I have a Streacom FC8 and I have just finished a build into it.
I went with this passively cooled case because I want complete silence - not 'very quiet' - really silent - as, with young kids, I often watch with the volume off using subtitles etc, and even 'very quiet' fans are audible in my lounge at night...so total silence was rule #1.
Cost was not an issue as I had a credit to work with.
I want PVR support, and ideally HD audio support as soon as I can get it too. Zero interest in the gimmick that is 3D.
From Rylun Home Entertainment (Australia):
1 * Streacom FC8 HTPC Case
1 * Power Supply Wesena 150W Pico PSU + 10A Power Adapter
1 * Philips RC260 Remote + Receiver
1 * Slimline SATA Power Data Adapter Cable (needed for the molex to sata to hook up the bluray drive)
1 * Sony 5600S slot load bluray/dvd combo
(has button on left to match the FC8 case but you could use something else and jsut use software eject)
From AusPC market (http://www.auspcmarket.com.au/) - I had a big credit so went a bit 'gourmet' with some of this
1 * Deepcool Z9 Thermal Paste
1 * 60 GB Intel 520 Series SSD
1 * ASRock A75M-ITX motherboard
2 * Corsair 1333MHz CL9 DDR3 RAM
Cost - don't know, don't care Honestly, I would guess about $1000 all done @ retail. But for me this was well down on the list as I don't spend much on myself and I use my htpc a lot...
Basically a very simple build as there aren't that many parts.
I had the following difficulties:
- No documentation came with case, I downloaded some but it's very basic
- The cords (for USB ports, power etc) are not labelled with polarity so had to google USB wire colours
- The Wesena IR Receiver started to literally smoke the first time it was plugged in - I am told it goes into a USB header (and can power on) - but again no documentation...they (Rylun) have offered a replacement and will send a guide with it this time..curently using a USB IR receiver, works fine.
- Big Problem - I should have gone with a Streacom recommended motherboard - the ASRock is a fine mobo and I got it free, but the RAM slots are in the wrong spot and get in the way of the heatpipes (also the PSU 24 pin connector is a bit close as well). I see now that other mobos have the ram slots parallel to the rear ports, but these are perpendicular along the side where the heatpipes connect. I got it to work by manually and gently bending the heat pipes a little but this is definitely not ideal and it means the cooling block is sitting just slightly askew. When I later change mobos (to trinity + 1 is the plan) - I may need new heatpipes. Fortunately it appears it's transferring the APU heat very well though.
- I'd never actually done thermal paste before - should have got some more as you need to put it in a lot of spots when doing this sort of build.
It's 100% silent and running stable across several days of continuous and heavy use. The case gets quite warm, almost hot (it's supposed to!) and I have seen the APU temps vary from about 45 to 75 depending on how hard I have thrashed it. Average is about 60 I'd say. I have not experienced any crashes due to temps or anything. Temps under both OSs seem pretty similar although OE reports lower temps I am not sure if they are accurate. Both Windows and OE seem to report slightly lower temps than the BIOS hardware monitor.
I am trying both Windows (April nightly window build with AE) and Openelec (1.95.4 or Beta4) on it. I set it up as a dual boot...
Both generally work ok.
Boot time with zero special tuning is about 25 secs from bios to operational XBMC. Very fast for Windows with no tuning.
Is way more work to set up and get working well with remotes, a few focus stealing issues etc, but I have got it going quite well and have seen the HD light on my receiver for the first time in 3.5 years of owning it - very cool. Video quality appears very good - although SD quality is noticeably lower than on my ION systems. I think there is some work on direct X scalers at the moment? It needs it...720 and 1080 are both very good looking. I have been considering integrating the MCE TV parts for a PVR solution as is quite do-able, but I don't think the Live TV can be shared to other machines with WinMC like say TVHeadEnd.
System is extremely responsive in general. Remote is using MCE keys mode, see below...
Boots from BIOS to XBMC in maybe 5 seconds. Insanely fast.
- Complete fail on all 'fusion' versions - apparently these are for older fusion chips and hang on startup with A6s etc
- Video fail (extensive skipping) on versions below Beta 4.
- 'Generic' Beta4 (which contains the patches from FernetMenta for xvba that are not yet in mainline xbmc) - works very well, although it too suffers from poor SD video quality and audio sync does not seem quite as reliable as with the ION systems, but that might be just the files I played, I only really noticed it on one Boardwalk Empire. 720/1080 quality is of course good but slightly more digital looking than I am used to with ION...I think slightly less good than the Windows video quality but it's hard to be sure. ATI linux drivers are not well loved....that may be influencing my perception!!
System is somewhat less responsive than on Window but this is probably more to do with the remote timings than anything - OE seems to limit the max speed of the harmony as it use MCE remote mode, not MCE keys. Bit overall it just seems a little slower.
Since I use OE PVR (with tvheadend), I will be sticking with Openelec I'd say, because this machine is my 'tv server' and pipes TV to other ION based machines in the house. It's fantastically easy to install/upgrade/configure compared to Windows. But overall the windows experience is probably better, IF you don't need live TV that you want to share to other clients. I may yet move my TV to my server (Win 7 using Hanewin NFS) - and then just run my boxes as clients, OE for ION and maybe Windows for A6-3500....not sure yet.