Home Theatre PC Guide
Posted on: 04/02/2005 06:00 AM

The first enclosure we decided to look at is Ahanix's D.Vine 4. Ahanix has an extensive line-up of HTPC enclosures and the D.Vine 4 (now referred to as the D4 Media Center Enclosure) is probably its signature enclosure. The first thing you'll notice about the D.Vine 4 and HTPC cases like it, is how much it resembles a home theatre receiver. The premise is simple enough; make the enclosure look enough like a standard home theatre component so it integrates seamlessly into your rack of existing gear. This is another example of the PC becoming more like an appliance not only in appearance but function.

Aesthetically, the D.Vine 4 is certainly pleasing to the eye. Let's look through our gallery of shots of the enclosure to see what comments we can make.

In the first shot, we see that your optical drive will be well hidden by the pull-down plating on the front of the DVine.4. It is held in place by two small magnets and seems to be quite secure, without an unsightly rattle. The front of the unit has two USB ports and a firewire port to the right. To the left are power and reset buttons. There is a power LED but no hard disk activity LED. I agree with this decision because the constant flashing of an HDD LED would make the machine seem more like a PC than a home theatre component.

The most notable feature of the D.Vine 4 is probably the Vacuum Florescent Display (VFD) on the front of the unit. This plugs into the motherboard by way of your parallel port and can be configured to display a wide array of information like CPU temperatures, TV Show title information, etc.

The D.Vine 4 has two 5.25" external, one 5.25" internal, and two 3.5" internal drive bays. This should let you install two optical drives and two hard drives with relative ease. Given that there aren't any external 3.5" bays, you'll be unable to use a floppy drive unless you opt for an external USB drive. This shouldn't be much of an issue. Internally, you'll find all of the necessary cables including hook-ups for the front USB and firewire ports. At the rear of the chassis there are two 60mm slim exhaust fans which should keep the case cool and quiet.

The enclosure is large enough to comfortably host a standard ATX motherboard, although choosing a relatively slim board like MSI's 865PE Neo2-V would be advisable. I bought that very board several months ago and it was worked quite well in one of my HTPC test machines.

The enclosure features a virtually silent 350 watt PSU which should be able to handle the majority of components. I haven't encountered any power issues during my testing of the D.Vine 4.

I only encountered two negatives while testing Ahanix's very sexy HTPC enclosure: 1) The price - on pricewatch it's listed from 216 to 251 USD. 2) It was almost impossible to get into when I originally took it out of the package. The screws holding the top of the enclosure in place were of low-quality and stripped while I was trying to remove them. It was a miracle I was able to get into it at all. For a case in this price range, this shouldn't have happened.

Let's move on to the next HTPC enclosure, Silverstone's LC10.

Printed from 2CPU.com (http://www.2cpu.com/contentteller.php?ct=articles&action=pages&page=home_theatre_pc_guide,5.html)