When it comes to building a system, there are many factors to consider. If your new build is leaning toward the HTPC segment, then you really need to have an enclosure that can fit your components, offer good cooling, and not be an eyesore sitting in an open room. Since this is a specialty market, many of the choices are costing a lot of money.
NZXT has come out with a design that is not only workable, but is also easier on the wallet than many competitors. With a street price in the vicinity of US$80, the Duet is being offered at about half the cost of many of the other guys' HTPC enclosures. While it may not have the mirror finish that some others do, it offers an aesthetically pleasing exterior that won't cause pain to the eyes.
Another nice feature is the ability to handle a full sized ATX motherboard. I had to work a bit to get everything to my liking, but I was able to do so without having to shell out more money for a micro board. This is great news for those wanting to build this as an additional machine and are planning on using those spare parts that are sitting around.
Cooling is good overall with only one glaring exception, the hard drive. Since space is generally more important in this type of rig than performance, this may not be an issue. If, on the other hand, you are planning on this being not only used for home theater but also standard computing where speed is a factor, you will want to choose your hard drive carefully. There is no way, outside cutting a hole in the top panel of the box, to get any airflow to the drive bay.
Bottom line... If you have been thinking of building an HTPC and are considering what type of case to buy, then there are many choices out there and the numbers get larger by the day. NZXT manages to put together a design that isn't perfect, but gives more flexibility than most and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. If cost is an important factor in your purchasing decision, you won't be disappointed by the NZXT Duet.
Hidden drive bays
Overall cooling is very good
Fits full-sized ATX motherboards
No removable component casings inside
No cooling potential for hard drive
Rating - 8.5 out of 10 and TweakTown's "MUST HAVE" Best Value Award!
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