The Korean GMC Company has been manufacturing computer cases since 1996. Its brand is often associated with midrange products without extraordinary features although some people may remember the flat HTPC cases from the Noblesse AV series or the slender cases from the Slim-ATX series. And today we are going to discuss three rather interesting products from that firm. Two of them, the R2 Toast and R3 Corona, are based on the same chassis and resemble each other very much. Both represent an original approach to reducing the dimensions of the computer case. The third model, AVC-K2 Ebony, is designed for HTPCs. As opposed to most products of that class, it is a regular tower rather than a flat case. Well, it is only regular in terms of interior design and shape because its front panel is unique. So, let’s get started.
GMC R3 Corona and R2 Toast
The R2 Toast and R3 Corona share the same interior and only differ in the design of the front panel, so we will be using the R3 Corona for our discussion.
Trying to create a compact case, the developers usually go one of two ways: they switch to microATX format and reduce the height of the case or, occasionally, switch to microATX and position the mainboard in the case horizontally, producing a characteristic cubic shape. GMC went its own way. Its engineers do not make the user switch to smaller mainboads. The cases are ATX, but have a reduced length. This is a reasonable idea because office desks usually offer a rather small shelf for the computer. And if you put your computer on your desk, it is the area it occupies rather than its height that matters the most.
A typical tower is about half longer than the R3 Corona. The latter may even look awkward at first sight because its height doesn’t seem to be proportional to its length.
The front panel is made from glossy plastic. It reflects everything around and collects speckles of dust and your greasy fingerprints. There is a large Power button in its center and a block of interface ports together with a Reset button at the bottom. But where are 5-inch bays you may wonder? Few people would want to run their computers without an optical drive.
As for ventilation, the front panel has no holes, but the side panel has as many as two vents opposite the processor and graphics card.
Well, this system case is not intended for office use only, so you can indeed install an optical drive into it. The drive is just positioned vertically, in parallel to the front panel, in the latter’s top protrusion. Its tray moves out downward through a slit that is originally covered with a plastic bracket (by the way, don’t forget to remove it – this is not a decorative faceplate). Now it’s clear how GMC has managed to reduce the length of the case so dramatically. They have just got rid of all 5-inch bays. So, if you’ve got a removable rack or some device for a 5-inch bay, or if you have more than one optical drive in your system, you should not waste your time on this model. However, most users have only one optical drive, leaving the other 5-inch bays empty in their computers.
There is nothing wrong in the unusual position of the drive. Of course, you now cannot put your cup of coffee down on it, but you also cannot break it accidentally. When extended, the tray blocks the Power button but doesn’t reach to flash drives and cables plugged into the system case’s front-panel connectors.
There is a standard selection of connectors in the front panel: two USB ports and two audio sockets. The cutout for a FireWire port is blocked with a plastic stub.
The rear panel is perfectly standard. Besides length, the developer minimized the width of this case, so there are seats for two 80mm fans (instead of one 120mm fan, as usual) at the back panel. Running a little ahead, we can tell you that our Zalman CNPS9500 AT cooler fitted into the case easily, but there can be problems with huge modern super-coolers. On the other hand, this very special case is not meant for super-fast configurations.
There is a rather large vent hole in the right panel opposite the power supply: the front panel is free from vent holes while the components need cooling. And what is this lever near the front panel for?
It opens the optical drive’s tray. It is unhandy to press the eject button of a drive whose front panel faces down and is hidden from view, so the system case offers this lever which is mechanically connected to the eject button. It works simply and easily. The only requirement is that the drive’s button be in its standard place.
The solution is very simple mechanically. It is a regular lever turning around the horizontal axis.
The case stands on four simple feet made from rigid plastic – inexpensive system cases often have such feet.
Just as any decent modern system case, the R3 Corona has a plastic funnel on the left-panel vent hole. It brings the air closer to the CPU cooler. Such funnels are only more or less efficient with small coolers, like the boxed ones, so we removed it to install our cooler. You can also attach an 80mm fan in its place.