Previously, we’ve taken a look at some rather unconventional cases from Korean case manufacturer GMC. The other cases from GMC that we have reviewed, received very good scores and they were of a very good quality. Today, we will be looking at the K1 Muse case from GMC – just don’t expect this one to be a normal case.

About GMC:

“GM Corporation Ltd is a manufacturer and distributor headquartered in Seoul, Korea and founded in 1996. The company offers a wide range of PC cases, power supplies, computer peripheral and service to customers worldwide.”

Specifications:

  • Type: Multimedia case
  • Dimensions:
    • 7.9″ (W) x 17.3″ (H) x 18.5″ (D)
    • 200mm (W) x 440mm (H) x 470mm (D)
  • Weight:
    • 9.16 kg (net); 10.80 kg (gross)
    • 20.2 lbs (net); 23.8 lbs (gross)
  • Colour: Silver / Black
  • Form Factor: ATX
  • Motherboard Compatibility: Up to full ATX
  • Drive Bays (tool-free):
    • External 5.25″ x 2
    • Internal 3.5″ x 4
  • Cooling:
    • Front 140mm x 1
    • Rear 120mm x 1
    • Built-in fan controller
    • Side air duct and PCI-E air hole
  • Expansion slots: 7 slots
  • I/O Ports:
    • IEEE1394 (Firewire) x 1
    • USB 2.0 x 4
    • 9-in-1 memory card reader
    • Audio out and microphone jack

Features:

  • Provide multi operation software through the iMEDIAN
  • The best solution for multimedia such as TV, Music, Movie and photo
  • User-friendly IrDA remote controller
  • Front panel function
  • Provide system information and EQ visualization in 16 X 2 VFD display
  • Volume control and mute function
  • System condition LCD display
  • Hot key, Navigation jog button in front panel
  • Music and Movie control by play control button
  • Thermometer in the LCD display
  • Air duct and PCI express air hole in the side panel, meets with Intel CAG 1.1
  • Easy Installation
  • Front panel easy removing design
  • Safe Assembly
  • Folded edge for each part
  • Thermometer: LCD Display
  • Cooling: CAG 1.1
  • Remote Control: IrDA Remocon, 16*2 VFD Display

In-depth Look

The box is actually quite attractive and it shows the front of the case with the name of the case at the top. At the bottom it shows the GMC logo and the website to the left of it.

Removing the packaging reveals the case in all its glory. All of the buttons and knobs make it look like a hi-fi. We personally thought it looked quite good, but we’re sure that are people with mixed opinions.

The side of the case has air vents for the expansion slot area of your motherboard and a circular vent with dust filter for the CPU.

The rear of the case shows that it supports full ATX motherboards and there are 7 expansion slots available for use. This obviously varies depending on your motherboard but it is nice having the option. There is also a 120mm exhaust fan to help cool down the interior.

Now we’ll take a closer look at the ‘main attraction’, which is the front. When you first look at the front of the case, you will see just how many different things are on this case. Starting from the bottom of the case, you’ll find (hidden) 4 USB 2.0 ports, a 6-pin FireWire port and audio ports. Just above that is a small knob which is used to control fan speed (there is an in-built fan controller). The black region above the fan controller is the VFD (Vacuum Fluorescent Display) which tells you the fan speed and inside case temperature. Then the flap above the VFD houses a multi-format card reader which is always useful. Now we come to the larger knob, this is used for volume and the various buttons around it are power, reset and some multimedia launch buttons. The six buttons in a row are the media control buttons (play, pause, etc). Finally, at the very top, we have two drive covers where you can have two optical drives.

GMC cleverly put all screws and drive rails in a plastic case which is then kept closed with some thumbscrews into the motherboard holes.

You also get a fully featured remote with the case. The remote has a lot of buttons and to be honest, we haven’t figured out what all of them do yet!

All screws and rails come in the fancy plastic casing, so we had to take them out of there before starting the installation procedure.

Also included in the plastic casing is a driver CD for the VFD, remote and case buttons. Apart from your standard screws and drive rails, you also get washers, cable ties and cable tidy sticky feet. The many cables from the front of the case mean that the cable ties will be very useful.

Transferring components from one case to another can sometimes be a long process but thankfully this time it wasn’t too bad. The main issue we encountered was when installing the PSU in to the case. The reason was because there are two ‘lips’ of metal that stick up to allow to the PSU to stay put with the help of the screws. These ‘lips’ had not been bent enough which meant the PSU could not fit in properly. This was quickly fixed with a pair of pliers.

The K1 Muse comes with a 24-pin motherboard connector, which is used to power the VFD for when the computer is off but still plugged in. It’s good to have except for the fact that it adds a lot of untidiness for such a small feature.

When the VFD is on you can have it scroll through Graphic Equaliser, System Status, ‘Now playing’, email notifications and RSS News feed. Alternatively, you can just keep on one of them. We normally kept it on graphic equaliser – because, well, it looks coolest.

Another thing to note about this case is the dust filter at the front of the case where the 140mm intake fan is. The only way to get to it is to take the whole of the front off, which can be a pain, but worth it if it aids cooling.

The included iMedian software is very feature packed and a lot can be said about it, but we will try to keep it short. The provided remote control is capable of a lot more than you probably expect. Aside from using the remote to do the usual optical drive try open/close, you can also program the remote to open certain applications and control. In effect, the remote is like a mouse that can control your HTPC.

Conclusion

The Muse K1 from GMC is a very feature packed case. Before getting to play around with the case, we weren’t so sure about it. But since we’ve used it and played around with customisation, it has definitely grown on us. We weren’t really expecting so many features to come with this case, but it does make sense once you see how bust the front panel is.

The design of the case should fit right in with most people’s home theatre equipment, although the design is surely not to every HTPC enthusiasts’ taste. The range of buttons on the front of the case allow the media centre features to be controlled by the case, so if the remote isn’t near you, basic operation can still take place.

The case itself is built solidly and does not feel cheap. It’s not light either, weighing in at around 10kg largely due to the front case features. The large 140mm front fan and rear 120mm fan should provide adequate cooling, however, we were slightly disappointed that they did not cool the case as well as hoped. But nonetheless, it was good enough. Plus, the built-in fan controller allows you to find the perfect balance between noise and cooling.

If you’re looking for a case, whether normal or HTPC, that is customisable and fits in well with existing equipment then the K1 Muse is definitely worth looking at.

Pros:

  • Built in fan controller, memory card reader, temperature sensor, remote etc
  • Multi-functional VFD
  • Customisable iMedian software
  • Solid build

Cons:

  • Could do with better airflow
  • Cleaning front filter requires case front to be taken off