One of the first things that struck me about this case was its size. As Fred mentioned in the Zalman HD160 HTPC review
, a full-sized ATX HTPC case is just...well, big
. The bulk is masked a little by the brushed aluminum front bezel, which dominates the view. The rest of the case is made out of 0.8mm SECC steel, and the whole unit weighs in at 7KG (16lbs).
This front is attractive, but not without its down side...it fingerprints like crazy, and it is very hard to clean them off. In many of the pictures you will notice my prints on it, though I will swear I wiped it down before every shot. The brushed aluminum also picked up some of the adhesive from the tape which was used to secure the front door. In person, the fingerprints are not visible, but this tape spot was. It required the use of goo-gone to remove.
The back and sides of the case are painted with a somewhat speckled (maybe it is supposed to be considered 'textured') matte black. I was a bit disappointed with the finish here as I found it scratched a little too easily for a product designed to sit in a living room piece with other AV equipment stacked on it.
When closed, the front bezel can only be described as sleek. There are two doors, the upper one concealing two 5.25" drive bays, and the lower one concealing audio in/out, a 3.5" bay (perhaps good for a card reader, it would be nice if one were included), and four USB ports. I personally found the USB ports to be a wonderful touch, as having four on the front of an HTPC is an utter blessing. It's very convenient to have so many ports without reaching around the back; two ports are just not sufficient with so much technology using USB nowadays.
Under the front bezel are ventilation holes to help move air through the system. The reset button is also located behind this cover, out of the way of being accidentally pressed. In fact, you have to use a pen or paperclip to use it. I found this incredibly inconvenient when building the system, but once it was up and running I found it to be an excellent idea.
The VFD, IR, power LED and HDD activity LED are all behind the acrylic strip beside the drives. The LEDs that were chosen for this case do not fit well, as they are bright blue and very noticable from your sofa. Even behind the darkened acrylic, I found them to be distracting when watching a movie in a dark environment. If your case is lower than eye level on your sofa, it is less of an issue...they lose quite a bit of luminescence outside of a very narrow viewing angle thanks to the acrylic. The VFD is a standard blue-green color, though I think it would have been nice if they filtered this to something nicer like white.
The back of the unit is a standard ATX plate, though you'll notice that the power supply is at what would normally be considered the 'bottom' of the board. In a regular tower case, the PSU is normally at the other end, directly above the CPU where it can vent warm air. In a desktop case like the LC20M things are more cramped so SilverStone has kept the heat of both CPU and PSU seperate.
You can also see two grills for potential 80mm fans near the CPU. If you chose to utilise one or both of these, I would highly recommend volt-modding the fans prior to installation. Personally, I found the case had sufficient airflow to not require this.
The top of the case is attached via four removable screws, allowing access to the internals. It would have been a nice touch to see these be black annodized thumbscrews, though I understand that they are likely to not be opened and closed much. Still, since the back is hidden, I see little reason for not including this convenience.
On either side of the case is a small honeycomb grill mesh. The one on the CPU side is set to mount a 92mm fan if desired, in case your CPU needs some extra cooling. The mesh can unsnap easily and be replaced with one of the aforementioned extra fan grills. The one by the PSU is longer and does not have fan-mounting holes, and is meant to have your PSU intake fan bringing in cold air. Doing so helps keep the entire case cooler, as the PSU will not get nearly so warm, also keeping the fan at low speed if you have a speed-adjusting model.
Now, let's take the lid off and get into this thing...