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Few months ago we have just completed the review on GMC R4 bulldozer which is a unique computer case that is having vertical ODD insertion and today we are going to review another GMC case; A-31K. GMC A series case is a middle tower ATX case and it is targeted for entry level market. Let us explore more about this budget case.
GM Corporation Ltd is a manufacturer and distributor headquartered in Seoul, Korea and founded in 1996. The company offers a wide range of PC cases, power supplies, computer peripheral and service to customers worldwide. It is GMC's mission to be the best provider of the state-of-the-art products in the global market. By offering superior products and complete service, the company seeks to share the enjoyable computer life for worldwide end users.
GMC producys middle tower PC cases and HTPC cases (Home Theater PC) which supports mATX and ATX form factors. Our HTPC has a fantastic design and functions and supports up to MS Window VISTA and MCE (Media Center Edition).
Package & Content
GMC A-31K comes with a standard PC case packaging box and the case is protected by two foams. Nothing special about the packaging box and only some basic information is written at the side of the packaging box such as model, color, weight and etc.
GMC A-31K is wrapped with another layer of plastic bag to protect the case from being scratches as well as waterproof. Since GMC A-31K is a budget PC case, it doesn't come with any luxury of accessories except a pack of screws and a 4-pin motherboard speaker.
GMC A-31K Exterior
Computer casing is the major line of business of GMC and there are more than 50 PC cases available at this moment. A-series is an entry ATX middle tower case and there are two models available; A-35 and A-31. GMC A31 is a lower end case compare with A-35 as it doesn't come with any fancy lightning as A-35. There are two colors available for GMC A-31; silver and black (A-31K).
The front panel of GMC A-31K is a very plain panel which only comes with solo color; black and it doesn't have any fancy design like GMC R4 that we have reviewed previously. On top of the front panel, there are total four 5.25" and one 3.5" panels while at the bottom of the front panel there is front I/O ports and a convex area for front air vent.
Among four 5.25" panels, the top 5.25" panel comes with ODD door which looks nicer as it is used to cover the original ODD panel especially when the original panel is not same color with the case. However we prefer GMC include at least two ODD doors as most of the systems nowadays will have more than one ODD. Besides that we also would like to see GMC locates the ODD eject button at side rather than bottom. This is because if the eject button at bottom then it will force the user to close the ODD by pushing the ODD tray directly.
Although floppy drive is considered dying but it is still included for GMC A-31K. Right below the 3.5" panel, there is a lid to cover the front I/O ports; two USB ports and audio jacks. The lid is good to hide the front I/O and avoid collect dust when it is not being used. Beside the front I/O ports, there is a silver button for power up and reset (press and hold for few seconds) the system.
Here are the side views of both left and right panels of GMC A-31K. The left panel has two air vents; top one is a 92mm CPU air vent with air duct while the bottom is the rectangular air vent for PCI cards especially for video card. All these air vents are used for drawing more fresh air from outside to cool down the hardware more efficiently. Sadly to say that no 92mm fan is included at default but it can be added manually in between the side panel and the air duct.
The layout of GMC A-31K's back panel is quite standard and almost identical with other entry level ATX cases. On top, there is a PSU location followed by rear I/O panel, 120mm rear air vent, PCI air vent and standard set of 7 PCI slots. At the bottom of GMC A-31K, there are two rubber feet at front to hold the case firmly on the surface. Both of the side panels are locked on the case body with thumb screws and the left panel comes with padlock for better security purpose.
GMC A-31K Interior
Here are the interior views of GMC A-31K and since GMC A-31K is a budget PC case, there isn't any tool-less device like other mainstream and high end PC cases which simplify the installation process. GMC A-31K is a standard ATX PC case so it is spacious enough for better cable management and air flow.
There are total four 5.25" bays, one 3.5" exposed bay and five 3.5" inner bays for HDD. All the ODD, floppy, HDD and other peripheral devices require manual screw installation which is troublesome but if the installation/removal is not frequent then it should be no problem for manual screw installation.
GMC A-31K comes with a 120mm exhausting cooling fan at the rear of the case which is having 1500RPM and it is the only fan that GMC includes for GMC A-31K. GMC is selling A-31K as a thermal advanced PC case so it will be better to include another 120mm cooling fan at front panel as intake fan. For extreme cases, adding an exhausting fan at top panel will be the best for dissipating the heat as heat will always circulate at higher area.
Here is the left side panel of GMC A-31K which comes with a 92mm air duct. For the I/O cables, there are total four cables; two for power/reset SW & HDD/power LEDs, one for dual USB ports and last cable for front audio.
The front panel of GMC A-31K can be separated out from the case's body easily by removing six latches. There are couples of cable from the front panel which are connecting with the power switch and front I/O panel PCB. All these connectors are not soldered permanently and it can be removed if user would like to perform any case cleaning, drive installation and etc.
Here is the naked view of GMC A-31K front panel. The second 3.5" bay basically is for HDD because it cannot be installed for any external 3.5" device since the front panel is not supporting it. At the bottom of the front panel, there is a 120mm air vent mounting for 120mm cooling fan; however no fan is included. In GMC website, an air filter should be included for this front air vent but we don't see it on our sample; better find out more with the reseller if this is one of your concerns.
Installation, Testing & Performance
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 @ 2.33GHz
Motherboard: Asus P5K SE/EPU
Heatsink: CoolerMaster X Dream P775+
Memory: 4GB 800MHz DDR2 Memory
Hard Drive: 250GB 7200RPM Fujitsu
Hard Drive: 80GB 7200RPM Western Digital
Graphic Card: Gigabyte GeForce 9600GT
PSU: Seasonic M12D 850W
Optical Drive: DVD RW HLDS
Operating System: Microsoft Vista Home Premium
Benchmark Software: Prime 95
Ambient Temperature: 28 Degree Celsius
Now let us proceed with the installation of GMC A-31K. Since GMC A-31K is a very basic ATX PC case, we won't show the installation step by step but we will point out some of our concerns that we have encountered.
Let us start with the hardware installation. For the motherboard and PCI installation, there isn't any major problem but if user would like to install high end graphic card especially in SLI or Cross Fire then please take note that it might blocks with the HDD installation/removal due to space constraint. Besides that GMC A-31K has no issue to install a giant tower heatsink but user needs to ensure the height of the heatsink is not blocking with the side panel.
Next will be optical drive and hard drive installations. Both of the side panels are required to be removed in order to fasten these devices more securely since GMC A-31K is not a tool-less PC case. For more than one optical drive or other similar 5.25" peripherals, user can just push the original case 5.25" panel toward inside in order to remove it without removing the whole front panel.
PSU installation is standard as well and furthermore GMC A-31K has the motherboard plate as the additional supporting holder so user no needs to hold the PSU carefully while fastening the PSU on the case. For the cooling installation, if user needs to add a 120mm fan on the front panel then the front panel needs to be removed first. For better cooling performance, user can add a 92mm at the side panel by removing the original air duct first then install the fan in between the side panel and the air duct.
For the cooling performance, we have compared GMC A-31K with GMC R4. There is some performance lagging behind of GMC A-31K compare with GMC R4; around 2-4 degree for both CPU and system temperatures. The variances are mainly due to missing the front and side cooling fans which can be improved by adding the fans manually.
Overall GMC A-31K is not a bad case for entry level users in term of cost, cooling, performance, space and etc. Although there is only a rear fan is included but the front/side air vents are readied for user to add the cooling fans on it additionally. Its MSRP is around 40-50USD which is quite similar with other budget ATX PC case but what makes GMC A-31K a bit outstanding than its competitors is its well finishing quality. If you are looking for a budget case then you can have a look on this A-31K from GMC if it is available in your local area.
* Good quality for an entry level ATX case
* Comes with side panel 92mm air duct
* Good cooling with front & rear 120mm air vents
* Only rear fan is included
* Not tool-less design
Thanks to GMC for providing this sample for us to review.
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