Streacom FC5 EVO Case Review
By Gabriel Torres on September 24, 2012
Streacom is a Dutch company specializing in fanless HTPC (Home Theater PC) cases. Cases from this company are all manufactured with thick aluminum sheets and come with a passive cooling solution for the CPU, using the case as a heatsink for the processor. The FC5 EVO is only 2.4” (60 mm) tall, making it the slimmest case we’ve ever seen. Let’s check it out.
The FC5 EVO is available in two versions: WS, which doesn’t support optical drives, and OD, which supports optical drives. There are two color options: silver or black. The sample we received was the black OD version.
The case measures 2.4 x 17.1 x 12.8 inches (60 x 435 x 325 mm) (H x W x D) and has the same look as that of an audio amplifier. This way, this case will perfectly match the look and feel of the other equipment available on your home theater setup.
To keep a clean design, the optical drive must be a slot-loading type, i.e., trayless. As mentioned, you can opt for buying the WS version, which doesn’t have a bay for optical drives.
The front panel has a tiny window for the installation of an optional infrared receiver, so you can operate your computer using a remote control.
The Streacom FC5 EVO has two USB 3.0 ports on its right panel, hidden between the first two fins of its massive heatsink. The case, however, comes with USB 2.0 connectors attached to these ports, not USB 3.0. If you want to use these ports as USB 3.0, you need to buy an adapter that is sold separately by the manufacturer. We see no reason for the manufacturer to try to squeeze a few extra bucks from someone who already spent a lot of money buying this case.
In Figure 5, you can see the rear panel of the Streacom FC5 EVO case. Because of its reduced size, it requires the use of an external power supply similar to those used by laptop computers and a picoPSU adapter, which will convert the voltage provided by the external power supply into the voltage and connectors required by the components of the computer.
The rear panel features one horizontal expansion slot. It has two covers, one for half-height expansion cards and another for full-height cards. To install an expansion card, you will need to buy a riser card in order to make the connection between the expansion card and the motherboard possible.
The bottom panel of the Streacom FC5 EVO case can be seen in Figure 6.
Let’s now take a look inside the Streacom FC5 EVO case.
To open the Streacom FC5 EVO, you must remove its top panel, which is attached to the chassis using four black screws. The motherboard must be installed on the bottom panel. The case supports Mini-ITX and microATX motherboards.
The number of storage devices this case supports depends on the size of the motherboard you are going to use. With microATX motherboards, the case supports one 3.5” device and three 2.5” devices. With Mini-ITX motherboards, the case supports three 3.5” devices; or two 3.5” devices and three 2.5” devices; or one 3.5” device and four 2.5” devices. See the diagram in Figure 8.
We built a system using a microATX motherboard, and unfortunately, we couldn’t use the middle 2.5” bay (the one marked with “5” in Figure 8), because the motherboard would prevent us from installing our 2.5” hard drive. After further inspection, we discovered that the holes were drilled in the wrong position. If you pay close attention to Figure 9, you can see how the two holes on the right (which are the holes identified as “5” in Figure 8) are not correctly aligned with the two holes on the left (which are the holes identified with “4” in Figure 8); they are 3 mm off the place where they should be.
This problem, however, didn’t prevent us from putting a system together, since we were able to fit one 3.5” hard drive and two 2.5” hard drives. Most people will probably use one SSD as a boot device and a high-capacity 3.5” hard drive to store their media files such as movies and songs, so we don’t think the problem we faced is a real concern.
With a Mini-ITX motherboard installed, you won’t have this problem. Also, even if we could install a third 2.5” device, this device would be right in front of the motherboard’s SATA ports, blocking them.
Another concern you must have when building a system with the Streacom FC5 EVO is the height of the memory modules. Memory modules must be up to 1.65” (42 mm) tall. If they are more than that, you won’t be able to close the case.
In Figure 11, you can see the hardware parts for the passive CPU cooling solution used by this case. It uses four 5 mm heatpipes that were flattened out. The H-shaped plate must be used with AMD processors, while the X-shaped plate must be used with Intel processors.
The process of installing the CPU cooler is actually quite simple. The first step is to glue four nuts on the motherboard’s holes designed for the CPU cooler, through the solder side of the motherboard. This must be performed before you screw the motherboard to the chassis. After the motherboard is installed in the case, install the CPU.
The next step is to attach the four heatpipes to the right panel of the case. After the heatpipes are installed, slide the CPU block at the end of the heatpipes, as shown in Figure 12. Apply thermal paste on top of the CPU, so there is thermal paste between the CPU and the CPU block. In our system, we needed to remove the voltage regulator heatsink from our motherboard in order to install the heatpipes.
The final step is to position the H- or X-shaped plate and screw it in place. See the CPU cooler completely installed in Figure 13.
The main specifications for the Streacom FC5 EVO case include:
* Researched at http://www.shop.perfecthometheater.com on the day we published this review.
The Streacom FC5 EVO is a top-notch HTPC case that will please users who want to build the quietest computer possible and that looks like a piece of home theater equipment. The case is expensive, but money probably won’t be a problem to the refined user to whom this case is targeted.