HTPC enthusiasts often place a lot of emphasis on silent systems for obvious reasons. We have looked at systems with passive thermal solutions before, but never presented the build process for one. Back in May, we had covered Streacom's announcement of the fanless FC9 and FC10 chassis. With support for passive cooling of CPUs with a TDP of up to 95 W and a sleek industrial design, HTPC enthusiasts have been eagerly waiting for these units to hit the market. After some delays, Streacom finalized the design and started shipping the units to resellers in mid-November. We requested for samples of the FC10 chassis and the Nano150 PSU and Streacom's shipment reached us in the first week of December.

Dustin usually handles case reviews and Martin handles PSUs, but, with the Streacom components, we are going to take a different long term approach. We will be using the FC10 and the Nano150 as building blocks for a fully passive HTPC. We also intend the HTPC to act as a testbed for evaluating discrete HTPC GPUs.

The Streacom offerings introduced in May also included the FC9 which supports mITX and uATX motherboards. However, the FC9 supports half-height PCIe cards only. The FC10, on the other hand, supports up to two full height PCIe cards. Hence, we took the decision to go in for the FC10 despite our plans to use a mITX motherboard.

In today's piece, we will first check out the Streacom components in detail. Following that, we will take a brief look at the other components of our passive HTPC build. After that, we will go through the build process in detail and also present some thermal performance results. In the concluding section, we will have a sneak peek at what lies in store in the remaining parts of the HTPC series.

Passive Build Chassis & PSU
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  • brakteat - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    LauRoman is right. Last year I built four fanless computers for our office, using HD-Plex H3.S chassis. Since then they run fast (Core i3-2105+SSD), completely silently (no moving parts) and still very cool (under load, all components are usually below 55 C). Also, after one year there is no visible dust inside the chassis so there is no need for physical maintenance.

    Of course, if you want to play games at high resolution then HD 4000 is certainly not enough (and my HD 3000 even less so). I always play my games at 2560x1600 and built myself an inaudible gaming computer in a Coolermaster HAF-X. This works great thanks to seven large fans running at low speed. The graphics card is ony cooled by a 200 mm fan. The fans do collect a lot of dust though, even if the case has dust filters. Without maintenance the dust would eventually stop the computer from working.
  • EnzoFX - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    TRUE. The single best reason to go for passive is no dust. Can't argue against someone wanting zero maintenance.
  • Death666Angel - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    I have an HTPC with one fan that serves double duty as the cpu heatsink fan and the case fan (I cut a large hole above into the case above the heatsink so the fan could get fresh air), I also have a dust cover just above it that works with magnets. Every time my wife or I vacuum the living room, we just take it off, vacuum it as well and put it back on. nearly zero maintenance and much more powerful if I wanted to. Also, silent in the current setup. I would never go with a fanless case.
    But I do see that for some people/situations, adding fans does not bring anything to the table because they just don't need the power or cooler running components. :)
  • EnzoFX - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    Yes exactly. Some people really want zero maintenance, and aren't going to be gaming on it =P. I myself am drawn to such a setup, but I've never been able to commit, and probably never will. So it does go to show that it's impractical for more hands-on users, seeing as with just a little work, you get much more in return.
  • colonelciller - Sunday, December 23, 2012 - link

    this case is perfect for playing 1080 P video streamed from a home media server (in another room).

    looks like a ZERO compromise machine to people who want silence.
    For those who want a do-it-all noise maker next to there TV there are other cases.
  • ryccoh - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    Check out Silverstone cases. They like to mount two slow 180mm fans on the buttom blowing air out the top of the case with the motherboard turned 90 degrees.
  • colonelciller - Sunday, December 23, 2012 - link

    No no no absolutely NOT

    The whole point of this case is silence with a capital 'S'.
    The case is perfect as is. Even the quietest fans are not silent which is a complete FAIL for those seeking true Silence from the HTPC.

    Couple this case with an efficient cpu with integrated graphics and a small SSD for OS only and you've got perfection.

    Store all your media on a home server where it belongs. As soon as you try to turn a HTPC into a do-it-all machine you start making compromises.
  • CaioRearte - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    Hello, please evaluate how this build would turn out powered by one of AMD Trinity's APUs. They have 65W parts that can be passively-cooled and it might be interesting to see how the IGP performs, especially since Intel's integrated graphics don't perform at all.
  • kyuu - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

  • random2 - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    Yes, but the i3-3225 sure performs. The integrated graphics on these APUs get their butts handed to them on a platter by the lowly 640 GPU used here. Added to that is the fact that CPUs do make a difference in times for individual frame rendering and in game frame rates.

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