First of all, thanks a lot for all your comments, I really appreciate the feedback!
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.
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 3Â°C to 5Â°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.
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.