In ClosingI have to admit that I was more than a little disappointed when I first set up this case as a HTPC unit. While I appreciated the build quality, air circulation, and overall design of the case, the software made it frustrating to use in its appointed niche. Now that SoundGraph has stepped up to the plate, we are now dealing with a whole new beast.
The bottom door hides the Firewire, audio, and USB ports.
Fit and finish of the case is top notch. There are no sharp edges to cut one’s self on, the case is open and big, the welds are plentiful, and the structural stability is excellent. The two external accessible 5.25” drives are more than adequate considering the use the case will get. Externally accessible 3.5” bays are not all that necessary considering that the case comes with a built in card reader that accepts most common flash devices, plus how many home theater enthusiasts will actually use a floppy drive or Zip disk?
The case has very good airflow provided by the two large diameter fans. With decent components installed with adequate cooling, temperatures should never get above 35C in the case. While it has good airflow, it also stays nice and quiet. The thicker than average steel construction helps to muffle the fan and drive noises that come from the PC, which makes it perfect for its intended use.
The ability to use a full sized ATX motherboard is also a big plus, and being able to add as many hard drives as a user could want is another advantage. Adding in extra PCI or PCI-E cards is not an issue, as there is plenty of room in the case, and even when full it does not feel crowded.
A couple of minutes and a few zip ties will clean this mess up. Once organized the case is still roomy with plenty of expansion space.
For what initially looked to be something of a disappointment, the K-2 has turned out to be a very robust and interesting product. I cannot stress that the design is not for everyone, and it certainly would prove to be a sore thumb if placed in a stereo rack with other standard looking components. But when put by itself, it certainly has turned into a very useful product, and an eye-catching one at that. For those that do not need to have a generic looking HTPC case that will fit effortlessly into said stack, then this is a very viable alternative.
The one real downside to this product is the price. Currently the case retails for around $280 US. This does not exactly break the bank, but it certainly is a big step away from the generic $50 CoolerMaster cases which provide many of the same internal features and room. The quality of the construction, plus the functionality of the SoundGraph controller certainly offset price concerns though.
The power for the control unit and the front fan comes from this ATX splitter/expander. This allows the front panel unit to power up directly from the remote control.
GMC has a really nice case here, and Auzentech was smart to act as a distributor to GMC in the US. They may not sell a huge number of these products in the market, but it is nice that consumers have this option open to them. While this case is aimed at the HTPC market, it is big enough and expandable enough for use as a regular tower if need be. While I do not foresee users buying this as a desktop case, I can see people who move around a lot (think students) and will utilize this product as both a desktop for work, and hooking it up to the TV/surround sound system for some movies and widescreen gaming.
If the design fits a user’s tastes, then this certainly is a case to consider for HTPC needs. With the software improvements to what is already a good case, it will likely last a long time and be an integral part of any modern home theater.