I would like to thank Origen AE
for being so kind to supply the review sample.
About Origen AE
Origen AE was established in the year 2001. You may think to yourself, why you have not heard from the brand before recently. Turns out that the company was named Uneed International and was re-branded to the much nicer name of Origen AE Technology in 2005.
The new company entered the market with a bang. When the first images of the S21T surfaced on the interweb everyone was asking "wow, who is this?" and their booth at CeBIT 2007 was a huge hit. All of their cases were shown off and additional ones are still being developed. Origen AE exclusively manufactures HTPC enclosures, so you are bound to find one for your needs, which does not only look great but features a build quality beyond comparison.
Origen AE S10V
The S10V is the company's most compact HTPC case. It is available in two colors, black or silver. Origen AE was so kind and sent us the silver variant this time around.
- One piece 5mm aluminium front & sides
- 2 x 60mm exhaust fans (pre-installed)
- 2 x 60mm intake fans (pre-installed)
- Front media bay, USB hub, audio & firewire
- Rubber isolation hard drive screws
- Optional MCE & IR Trans module
- Support for 2 hard drives
- Slim optical ide drive adapter included
- Revisable PSU mounting
- IR220 VFD/IR Module included
- Philips RC197 Vista remote included
||Origen AE S10V
||Premium HTPC chassis
||1x External slimline drive bay
2x Internal 3.5"
||4 low profile slots
||2 x 60mm exhaust fans, 2 x 60mm intake fans
||- VF220 VFD/IR module, optional IR221 IR module
2 x usb ports (+2 internal), 1 x firewire (1394) port, 1 x headphone (HD & AC97), 1 x microphone (HD & AC97), 1 x multi format media bay
||435 x 115 x 390 mm (*inc feet)
Just like the S21T, which we reviewed in the past
, the S10V ships in a full color cardboard box. The top shows a partial view of the case while the left and right of the package provide all the information of the unit. This includes the dimensions and specifications.
The S10V is a compact case and could have fit into a box much smaller than the one provided, but Origen has crammed the enclosure inbetween two huge Styrofoam spacers, which completely cover all sides of the case. The first thing you see when opening up the box is a short, but good manual and a pair of gloves. The case itself is further protected by a thin plastic bag.
Inside the case you will find a small cardboard box with a few interesting items. While we have the same rubber spacers for the hard drives and the usual set of screws, Origen AE also included an IDE adapter for the required slim line optical drive and an ATX connector, which is to be placed between mainboard and the power supply. This in turn gives you the ability to turn the entire unit on and off with the use of the remote. You will also find two Y splitter cables for the four fans, so you can connect all of them to just two mainboard headers. The new MCE remote features clean cut edges unlike the previous model and also includes a backlight for the major buttons. The device is made by Phillips and is the one remote which was introduced with the newest incarnation of the Media Center OS - Windows Vista Premium.
A Closer Look - Outside
The front of the case has the same general layout as the S21T. It is just as wide, so you could stack these on top of each other and it would line up perfectly. While we had the pleasure of reviewing the larger S21T in black, the S10V on our test bench today is silver. It looks just as stunning. The rear of the case holds no real surprises and looks very clean. There is a small cover toward the left edge, but currently serves no real purpose. This may change once Origen AE releases the custom CPU cooler for the S10V
Both sides have fine metal grills, painted in the same color as the aluminum of the case. There are fans behind both of these openings. The one downside of such fine air vents is the fact that they tend to collect dust faster than simpler variants with larger holes.
The top is completely solid. There are no air vents or fans anywhere in sight. This is great, as you can place anything on top of the HTPC without having to worry about restricting the airflow within the chassis.
As the design is the same for the entire S series from Origen AE, the power button and logo on the left side is something you can expect to see on all of their cases with that S in the model name. Access to the optical drive, front I/O and card reader can be gained by opening the drop down door. The case looks gorgeous with the cover closed as it lines up perfectly with the entire front of the enclosure.
The rear features everything you would look for. Origen AE has not included a generic backplate, as every modern mainboard will come with one. The low profile expansion slot covers can be reused, as they do not need to be broken out. Toward the right of the rear you will find the PSU bay - simple but effective.
A Closer Look - Inside
Just as is the case with the S21T, the insides of the S10V can be accessed by removing two thumb screws and pulling off the top cover. There is a foam lining on the ledge to eliminate any vibrations of the chassis.
Taking a look at the rear from the inside of the enclosure, it becomes apparent that Origen AE has chosen to use trusted and true screws to hold each expansion slot cover. The PSU bay features a large air vent which has been cut out of the aluminum underside so that a PSU with 120 or 140 mm fan has access to outside air. This means that you should install these type of power supplies with the fan facing downward, while you have free choice if the unit utilizes a 80 mm fan in the rear.
Each of the sides holds a pair of 60 mm fans, which are powered by mainboard headers. Most mATX boards do not have four such headers onboard, this is why Origen AE has included two Y spitters. With the help of that cable you can use all four fans on boards with just two fan headers - a great addition!
The slim line optical drive bay can be removed by loosening four small screws. Once it is taken out, the PCB, which supplies the front connectivity is revealed. As you can see, it is one custom made piece which holds the card reader and the I/O.
The two hard drives bays, if you can call them such, are located right behind the VFD. These are cooled by one pair of the afore mentioned fans. The VFD itself is not an OEM product, but Origen AE's own creation. The green PCB even sports the company name. The installation system of the hard drives is quite similar to that of the S21T. Simply remove one side is to enable placement of the drive and then replace and secure it with the thumb screw.
Installing the mainboard is done the same way as in most other cases. Place the board on the mainboard spacers and secure it with the provided screws. The front I/O connectors are of the normal kind as well, so you will not have to worry about any compatibilty issues. Origen AE also provides both audio connectors - HD and AC'97.
To install the slim line drive, simply install the provided IDE adapter, which can then be secured by two small screws. The unit is then placed on the metal bay and lined up to fit the slot of the case. Due to the construction, the S10V requires a slot loading drive with the power button located toward the left of the drive. Luckily, this is the most common configuration, so you should not have any trouble finding a drive for your needs.
Installing the hard drive is done much like on the S21T. The provided, rubber screws are placed on the drive, which then is inserted into the case and secured by the thumb screw.
Once everything was connected, it does become apparent that you will not have a lot of space to work with. This is something you should expect from such a compact case, nonetheless I did not run into any compatibilty issues within the S10V. As you can see, the Intel stock cooler is used. Origen AE is actually working on a cooler specifically for this HTPC chassis.
To use the display and remote control, a small software package needs to be downloaded from the Origen AE website. While it may be convenient to have a driver CD, the company has decided to leave that out. By having to download the software, you will always have the newest version when you first require it, instead of getting an old version on a medium. The IR Trans software installation is quick and easy. It does not require a restart and can be used right away. Once it is up and running, a small system tray icon lets you know that it is ready to receive commands from the infrared MCE remote. Needless to say, it works like a charm right out of the box.
S10V in Action
The first thing you notice is the dual color ring around the power button. While the case is in standby, it glows orange and then turns blue as soon as the HTPC is turned on. The standby color is a great little addition, as most home theater equipment features a standby light.
The pictures below show the diffferent states of the VFD. As this is an in-house creation from Origen AE, it is interesting to see what it is capable of.
The default text shown even before the software is installed is "Welcome to HTPC". This is the phrase you will see everytime the entire case has just been connected to an outlet. Origen AE even gives you the abilty to change this phrase, so you could change it to something like "Welcome to the bat cave control center" if you wish. Once the software is in place and the HTPC has been started once, the VFD shows the date and time even when the case is turned off. This looks great and may fool a lot of people into thinking that it is a normal DVD player. Once you start the Media Center interface of Windows MCE you are greeted by a "Welcome to Mediacenter" text.
This changes as soon as you open a picture, video or audio file within the Media Center interface. The implementation is so simple, but does everything it is suppose to. You will not find news flashes or weather information on the VFD. All it does is relay all needed information on media, perfect for the intended use of the S10V - as an HTPC.
Value and Conclusion
- The Origen AE S10T will set you back around $350 US Dollars or 350€s. This is the price you have to pay for uncompromsing quality.
- Incredibly well built
- Well implemented VFD with all the needed functions for a HTPC
- Easy and painless assembly
- Card reader included
- Install the software and it works, no setup needed
- Newest generation MCE remote included
- Quiet, even with all the fans on
- Slot loading optical drive
- Large but flat CPU coolers possible
- No vibrations passed on to chassis
- Everything you will need is included
- Great standby power button
- White gloves for cleaning and handling
- Price - certainly not for everyone
- Low profile cards required
- Large PSUs and some CPU coolers will not fit.
- No application CD included
- No wireless keyboard included
The Origen AE S10V may be a bit more expensive than other such enclosures with a similar feature set, but as is the case with the S21T, you will not find any HTPC chassis with a better build quality anywhere else. It is just as compact as a video recorder but can fit a normal power supply and mATX mainboard. Simply place a low profile, HDMI capable graphic card inside this case and you will have the perfect HTPC. Origen AE has decided to keep things simple and offers all the needed functions for a chassis in your living room. The Philips MCE remote is a beauty and works incredibly well with the custom made VFD and IR combination of the chassis. All the needed information is shown on the display, including a dimm, standby date & time setting. This is really all you need, as you would never sit down in front of the VFD to read news headlines or wait to see what the weather is like. The slot loading drive bay is painless as well, as Origen AE has decided to go with the most common setup for such slim line drives and if you are not using the optical drive, simply close the door and enjoy a beautiful looking HTPC while watching you favorite clips or listening to that favorite song of yours.
I am hard pressed to give this case anything less than a 10, with the only real reason being the fact that you get a remote, but no wireless keyboard. If Origen AE manages to include an IR based input device and that custom quiet cooler right out of the box (without raising the price to much), then there is really nothing else to say besides "this is the HTPC case to be had right now - period".