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  • 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.

Rockets fan left the following comment on Andres Perezchica’s recent article for the Wages of Wins Journal concerning the D-League:

To echo a question I’ve raised elsewhere — but haven’t seen addressed — what is a reasonable estimate of the [Wins Produced model’s] error margin? There are some obvious problems with the metric. (For example, it can’t attach a number to plays where a defender’s defense makes an offensive player miss a shot, it values all assists the same, and it does not account for charges drawn.) To be clear, I’m not saying the metric is bunk. But, I think it’s beyond dispute, that it isn’t perfect. Given that it’s not perfect, how imperfect is it? Is [.07]1 really worse than [.09]1? Can the WS make such fine distinctions? I don’t know, and I’d be interested in reading an answer.

One of my biggest complaints about [The Wages of Wins Journal] is that, even though we all accept there’s some [margin of error], in nearly all posts the implicit assumption is that a higher [wins produced] necessarily means the individual contributed more wins. In other words, a player with a .150 [WP48] will be treated as obviously better than a player with a .135. I’m not sure that’s the case. Sorry to (try to) highjack a thread, but I feel like my question comes up in nearly every post — including this one.

Perhaps I can offer a bit of clarification to Rockets fan and anyone else who is unsure of the implications involved in comparing players using the Wins Produced family of production metrics.

The effect of minutes played

As a sample of minutes that a player has played increase, the WP48 as calculated for that period will more closely reflect that players ability, and it’s implications become larger.

To show this point, here’s a table that lists the difference in production (Δ Wins Produced) between two players for a given number of minutes (assumed to be the same) at various differences in their rates of production (Δ WP48).

Fig. 1 - The effect of minutes on Wins Produced at various WP48's

This table shows that subtle differences in WP48 (Δ WP48 of .020 and less) don’t have a large effect on wins produced until the two players approach starters minutes. So if two starters play 2800 minutes each, and the first of the two has a WP48 of 0.100 and the second has a WP48 of 0.120, then the second player will produce 1.17 more wins over the course of the season, which I would argue is significant. But if those same players have the same WP48, but only play 400 minutes, then the second player will produce only 0.17 more wins, which certainly is not very significant.

On the precision of WP48

WP48 is a precise calculation. All else being equal, having a WP48 of 0.150 is (very slightly) preferable to a WP48 of 0.149. The reason for this is that WP48 is the best model available to describe the rate of production of players in the NBA, and an increase in WP48 in isolation is very likely to lead to more wins2 . To say that player a produced at a WP48 of .150 instead of .149 over the course of a season is akin to saying that he got 1003 rebounds rather than 1000. It’s not a big difference, but everything else being equal, you would take the 1003 over the 1000.

One of the strengths of WP48 however, is that over a season’s worth of minutes, player production as expressed in terms of WP48 is relatively consistent (unlike adjusted plus/minus, for example). This tells us that if a player is productive this year, he is likely to be productive next year3. In practical application the Wins Produced model will generally explain a teams win/loss record for a given season to within 2 wins. Usually there will be a couple outliers that under/over perform the win/loss record predicted by the Wins Produced model by about 4 wins. For more on this, see the following posts by Dr. Berri: Proof and the NBA and The Differing Stories on Durant – and a Brief Thunder Review.

In summary, to say that player 1 has a higher WP48 than player 2 is to say that, when considering only the factors included in the Wages of Wins model, that player 1 was more productive on a per 48 minute basis than player 2. This is true regardless of whether there is a difference of .001 WP48 or of .300 WP48 between the two players. There are other factors outside the scope of WP48 that could mean that player 2 is more productive than player 1 in absolute terms, but these factors are both unknown and of relatively small impact. Therefore, when evaluating the production of players in the NBA, it is best to assume that player 1 is more productive than player two, at least until the Wages of Wins model is improved to have a smaller error, or until another model with a smaller margin of error becomes available.

1 Rockets fans question actually used the numbers .7 and .9, but I’m assuming that .07 and .09 were meant as the former numbers only come about in very small sample sizes and are not really reflective of a players actual ability.

2Note that I am using this number for pedagogical purposes and in reality, if a player increases his WP48 by .001 in say 2400 minutes of play, he will have helped his team by 0.058 wins which is not likely to have any parctical effect on the teams win/loss record.

3There are some well know caveats to this generalization. Very early career production (i. e. the first couple seasons a player plays in the NBA) is often much more volatile than production from mid-career seasons. Players are also less likely to maintain production after the age of 30, and especially after the age of 32.


Alex asks:

I’m assuming that Rockets fan’s question was actually in regards to the statistical error associated with wp48. For example, not only does Dr. Berri not like adjusted plus/minus because it doesn’t correlate well across seasons, but within a season the errors are so large that it’s difficult to compare players. I’m making numbers up, but Kevin Durant might be a +6 but the error term is +- 5, meaning he could be anywhere from amazing to average. What is that number, the +-5, like for wp48? If a player posts a .100 one year, what would he have to post the next year for me to be pretty sure he got better, as opposed to there being a good chance he played just as well? .101 seems non-significant to me, but .105? .110?

Interesting question, Alex. I don’t think that there’s a really solid answer to that. Mostly, WP48 is a summation of individual player production, so I think that my assertion that any increase in WP48 is good, all else being equal, stands. To find an area of the Wins Produced model that would allow for the possibility that a player with a .100 WP48 is really more productive than a player with a .101 WP48, you would have to look at the parts of the model that are not specifically tied to the box score numbers produced by a particular player.

The area of the model which has the largest potential to lead to some inaccuracy in a players WP48, in my opinion, is the way that individual defense is incorporated. In case you are unaware, WP48 does incorporate team defense, and distributes this among the teams players based on minutes. It should be noted however, that adding individual defense has a relatively small affect, even in extreme cases (i.e. if a player has a WP48 of 0.000, then even if that player is the best individual defender in the league, he would not be able to approach an average WP48 of .100 if individual defense were incorporated into WP48, in fact, defense in general has a relatively small impact compared to shooting efficiency, rebounds, and turnovers, all of which are well accounted for in WP48). All of the factors that most affect wins are incorporated into WP48 already. The reason that individual defense is left out of WP48 is that it would add a lot of complexity to the model without increasing it’s explanatory power by much. For more discussion on this topic, see Dr. Berri’s article Incorporating Defense from The Wages of Wins Journal. Here is a relevant excerpt:

Models are not supposed to be “perfect” (whatever that means). When I and my colleagues construct models, we are trying to construct a simplified version of reality that allows us to focus on what is important (and answer the various questions we pose in our research).That is what I think Wins Produced does. It is a simple and accurate measure of performance, based on the theoretically sound idea that wins are determined by a team’s offensive and defensive efficiency. This model ultimately tells us that wins are primarily determined by shooting efficiency, rebounds, and turnovers. Yes, other issues matter. But players who do not score efficiently, who fail to rebound (given their position), and/or turn the ball over excessively, will not help you win games.

So, my answer is that we might conservatively estimate that a players WP48 is within 0.030 of his “true” win production per 48 minutes for players who excel in, or conversely are extremely poor with regard to, all of the areas that are not considered in the calculation of WP48. Any given player’s WP48 will necessarily be close to his “true” win production per 48 minutes. If he is a great individual defender, then WP48 may slightly undervalue him. If his assists are better than the the average assists, then again, WP48 may (very, very slightly) undervalue him. If one wishes to take those areas which are not explained by WP48 into account, then it is ones prerogative to do so, but caveat emptor that you are deviating from the science, and unless you know the true impact on wins of the variable you are adjusting, you are more likely to get a less accurate picture of the player’s true production than if you had assumed that WP48 was the player’s true production.