Sunday, August 19, 2012

GMC R-4 BullDozer - Review

n the recent CeBIT event, GMC has showed off their latest cases and one of the most outstanding cases would be R-4 BullDozer. Why is this R-4 BullDozer so unique and outstanding? It is mostly due to its vertical optical drive design which is the trademark of their R series cases. Today we have a chance to review this case and let us reveal the mystery of R-4 BullDozer and share with you.

Company Profile
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).

- The ultimate design Revolution
- Make practical use of the small space in the interior room
- Excellent cooling performance supported by side ventilation holes and 92mm front fan
- Unique ODD tray eject
- Temperature multi ports
- Advanced side panel cooling

- Dimensions (W x D x H) : 180mm x 290mm x 420mm
- Material : ABS (front), Chassis (SECC, Korean Steel)
- Form Factor : Full ATX
- Drive Bay : 3 Drive bays (5.25" x 1, 3.5" x 2)
- Expansion Port : 7 Slots
- Multi Port : USB x 2, Audio + MIC
- Fan : LED 92mm (front), 120mm (rear), 80mm (side), 80mm (bottom; optional)
- Thermometer : Thermometer W/sensor
- Weight : 4.3Kg (Net), 5.4Kg (Gross)
- Certification : CE, RoHS

Package & Content
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GMC R-4 BullDozer comes with an ordinary case packaging where the box dimension is around 220 x 420 x 480mm. For the first time we carried this case with the packaging box, we found that it is very light which is out of our expectation as we thought it will be heavy case with all its fancy design. Insides the box, the GMC R-4 BullDozer is protected by two air foams and a piece of big plastic bag to avoid sractches and waterproof too.
Besides the case of GMC R-4 BullDozer, it comes with an user's manual and a bag of screws, one PCI filler and one motherboard speaker. The user's manual is really necessary especially for the optical drive/ODD installation because the GMC R-4 BullDozer has a very unique design and without the user's manual users will have a hard time to find out how to install the optical drive.

GMC R-4 BullDozer Exterior
GMC is a Korea company which have been producing and focusing on PC cases where they have quite number of case series to cover and fulfill the user's requirement such as R series for vertical ODD insertion, Noblesse series for multimedia, AVC series for HTPC, X series for tower and etc. GMC R-4 BullDozer comes with few case color options such as black, white, green, orange and red; our unit here is a black one.
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GMC R-4 BullDozer is a standard full ATX case but it is much slimmer size in term of case depth due to its unique vertical ODD design as normal cases will have horizontal ODD installation which makes the case much depth. The dimension of this case is 180 x 290 x 420 mm (W x D x H). The case design of this GMC R-4 BullDozer especially the front panel is a bit complicated which may not suitable for adult but we're sure that youngster will like this case.
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As we mentioned previously GMC R-4 BullDozer has a very unique ODD design and here are some pictures to close all your doubts if you have. Basically, if you are familiar with GMC R series case then you will know that all the R series cases are having vertical ODD insertion which looks quite interesting and perfect for those have very limited working space. On the right front panel, there is an eject button to eject the ODD. The ODD tray panel is supported by two spring steel bar; some sort like absorber.
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Case model is stated on the front panel of GMC R-4 BullDozer and at the bottom of the front panel, there are some I/O ports like two audio jacks, 2 USB ports, Power button, Reset button. Besides that GMC has integrated a thermometer sensor LED display too. This feature is extremely good for users to monitor the PC hardware temperature as GMC R-4 BullDozer doesn't support any other 5.25" or 3.25" peripheral except the ODD. With this, we would like to see GMC includes card readers feature for incoming models as card reader is quite important nowadays.
Just right above the front panel I/O ports of the GMC R-4 BullDozer, there is a 92mm transparent LED fan. This fan is an intake fan to provide the fresh air to cool down the hardware inside the case. GMC has paired different color LED fan for different color case; red LED fan for black case and blue LED fan for white case.
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Here are the left and right panels of the GMC R-4 BullDozer. GMC R-4 BullDozer side view is a bit odd due to it front panel design. Right panel is the motherboard plate panel where nothing much can be found here except the passive ventilation at the top area near the front panel. However for the left panel, there are active (middle) and passive ventilation (bottom) areas.
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For the active cooling, GMC uses a 80mm cooling fan to provide the fresh air and blow directly toward the CPU area to cool down them further. GMC has integrated a fan speed controler for this 80mm fanw here users can control the air flow and noise. The passive ventilation at the bottom of the left panel is for graphic card as some performance, high end graphic will have an active cooling which may draw the fresh air through this ventilation area.
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Here are the back panel of GMC R-4 BullDozer where it can support two 80mm cooling fans but it is still able to support a single 120mm fan where we will show you later. For the bottom panel, GMC has prepared another 80mm ventilation area for those who really need it as more airflow inside the case will eventually generate more noise. Users can install any 80mm fan on this area as an intake fan and if GMC includes an active ventilation area for top panel then this case will be perfect.

GMC R-4 BullDozer Interior
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Here is the interior view of GMC R-4 BullDozer which is nothing much different compare with normal steel cases but overall it looks much cleaner and simple. Installation and cable, management maintenance will be easier for this case as there isn't any blocking from ODD or HDD cage where we will usually find it for normal cases. The screws, user's guide are tied on the HDD cage.
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As we mentioned before, GMC R-4 BullDozer supports two 80mm rear fans but it also supports 120mm fan by adding a dual 80mm to 120mm fan converter which is done at default by GMC. This is good for those are looking for best airflow as 120mm has better airflow than dual 80mm fans. However due to the additional converter, when motherboard installation the 120mm fan need to be removed first as it is blocking the user to install the motherboard I/O bracket. The HDD cage of GMC R-4 BullDozer is different with normal case as well as it is installed vertically and only can support up to two 3.5" HDD which may disappoint some users who are having more than 2 HDDs.
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For the front 92mm case fan, GMC has included an air filter to let the user to keep the case clean while still providing enough fresh air flow through the case. The air filter can be cleaned as often as possible to avoid dust blocking after certain of time. All the front panel cables such as temperature sensor, I/O ports, Power/Reset switches are routed to the inner case at the bottom of the case. The additional 80mm bottom fan may blocks the user for installing the motherboard or cables if he/she intend to add this additional fan.
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The front panel of GMC R-4 BullDozer can be separated out from the case body by unscrewing three clips with screws and three more purely clips. The 92mm transparent case fan is attached on the case body as shown as above. The front panel is made by ABS material while the case body is made by SECC; Korean Steel.
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The front panel still can be torn down further by separating the ODD front panel with the front panel body. We did this because we thought it is the way to install the ODD but we're wrong as we didn't read the user's guide. We are not suggesting users to separate them or try to do so as it will take sometimes to merge them back due to the ODD tray design. To install the ODD, users just need to do lift up the ODD panel; it is tool-less to do so.

Installation, Testing & Performance
Test Bed
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
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Here is the ODD installation detail for GMC R-4 BullDozer where users need to secure the ODD on the front panel with four screws. For those are still using the old type of IDE ODD or those ODD which has longer length then it may not suitable with this case as you can see the SATA and power cable may cause the problem for installation if the ODD is too long.
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The HDD installation is not tool-less as well where users need to unscrew and take out the HDD cage from the case body of GMC R-4 BullDozer before proceed with HDD installation. For those who are used to with tool-less case then they may need to warm up their fingers to do installation as MC R-4 BullDozer is not a tool-less case.
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Here is the complete installation of GMC R-4 BullDozer with motherboard, CPU heatsink, PSU, 2 x HDD plus one ODD. Everything still looks perfect as we are using a modular PSU where we can minimize the unnecessary PSU cables to avoid blocking up the airflow and looks messy as well. Although GMC R-4 BullDozer is a small case but we found that it is quite spacious during our installation; thanks to its ODD & HDD vertical installation.
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Look at the red LED fan, it is absolutely very charming especially pair with a black case and the red thermometer LED display. The side panel also has an integrated thermometer too where we used it to measure the graphic card temperature. Besides that the side panel fan has the digital fan speed controller with 2 LED as the indicator for users to press up or down to increase (red LED) or decrease (green LED) the fan speed.  
Here is a video clip about the ODD tray ejecting of GMC R-4 BullDozer. During our testing, we found that the tray sometime may stuck when ejecting but after few rounds of testing, the issue was disappear. This might caused by the tray which was not yet fully get warmed up.
The whole case installation for GMC R-4 BullDozer will take around 30mins to an hour for the first time unless you are very familiar with this case. For the testing for a PC case, most of the time the benchmark subject will be temperature and noise. Both CPU and system temperatures are around 3-5 ° lower compre with our previous case and it is very dependent on what case are you going to compare. If you are comparing with low end case and the temperature will be much lower but if you are comparing with high end aluminum case then maybe you won't get much improvement compare with this GMC R-4 BullDozer. For the noise, we can't hear any significant noise although GMC R-4 BullDozer has plenty of case fans.

R-4 BullDozer is definitely one of the innovative products from GMC which not only looks pretty cool but work very well as well especially the air flow design. Besides that GMC R-4 BullDozer also comes with two temperatures sensors plus the temperature readers which allows users to monitor their hardware temperature easily without going through the window software. This case is a bit expensive with its 130USD since it is not an aluminum case but if you are really looking such cool product then you may consider this GMC R-4 BullDozer.

* Unique ODD tray design
* Dual temperature sensor readers
* Ultimate airflow cooling structure
* Light & small size
* Not support any exposure 3.5" drive
* Not tool-less design

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