GMC X-7 'X-Station' Review

tacohunter52 - 2009-07-30 18:18:25 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: tacohunter52   
Reviewed on: August 13, 2009
Price: $99.95

Introduction:

It's said you cannot judge a book by its cover. This apparently does not apply to computers. Most computer users will decide that one computer is better than another based upon how cool it looks. Don't believe me? Go place an i7 rig in that junk case you have in your garage, and put a socket 478 rig in a brand new flavor of the week case. After you've done this, take them both over to your neighbors, who don't have any PC knowledge, and ask him/her which they think is the better computer. Undoubtedly they'll choose the flavor of the week case, unless of course they enjoy the look of moldy old looking computers. People have gotten so into what the computer case looks like, they'll make up all sorts of reasons why one brand is better then another. Most of those reasons have no actual foundation in real technology. Yes, I'm talking to you, Apple. PC enthusiasts, on the other hand, know that in order for a case to be good, it needs to offer some actual performance, in additon to flashing lights, shiny metal and extra gizmos.

Manufacturers have started going to great lengths to make their cases perform as good as they look. However, sometimes important factors are sacrificed in order to make the case look good. The end result could be cases that have absolutely no room for wires, cases that have extremely bad airflow or cases that have so many extra gizmos they just look stupid. GMC has attempted to design a case that looks stylish, but without a sacrifice in performance. This new midtower case has been branded the X-7 X-Station. Just how will it perform, and look? Let's find out.

Closer Look:

Almost as important as the case is the packaging it's shipped in. Both the front and the back of the box are exactly the same. They both show a giant picture of what the X-Station looks like. To the left of the case is the X-7 X-Station logo and a tag line that says, "Stylish Design & High Performance PC Case." Directly under that are six pictures that give us some input on the cases features. These include that the X-Station has two power switches, HD audio, a built-in thermometer, an LCD Display, a two-step fan control, and "Superior Airflow". The bottom right of the case features the GMC logo and the top right displauys their website.

 

Just like the front and the back, both sides of the case are exactly the same. They feature a background with a picture of the front of the case. In front of this picture is the GMC and X-7 X-Station logos. Under that is where the supplier can check off what comes with the case. The top of the box features GMC's website and the X-7 X-Station logo. There is also a flag-like drawing that says "HD AUDIO". I guess with this case you won't need speakers.

 

 

The X-Station itself was wrapped in a plastic bag and then sandwiched between two pieces of foam. This made the case fit very snuggly in the box it was shipped in so as to prevent damage. The plastic bag is slightly different from what most other cases are usually wrapped in. Instead of completely clear plastic, it was more like grocery bag plastic. It still prevents the case from being scratched during shipment. I guess that's all that matters.

 

 

Now that we've unboxed the X-7 'X-Station,' let's take a closer look at the case itself.

Closer Look:

Looking at the picture on the box, I was concerned with whether or not I actually liked the X-Station's design. At first I thought it looked like a bunch of different case ideas all thrown together. Who knows, maybe the people at GMC decided using every idea would make a super case. I don't know if the case grew on me, or if GMC added a mind control device to it, but I started to like the way it looked. The bulky grills on the left and right side reminded me of a futuristic robot. I actually ended up liking the entire bulkiness of the front. I thought that the floppy bay was a little silly though. Also, the orange headlights reminded me of something you'd expect to see on the back of a school bus. One really cool thing is that the case has two power switches. One is located under the LCD display and the other is located at the top of the case. I'm not really sure what the point of this is, but it's pretty cool, especially for those of you that like to mix things up a bit. There are four bays for optical drives, but only one has the built in eject button. I thought that was a little lame, but I guess it makes more sense then having unused eject buttons located around the case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The left hand side of the X-Station appears to be like that of every other case, except for the assembly sticking out from it. This assembly, as they call it, serves three purposes. The first is that it keeps the side panel interesting and distracts you from the fact that there is no window or grill. The second thing is that it has an exhaust fan to help improve airflow. The third reason, and possibly most important purpose, is that it is a fan controller. This controller should be able to speed up and slow down the fans inside the X-Station. The right side panel isn't as interesting. It's quite simply featureless.

 

 

The back of the X-Station is that of your typical computer case. The PSU is located at the top of the case, and you're given seven expansion slots. One thing some of you will notice is that it doesn't have any holes for a water cooling kit. This is a mid-tower case, so these holes aren't expected, but it is something I've been seeing on a lot of current cases. Removing the side panel reveals two of the X-Station's three included fans, as well as a box of goodies. Some of you will be disappointed that the X-Station's interior isn't black, but it's nothing a can of spray paint can't fix, if that's really important to you.

 

 

The X-Station has four HDD bays. Located directly in front of these bays is an intake fan. This fan will blow air directly over your HDDs, which should hopefully keep them cooler than they would have otherwise been. There are also four 5.25" bays just in case you like your case to have a lot of media. You'll notice that there are no toolless accessories in the X-Station. I personally prefer this, but I know some of you are all about not using a screw driver. Inside the box of goodies were an instruction manual, a motherboard speaker and a bag of zip ties and colorful screws. That's right, colorful screws. I know what you're thinking, but trust me, it makes sense. Why wouldn't you want to use Christmas colored screws in your new gaming rig? I know I would.

 

 

Closer Look:

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.

Specifications:

Form Factor:

ATX, Mirco ATX

Power Supply:

ATX

Size:

425(D) x 420(H) x 190(W)

Color:

White, Black, Lime Green, Ocean Blue, Hot Pink, Orange, Sky Blue

5.25” Bay:

4

3.5: Bay:

1(External), 5(Internal)

Multi port:

USB 2.0 x 4, Sound (Microphone, Earphone) port, HD AUDIO

Cooling System:

Front: 120mm Cooling fan

Rear: 120mm Cooling fan

Side: 80mm Cooling fan & PCI Air Hole

Expansion Port:

7 Slots

 

Features:

All information on this page courtesy of http://www.gmc.co.kr/english/programs/read.php?board=PRODUCTS&uid=48&cp=1&field=&keyWord=&nation=&year=&month=&category=11&depth2=25

 

Testing:

Now that all of my hardware is in the X-7 X-Station, it's time to find out how it performs. In order to test the X-Station's performance, I will be monitoring the load and idle temperatures of my CPU, my HDD, chipset, and my GPU. To record temperatures, I will be using CPUID Hardware Monitor. For those of you that have never used it, it's a temperature monitoring program from the people that create CPU-Z. To put my hardware at load, I will run Prime95 for three hours. To load the GPU, I will play through a few hours of Crysis and record the highest temperature.

Testing System:

Comparison Cases:

 

 

 

 

 

I was very impressed with the X-7 X-Station's performance. It was not at all what I was expecting. Both the CPU idle and load temps were almost the same as my full-tower case. The GPU idle temp was the second highest. Much to my surprise however, the X-Station managed to have the lowest GPU load temp. The chipset was a little toasty. Both at idle and load, the X-Station did only 1C better than my generic case. Then again, it did keep my HDD the opposite of toasty. That's right!!! The X-Station kept my HDD way cooler than a full-tower case! I thought that was pretty amazing. Overall, the X-Station performed great as a mid-tower, and that's with my mediocre wire management. Good Job GMC!!!

Conclusion:

When I first saw a picture of the X-7 X-Station, I was not at all impressed. However, after I had removed it from its packaging I started to think it actually looked stylish. That is, if the current style is a futuristic, robotic look. Ripping the X-Station apart revealed both cool and odd features. The main one being the fan controller with a built-in LCD display that controlled only one fan. Or, one button to both increase and decrease the fan speed. It was nice to have a temperature sensor already built-in with the case, though. It was also painfully obvious that the case didn't have a single filter. I don't know if you noticed in the photos, but the grills on the case were pretty big, and two of the three fans were intake. If you live in a home with any kind of pet that sheds, this case could be problematic. The last thing you want is to have to clean your computer every three days, instead you want to find other reasons for getting into your builds guts.

The X-Station wasn't all bad though. As promised, it had great airflow, even though there were some obstructions. The airflow was actually so good that the X-Station was able to perform just as well as my full-tower case. And in the case of HDDs, it way outperformed the full-tower! Then again, it didn't offer the same wire management capabilities you'd get from a full-tower case. The X-Station is also equipped with some cool and unique features, pointless, but cool and unique. I'm serious. Look me in the cyber eye and tell me you don't think two power switches is a cool feature! I'd say if you're in the market to spend about $100 on a mid-tower case, spend it on the X-Station!

 

Pros:

 

Cons: