Raspberry Pi as Livestream Player [4]… Or Conventional HTPC?

So after recent posts talking about Raspberry Pi possibilities I am probably going to forgo using my Pi as a media player because I have pulled out an old Intel DB75EN board that used to be a desktop computer here and it plays videos very well. So that old computer can be repurposed. It needs a smaller chassis than a tower to fit well into the bedside cabinet. The Silverstone Milo ML03 low profile desktop case is an interesting one to look at because it can use a full size power supply, unlike most such chassis which use TFX power supplies.  So this will be considered as an option. The spare desktop board I have will fit in it, and although it doesn’t come with a power supply, I have a few spares around. Silverstone has especially targeted the HTPC market and produces a considerable range of different chassis, some of which are in the Mini ITX form factor, and others like this one will fit regular MicroATX boards.
It has an interesting design feature in that the internal PSU fan, which normally draws air out of the case, is relegated to drawing its own air supply through a grille in the bottom of this chassis, which is OK and potentially reduces noise from the fan, but also means it won’t be cooling the inside of the system. That means an extra fan may be needed in the chassis, and due to its size 80 mm fans would need to be used, the potential downside of these being they tend to run at a higher speed and make more noise. In this instance with the low demand on the system I would try running it without a chassis fan on the assumption with the CPU vent in the top that hopefully there should be enough ventilation given that the system isn’t under especially high load. However if fans are needed it can support more than one being installed which makes it possible they might be able to move enough air without making too much noise.
Reading this reviews for this product, any small case has its limitations, there are always going to be some compromises when cutting case size down and making it possible to fit everything in. This chassis is wider than some of the other desktop cases I have seen, but also not as deep, so it is swings and roundabouts. Being able to fit a regular ATX power supply (maximum depth of 140 mm) is a big plus as they are cheap and easy to come by and the smaller ones, apart from being harder to find, in some cases are also less reliable. However its front panel USB ports are USB3, and since the board I have doesn’t have USB3 on the board, I would have to get a Silverstone adapter cable to adapt these. With a specialised chassis like this one, do your homework. Get the manual for it off the website and have a really good look at the measurements and other information to be sure everything will fit inside. In my case it looks like the adapter cable mentioned above is all that would be needed and, especially as I would not put an optical drive inside, it would go together OK, with no accessory cards and just the standard CPU cooler. But someone who needed extra cooling solutions or lots of drives might struggle. I would find a SSD desirable as well because of less noise and higher reliability, but that costs extra $$ of course.
In the past I also used a Mini-ITX system, part of the attraction being that I could buy a Mini-ITX board with integrated CPU at a lower cost than a separate board and CPU. However such boards are not really that easy to come by, or cheap, these days, and the best deal you can really get on Mini-ITX is an ASUS board for $150 and then you still need to buy a CPU for another $100. Since I can get a microATX board for about $100, it is really a premium price for Mini-ITX plus the extra cost of a chassis which tend to be dearer as well, and uses non-standard parts. In fact many of these current boards with a separate CPU are going to struggle to keep within the limit of power supply capacity on a lot of Mini-ITX chassis (the Antec I have with my AMD E350 board in it has only 60 watts) and it’s possible with the passive cooling and the size of a regular CPU heatsink/fan that things might not fit and it might get too hot inside.

So that is another alternative to upgrading the Pi, which I can find another use for that isn’t so demanding as video playback, which obviously gives it a hard workout.