About eight years ago we reviewed a very special HTPC called the Hush Mini-ITX. It was cooled entirely passively, with the chassis serving as heatsink for the processor. Because the hardware at the time wasn't very powerful, the performance was quite poor. Now it's 2012, when even entry-level processors are fast enough for adequately powering an HTPC, including in Full HD. Stream FC5 has introduced a chassis that is entirely passively cooled, which opens up some interesting applications. A completely silent home theater PC, how does that turn out in practice?
We received the Streacom FC5 from their Benelux representatives, who were nice enough to include the appropriate PSU and optical drive as well. We mention this because the chassis has some specific requirements in those two areas.
The essence of the Streacom FC5 is the same as the Hush PC from many years ago. It's a sharp-looking, flat chassis made from thick aluminium that also functions as the heatsink for the processor. Six heatpipes transfer heat from the CPU to the chassis.
The Streacom FC5 costs an average of £180 for the "OD" edition, which stands for optical drive and means there is an opening in the front for sliding in a disc. Behind that there is room for a slimline slot-in optical drive, which is interesting for those still collecting DVDs or Blu-ray discs. If your media library is entirely on hard drives by now, you can instead go for the "WS" (without slot) version. The price difference is minimal, no more than £5.
It's a hefty price for a compact case in which you can only fit a micro-ATX board and a limited number of components. Is it justified?