GMC X-7 'X-Station' Reviewtacohunter52 - August 13, 2009
» Discuss this article (5)
You'd think that a mid-tower case wouldn't have that many working components. Then again, the X-7 X-Station isn't supposed to be your ordinary case. Let's take a few moments to stop admiring the X-Station's bulky beauty. Instead, let's tear this case apart and find every piece of equipment that shines, moves, beeps, or does anything other than look good. The first parts that come to mind, or at least my mind, are the case fans. The X-Station happens to have three of them. These include two 120mm fans. One is an intake at the front, and the other is an exhaust located at the rear. There is also an 80mm fan located on the right side panel. To me this seems a little minimalistic, especially for a case that is supposed to have superior airflow. The two 120mm fans are powered via Molex connectors, while the little 80mm fan is connected in a slightly more interesting way. The 80mm fan is powered by the case's built-in fan controller. Why is the 80mm fan controlled by the fan controller? I have no idea, that seems a bit odd to me.
While looking at the fans, I noticed that there is a black connector protruding from the side panel. This tells us that there is something electronic underneath the side panel bulk. Removing this bulky part of the side panel is as easy as removing six screws. Believe it or not, once the bulk is removed, the side panel looks like a normal side panel. It is, however, slightly less cool looking without the bulk, so I'll be sure to put it back on later.
Looking at the reverse side of the bulk, we see that there are no filters to stop the fan from sucking in dirt. This may or may not be a problem depending on how powerful the fan is. Near the edge of the bulk we see a small circuit board. Removing it reveals nothing more then two LED's and a button. The button is to both increase and decrease fan speed. This means that every time you touch it, the speed will do the opposite of what it was just doing. In other words, if it just went up it's going to go down. This can be a little irritating at first, because you have to hold the button until it reaches the desired fan speed, but you will eventually get used to it. What's completely peculiar are the LEDs. One of them shines green and the other shines red. You'd expect that when the fan speed is increasing the green LED would shine, and while it's decreasing the red LED would shine. Instead, the two lights alternate every second no matter what you're doing. That's not the only stupid thing, either. If you noticed on the front part of the bulk, there is a shiny black part that looks like it could be an LCD display. Removing that circuit board reveals nothing more then a shiny black piece of plastic. Seriously, what purpose could that possibly serve?
I decided that the next thing to look at should be the front panel of the X-7 X-Station. However, when I removed it, I realized that there was more than should be written about in one paragraph. For this reason I'll be splitting it up.
The X-7 X-Station fan controller is both special and nothing special. It's special because it comes built-in with the case, which isn't very common. It's not special, because it's a fan controller that only controls one fan and monitors only one temperature. Hey, it's better then nothing, right!? The front of the fan controller's PCB has the LCD display and a green LED. Even though it appears to be taped on via electrical tape, I assure you it isn't. I'm not actually sure why the electrical tape is there, but this case has stranger things on it. The back of the PCB has what you'd expect to see, resistors and capacitors. There is also a speaker, two PWM connectors, and believe it or not, a reset button. Why the reset button is on the inside of the fan controller where no one will think to look escapes me. The fan controller is powered by a Molex connector, while it gives power to the 80mm fan via a 3-pin connector. There is also a temperature sensor to monitor the temps of whatever hardware you put it near it, and a ribbon cable that connects to the PCB on the right side panel.
The X-7 X-Station comes jam-packed with four USB ports, a front audio jack and a front mic jack. One quick note on this particular part of the case: The PCB looks extremely easy to remove, and it is, but it isn't easy to put back in. The USB ports are hooked in a way that is supposed to make them stay in place. What this actually accomplished was make me spend a good half an hour trying to wiggle this thing back into place. My advice is that you don't remove it, then again why would you need to? Now that the front of the case has had its guts removed, it's easy to see the HDD LED cables and the power switch cables. It's cool because there are two of each. This is a very unique and great design concept.
Before I put my hardware into the X-7 X-Station, I'd like you guys to take a look at something that is completely ridiculous. Below are two pictures. One is of the front intake fan, and the other is of the part of the front panel that is directly in front of the intake fan. Do you see the problem? Directly in front of the fan is nothing more than plastic. Off to the sides are four small holes, and if they were in front of the fan this would have been okay. However, where they are located they defeat the purpose of the fan. The holes are all the way to the side of the front panel, which puts them directly past the edges of the fan. Not only that, but half of the holes are above the fan. This seems to me like it will counteract the whole purpose of the intake fan! We will have to see, won't we?
Putting all of my hardware into the case was extremely easy. The 4870 X2 did make for a tight fit with the HDD bay, though. The hard part was managing the wires. I feel that part of a case's performance is its ability to allow you to hide wires. For this purpose I used only what was included with the case in order to hide my wires. At first I thought I'd be able to hide the majority of my wires behind the motherboard tray, but I soon found this isn't possible. Other than the area directly behind the HDD bay, there is less than a cm of clearance, so putting wires back there is a no go.
I soon found that I couldn't put all my wires behind the HDD bay either. I was able to get my 24-pin cable, the two GPU power cables and the SATA power connector for the hard drive to go behind the motherboard tray. But after that no more cables would fit. The HDD was also located directly where the SATA ports on my motherboard were located. This sounds great, but unless you've got a two inch SATA cable, you'll be left with a lot of extra cable to hide. To top things off, the power cables for the 120mm fans weren't very long at all. So, in the case of the rear fan, I had no choice but to move it across the motherboard. In the end I tried to fit as many of my wires as I could in the spare 5.25" bays, but it ended up looking like they were all crammed at the top. Instead of having a loose wire, I decided to jam the temperature sensor into the Intel stock HSF. At least it will give me an idea of the CPU temps. On a brighter note, the LCD display is pretty cool. The temperatures it displays were only 10C short of what Core Temp reported, which is great considering it's only reading the HSF temperature.
Now that I've got all my hardware installed, let's find out how the X-7 X-Station performs.