As mentioned in my last post, I’m favoring the Moneual 301 low profile case and just bought one. Here is some more information that might benefit others interested in this case.
This case is currently selling for around $250 USD (Newegg & elsewhere) – costly but much cheaper than the OrigenAE case I’ve been looking at. Locating any reviews or build logs concerning the Moneual case has proved impossible for me to find, unfortunately. During the course of endless google searching, I came across the Ahanix D-Vine MCE-302. The Ahanix is nearly identical in appearance and interior layout but has also been discontinued for some time now. The Ahanix requires a PSU with a fan mounted at the rear as there are no ventilation holes in the bottom of this case to accommodate PSUs with larger 120mm top (or bottom) mounted fans. The Ahanix also utilizes a VFD which requires a kludgy exterior cable connection to the parallel port (yes, a parallel port!) on your motherboard. The VFD on the new Moneual is USB driven and is connected internally to the USB header on your motherboard – no ugly jumper cable sticking out from the back of the case. The card reader in the Ahanix case also differs in that it doesn’t contain USB/Firewire/Audio connections behind the hidden door on the front panel as the Moneual case does – another nice subtle change that Moneual has done.
Yet another version of this case exists – the D-Vine (Ahanix) MCE-303 – and it’s apparently only available (or was available) from a seller on eBay name “colorcase”. This said, it’s not as widely available as the Moneual case is, but it’s nearly half the cost (when available on eBay). I’ve seen prices range from $60-$130 USD for the MCE-303 on eBay – seems like a great deal! So what’s different about this case? The front panel is identical to the more expensive Moneual with rounded edges on the VFD window and optical drive slot. The VFD on the D-Vine is connected to the motherboard via the USB header as on the Moneual. Like the old Ahanix 302 case, the newer D-Vine MCE-303 also requires a PSU with a rear mounted fan as described above and it shares a similar card reader (if not the same?) as the old 302 which lacks front USB/Firewire/Audio connectivity.
I don’t know how Ahanix and Moneual are related but I find the similarities interesting. Below are some reference links that I found useful when learning the differences of these HTPC cases.
Commercial vendor’s page with description of components used in this case- may be useful.