Earlier in the week I did an unboxing of this chassis, my initial impressions were high and after having built out a HTPC using the vCase3 my initial impressions were pretty much dead on. Anyone who has ever built a HTPC using other chassis such as ones from Silverstone or OrigenAE knows the pain of small tight spaces, having to remove sections of the case in a certain order in order to get all of your components in and if a hard drive should fail you’re in for about an hours worth of work replacing it. I’m extremely happy VidaBox realized how frustrating these scenarios were to those who want to build and maintain their own machines and has released a product sure to please almost everyone.
For this build I picked up an Intel DP55WB microATX motherboard, an Intel Core i5-750 CPU, 4GB of OCZ PC3 12800 RAM, an ATI Radeon HD 4550 fanless low profile display adapter from Sapphire, an Asus Xonar XDAV Slim 1.3 sound card, and a Cooler Master ATX power supply. I used a 500GB hard drive and an LG HD-DVD Blu-ray combo drive I had laying around to finish it off.
The build couldn’t of been simpler. For ease of installation and to keep vibration noise down VidaBox uses rubber vibration-isolating screws, you simply screw these into yours drives by hand and they slide and lock into place in the chassis.
The rest of the build is pretty much the same as any other HTPC build would be. One of my favorite features of the chassis are these vibration-isolating screws and the way the drives are easily installed and removed from the chassis.
One of the other big benefits to this chassis is ventilation. The way in which the chassis was designed guarantees any motherboard & CPU combination will have a clear shot out of the case for displacing heat, which in turn makes the fan run at a lower RPM which keeps the fan noise down to almost nothing. With the stock Intel fan that came with my i5-750 I have to put my ear on top of the chassis to hear it running.
There are two things though I wish were incorporated into the design. The first being an integrated Microsoft IR Receiver. Most other HTPC chassis have some sort of integrated receiver, most however aren’t that great (like my built in imon ir receiver in my main system that I disable). I think a good standard internal Microsoft IR receiver was a missed opportunity to make this chassis even better then it already is. My other wish is while I do like the size of the chassis I wish it was a few inches taller to accommodate for full height cards. My next tuner purchase will be the Ceton CableCard tuner which is a full height card so it won’t work in this chassis. Despite these two things this is hands down the best HTPC chassis I’ve seen. If all the cards you want to use are available in half height configurations this is THE chassis for you!