nMediaPC HTPC 8000 Wooden HTPC CaseFri, Oct 30, 2009 - 12:00 AM
I first set the motherboard in place to check the cooler clearance. I decided to use the cooler I already had installed on the test system, the Cogage TRUE Spirit. When I set the drive tray in place I noticed that the cooler fan was not going to allow for the tray to mount properly.
After removing the fan the drive tray cleared the heatsink fins just barely, but it fit so far. Wider tower coolers like the Thermalright Ultra-120 or the Noctua NH-U12P won’t fit as their cooling fins are wider than the Cogage fins.
Next I put the power supply in and started hooking up wires. Here things started to get interesting as I watched what little space the case had quickly start to disappear. Being particular about wire routing will be a must, as will a modular PSU, to keep good air flow through the case.
Also, the space for the PSU is a little snug; getting it in there is much easier with the motherboard out of the way. This allows for the PSU to slide into place, rather than rocking it into place under the drive tray supports with the motherboard in the way.
I then mounted up the drives into the drive tray. The optical drive mounts using the bottom mounting holes on the drive. With all the drives installed the tray is quite heavy. I would be leery of moving the system long distances with only the two small wood screws holding the drive tray.
With the tray set in the case I started to plan the wire routes for the drives. It would have been much simpler if all the drives were in the same orientation as the lower drives. With the top drives turned 90* to the lower drives the cables have to be twisted around; this puts stress on the somewhat fragile SATA connectors.
I noticed another issue with my cooler and optical drive choices. The power connection was blocked by the top of the cooler. Even an SATA optical drive power connector hits the top of the cooler. For this reason tower coolers taller than 140mm should be avoided, 140mm (5.5 inches) will be below the tray and should allow room for the drive connections.