Streacom DB-4 Silent Kaby Lake Media PC Build: The Sound Of Silence

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Introducing the Streacom DB-4 Fanless Chassis

The sound of silence -- there’s nothing like it, especially when it comes to a media PC. The last thing anyone wants while binging on the new season of Game of Thrones is the distracting drone of a fan or whir of a hard drive. Silence is precisely what the Streacom DB-4 chassis we'll be featuring here has to offer.

streacom db4 corner view

I’ve been wanting to build a Home Theater PC (HTPC) for years now. My current rig actually started life as an HTPC, but was soon upgraded for gaming and workstation tasks and now lives under my desk instead of in my living room. When Streacom reached out to us to review the DB-4, I was eager for the opportunity to give a proper HTPC another go.

The DB-4 is not your average computer case. It houses precisely zero cooling fans. Streacom exchanges a traditional CPU heatsink and fan for a copper CPU block and heat pipes with aluminum heat sink mounts to whick away heat. The DB-4 is rated to dissipate 65W of heat with the included block and pipes but is expandable to 105W with the optional LH6 CPU heatpipe kit, which distributes cooling across two side panels instead of just one.

streacom db4 build side panel closeup

On the outside, Streacom has engineered the case to utilize finned aluminum side panels to radiate system heat using nothing but ambient airflow. It's basic thermodynamics: The case gets hot and heats the air around it. That air then rises away as denser cool air displaces it in a sort of treadmill effect.

The DB-4 is quite a showpiece and should not be hidden away like other AV gear. It has a very modern, almost surgical appearance. The DB-4 feels like it belongs on a spaceship with an overall structure reminiscent of the Geisel Library at UC San Diego.

Geisel Library3
By Antoine Taveneaux (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Part Selection

Choosing parts to install within the DB-4 can be a little unconventional. For starters, it is designed to house only mITX motherboards. The 65W TDP rating also means it won’t support high end processors without the LH6 CPU heatpipe kit. We could include an Intel Core i7-7700 (non-K) with its 65W TDP, but instead are opting for a Core i3-7350K which gives us a little more headroom at a 60W TDP. The 7350K also lets us try a little overclocking to test the DB-4’s cooling limits for about half the price. Gigabyte graciously provided their Z270N Gaming 5 mITX motherboard for the build.

streacom db4 build cpu installed

Since the motherboard has a RGBW header for LED strips and RAM, we decided to go with 16GB (2x8GB) of Geil’s EVOX 3200MHz DDR4 memory.

streacom db4 geil ddr4 rgb

This RAM is compatible with Gigabyte’s RGB Fusion app which may sound a little useless since the DB-4 has no transparent side-panels, but there are hidden openings beneath the fins that allow the LEDs to glow through in the dark and set some mood lighting or synchronize with music.

streacom db4 ram led glow

The DB-4 can support multiple 3.5” drives, but mechanical disks would kill our silent vibe so instead we opted for a solid state solution. Our movie library is hosted on a Synology DiskStation DS416j so we don’t need a ton of on-board storage, but do need space for the OS, some light games, and other odds and ends. We settled on the 512GB Toshiba OCZ RD400 M.2 NVMe drive which performed quite admirably in our tests.
ocz rd400 ssd stick

Speaking of gaming, we wanted to use a passively cooled GPU for the build but were not able to source one that would fit properly inside the DB-4 in time. Some considerations to have if you do wish to include one are power budget, physical size, and dependence on airflow. We will speak more about power budget in a moment, but for physical size the length would need to be under 200mm and the width less than 110mm. Otherwise, it does support a typical 2-slot width. Many cards we looked at had heat pipes that created issues with the width constraints. You’ll also want to be fairly conservative on TDP with this as some passive GPUs still rely on some form of airflow that just doesn’t exist in the DB-4.

And for the last piece of hardware, we have the PSU. The DB-4 will probably not accept a standard ATX PSU - at least not while maintaining its sleek aesthetics - but even if it could, a PSU fan would again kill the goal of total silence. Some motherboards do support an external power brick style AC adapter, but are often limited in terms of wattage, such as Streacom’s Nano style PSUs. Fortunately, Streacom also manufactures a purpose-built internal PSU which can deliver 240W of power all while remaining passively cooled, the ZeroFlex ZF240. The ZF240 does cut into drive space that the Nano PSUs do not, but for our single M.2 drive setup this is not a problem.
streacom db4 windows 10 logo
Last, but not least, comes the Operating System. Ultimately, this will come down to preference, but we decided to go with Windows 10 for familiarity and simplicity. The regular Windows 10 Home edition should serve fine, but we selected the Pro edition for more diverse networking options and remote desktop support.

For total specifications we are looking at the following:

Processor

Intel Core i3-7350K (4M Cache, 4.20GHz)

Graphics

Intel HD Graphics 630

Motherboard

Gigabyte GA-Z270N-Gaming 5 mITX

Wired Networking

Intel GbE LAN (10/100/1000 Mbit)

Wireless Networking

Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Dual-Band (up to 867 Mbit)

Memory

16GB (2x8GB) Dual-Channel DDR4 3200MHz Geil EvoX RGB

Storage

Toshiba OCZ RD400 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD

Power Supply

Streacom ZeroFlex ZF240 Fanless PSU (240W)

Case

Streacom DB-4 Fanless Chassis

Dimensions (WxDxH)

260mm (10.25”) x 260mm (10.25”) x 270mm (10.75”)

Operating System

Windows 10 Pro


Now let's see how it all comes together...

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