Have you wanted to setup an HD HTPC? Have you felt like you can get a lot more from your $1,000+ investment in your 50+ Inch HD TV? We know that we have and we think we have found some of the best pieces and parts to build one. With the help of Acoustic PC and Zalman we have put together an Intel Core i5 661, AMD HD 5380, Asus Xonar DX, based system inside a Zalman HD503 HTPC case
. On top of this Acoustic PC
has sent us some great extras to keep things cool and quiet while stuffed into our TV stand. So with that in mind let’s dive in and see how the build went.
As you can see in the images below, Zalman and Acoustic PC sent us a ton of loot to get this build going. We had some nice choices in the parts we wanted to use and the case, while not Zalman’s best, is very high end.
Looking at the Zalman enclosure box alone we find that it is more than sufficient to get your attention. Both the front and back have a large image of the case along with some of the more prominent features. Zalman also gives you some of the specifics of the HD503 [that is the case that we received from them for this project] on the sides. The box is made of some pretty sturdy cardboard too. As you can see in the image below it took a little bit of a beating in route to us but thanks to the great packaging it arrived safe and sound.
Looking at the front of the HD503 you really get the impression of a large piece of home audio gear. This is right down to the volume knob in the center of the face plate. The smaller buttons on the left side of the face remind me of the programed stations on my last tuner. The effect is quite nice and removes the ‘I’ve got a PC in my living room feeling’ from having this setup.
The right side of the face has two press-to-open flaps. The upper one hides the Optical drive while the lower hides the usual front panel ports [audio, USB, eSATA, etc.]. It also hides a slot for a hot swappable drive. Both sides of the case contain an intake and exhaust port. These are opposite on each side; the left side has the intake in the front and the right side has it in the back. It creates a nice cross breeze. The placement of the left side intake also allows the PSU to vent directly out of the case instead of adding more heat back into the case.
The top of the HD503 has an intake/exhaust right above the area that the CPU fan would sit. This helps maintain good air flow around the CPU as well [while the side intake keeps things moving quite nicely.
The back has even more fans to keep the air flowing as there are two Zalman ultra quiet fans here for exhausting hot air out the back of the HD503. As you can see the HD503 can support a full sized ATX motherboard without too much trouble with room for all of the expansion slots filled.
Looking at the inside of the case we find a fair amount of room. Looking closely you can also see that the 5.25-inch bay is removable. This is nice for installing your optical drive. On the back of the 5.25-inch cage is a fan header panel which also serves as the connection and power point for the hot swap bay.
For your regular HDDs you have a three drive cage that is very different from the norm. Instead of the typical horizontal bays with clips or screws you get a top down installation with the drive vertically mounted. Each is secured to a sturdy handle that locks into place and helps lower vibrations. Both the 3.5 inch and 5.25 inch drive bays can be removed for easy access and also for easier installation of the fans [in regards to the intake on the front left].
Of course that is not all; as we mentioned Acoustic PC sent us quite a few extra goodies to help with the noise. You can see the pile of them in the image below. We also received two sheets of AcoustiPack matting
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