Three Mainstream Home Theater PC Cases Compared

GMC Noblesse AVC-S7

We received the Noblesse AVC-S7 from Korean manufacturer GMC (no relation to General Motors). This is a slimline, microATX HTPC case pre-equipped with an IR remote control, power supply, optical drive and a PCI riser card that allows users to install at least one expansion card.

The AVC-S7’s front panel looks like a low-cost DVD player, but the build quality is surprisingly impressive. GMC’s sleek DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive reveals only a disc slot and an eject button, giving it more of an A/V feel than a traditional PC. Our test chassis was grey, with just the lower part of the front bezel done in a glossy black. Fingerprints and smudges were an issue, but not as much as on, say, a black iPod or iPhone. A gentle push opens the front bezel and reveals the integrated multi-card reader, a two-line LCD display, two USB ports, audio jacks, and a few control elements, including a reset button. The LCD display is visible with the bezel closed, and we like that the inside of the bezel carries descriptions of the ports and control elements.

The back of the case offers minimal expansion capability. There’s the power supply connector, one horizontal slot designed for the internal riser card, and whichever ports are built into your microATX motherboard of choice (typically audio and HDMI in an application like this one). We installed Gigabyte’s EG45M-UD2H for a test run (see photo below), which worked fine. The included power supply is an SFX design with a maximum output of 230W. Unfortunately, the manufacturer doesn’t provide any information on the PSU’s efficiency. True, 230W isn’t much, but it’s still sufficient to run almost any dual- or quad-core processor available today. Holes in the top cover assist in cooling the CPU. But be aware that the power supply fan is the only means of ventilating the case.

GMC bundles a CPU cooler optimized for the AVC-S7. The copper device’s flat, round shape assists in cooling motherboard components, such as the chipset or voltage regulators. However, since system ventilation is limited to the power supply fan, carefully consider your processor. A high-end CPU will significantly increase the system temperature. Only having room for one hard drive will help minimize heat sources, but you should still try to keep thermals as low as possible.

Lastly, the front panel’s LCD display can be programmed to display different bits of information, such as time and date, new email, weather forecast, or a graphical equalizer. However, there are no control buttons, so all the display can do is notify and entertain.

For all of this, the $360 price tag appears hefty, but considering that an optical drive and the power supply are included, we believe GMC’s price point is still acceptable.

Editor's Note: Bear in mind that, in the US, this case is sold under Auzentech's brand name. So, you'll find it listed as the Auzentech AVC S-7 when you search Newegg.