GMC R-4 Bulldozer Reviewtacohunter52 - September 13, 2009
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Cases don't just magically work, unless you've got the plain boring metal enclosure whose sole purpose is to hold your hardware. Otherwise, there will be some type of hardware deep in the case's underbelly. The most obvious of these working components is the wires. The Bulldozer comes complete with the usual front header cables, as well as a USB cable and an HD audio cable. Bundled with these cables are some Molex connectors for the case fans, and a temperature sensor for the case's front display.
To me, it looks as though GMC made the side panels so they'd be interchangeable between the X-Station and the Bulldozer. Just like on the X-Station, the Bulldozer's side panel comes with an 80mm fan. What's different is that this fan is controlled directly through a fan controller on the side panel. This panel comes complete with a thermometer, so that weird piece of plastic will actually have a purpose this time around. You can detach the side panel's bulk via six screws located on the panel's insides.
At a first glance, the PCB attached to the side panel looks almost the same as that on the X-Station. Removing this PCB again reveals the oddly placed black piece of plastic. Once again, this plastic looks like it could be used to display temperatures. Removing the PCB reveals that's exactly what it is for! Apparently, GMC manufactures the same side "bulk" and attaches it to multiple cases. This is fine, I guess, but shouldn't all the cases it's attached to have some kind of display? Another thing I felt was a little odd, was that the wires were hot glued to the PCB. I guess if it works, it works!
The only other part of this case that comes chock full of working components is the front cover. Removing the front cover does indeed reveal a plethora of working components. Removing the huge plastic bulk also makes the case appear more sturdy, instead of looking like a giant plastic toy.
Just like on the side panel, the Bulldozer's front panel has a temperature sensor. The PCB for the sensor has a display. Connected to this PCB is a Molex connector for power, as well as the thermometer probe, which can be placed near any piece of hardware you want to monitor. The front header PCB is rather boring looking. It has a reset switch, an HDD LED, and a power switch. Again, the wires were hot glued onto the PCB. The only PCB I could find in this case that didn't have the wires hot glued onto it was the USB PCB; these wires were connected using the traditional connectors. I was saddened to see only two USB ports on this case, but I'm not sure where GMC would have placed more anyway.
The Bulldozer's front intake fan has red LEDs, which actually look pretty cool on the black case. In my opinion, this is one of the few things GMC has done right. Directly above the fan is the single optical drive bay. Unlike most optical drive bays, GMC designed the Bulldozer's to open downwards. Again, this looks relatively cool, but does being cool make up for the lack of expandability?
As I stated before, the Bulldozer has two temperature displays. The side panel has the fan controller and the two blinking LEDs. Much like the X-Station, these LEDs don't make much sense. You'd expect one to mean the fan's on high and the other to mean it's on low. Instead, they just repeatedly blink. At least there is actually a temperature display on the side panel, unlike the X-Station, which just had the plastic cover that did nothing.
Trying to fit all my hardware into the Bulldozer was literally a joke. The motherboard doesn't fit straight in as it does in most cases. Instead, you have to put one end in, slide that end forward, and then slide the other end in. GMC also stated that the case could fit the largest graphics cards. I've been doing my case reviews with a 4870 X2, which is one of the largest graphics cards. The 4870 X2 is the entire length of the case's interior. I had to remove the only fan filter in order for the GPU to rub up against the cases side. To actually get the card to fit inside the case was even more of a challenge. I had to put it in length wise and then gently FORCE it into position.
Once I managed to get all the components installed, I began to plug things in. Sounds easy, right? WRONG! I don't know what GMC was thinking when it said, "Make practical use of the small space in the interior room." I'm starting to wonder if GMC is giving us advice on how to properly use the case, rather than telling us what the company has done. There is absolutely no room at all for wire management. Directly in front of the PSU is the HDD bay. There is no area behind the motherboard tray to place wires, and there is no optical drive bay in which to to hide wires. Despite using a modular power supply, it looks like I didn't even try to manage my wires. This was extraordinarily frustrating for me, because even with the X-Station, I was able to somewhat manage my wires. I feel as though GMC should rewrite its quote. The new one could go something like this – "Small Interior!!!"
The Bulldozer better offer some huge performance gains in order to make up for the apparent design flaws. Will it be able to perform better than a generic case, which has more room? Let's find out.