by Rory Buszka on January 31, 2007 in Cases & PSUs

Home Theater PCs are the fastest-growing trend in home computing. Here’s an in-depth look at enthusiast case maker NZXT’s first HTPC case, the Duet. With its tasteful looks, clever design, and ample cooling, this case has serious potential.

Page 1 – Introduction

NZXT calls itself “a company built on gamers’ dreams.” The relatively new Taiwan-based company produces a variety of enthusiast PC cases as well as a line of accessories, which include power supplies with illuminated fans, and an attractive 5.25″-bay-mounted fan and thermal monitoring station, the Sentry 1. By far, though, it’s NZXT’s case design prowess that has earned them the bulk of their recognition among PC enthusiasts and the press. Techgage has taken a look at a number of NZXT’s cases in earlier reviews, all of which have proven their technical and aesthetic merit. There’s no doubt that NZXT produces a solid, well-engineered product.

A quick perusal of NZXT’s web site makes it obvious where the company’s primary design focus lies: high-performance enclosures for high-performance enthusiast PCs, with a luxurious flair. Attractive industrial design and sturdy internal structures are the hallmarks of NZXT’s Classic Series, which is a line of cases targeted at the demanding high-end enthusiast market. NZXT’s Crafted Series of cases combines the more flashy, tricked-out styling that’s characteristic of many gaming PCs with more affordable pricing. The newest product in NZXT’s Classic Series is the Duet, an elegant home theater PC case, which is the subject of this review.

A home theater PC (HTPC) is, simply put, a computer system that’s designed to integrate into your home theater. Using DVI or HDMI, you can connect a home theater PC to a high definition monitor, and do everything from gaming to enjoying DVD movies from a disc or archived collection on your hard drive – right on your enormous, vivid high-definition screen and high-quality multichannel audio system.

You can also use a HTPC to do more mundane things like browsing the internet. In fact, depending on what services are available in your area, you could even order pizza right from your sofa or theater seating. Unfortunately, you’ll still need to get up and answer the door once it arrives. Oh well – try though we might, we can’t spend our entire lives in a chair. However, if you love home theater (as I do) and also love PCs (as I also do), the home theater PC offers a great way to enjoy both technology fields simultaneously.

In a future article, I intend to describe the design considerations involved in assembling an effective home theater PC in further detail. For this review, I’ll be examining the NZXT Duet on the basis of those HTPC design considerations that apply specifically to the case and included accessories. Let’s see how well the Duet case meets the specialized challenges of home theater use.

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