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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [07.05.04]
Manufactured by: SilverStone


They Found Their Niche

If you were a fan of Cooler Master's original "ATC" series of cases last year (such as the ATC-111c and the ATC-210) you will be happy to know that the people who designed those cases are alive and well, even after the big shuffle Cooler Master made.

Due to the fact that they disagreed with Cooler Master's new direction, and wanting more creative powers, most of Cooler Master's case division left and formed a new company, SilverStone. We have already reviewed one of their products; the ST360 Power Supply.

Silver Stone now has a wide selection of PC cases in both tower and desktop form. They seem to specialize in full-aluminum cases, which are tastefully designed (like the original Cooler Masters we came to love). On top of that, they have several cases that cater to the growing HTPC market. Today we're going to review one of the cases that is really ONLY suitable for HTPC; the SST-LC02 Lascala case.

What sets the LC02 apart from other desktops is that it is designed from the ground up to be an HTPC case. You've surely seen other 'HTPC cases' that are actually well-designed desktop cases. SilverStone themselves have cases like this. However, no matter how nice a desktop case is, it is always going to stand out in an HTPC setup. They are BIG!

The LC02 measures in at 38x29.5 CM in width and length - not unlike other ATX desktops. However it is only 10 CM in height! Typical desktop cases will be 18 CM or more! So at nearly half the height, and with a slick, clean design, the LC02 will fit right in next to your Sony or Pioneer AV receiver (it comes in silver too).

But what's the big deal of a slim desktop case? We've seen people cram EPIA-based mini-ITX systems into Nintendos, right? And just look at some of those tiny mATX cases out there! Much smaller than the LC02. That may be true, but the LC02 is FULL-ATX compliant! That's right, you can install ANY ATX motherboard in this system, and enjoy the power of a high end HTPC - even double it as a gaming box! Try that with a C3 processor or integrated video!

The slim form factor is not without its drawbacks, however. We'll get to these later on in the review. First, let's have a look at the case:

You already saw the front of the case, so here is the back. As you can see, a full-ATX backplate is used (featuring the funky colours introduced in the late 90's that nobody really uses anymore). Also note that only two expansion slots are supported.

On each side of the LC02, there is a ventilation port, with no fan. And as you can see, there are some extension ports on this side of the case. You can connect the USB ports directly to the expansion headers on the motherboard, but for the FireWire port, you'll have to loop it to whatever external FireWire port you may have. Headphone and Microphone extensions are also available, with headers on the other side to connect directly to your soundcard (should it support that function - most onboard sound controllers do).

And finally, looking at the top you will find more ventilation for the CPU fan. You can tell already that SilverStone is going for a stealth solution here. But does that work with such a small formfactor? We'll find out soon enough...

Next Page: (Internal Design; Installation)