Only in the past few years have PC enthusiasts been building their own Home Theater PCs. During the beginning of this trend, their were not many cases made specifically for HTPCs. Recently there has been many more cases being designed for the sole purpose of using a PC as a Home Theater device. Out of the many available, one seems to stand out from the crowd, and it is called the GMC Noblesse AVC-M1.
“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.”
- Model: Noblesse AVC-M1
- Dimension ( W x D x H ): 345 x 350 x 145mm
- Available Colors: Black, Silver
- Multi Port: USB2.0 x 2port, HD Audio + MIC port, IEEE 1394
- Form Factor: Micro ATX
- Drive Bay: 5.25″ x 1 (Ext) / 3.5″ x 3 (Int)
- Expansion Slots: 4 Slots
- Cooling: Rear 80mm Fan / Front 80mm Fan
- VFD Module: 16 x 2 Character VFD
- PSU Size: Micro ATX
One of the first things you may notice about this case is the height compared to some other HTPC-specific cases. Many other HTPC cases are designed to be low-profile and as such require that all expansion cards be low profile. This is not so with the AVC-M1 since it is able to house full size expansion cards. This is both an advantage as well as a disadvantage. The advantage being that there is no limit to what size expansion cards are installed in the case and there is also more room for larger CPU coolers. Unfortunately, the disadvantage is that due to the support for full-size cards, this case is much bulkier than most.
While were on the topic of expansion card slots which can be found on the rear of the unit, it must be mentioned that due to the extra space available inside this case, it was possible to place an 80mm fan next to the rear I/O panel. The included fan is very quiet and has a pass-through molex connector.
Moving around to the front of the unit we find a VFD display, a flip-open door for the DVD drive tray, and the following buttons:
- Power and reset
- “AV Canter (spelling error)
- Left, right, up and down controls
- Mute and volume buttons
In addition, behind a small door next to the VFD display can be found two USB ports, a headphone jack, a microphone jack, and a Firewire port. With the included software, the VFD panel will display things such as news from RSS feeds, the current weather in your city, information about your system, and the date and time as well. The software allows you to configure what shows on the VFD display as well. We consider the customizable display to be one of the big selling points of this case.
It should also be noted that there is a very bright power LED above the power button. We ended up disconnecting this LED from the motherboard as it was too bright and was quite annoying when it blinked on and off when our system was put into sleep mode.
Next we’ll take a look inside this case to get a better idea of what can be fit inside. First and foremost, this case is designed to house a MicroATX form factor motherboard.
In addition, GMC has chosen to also stick with the MicroATX form factor for the power supply. Unfortunately, when we put a Logisys PS350MA MicroATX PSU in this case, the inset around the rear I/O plate got in the way of the protruding fan on the power supply. Thus, after some hard work we were only able to get two of the three screws into one side the PSU, which is not enough to hold it secure when plugging in the power cable. Any force put on the rear of the PSU pushes one side of the power unit into the case. This is an unfortunate oversight by the designers of this case as almost all MicroATX power supplies feature a protruding fan. We hope this issue is fixed in a revision to the design of this case.
You will notice that this unit can fit two hard drives and one 5.25-inch drive which, as mentioned earlier, has a flip-down door on front to allow the optical drive tray to push through. It adds a nice aesthetic touch to the case since the bare drive faceplate is not visible when the drive tray is closed.
Also included with this case is a remote which enables users to navigate through a user interface of that such as Windows Media Center. Also included with the latest software version is another Media Center-esque application which supports more file types and is more integrated with the VFD display. The remote also has a directional pad which can be switched between both d-pad mode and mouse mode. When using the mouse mode, the directional pad acts somewhat like the “eraser stub” that can be found on IBM Thinkpad laptops. It works quite well, though we did encounter some issues with the mouse function dropping out randomly using the included version of the software. Once we grabbed an updated version, the directional pad mouse function worked as expected.
Overall we think this case is an okay choice for any HTPC build. Unfortunately, the PSU-fitting problem and bright power LED can be quite bothersome. The other downsides can be fixed by downloading the latest drivers.
We believe that in this case (no pun intended) the pros barely outweigh the cons, when considering a major problem such as our standard-size MicroATX PSU not fitting correctly. Though we like the customizable VFD display and support for full-size expansion cards.
Unfortunately, this case is not available yet in the US, though we are looking forward to it showing up soon on either Newegg or Auzentech’s online store.
- Very spacious
- Supports full-size expansion cards
- Latest drivers perform very well and include impressive media software
- Includes remote customizable with software
- Door for front USB and audio gets stuck on our unit
- Remote cursor control works intermittently with driver included on CD
- Power LED is quite bright