• Case Name (Included PSU, Size), W” x H” x D”, Case price (+ $45 if PSU not included), Complete Build price after tax
  • Antec ISK-300 (150W PSU, modified micro ATX), 8.7″ x 3.8″ x 12.9″, $87, $732
  • Antec ISK-600 (None, ATX), 10.2″ x 7.7″ x 14.5″, $70 + $45, $801
  • Cooler Master Elite 120 (None, ATX), 9.4″ x 8.2″ x 15.8″, $45 + $45, $773
  • Fractal Designs Node 304 (None, ATX), 9.84″ x 8.27″ x 14.72″, $70 + $45, $801
  • Fractal Designs Node 605 Full ATX (None, ATX), 17.52″ x 6.46″ x 13.74″, $130 + $45, $862
  • Lian Li PC-C37B-USB3.0 (None, ATX), 17.1″ x 3.7″ x 14.9″, $170 + $45, $873
  • Lian Li PC-Q08B (None, ATX), 8.94″ x 10.71″ x 13.58″, $95 + $45, $828
  • Silverstone Sugo SG05 (Optional 300W, SFX), 8.74″ x 6.93″ x 10.87″, $48 + $45, $776
  • SilverStone Sugo SG06Black (Optional 300W, SFX), 8.74″ x 6.93″ x 10.87″, $56 + $45, $785
  • Silverston MILO ML03B (None, ATX), 17.32″ x 4.13″ 13.39″, $60 + $45, $752
  • Winsis WI-02 (200W PSU), 10.43″ x 3.54″ x 10.63″, $58, $700
  • Winsis WI-01 (200W PSU), 10.43″ x 3.54″ x 10.63″, $58, $700
  • XBox 360 (external PSU), 12.17″ x 3.54″ x 10.16″
HTPC Cases Size Comparison

HTPC Cases Size Comparison

Tall Vs. Low Profile

The cases break down into two groups, tall and low profile cases. The low profile cases, the ones that are close in height to the Xbox 360, require low profile video cards. This is the primary factor limiting performance in home theater PC builds, pretty much every thing else can have similar performance characteristics to full sized ATX tower PCs (PC, RAM, SSD etc., though you would tend to be more limited on overclocking capability due to airflow limitations. Some of the wider low profile cases allow for the use of full ATX motherboards, which pretty much gets you 4 slots for RAM instead of 2, and some extra expansion slots.

Included Power Supply

Another interesting aspect of some of the cases is the inclusion of built in Power Supply Units. Notably, the Silverston Sugo has a pretty nice optional 300W PSU included which helps it to be the smallest case that supports a full sized graphics card. The Winsis comes with a built in 200w power supply that gives just enough headroom for a build using a low profile graphics card. The Antec ISK-300 comes with a 150W power supply that cuts things a little close for comfort. Under normal operation, a build using this case should operate within this threshold, but it could spike above 150W of draw, potentially causing stability issues, and perhaps even longevity issues (that is, the PSU might crap out on you before its time). Speaking of which, it’s probable that it’s going to be a pain in the ass to replace any of these built-in power supplies. I think you have the best chance with the Silverstone [ed. actually, I looked into this, it uses a standard small PSU, so it can be replaced easily]. pretty poor chances with the Antec, and if the Winsis PSU dies on you, get ready to replace the entire case (luckily it’s cheap though, so you might actually spend less replacing the entire Winsis case than you do replacing the PSUs from the other units).

Full Size GPU Build

Here are the components that I’m selecting that are common to all of the tall enclosures.

*Comes with 2 Free games. Choose from: Thief, Hitman Absolution, Sleeping Dogs, Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Dirt 3

**This card is the better deal, better performance, and $24 cheaper after rebate. Unless you really want Thief (the other games can be found on sale regularly) get this card

Total Cost of Common Components: $508/$653 (no PSU/PSU)

Low Profile GPU Build

Here are the components that I’m selecting that are common to all of the low profile enclosures.

Total Cost of Common Components: $578/$623 (no PSU/PSU)

Alternative Peripherals

My Recommendation

I think my favorite setup is the Silverstone Sugo SG06 with the Powercolor HD7850 GPU. At nearly 7″, it’s definitely taller than a console, and might be difficult to find a spot for in some entertainment centers, but it’s very narrow, so it will be more likely to fit beside another box than a lot of the other cases. The SG06 is basically the same thing as the SG05, but it has an aluminum faceplate that I think looks a lot better than the exposed fan on the SG05. You’re going to have this thing for a long time, so I would say to spring for the extra $10 to get the better looking case. It will also be of higher quality than the Coolermaster and Winsis boxes (the rest is mostly a tossup, though the Lian Lis are all aluminum, which is mostly why they are so expensive). The bottom line is that this is the smallest box that doesn’t make you compromise on performance, it’s made well, is a good price, and I think it looks damn good as well.

If you want a low profile instead, and can deal with the significantly lower gpu performance (half the gaming performance but you only save $85 on the entire build) then I would probably go with the Winsis WI-02. Sure, it’s kind of a no name brand, but it REALLY looks like a game console. The Antec ISK300 is smaller, but it’s borderline too small for a build with a graphics card (I read about a build where someone had to shave down their low profile card to get it to fit). Also, I think it’s kind of ugly, haha.

Another possibility is to go with one of the larger low profile cases. You still have to stick with the worse GPU, but it would give you expandability to put in a TV Tuner card so that you can DVR over the air TV. You could also get a dedicated sound card to eliminate sound lag and pops that you sometimes get with onboard sound. However, onboard sound is pretty good these days, and all of the motherboards that I’ve selected have optical audio output, so you can drive a surround sound system without a dedicated sound card. Generally speaking expandability is a good thing, but I think that in this context, it’s better to go with a smaller less expandable system.