCubed (by the by, you should contact MikeC about getting the --Vendor-- status); Barlow- who was your supplier?

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