South Korea has the reputation for manufacturing the best coolers and cases. Looking at Moncase972 we can see why. This HTPC (Home Theater PC) case target to media PCs (i.e., computers to be hooked to your home theater system for playing movies and songs) from Moneual provides an outstanding quality using thick aluminum parts (not thin panels like more inexpensive products) and the looks of a home theater device, with a 7” LCD display with touch screen capability, remote control and a big volume knob, plus several other features. Let’s take an in-depth look at this case, which is definitely the Ferrari of the HTPC cases.
This case is available in two color versions, to match the other devices you already have on your home theater setup: black or platinum (a.k.a. silver).
It is also important to notice that the manufacturer provides a home theater PC already built using this case, using the same product name. So you have the option to buy the PC already built or build your own HTPC from scratch.
The first thing that caught our eye was the size of the case, far bigger than other more inexpensive HTPC solutions. It is 17” (43 cm) wide, matching exactly the width of home theater receivers and DVD/Blu-Ray players, so you can stack them up and a layman would never tell that the device inside this case is a regular computer. This also means that you can install a regular ATX motherboard inside this case, not being limited to microATX models like happens with several other HTPC cases.
As already mentioned, this case comes with a 7” LCD display with touch-screen capability. The display is connected to your system through a standard 15-pin VGA cable. You system will have two displays, the LCD panel and your TV, obviously connected on separated video outputs. If you are not going to play games, you can buy a motherboard with on-board video with two outputs, one VGA for the 7” display and one DVI or HDMI for your HDTV. Even though you can install any operating system that you want, it is recommended the use of Windows Media Center or similar OS. The touch screen which is applied on top of the LCD display is connected to the system through a USB port (the cable uses a USB A connector, but it comes with an adapter to allow you to install it on any USB header available on the motherboard). This same USB cable is used to connect the IR sensor, the volume knob and all extra switches available on the upper right section of the case (see Figure 4). Of course you will need drivers for all these devices, and the case comes with a CD with all of them.
Below the LCD screen the case has a 5.25” bay for your optical drive of choice (probably a Blu-Ray unit). In Figure 3 the hole seems to be too short, that happens because for better aesthetics this case was projected to allow you to view only the drive tray, not the entire drive. Also for better aesthetics this case comes with an aluminum cover for your optical drive tray with only the DVD logo printed on it, so you and your friends won’t see the typical plastic tray with several stuff printed on it, which tells that you have a PC optical drive. This way your HTPC will definitely have a more professional looks.