Building a High End HTPC featuring the Thermaltake Media Lab

Admin - 2007-09-19 16:06:39 in Gadgets
Category: Gadgets
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: December 7, 2007
Price: $97.99







Shortly after I received the Thermaltake Mozart TX case, I had the opportunity to take a short vacation in North Carolina.  I had a great time, and even got to see the Battleship North Carolina, which was one of the highlights of my trip. Well, a funny thing happened while I was out eating dinner one night.  We were a party of four, and the waitress was a very sweet Southern Belle, accent and all. When she approached the table to take our order, she said something I have never heard before.  Now mind you, although I’m originally from New Jersey, I have lived in Florida for 16 years and have come across many different people from many different southern states, so words and accents are second nature to me. A favorite word used in Florida and probably most of the south is "y’all," which is short for "you all." This nice woman walked up to the table and said, "how all y’all doin'?” I must say I was baffled, so I kindly asked her what "all y’all" meant.  She began to explain to me that "all y’all" is the plural of "y’all." The first thing that came to my mind was, "isn’t 'y’all' plural?"  After she left the table I couldn’t contain myself, I almost peed in my pants, along with the rest of my party.


Ok, now this leads me to some of my FUBARs.  If you remember, I mentioned the Mozart case has a window in it.  At first I thought, well, it was for looks. While on my vacation I was talking to Ccokeman and mentioned it to him, so he went online and looked at the case and mentioned to me that it was for the Media Lab. Media Lab? Ok I have the Media Lab but it is self contained and fits into one of the drive bays. So I argued with him for about five minutes and finally he said, “Paul, you unattach the LED screen from the plate, and screw it behind the window on the case.” De de di! I felt as dumb as a rooster trying to get into a hen house, and the doors were locked.

When you build an HTPC you want to be able to operate it remotely, so you need some type of IR display that will control it. Thermaltake has such a product as an option, and they have named it the Media Lab. The Media lab is an IR receiver with an LED display that has a remote and software, so you’ll never have to  leave your chair to control your HTPC.


Ok, now you can see why I thought the display went into an external drive bay. The Media Lab comes attached to a 5.25" header.








The Media Lab comes with a remote, software, an installation manual, and a power dongle which which connects to your PSUs, twenty four-pin connector, and to your motherboard. The extra wire connects directly to the LED display to power it.



Decision time, do I use the Media Lab in an external drive bay, or do I take it apart and use it in the nice window I thought was for looks? Well I decided to go ahead and use it in the window just to see how it looks. Taking the LED screen off the header wasn’t too much of a task, four screws and, poof you are there.



The front bezel of the Mozart TX case already has the screw holes to attach the LED screen, so all I needed to do was attach it.


Once the Media Lab is attached to the bezel, it can be reattached to the frame of the case.  Be careful, there are some sharp edges, and while routing the wires yout fingers may get skinned.








Aluminum body & acrylic panel
Net Weight
Dimension (H*W*D)
20 x 55 x 190mm

5.25 Drive Bay

Multimedia Kits
IR Remote Control 
AAA Type Batteries x 2
Media LAB Application CD
USB Cable
Internal USB EXT Cable
M/B PWR SW Cable



Ouch, that hurt!  I ended up cutting my hands routing wires, but don’t worry, I’m NOT ok, I promise.  With the Media Lab installed, what will I do next?  Should I keep trying to get Fueler to mod the case panels , or should I try to figure out if I have a CPU and motherboard that I could use? In any case I think I have done enough work for the day. Building a High End HTPC is no easy task, I think I have camera finger, and might need physical therapy to fix it. Yup, that’s what I’ll do go to physical therapy.

Physical therapy is so much fun!





If you missed the first article in this series Here ya Go!