GMC R-2 TOAST CASE
Today we were pleased to find a shiny new R-2 TOAST case from GMC at our doorstep for review. This is one of the lower end cases offered by GMC, but it has a new innovative feature which GMC has patented: a vertical optical disk drive, or ODD as GMC calls it. In order for a case to stand out, it has to have something different, and the unique ODD mounting definitely helps it stand out from the pack. Lets start off with a picture of what is included inside of the case, including a very easy to follow instruction manual, in Korean. Upper left is the included internal speaker, the lower right is a "sticker" pack of tabs for your ODD; if your ODD doesn't have tabs to hold disks in the vertical position, these stick-on tabs will have it magically holding disks in no time.
Specifications and Dimensions:
The R-2 TOAST has a very high gloss paint from the factory, and has very smooth surfaces. The case comes as a blank canvass that screams "MOD ME!" This case is begging for a slick looking paint job. The power button includes LED's for power and HDD activity. The button itself uses the same type of switch that a mouse does, giving a noticable, even audible click which affirms that the button has been pressed.
The white case that we received was slightly different than the case pictured on the website, externally there was the addition of a vent near the internal drive bay. I have to assume that this was a design improvement after testing or feedback from customers to help reduce the amount of heat buildup. The vent may also help to provide cool air for the power supply unit or PSU.
The top of the case includes an Input/Output panel that has connectivity for 2 USB 2.0/ USB 1.1 devices, headphones and a microphone. The placement of these on top of the case would normally interfere with theODD(s) on a standard case, causing wires to get pinched in the tray of the drive; no worries here! The reset button is recessed so there is no chance of accidentally pressing it. As a matter of fact I found that I could not actually press the button without using a device to stick in the hole This may be a downside to the case as you would have to go find a paperclip or small screwdriver to reset your computer, but how often do you hard-reset your computer anyway?
Moving on to the side and back of the case we can see the three 80mm accomodations; two in the back and one on the side. You can see the provided 80mm fan in the photo, on the lower back of the case. The side comes with an air tunnel to passively direct cool air directly towards the chipset. This tunnel could easily be removed and replaced by an 80mm fan. Then, if desired, the tunnel could be mounted on the other side of the fan to direct forced air at the chipset. You can also see the vents on the back and side, it is nice to have a vent so close to where the graphics card will be mounted as the GPU is quite often the hottest part of the computer.
On the bottom of the case, there is space for another 80mm fan. The intent of this fan is to bring cold air into the bottom of the case to help keep it cool (cold air sinks). As you can see, the feet on the bottom of the case are only about 1/4" long which is not nearly enough clearance to get good air flow, especially on a surface that isn't perfectly flat. If better airflow is desired, one may want increase the length of the feet, or possibly even remove the stock punched out fan holes and go to a custom grill. You can also see the back of the ODD in this picture.
Before we dive into the case, lets focus a bit on the part of this R-2 TOAST case that makes it unique, the ODD. The pictures aren't of the best quality, because the flash really kills the blue LEDs, and I wanted the viewers to get the full effect that they have. The case we got came with a 52x cd-rom drive, but I am sure this was just for us to take pictures with. Any drive should work in the ODD bay except for some of the older, longer drives. There isn't much to say about this part of the case, so check out the pictures:
While we are on the subject of the ODD bay, I would like to show you how the mechanism that actually opens the drive. It appears as though it should be adjustable; because the case was shipped with the drive, I believe it was already pre-adjusted at the factory. You can see it is a simple lever. As mechanical systems go, this is almost as simple as it gets meaning that it should be good for thousands of successful presses. Personally, I think this adds to the "coolness" factor of the case; sometimes simple is quite nice.
Let's move on and check out the guts of this case. The first thing we notice when we open up the case is how much room there actually is inside. This TOAST case is approximately the same size as an average micro-ATX case, yet inside you see that it can actually accommodate a full-ATX motherboard. There are drawbacks though, the most evident is the paultry two 3.5" drive slots and zero 5.25" in drive bays inside. While the fact that there are no internal 5.25" drive bays is a moot point because there is no access to them anyway, this also brings up the point that there is no externally accessible 3.5" drive bays. Again, this may be a moot point because there is hardly any use today for floppy or zip drives. This is another place that I noticed a difference between the case on the GMC website and the one that was delivered to us. The second picture details the 3.5" drive bays and how they have reduced the amount of metal used, probably to reduce production costs. The metal that was removed doesn't appear as though it would have any affect on anything.
Another great feature about this case is how removable the front panel is. This is, of course, required because of the placement of the ODD; but quite nice. There are plenty of holes and space to route wires around inside the case. One drawback though is how long some of the cables would need to be. It looks like it would be a stretch to get power down to the ODD. You may have to run a longer data cable to your ODD as well, but the placement of the drive will help with airflow. Ribbon cables block airflow because you usually have to route them in front of the power supply, the vertical mounting of all the drives in the case has helped to alleviate this issue.
The GMC R-2 TOAST case is definitely not the worst you can do for a case. It should come to the US retailing around $30-$35, a very low price for a case. The main feature this case has is a really cool vertical mount for an ODD, which adds to the cool factor. It is pretty evident that your friends will not have a case like this, as the ODD mount has been patented internationally by GMC. This case has the ability to hold a full-ATX motherboard, two internal 3.5" drives and one 5.25" drive, plenty for a low-mid range system.
On the other hand, this case probably doesn't have enough expandability for a high end system, and the airflow probably isn't the best because there is no forced air through the front of the case. You only have the ability for one ODD, which is plenty for most users, but personally I prefer two. Also, I like to put a floppy disk in my computers, even if I never use it there is still the chance that I might want/need it.
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