thanks for the reply. The consideration for me is waterproofing via elevation. Admittedly, it is not more difficult effort-wise or conceptually to put an htpc or a tower "higher up". This is not on my audio rack, but under my desk. Given some shelving I've got, the htpc would be a more convenient shape (more horizontal than vertical real-estate available). I do not need it to be an actual htpc functionally, but rather just a good, reasonably quiet 'desktop' case (like my old 286 Epson was, which was much faster than my Kaypro 4!).
This computer is my "daily driver", so it's for internet/email, word, excel, quicken, and that sort of thing. Occasionaly used for music, i use it with an external dac anyway.
Not sure any of this would change your recommendation, just a bit more clarity as to my situation. As it turns out, my boot drive survived,, and i have already cloned it to a brand new drive just to be sure i do not have a surprise, delayed-reaction failure. I have a new psu which i have yet to install. Hoping my luck holds out and that the psu failed without taking out the mobo or ram, as the water seemed not to kill my hdd.
Thanks again for the reply.