[section_title title=Closer Look]Closer Look
Starting out with the exterior of the Streacom FC9, it is of course designed flat to go under your television or on the stand (if you have one) and is marketed as a HTPC chassis. This particular model is the black but it also does come available in silver (for the same price). The chassis itself is made from top quality aluminium and has a very nice clean black finish; seems to be a little bit of a finger print/dust magnet though!
At the front the FC9, there is a power button, slim-line DVD gap which allows you to install a small form factor/slip DVD drive (not included) and an IR receiver for the Streacom remote control you can get (also purchased separately).
The top panel also has ventilation holes along the top in 2 separate strips which should allow for sufficient airflow although it could back fire if another warm device is placed on top; take care when planning how you want to set up your audio/visual equipment.
On the sides of the FC9, they have a kind of corrugated aluminium thing going on there with small ventilation holes which should hopefully direct and allow air to flow through with ease. With this ultimately being a passively cooled case, Streacom have gone all out with ventilation and design which is no surprise to me given their previous experience in designing and manufacturing HTPC cases since their formation as a company.
The rear of the FC9 follows the same ventilated pattern as the top panel; albeit across the top of the rear. There are gaps for the power cable to slide through, your chosen motherboards I/O shield and of course 3 x low profile removable PCI blanking plates; this is handy if you want to add a low profile dedicated GPU, sound card or even a SATA RAID card if you so wish. The gorgeous black aluminium finish is throughout the entire chassis and to me, this screams quality.
Taking a general look inside the empty Streacom FC9 HTPC chassis, both M-ITX and M-ATX motherboards are supported which offers more flexibility than quite a lot of HTPC cases currently on the market. With its extruded aluminium frame, it leaves plenty of space inside for even the most advanced HTPC system; apart from full size PCI cards of course which would double the height of the chassis and defy the point entirely.
One of the interesting design features of the FC9 is the top panel in the picture, if you un-do the 2 screws at either side, it actually flips out which allows you not only to access the back part of the interior, but it also allows you to mount a HDD on the underneath of the panel itself; note that even this panel has plenty of ventilation.
The FC9 allows for installation of 3 x 2.5” drives or 1 x 3.5” which as mentioned, can be mounted onto the drive rack. There is also a bracket available to allow installation of a slim line DVD drive (slot loading) which will add to the cost on top of the chassis.
Installation of the Streacom FC9 certainly isn’t the easiest of cases to install and one of the most important parts is of course the passive CPU cooling system. Taking a closer look at the main component (the block/pipes), here you can see the pipes assembled onto the CPU block with the cover plate screwed on. It does look absolutely fantastic but I do feel it would have been much better to have come as 1 piece instead of around 7/8 different parts; that is the price you pay for quality.
Installed into the FC9, is the ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac motherboard which I felt was a fitting board considering not only its size, but built in Wi-Fi (perfect for a HTPC). Here is a look at how the passive cooler is installed onto our Intel Pentium G3220 (LGA 1150) which we specifically bought for this review. As you can see, the heat pipes are installed into the side of the case with 2 x black plates to ensure heat is transferred effectively and without affecting the performance.
Here is a better look at the installed motherboard/CPU and memory into the FC9; looks very snug and stylish in my opinion. The big question is how will it perform during testing. The case has a TDP limitation of 95w due to the passive cooling, an i7 4770K was never going to cut it although you could effectively have an i5/i7 installed; it would have to be the T or S versions sadly, but they should still offer nice performance, especially for a HTPC.
Before we get on with the testing, here is a look at the rear of the FC9 chassis just to show you what it would look like with a motherboard installed; pretty standard stuff
Now it’s time to see how the Streacom FC9 performs…